Conan Unconquered won’t win any points for originality. It’s a helluva lot like They Are Billions — the indie city building game about surviving a zombie apocalypse — and the developers aren’t afraid to make that comparison. At least they didn’t shy away from it during our Conan Unconquered preview at GDC 2019.
Both games place you into a randomly generated world. At which point you must defend your home base from wave after wave of increasingly difficult enemy hordes. Different technologies unlock as you complete — as well as upgrade — more buildings. Structures like hunting shacks and farms gather food, while woodcutters gather… well, wood. Then there are hero units. These are tremendously powerful, which makes them far more valuable than your run-of-the-mill soldiers.
Managing Corpse Piles in Conan Unconquered
Many of those features will seem familiar to They Are Billions Fans. There honestly are a ton of similarities when you lay the games out feature-by-feature. But this “homage” from developer Petroglyph Games — makers of Grey Goo and the forthcoming Command & Conquer remasters — still has its own tricks. For one, Conan Unconquered is entirely available to play cooperatively. Each player has their own unit counts and a single hero unit. Although some resources are shared between the two. You need to work together to plan out your base and balance building against production. Is your farm more important than my five units? There are lots of decisions to make together!
Unlike other competing strategy games, Conan Unconquered doesn’t just vanish its mounds of dead bodies away. Corpses linger and large numbers of them can cause disease, weakening your units… Not to mention they provide “fresh” ammunition for enemy necromancers. That’s something we should all consider when managing our corpse piles, really.
We only had time to play about 30 minutes of Conan Unconquered in co-op during our preview. Suffice to say, though, that it was tough — mostly because none of us had microphones. It’s hard to listen to build orders and warn your friend about barbarian hordes when four other people are shouting the same commands at each other in a small room. Aside from our blunders, lack of communication, and just generic stumbling about, though, we managed to make it past more than a few waves.
Borrowing from the Best
We also had the chance to speak (much more quietly) with Renato Orellana, one of the designers at Petroglyph Games, about the upcoming Funcom title.
“Both Frostpunk and TAB (They Are Billions) were kind of an inspiration to us,” Orellana said. “While those games have that atmosphere that’s a little creepy and really tense. What separates us is that [Unconquered] is more action-oriented.”
Petrolyph CEO Chuck Kroegel further emphasized the co-op focus, saying: “Working together in an RTS is incredibly rewarding and we want to bring that experience to the forefront.”
We can’t truly sum up the cooperative experience after such a short play session (with someone we’d never met before). But it sounds like it could open up doors that Conan Unconquered‘s competitors currently have locked closed. Maybe that will be enough to let the game shine on its own.
Conan Unconquered will be available on PC starting May 30.