Everything Wrong with Conan Exiles -- and How to Fix It
It may have only just hit Early Access, but Conan Exiles is already riding high in the Steam charts. The open world survival game made news recently thanks to its, ahem, adjustable genital size and realistic jiggly physics in that area.
However, this serves only to distract from a more important discussion -- namely, how good is the actual game? Feedback so far has been mixed, but there have been several key annoyances that have been mentioned again and again by players, which Funcom would be wise to address.
Funcom has had multiple server issues. Not just small glitches, but big, game-breaking problems. Players have been disconnected, suffered extreme latency issues, and have generally been pulled through the wringer while trying to play the game.
To its credit, Funcom has held its hands up and stated that fixing these problems is a priority. And rightly so -- without the stable foundation needed for a game as pretty as this, Funcom may as well write off the entire enterprise. SimCity and the demise of Maxis can attest to that.
If you play Conan Exiles as a solo player, you’re going to be at an almost immediate disadvantage to those who choose to join a clan. Working together to take down mobs, gain experience, build up your character and get better gear -- all of it is far, far simpler to achieve than if you played alone.
There doesn’t currently appear to be any benefit to being a solo player, and there are a multitude of reasons to join a clan. We understand that this is a multiplayer game, but not everyone is drawn to signing up with other people; it certainly shouldn’t put you at a disadvantage if you choose not to.
Furthermore, there appears to be no way of protecting the bases you build if you take a break from the game. For casual players who want to dip in and out every other week, you’ll likely end up rejoining and witnessing what remains of your base after its been smashed to pieces in your absence. Not all players want to be online every day -- these people should be considered too.
Currently, you can run around the world map in Conan Exiles, laying down the foundations for buildings and claiming huge swathes of land to the detriment of other players. This has understandably led to consternation from gamers who can’t get a foothold on the property ladder. Funcom actually addressed this directly in a recent Reddit AMA stating:
We agree and we wanted to add a decay system before launch, we just never got there. Our decay system will be based on the building size - the larger the building size, the slower it decays. So random foundations will decay very quickly. We're also making it such that small placeable objects don't claim land but still respect land claim rules.
Hopefully we'll get to see this system implemented as planned. Otherwise players are going to find it easier to get a property in Miami Beach than in a virtual medieval world.
Many players have expressed dismay that fighting in Conan Exiles amounts to hammering the left mouse button until your enemy is dead. That may have been fine back in the days of Diablo and Titan Quest, but this isn’t an isometric action-RPG. It’s an open world game where your first-person perspective brings you right into the fray, and is therefore deserving of something a little more satisfying than a one-button attack.
Plenty of similar games have managed to offer half-decent fighting. Chivalry: Medieval Warfare is over four years old, but its combat system stands head and shoulders above Conan Exiles’. Again, this is something that Funcom acknowledged in the AMA, stating that they were considering light and heavy attacks, dodging, and also considering how bows and crossbows work. Combat is a huge part of the game, so if it turns people off from the outset, they are unlikely to return.
The fact that Conan Exiles is still in Early Access means that there is still time for a lot of these issues to be ironed out. It certainly looks the part, having fully embraced the medieval aesthetic and setting. But if Funcom wants to deliver an engaging, interesting experience that keeps pulling players back online -- no matter how many times per day, week or month -- they will need to make sure that they address these fundamental areas.
Are you playing Conan Exiles in Early Access? Are you enjoying the experience? What could be improved? Let us know in the comments!