Conan Exiles has been an interesting early access launch to both watch and participate in. I avoided official servers and instead sought out smaller private servers and single player. As such, it’s been a great experience. For those on official servers or heavily populated raid-centric servers, it’s largely been a nightmare.
Funcom has a delicate and difficult situation as their game is indeed very early access, but also very popular. Since launch, Conan Exiles consistently has held a top 10 spot on Twitch. In this day and age of content creators and influencers usurping traditional gaming media, it’s worth looking at whether or not this amount of attention is hindering or helping the long term health of the game’s development.
We’ve seen multiple upper-echelon twitch streamers such as LIRIK and giantwaffle fall in love and then rage quit the game in a matter of days. Others, such as role-playing mastermind Mr. Moon remain hopeful but ultimately dejected at the current state of the game. Does this matter? I think so. Conan Exiles has been boosted into the spotlight and fair or not, it’s being judged as a final product.
The negatives are clear at this point. Game-breaking unstable performance on all servers with mid to high levels of players. VOIP is spotty at best, significantly hampering the large role playing community that has been waiting to embrace Conan Exiles. Raiding is completely broken, in terms of the aggressors. End-game Avatars, which were promised to be both rarely spawned and significant time and material investments, are currently easier to summon than a lot of mid-level buildings. The morally-conspicuous-yet-compelling Thrall system is broken. Funcom clearly has plans for lore (and an amazing stable to pull from), but as of now, it’s surface-level. Perhaps most disappointing is the combat, which was supposed to set Conan Exiles apart from other survival games with a satisfying melee experience. It’s simply not there yet.
All is not negative however, as the game is still really fun to play. The world of Conan Exiles is completely engrossing. They’ve fucking nailed it. It’s beautiful in areas, lush in areas, and harsh in areas. I can’t overstate how good the game looks when you minimize your HUD, hit backspace, and do the RP walk. So good. The base building system allows for interesting and complex designs. Unlike genre competitors, you can build into the actual map. If you want to wall off an area, you can build into cliffs. It’s extremely satisfying. Wedges and triangles make an appearance as well, and while not perfect as of now, allow for varied designs over your typical box bases.
Where does this leave the product at this point? To their credit, Funcom has released daily patches primarily aimed at server stability. Expectedly, their patches have addressed serious issues while introducing new problems. It’s almost like the game is early access. Perhaps Funcom should have seen this coming, but 200 official servers going down while 9,000+ private servers persist is worth noting. No matter their course, Funcom will upset playing & paying customers in one way or another moving forward as the game evolves.
Steam says I have 63 hours in the game. That’s both embarrassing and an indication of my enjoyment of the game. I think you could do worse spending $30. Enjoy the journey, if you’re patient.