Survival games are growing in popularity and Conan Exiles is another title to join the list of Early Access title.
I believe there is some form of misunderstanding – while players define “survival” genre games of resource gathering, home building and fighting for your life, developers seem to think that it’s a phrase for the “I’ll publish an unfinished title and try to survive on Steam” category. It’s quite easy to guess who’s wrong.
Is that a naked man?!
I’ve played Conan Exiles solo, with a team of four friends, and I even managed to watch some popular streams. The game looks great and the world design really resembles the harsh style of Robert E. Howard’s universe of Conan. If you remember Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures, you’ll know that Funcom is the team well suited for that world. Unfortunately, this is where my enthusiasm ends.
It starts fine. The character creator is full of details and allows you to create your own unique hero, which will be purged from the servers sooner than later. You know, it’s the moment when most of your favourite gaming sites dropped the ball and instead of continuing journalism decided to share some gifs with Willie Wangs also known as the “endowment.” Yes, the character creator allows you to run around as a naked man or woman, and the civilization won’t end with such a dishabille. Move along, move along.
I deliberately skipped the topic of servers for a moment. While I’m writing this article Funcom has already confirmed that the company isn’t happy with the quality of the official servers and, while there are temporarily taken offline, a new provider will be chosen soon. Each player is able to create his own server for up to 70 players, but a paid game missing official ones is a bit dysfunctional. I mention this because those servers, when they were still live, as well as those private with open access, should be the focus point of developer team. Even when choosing “worlds” with low ping it’s really hard to play comfortably as the lags are as common as the things that want to kill you. And literally everything in Conan Exiles wants to kill you.
Except that, the game plays as all survival titles. You have to look out for two bars: your hunger and thirst. It’s hard in the beginning, when you start with nothing except your fainting hopes. I had some fun from playing, but this was mainly because of my Twitter buddies. We’ve ran around, killed some creatures and men, found a place to build a home and… lost it.
No, it’s too early to see aspects of gods being summoned. After a few days the server where we spent a few hours was gone, without any alert. As with the current build, the “Mark favourite” option doesn’t work, but our server was unavailable even after using its full name.
Just check some gameplays or streams. Almost everything here screams “work in progress.” AI is dumb to the level where you hit a thrall and it just stands there waiting to absorb the damage. Combat is mediocre at best, being the poor version of Skyrim’s fights. You can craft shields, but with AI problems it’s the best solution to just spam the left mouse button.
And there’s grind. A lot of grind. To build the first fireplace, the one you use to prepare first food, you need 50 wooden planks and some stone. That’s a lot. Survival is good, but not when fighting for life means that someone put big numbers in game’s settings and you are tasked with running around looking for planks (you are lucky if you decided to craft an axe first).
I could comment on loading times and other bugs, but I’m not a fan of beating a dead horse.
This adventure will wait
Back in a good days of MMOs dominating the “online games” market unfinished titles were shared as closed and open alphas and betas. It was a kind of a mutual agreement: you help us find the most annoying bugs and share your ideas on how to expand the game, we allow you to play it for free and maybe even give a bonus when the title launches as a full game. But then the Early Access formula arose, and someone got an idea that players will pay for such an access. What’s worse, they do. And that makes Conan Exiles another game that maybe, just maybe, won’t be finished this year. I’ll be happy if Funcom surprises us all.
Of course those are early days of Early Acces – we’ll be visiting Conan Exiles in the upcoming weeks and updating you on the game’s development progress.