I’ve got sort of a love/hate relationship with Funcom. There have been aspects of Age of Conan, The Secret World, and now Conan Exiles that I have felt were genuinely innovative and game changing. Each introduced these hints of genius, but then they managed to somehow just barely miss the mark.
Conan Exiles had seemed to be just another in a long list of really cool ideas with some really cool mechanics, yet hampered by odd development decisions. I was in the game within hours of their entering Early Access, and I definitely had fun. Still, there were plenty of bugs and the game was clearly missing a lot of content, but at the time with the game being only at a mid-point in development, that was expected. I uninstalled and decided to wait for a few major updates before trying the game again.
Then, I read the July 2017 update that added climbing to the game, and I got angry because I felt Funcom was doing their thing yet again and to another game with really cool bones. In fact, I was angry enough to have a few snarky exchanges with the developers on Steam, and that’s not really something I ever do.
One of the early promised systems, and the one I was most interested in, was the sorcery system. Funcom had talked about the corruption that players accumulated while adventuring, which would power the sorcery system. I was a little offended that we were getting climbing before they completed the overhaul of their thrall system or implemented sorcery.
Don’t bother looking for it, sorcery isn’t coming. At least, the idea as originally pitched won’t, and what we may eventually get will be aspects of what was supposed to be sorcery. According to February post, the intended sorcery system is being reconstituted into the alchemy system with boosts, poisons, and some additional capabilities later.
As put off as I was about sorcery, I still reinstalled the game to try out the released version. Folks, I was wrong. I’ve had a lot of fun with of Exiles over the last couple days, and not the least because I’m damn impressed with the level of polish Funcom has managed to put into the game. The revamped combat system creates distinct styles between weapons, that now create far more interesting fights. Even fighting NPCs is more interesting since the weapon you use changes how you approach the situation.
I’m also finding that climbing is not nearly as stupid as I thought it was. It’s created a new feel to the world, but I’ve also found that it’s not nearly as game-breaking as I had originally thought it would be. The crafting has been expanded significantly to allow much more complexity in base building.
Speaking of base-building, the new Purge system also means there’s an environmental reason to build secure bases and train combat thralls, now. That was unexpectedly cool and adds a nice element of suspense to the game. Thralls can be equipped with armor and weapons, increasing their effectiveness, as well.
That really just scratches the surface of all the changes and updates Funcom has made over the last year of development, and I’m definitely finding that I’m enjoying the game more than I had expected to when I installed it. It’s not the Conan Exiles that I expected, but it’s definitely a game that I’m finding I enjoy. It was an unexpected success, and I’d say that if you’d written it off like I did, you might want to take another look, too.