Funcom’s Conan Exiles launched quite successfully on Steam Early Access, and is preparing to release on Xbox Game Preview in Q3 this year. At GDC in San Francisco, the developer shared an ambitious road map for future updates, but it left players with many questions about the details.
In order to clear some of those questions, we sat down with Game Director Joel Bylos, asking him a lot of questions on what we can expect from the year in which the game is supposed to stay in Early Access.
We received juicy information on next week’s patch, all the way to the settlement system, is still quite a ways off, also touching on the Xbox One version, the thrall system, the Purge and more.
The video at the bottom of the post includes the full recording of the interview, but since it’s a whole hour long, we also included a recap of the main points Bylos made, and you can read them below. Of course, we advise to listen to the full thing, as features are conveyed in deeper detail, and listening to two Conan geeks chatting away is quite fun anyway.
Do keep in mind, before you proceed, that the game is still in early access, and many of the plans outlined below aren’t 100% set in stone, so the tide of development might still change some of them.
- Next week’s patch will be quite big. It will include the following, among other things:
- The complete decay system, now renamed “Ruins System,” as Funcom wants to avoid confusion, since buildings don’t actually lose HP over time.
- Eight new weapons, which will be variations of the weapon archetypes that already exist in the game. Among them there will be steel and ancient hammers and a new spear.
- The dye system.
- New animations for thralls, for instance crafters will actually perform their work at their crafting tables.
- The crafting system is going to be revamped, and weapons are going to be rebalanced. With the crafting progression revamp, players will get to repick all of their recipes.
- While so far Funcom has focused on fixing bugs and improving stability, starting next week, new content will be patched in almost every week.
- The Ruins System is already partly in game, but the developers left it inactive by default because it isn’t yet balanced, and that’s also why they didn’t officially talk about it. Placeables like bedrolls, campfires wells and more will be rebalanced for next week’s patch so that they don’t disappear too fast.
- Bylos doesn’t know precisely what the coders plan to expose in term of logs available to server admins, but he will convey the request for a deeper logging system.
- The Thrall system will permeate most features going forward; for instance the siege system will include thralls required to craft certain types of siege weapons.
- Upcoming types of thralls in future updates include alchemists (which will work with the dye system), engineers, beastmasters, sorcerers, and more coming with the highland biome.
- The plan for respeccing one’s progression going forward is to keep Yellow Lotus Potions so that people can respec at will as long as they can acquire the potion. Since the progression curve is quite steep already, Funcom doesn’t want players to have to reset their progression completely and create a new character to try new crafts. There is a possibility that a cooldown will be implemented.
- Funcom is planning an AI system for thralls in the long-term, allowing players to customize their behavior and instructing them to recognize friends and enemies, and to take shifts on walls.
- Within this system, thralls will need to eat, so they will require food deposits. They will need to sleep, so barracks will also be necessary.
- The plan also includes the possibility to give thralls the equipment the player wants.
- While there will be some micromanagement added, on the other hand, thralls will be able to automate some of the crafting processes and perform menial tasks on their own, like bringing food for other thralls. The team is discussing about the possibility of actually sending thralls to gather resources, as it might cut the need for exploration.
- There is an idea for legendary thralls captured within the purge (which will be characters mentioned in Conan stories). They might get the ability to follow players around as battle companions.
- Mounts will probably come right before the first new biome or right after in late summer. The team might implement a test mount earlier, possibly the camel, to let people test the feature.
- In the same way, the big updates mentioned at GDC might not all come in large patches, but some might be delivered gradually piece by piece.
- The plans for the Purge are mostly on paper for now, as the development team is focusing on the siege system first. The current idea is that the Purge will look mostly like an army marching in a column. They will start on a random edge of the map (but not south, as that’s where new players appear) and form up there.
- There might be different versions of the Purge. One version might be wild barbarians that attack everything in their path, another might be an organized army with officers, and more.
- The current plans is for the Purge to figure out who has the biggest base in the server and head that way. The fires on the watch towers might burn in a different color before the Purge comes, to warn players.
- Server admins will be probably given ways to influence when the Purge comes and set a “Purge window,” or even deactivate the feature completely.
- Since the Purge will include unique thralls that can’t be captured anywhere else, players will want to attack it, not just defend, but they’ll need to team up to do so, or at least find ways to pick out stragglers.
- Funcom is working on crating a survey with which players will be able to rank the order in which they want new content. The new biome and the siege system are pretty much fixed in place, but everything else can be switched around depending on what players want.
- With the new biome there will be both elements of vertical progression and horizontal progression.
- There will be higher level creatures providing rare resources.
- Buildings probably won’t go above tier III, but there will probably be three new tier types that look visually differently, for instance Cimmerian and Nordheimer types. With the temperature system, buildings might also have different attributes, with some more suitable to hot climates, and some to keep out the cold.
- There will probably be new weapon types and a new tier of metal, which should be star metal. All weapons should get a star metal variation, with new thralls able to craft them.
- New gods the team is thinking of implementing are Jhebbal Sag, Ymir, Zath and Derketo. The new biome will include at least one new god, but the team might release one or two more before the new biome is implemented.
- Bylos teased the possibility for Crom to occasionally kill other avatars, providing defense against them.
- Some parts of the religion system aren’t implemented yet. For instance, Mitra should heavily discourage his faithfuls from worshiping other gods. As a result, a system might be implemented preventing players to place other gods’ shrines in close proximity with a Mitra shrine or fountain.
- Another idea on the table is a doctrine system, that will allow for instance Set worshipers to place a buff on themselves that makes them immune to poison, but they aren’t allowed to kill any snakes in exchange.
- While Bylos hasn’t been talking about AI and combat much, that’s because the team will work on that all the way through development. Combat is a “big deal” for the game.
- The over-the-top fatalities and ragdoll system work is absolutely intended, and Bylos actually wants ragdoll physics apply to characters even when they are alive, for instance when they’re knocked down a slope, they should roll all the way to the bottom. Another example is throwing oil on the ground to make enemies slip.
- The overall idea is to make the game very much a sandbox where players have tools to really mess with people. The team has actaully been talking for quite a while about combat elements that recently appeared in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and some “Zelda-like stuff” is definitely coming.
- The road system will allow players to build roads, and everyone will be able to use them, getting a speed buff. This should encourage people to create conflict around the roads, and settle close to highways. Roads will use a spline-based construction building like in Rollercoaster Tycoon.
- One of the mounts that could be implemented is a chariot.
- The Purge might use siege weapons, depending on how hard it’ll be to implement.
- The siege patch will solve the inability to reach some bases built on mountains and cliffs. No place should be unreachable in Conan Exiles. A “feature” will come for that, that both players and NPCs will be able to use.
- Improving the chat system is not a focus at the moment, but the team is considering the implementation of chat bubbles. That said, Bylos would like to get more feedback on what players would like for it.
- The team is staffing up: If you are a developer and would like to work on Conan Exiles, you can find some job opportunities here. The positions for Conan Exiles are those located in Oslo.
- The game is already running on Xbox One, it looks “pretty good,” but the control system needs work to make it better.
- There is no current plan to port the game to Nintendo Switch. Funcom hasn’t spoken to Nintendo about it.
- Funcom is talking to Microsoft to see if it’s possible to create a Windows Store version of the game’s server, so that players will be able to host servers for the Xbox One version of the game on their PCs, instead of needing two Xbox One units.
And that’s it. If you want to listen to the full interview (and you should), you can find it in the video below. You can also read my full preview here.
Conan Exiles is currently available for PC on Steam Early Access, and will launch on Xbox Game Preview in Q3 2017, followed by the full launch, including PS4, in Q1 2018.