Conan Exiles is the upcoming open world survival game being developed by Funcom. The company already has experience in working with the universe of Conan, having also developed the Age of Conan MMORPG. This is a game in which players play as an exile in The Exiled Lands as they struggle to survive, being surrounded by challenging conditions.
The game has been in Early Access for a while and is set to release soon on May 8. To learn more about the game’s development and how it will perform on the PS4 and Xbox One, Gamingbolt reached out to Funcom’s Communications Manager, Tor Egil Andersen who answered our questions about their game.
"We wanted to make a game which would be fitting with Robert E. Howard’s awesome world of Conan the Barbarian, and what could be more fitting than a brutal survival game like Conan Exiles?"
Conan Exiles had quite the rocky start when it first launched in Early Access. Could you tell us exactly what happened and how you overcame it?
Like most Early Access games Conan Exiles had its fair share of issues when it launched. Many of these were caused by server performance problems, and we had to find a new company to host the game’s official servers. But I would also say that Conan Exiles had a very good Early Access launch as well – it was the bestselling game on Steam for two weeks straight and the most streamed game on Twitch for several days. We have worked hard throughout Early Access with adding new content and fixing bugs, issues and exploits, and when the game launches on May 8th there will be a huge update adding tons of new content.
What motivated the shift from an MMORPG like Age of Conan to a more survival oriented multiplayer experience?
MMORPGs are massive games which can take many years to make and tens of millions of dollars to develop. They also need dedicated support for many years after launch (our oldest MMO is over 17 years old and is still alive and kicking). Funcom’s current strategy is to make games that take less time to develop, so we can publish them more often. We wanted to make a game which would be fitting with Robert E. Howard’s awesome world of Conan the Barbarian, and what could be more fitting than a brutal survival game like Conan Exiles?
Could you tell us some of the changes and new additions that Conan Exiles has seen since launching in early access?
Conan Exiles has gone through a ton of changes and has gotten 32 major updates since Early Access Launch. The biggest of these is the Frozen North, which increases the game’s size by about 70%. It hugely increases the map and introduces a ton of new enemies, gear, building pieces and much more. Other updates have added things like a new dungeon, siege warfare or a climbing system which allows players to climb anywhere. The biggest updates are still to come though, when we will introduce a complete revamp to the combat system and the launch date patch which introduces the new swamp and volcano areas plus much more.
What can you tell us about some of the planned features like sorcery, city life, The Purge and mounts? Will they be releasing sometime after the official launch?
We made a post about this recently, explaining in detail what will be in at launch and what will not: https://www.conanexiles.com/blog/conan-exiles-launch-beyond/ There is a lot of info there, so people should really read the article. In short, in addition to the new volcano and swamp area and new combat system, the new things coming in for launch are the purge, farming, a new religion, a perk system, war paint and a way to fast travel. Things like sorcery and mounts will not be making it in.
How have you been working to address issues like rubber-banding?
Rubber-banding is mainly an issue if you are playing on a poorly performing server, or if the server is running to many instances of the game (like our first official server provider was doing). There have been numerous server performance fixes throughout Early Access, and more are being worked on at the moment, who have not made their way to the live servers yet.
"A survival game is not the same without the opportunity for players to do PvP and brutal combat between players fits very well with the stories from the Conan universe."
Many players have complained about the overtly excessive grinding required for things like building. What changes have you made to address those concerns?
The general building cost was reduced considerably around the launch of the Frozen North update. The time it takes to build huge castles or cities is still considerable, but not as high as at the beginning of Early Access. Lots of new tools have been added, which makes gathering materials much faster and a new kind of thrall, which can carry lots of stuff for you, will be available at launch. If players band together and build as teams, the time it takes to build something great is considerably shortened. I have personally built massive cities on my own in god mode (you can build infinitely when using the admin panel) and have found that clans of players have built cities at the exact same spot as me which are many many times larger, without using admin powers at all. So it is definitely very possible to build big in Conan Exiles and you can be very creative with the vast amount of building pieces and placeables available (many times more than when Early Access launched).
PvP seems interesting especially with the ability to raid cities. How did the concept first come about and what improvements has it seen recently?
From the very beginning PvP was planned to play an important part in Conan Exiles. A survival game is not the same without the opportunity for players to do PvP and brutal combat between players fits very well with the stories from the Conan universe.
Since the start of Early Access PvP has seen many changes. You can now do siege warfare with trebuchets and grenades. You can build defences against Avatars where huge domes can protect your city from their attacks.
The main change to PvP is still upcoming though. The new combat system changes combat in profound ways, making it much more tactical and skill based. You will be able to do combos and add status effects depending on the attacks you make and weapons you choose. The new combat, which will go live before full launch on May 8th, is now available on our Testlive servers. The new combat system is a complete revamp, with all new animations and attacks, and it truly makes Conan Exiles as brutal as a Conan game deserves to be.
What are your thoughts on developing for the Xbox One (via Game Preview) as opposed to PC? Did any of the lessons learn help with the upcoming PS4 version?
Developing Conan Exiles for consoles is more challenging for us than developing for PC. The hardware restrictions alone can be quite tricky to meet in a game with such a large open world as Conan Exiles. The pipeline for making a game for Xbox One and PS4 is a lot more complex and convoluted than when making a game for PC and publishing it on Steam. The Game Preview program is a great way to do it more gradually though, and launching in Game Preview has helped us get ready for final launch on both Xbox One and PS4. We are getting help from a company called Coconut Lizard to make the PS4 version of the game.
With the number of survival games currently available, both single and multiplayer, how do you feel Conan Exiles stands out in the crowd?
Conan Exiles stands out in many ways. It has an incredibly diverse and beautiful world, filled with unique locations and lore. It of course has the Conan setting and universe. It already has a huge amount of building pieces and gear for players to craft, and at launch on the 8th of May it will have many more (different equipment pieces alone will number in the several hundreds). But I guess what will make it stand out most is the brutal and tactical melee combat system. When it goes live Conan Exiles will have a combat system unlike anything I have seen in any other survival game at least.
What can we expect from Conan Exiles in the future? Will there be any paid expansions or DLC?
I’m sorry but the only info I can give you on that is that we are currently looking into it.
"The game runs in 30 FPS for both PS4 and Xbox One. The resolution is 900p for Xbox One and 1080p for PS4."
What resolution and frame rate does Conan Exiles run on Xbox One X and PS4 Pro? Will you have separate modes for 4K and 1080p TV owners?
We are still working on this so I can’t give you final details yet. At the moment the Xbox One X version in Game Preview can run in 1440p resolution with 4k for the GUI.
And what resolution and frame rate does the base versions of PS4 and Xbox One run at?
The game runs in 30 FPS for both PS4 and Xbox One. The resolution is 900p for Xbox One and 1080p for PS4.
In your opinion, how much does the PS4 Pro differ from the Xbox One X?
The PS4 Pro and Xbox One X are pretty similar. The Xbox One X represents a bigger jump from the base console though.
Microsoft had made it compulsory for developers to support the Xbox One and Xbox One X i.e cross compatibility. In case of Conan Exiles, do you think this will hold back the Xbox One X version in any way?
No, it has not held us back. We have already dealt with settings and resolution scaling in between high-end PCs, low-end PCs, the original Xbox One and PS4. We don’t have to make any additional compromises for Xbox One X because Conan Exiles is also running on Xbox One.
Xbox One X has a ton of memory on board (12GB in total and 8GB of that is available for games). Do you think high-end PC game developers such as yourself, will now be setting your PC memory requirements even higher in the future due to Xbox One X offering even higher memory allocations?
Xbox One X memory is shared in between CPU and GPU, unlike on PC. 8GB of shared memory is not more than higher end gaming PCs already have (4GB+ of VRam with 8GB or more of system memory is quite common now), so I do not anticipate PC memory usage to be significantly changed by the arrival of Xbox One X.
Any plans to support HDR on consoles?
We would very much like to, but we are not quite there yet. We are hoping to be able to support it for the launch of Conan Exiles on May 8th.
Is there anything else you want to tell us before we let you go?
We hope that people will play Conan Exiles when the game has its official launch on May 8th. It will be a vastly improved game from Early Access and Game Preview. The game will be available on both PC, Xbox One and PS4, and we hope people who want to play a truly brutal survival game will join us in the Exiled Lands.