Yesterday, Funcom announced its barbarian survival game, Conan Exiles, has sold 1.4 million copies, making it the company’s best selling game yet.
This news coincided with the release of a large patch aimed at fixing a number of ongoing bugs. Funcom called it “The Mother of all Patches”, promising over 500 fixes to the PC version, with some more general improvements coming to the PS4 and Xbox One versions.
Like many of the game’s updates, however, it appears to have corrected some issues while creating many others.
Many modern games feel as though they are trapped in a perpetual beta, and Conan Exiles is no exception, having entered Early Access on Steam in January of 2017. This past May, it got an alleged full release across both PC and console.
Despite all of the progress the game made during the Early Access period, including 33 separate updates, as well as the hundreds of thousands of copies it sold, Conan Exiles was still extremely buggy at launch. Games crashed, parts of the UI didn’t always load, and sometimes players would return to their home base and find something they’d been hoarding there had up and vanished.
Now the game has just gotten its biggest patch in quite some time, and the cycle has begun all over again, with improvements to character AI and overall stability breaking the game in other places.
Players spend most of their time in Conan Exiles managing their character’s hunger and thirst, gathering natural resources to craft weapons and build forts, and enslaving computer-controlled characters who then work for them. Some are cooks, others are fighters, but for the most part these “Thralls” end up acting just like any other resource in the game: Tools to be collected and exploited to further player progression.
Haunting implications aside, when Thralls go missing or start behaving strangely, it creates problems for players. One player shared the below clip on Reddit of their Thralls standing idle during a fight against an undead dragon.
You only have to read through the extensive notes for the latest update to get a feel for everything that could go wrong during a playthrough, which range from talking about corpses that will no longer be invisible, to non-playable characters that will no longer be able to attack you while haphazardly rubber-banding across the map.
In a way, these bugs are a testament to just how complex the game is, but maybe that isn't a good thing. Clearly, Conan Exiles still has plenty of kinks that need to be worked out, and new ones seem to appear even as fixes for existing problems get rolled out.
Hours after the Mother of all Patches went live yesterday, players started writing in on the game’s subreddit and forum page with reports of everything they’d lost.
“2 imp blacksmith benches, 3 imp furnaces, 1 imp armour bench, 1 artisan bench, 3 fire cauldations with boxes on each including bombs,” wrote one player.
“Half my crafting stations disappeared, a few important containers containing building materials, and wheels of pain—all gone,” wrote another. “But the bugs were fixed. I just don’t feel like playing because so much of my stuff is gone.”
In addition to lost progress on various multiplayer servers, players have reported instances of spawning into the game underneath the foundations of their home bases. Other players have seen their Thralls (AI-controlled characters) disobeying the laws of physics.
“Since the latest patch all my thralls fell through the floor,” someone wrote. “I dismantled black ice floors and foundations to find’em below it. Wtf?”
Funcom is releasing a hotfix later today to address some of the new problems, but in the case of lost loot, destroyed bases or missing Thralls, the damage is already done.
This game may have sold 1.4 million copies, and it isn't in Early Access any more, but it’s clearly still a work in progress.
Meanwhile, the game already has additional purchasable DLC planned for August.
“Throughout the development of Conan Exiles we’ve at times patched frequently and quickly, and in our eagerness bugs slipped through the net,” a spokesperson for Funcom told Kotaku in an email.
We are however 100% committed to improve our processes and will also stay committed to addressing reported issues as fast possible. We also take the quality of the game very seriously. So seriously in fact that we recently enlisted and encouraged players from our community to help us stress test on our TestLive Servers. We organised an event where we rewarded players with our next DLC for their input and feedback on the latest patch.
Since the game officially came out in May, fans on the Conan Exiles subreddit have had frequent discussions about whether it was really ready or not. Some longtime players have called it quits, noting in Steam reviews and elsewhere that as much as they love the game, they’ve decided to wait until it’s more polished.
“I looked past your flaws and saw the great game that lay at the heart of [Conan Exiles],” wrote one player two weeks ago. “But eventually the bugs, the glitches, the exploits and the patches that caused as many problems as they solved got to me. What I’m trying to say, Funcom, is that it’s over.”
Other players are happy with how the game’s progressing and, more importantly, how responsive and communicative the developers at Funcom have been about the issues being reported by players and the timeline for when they’ll be addressed.
Comparing the game to the state of Battlefront 2’s post-release, one player wrote, “This game’s Devs actually give a shit, and you should be more patient with them.”
Another responded by saying that compared to the release of similar open world survival games such as Rust or Day Z, Conan Exiles launched in much better condition.
However, as with Kingdom Come and other games that have arrived on store shelves in a sorry state, different people have different thresholds for the level of busted-ness they’re willing to accept.
Of course, an easy way to bridge that gap is to not push a game out of Early Access before it’s absolutely ready.