Feedback to Devs About Sorcery + Mod Ideas

A few ideas for modders are at the bottom of this post.

Let me start by saying that the addition of sorcery to Conan Exiles is a welcomed thing. As a person who consistently chooses to wield magic over swinging a sword, I can tell you that upon learning that the exiled lands would soon be host to dark and ancient powers that were previously inaccessible to us as players really excited and motivated me to hop back into the world and begin reexploring everything that the game has to offer. However, now that 3.0 is available on TestLive, I feel that my excitement has been greatly misplaced, because in spite of my eagerness to explore the magic of the Hyborian age, I am admittedly left underwhelmed and disappointed with the fact that sorcery has been largely inconsequential to the gameplay, with every example of the magic added existing more as a minor note within the player experience rather than something actually worth diving deeply into.

Why do I feel this way?

1# - Ineffectual Spells

The majority of the spells are ineffectual. In most instances, including in combat, gathering, taming, exploration, etc., you’ll forgo using magic and will instead choose a more mundane method of interacting with the world. Why? Because the magic in AoS is an inferior means of accomplishing those activities that I’ve mentioned. The spells available so far are resource intensive (reagent bags, encumbrance, etc.), slow to cast, and impossible (and useless) to use in combat, meaning that in most circumstances, your gameplay will have changed very little from pre-3.0 to post-3.0. Below are examples of why I feel that the current spells are (mostly) pointless.

Feather Fall - Nine times out of ten, it’s much quicker to simply run at a cliff and slide down. The lack of horizontal distance when jumping with this spell combined with the time it takes to cast makes this spell relatively irrelevant.

Ice Bridge - I found myself using Ice Bridge only when I wanted to feel “magicky”. The majority of the time, it was simpler, faster, and less burdensome from a reagent perspective to just go around whatever I’m trying to cross. Combined with frame drops as soon as the bridge breaks and other implications with wall climbing in PVP, I mostly left this spell alone.

Molten Magma Wall - A tier 2 spell with no practical use outside of a PVP situation, which is limited because of cast times and environmental factors. You’ll never use this outside of a raid situation where you have at least a handful of clan mates protecting you while you cast this spell, which ultimately does little more than blocks access to a corridor or passage. It’s only use in combat can be counteracted by eating ice, walking around it, or by avoiding the urge to climb it.

Darkness - Another tier 2 spell which is impractical outside of PVP. The duration of this spell is too low for a tier 2 spell and the casting times make this impossible to cast in a thrall camp without being interrupted from being attacked. Additionally, the fact that the spell takes effect in an area around you instead of being targetable is frustrating. I don’t think it could be argued that allowing a sorcerer to cast this spell at a range is game breaking even in PVP, where unnatural darkness could herald an impending raid.

Resource Harvesting - This spell is a great alternative to manual harvesting however, this spell is too effective by comparison. The spells in sorcery should be alternatives to the other methods available in the game, not replacements. No one should be urged to unlock sorcery because they simply want to crack open star metal meteor shells without having to make explosives, versus having the spell because they’ve decided on a playstyle geared towards magic.

Lightning Storm - The only truly offensive spell is ineffectual against anything but bases, making what is supposed to be the penultimate spell ultimately useless in any other scenario. Allowing this spell to strike npc’s 9 out of 10 times would make it worth the reagent cost and viable as a method of clearing camps. Again, this would put the spell in-line with existing methods of camp clearing (e.g. thralls, melee builds), making it an alternative but viable choice. The chance to strike players could still be random. Lastly, let us cast this spell at range. It’s very hard to cast a Tier 1 spell in combat, but impossible to cast Tier 3 spells in combat, period.

Hide Corruption - Love it.

Mirror Self - I cannot fathom what the intention for this spell was if not for PVE combat. A Tier 2 spell with extremely limited range and a long cast time, I have no idea how anyone expects a sorcerer to cast this spell in PVE without the aid of friends and/or a thrall. Additionally, doesn’t having a thrall or a clan member with you make this spell relatively useless to begin with? Especially if you’re an authority sorcerer, which judging from the meta everyone will most likely be, meaning this and your thrall will always be fighting for aggro which leads to an unpredictable mob, something that was ironically supposed to be address by given thralls taunts.

Invisibility - This is great in theory, but the texture opacity for the invisibility effect needs to be reduced further. I’ve really only had trouble spotting people using this at night, which makes invisibility unnecessary anyway. Additionally, I think this ability should be channeled like the detect corruption spell, so that the effect remains active so long as you have your wand out and are casting the spell. Putting the wand away should disrupt the spell.

Summon Bat - This is a fun spell to use, and most likely the number 1 spell I go to during my gameplay. I believe this spell however should be moved to the ritual circle, and I think only through a ritual should you summon a bat for flying. If you do that, I think the bat should last longer and move slightly faster, but having the ability to summon this on the fly is breaking for PVP and exploration. Part of the fun for any survival game comes from exploration and introducing abilities that allow people to bypass that causes the world to become small. Something to avoid when the map already has borders.

Zombie Horde - The zombies here are weak and the AI is extremely sporadic with who and where the zombies are going to appear and attack. The zombies should feel more like a horde and less like a cheap thrill, attacking their targets in small groups versus coming at enemies one at a time. Again, another Tier 3 spell with no practical use in PVP or PVE.

Wisp - The wisps need to be brighter and it needs options for being used. For example, you could treat the wisps like you do corrupted vision, and allow the wisps to stay on indefinitely so long as the sorcerer has the spell “channeled” on his wand and has not put his wand away. Or you could treat the wisp like the hide corruption spell where it can be toggled on or off, but has a maximum lifetime of 20minutes like the improved torch. I think either option would work, but as it is a torch is infinitely more useful and lasts much longer currently, all without the need to carry reagents or cast a spell. As I’ve said before, magic should be an alternative playstyle; a means of achieving the same ends through different methods.

Placed Wisp - Similar to what’s written above. This needs to be brighter and potentially a channeled ability like corrupt vision. Maybe this one works like corrupt vision but the personal wisp works like the illusion spell (with the exception of a 20minute max lifetime)?

Detect Resource - The direction for this spell is great, but I’ve never used this ability since it’s easy enough to find resources without it. If this spell could let you see nodes that had a greater chance of harvesting rare materials however, that would be an improvement. This spell should be channeled like detect corruption so that the most effective use of this ability would be a sorcerer working with an ally to harvest the best nodes.

#2 - Rituals Required

Individually, existing in a vacuum, the rituals are great, with each ritual adding a bit of flavor and nuance to the game. That being said however, because these rituals don’t exist in a vacuum, instead what we now have are a list of 13 reasons why every single player on a server is going to pickup sorcerer as part of their build, further exacerbating my issues with sorcery not feeling like a distinct and equally valid playstyle, but instead existing as thin veneer of “new” and “shiny” gameplay mechanics that ultimately do nothing to change the core mechanics of the game.

For the first point of why everyone will be a sorcerer in the game, just look at the list of rituals.

Armor/Weapon Illusions
Raise the Dead
Blood Sacrifice
Soul Drain
Summon Corpse
Abyssal Horse
Abyssal Rhino
Abyssal Call
Abyssal Armor
Abyssal Hammer
Abyssal Bow
Elixir of Rebirth
Transport Stones

What should have been a list of alternative playstyles to the main gameplay loop is now 100% required “reading” for everyone on a server. Summoning mounts, summoning weapons, summoning armor, summoning corpses, creating powerful thralls, corrupting perks, etc., all of the rituals here are going to be crucial now for everyone’s gameplay. Don’t want to play a sorcerer? Too bad. By opting out, you’re going to fall behind. Conversely, are you interested in playing a sorcerer as a playstyle? Great! Now you get a long list of rituals that everyone has, coupled with spells no one wants, but you have the added benefit of receiving a 50% reduction in health and stamina just to even access the spells you’ve now sold your soul to get. But you’re no longer special or unique because everyone can do that stuff too.

This really leads to my last point which is…

#3 - Alternative vs. Meta Playstyles

What was the intention with sorcery here Funcom? Were we interested in providing an alternative way of exploring the exiled lands? Or were we simply adding new and flashy abilities that everyone will have but no one will use? Ultimately, who is sorcery for? It’s clearly not a viable choice to play a full spellcaster mage, but it also seems that playing a full melee build is disadvantageous too, so who is supposed to be using this stuff?

When someone who is playing a non-sorcerer build can pull out a wand at any time and cast an Ice Bridge, or when someone who is playing a non-sorcerer build can complete a ritual for an incredibly powerful set of sorcerous armor, instead of validating my choice of sacrificing 50% of my health and stamina to corruption so that I can play and be a sorcerer, instead you’ve allowed anyone willing to gather the materials to upgrade sorcery, to essentially be just as valid a sorcerer as me, but with fewer consequences to suffer because they’ll have all the benefits of the rituals without any of the costs to cast spells. And of course, you could say that by not having corruption, “non-sorcerers” with the sorcery feats won’t be able to cast the spells you can (i.e. Tier 2/3 spells), but that is again inconsequential since non of the higher tier spells are viable in combat (where this matters) and as a sorcerer, I’m still required to fight in melee like everyone else, giving me the greater disadvantage for very little gain, other than “feeling” like I’m a sorcerer.

I realize that I’m ranting at this point, but what I wanted out of this was to play a sorcerer. Truly, utterly, completely, devoid of melee weapons (unless necessary because there isn’t time to cast a spell, which is fine), and corrupt to the core, but instead we have a watered down “magic user” who isn’t effective unless they’re playing to the PVP meta of the week.

On top of that, by adding in sorcery abilities like summoning demonic armor and weapons, or by adding in the resource gathering spell, what you’re guaranteeing is that people will go down the sorcery feat lines far enough just to get those abilities, while having again, none of the consequences necessary for playing a full sorcerer, making being a sorcerer yet again pointless when instead, you could just wield daggers and use ice bridge as needed, or summon armor as needed, and then work the corruption off by standing next to a dancer. And of course, with illusion tied into sorcery and corrupted perks tied into the ritual table, now everyone is going to be a baseline sorcerer, making pure sorcerers feel extremely irrelevant. I realize that as a survival game, you have to give people options to fill multiple roles, but restricting the way you obtain sorcery, or separating some of the other features from sorcery (armor/weapon illusions, rituals, etc.) would only help make the world feel alive, instead of a game, which should be the goal. Immersion is key.

What should have happened, is you should have made one of the perk lines a requirement for sorcery, perhaps expertise or grit since that represents willpower, so that to be a sorcerer you have to default to essentially a non-melee or ranged combat build, that way sorcery becomes a harder choice and you’re essentially helping players take roles instead of trying to be a catch-all. But even still, making the choice to forgo other methods of combat means you’ll have to provide combat methods within sorcery, which for some reason (lore, PVP, whatever) everyone seems hesitant to do. Sorcery should be slower to cast. It should be interruptible. It should not be the end all be all of combat.

But it should be valid in combat and it should have been given more options. I read a suggestion in the forums the other day that suggested sorceries should be able to be “held” in the arcane staff for a few minutes to be cast instantly later. Give us something like this! It requires preparation, a willingness to keep the spell held (by keeping the staff equipped and having 1 minute duration total), allowing for a well prepared sorcerer to do well in combat but guaranteeing a poorly prepared sorcerer will lose a battle most of the time.

I think a lot of the issues surrounding the decisions made for sorcery really comes from the fact that Conan Exiles is plagued with a dissociative identity crisis. On one hand, Conan Exiles is meant to be a PVP game, whose systems and mechanics must be balanced around the minutiae of building bases, raiding foes, and slaying the opposition, but on the other hand, you have the PVE side of Conan Exiles, where systems and mechanics surrounding base building, roleplay, and exploration have to be balanced. And because of this, instead of a balanced fleshed out game, we instead of a system that’s somewhat geared for PVP (temporary non-tradeable armor and weapon summons) and somewhat geared for PVE (resource gathering, ice bridges, bats) but mediocre for both!

Sorcery, just like any other combat or exploration based system in the game, should feel consequential. It should feel different from the other playstyles, yet equal and valid in its own right. Anyway. I realize there’s been a lot of negativity on the forums about 3.0 and I know that I’m not necessarily helping with this post, but I believe with some simple adjustments, and a clear direction for balance, we could have a really fun system that works as its own unique, but equally valid playstyle, where the choice to become a sorcerer stems from a desire to play that way, instead of from a requirement just to be in the meta.

Ideas for Mod Makers for improving sorcery:
-Sorcery Classes - Demonologists, Elementalists, Mentalists, Necromancers, and Augurs for each “school” of magic we have now.

-Class Unique Corruption Effects - An elementalist who gains corruption shows their corruption as rivets of fire or ice cracking their skin. A mentalist shifts forms from female to male, from brown hair to blonde. A necromancer expresses their corruption similar to how they do now. All toggleable like hide corruption now.

-A la Carte Spells - A spell system that lets you select effects and apply types instead of having static spells. For example, an elementalist casting a spell may pick Fire > AoE to create a “fire storm” around them. Or Ice > Line to create a line of spikes in front of them. Basically an Ars Magicka system.

-Sorcery Prereqs & misc. - Have a level requirement of 60 and grandmaster alchemy to learn sorcery. Remove the armor/weapon rituals. Have sorcery feat upgrades require feat points so someone learning sorcery can’t simply do “everything else” as a balance. Make the choice to be a sorcerer meaningful.


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