What's holding Conan Exiles from greatness?

To correct the topic right away - I do actually consider Conan Exiles to be a great game. It is one of the best games in its genre. We’ve spent countless hours playing with it with my primary gaming group and it is a PvE-survival-basebuilding-adventuring experience par none at this moment.

But to be fair, its genre is not very contested. There’s Ark, Valheim, maybe Project Zomboid if you count it. And a bunch of even smaller indie titles. To me none of these are - currently - a real contender to Conan Exiles.

When you start comparing Conan Exiles to games outside its niche, it doesn’t fare quite as well. It is, simply put, unpolished.

I understand the need for more revenue and I personally have no issue with overpriced items in the Bazaar. If they are too pricey, I just wont buy it, I still have plenty to build with the DLCs. But I do feel that this effort is being put to the wrong place.

According to Steam Spy, Conan Exiles has from two to five million owners. Project Zomboid has from five to ten million owners. Valheim has owners in the tens of millions. Ark has more owners, too. Even 7 Days to Die has.


Because the game is, simply put, too unpolished, and while it is a great game, the truth is that many of its core features just do not deliver. This is why the scores are bad and why people do not openly recommend the game.

To make a list of what I think are the biggest problems:

  • Combat is both too easy but also randomly buggy and unpredictable. On one hand a lot of the time the AI just stands idly and stares at you - even while the server is comfortably keeping a steady framerate - and you get a dozen free hits in. Other times the AI launches to an attack with no telegraph. Sometimes AI throws a rock or shoots an arrow at you with their back turned.

  • The purges, which were a widely advertised feature of the game, just do not work. Enemies spawn inside bases. Enemies spawn but don’t move. A wave fails to spawn. An enemy gets stuck inside a block and a new wave isn’t spawned. I’m not sure I have ever seen a purge that worked as intended.

  • There are too many known bugs left unfixed. For example, the Abyssal Remnant still randomly fails to spawn and this has been known for 3 years now. No fix. You can’t re-bind “loot all”; known for 3 years. Sometimes you can’t interact with a container after opening it. Has been happening since the start, no fix. Keybinds randomly reset, no fix. Etc.

Conan Exiles has enough content to be a truly awe-inspiring game. But its AI is too buggy, its combat as a result of that too unsatisfying. There are too many unpolished parts.

Conan Exiles isn’t yet a very old game. There’s still time to double, even triple, its total sales. But for Conan Exiles to achieve greatness, some very dedicated effort needs to be put into overhauling its AI, increase server performance and do a pass on balance. This game could have a million owners more if it delivered a great dungeoning experience; a great purge experience; and if playing it felt more smooth.


But its AI is too buggy, its combat as a result of that too unsatisfying.

Indeed and in my opinion its the Combat System itself with the Combos that is the Main Problem. It would be better to have a Combat System like Mount & Blade Bannerlords or Chivalry 2 with Directional Attacks instead of Combos.

This would make Combat against NPCs and Players much more Challenging and Rewarding if emerging as the Winner. Furthermore it would open the Doors to nerf Warrior Thralls down to Player Levels in Term of HP Pool.


The AI is super simple, and when the servers are laggy they become very irresponsive and “buggy”.

The AI is controlled by the server not local like in a single player game, compare CE AI with the AI of a MMO its both as simple.

I really hope there is a way to improve all this… but I’m not seeing it yet…
The lag should be resolved first. It is terrible atm and it was better before CE got crowded again.


I think you’re oversimplifying things here. You’re forgetting the power of marketing and advertising. I don’t know the numbers, so this is based on my purely anecdotal empirical observations, but I’ve seen a lot more advertisements about Ark or Valheim or whatever than about Conan Exiles.

And when you think about what makes a consumer make a puechasing decision, it’s not about the polish. They won’t see how polished or unpolished a game is until they buy it. Customer reviews, Youtubers etc. could give them information on this, but most consumers won’t spend hours upon hours of research before making a purchasing decision. They see a zombie ninja pirate with an assault rifle riding a robot dinosaur, think “that’s cool!” and buy it.

Ark and Valheim are both what one could call “unpolished” - perhaps more so than Conan Exiles - so I don’t think that’s the explanation for the statistics you presented.


I don’t know the numbers, so this is based on my purely anecdotal empirical observations, but I’ve seen a lot more advertisements about Ark or Valheim or whatever than about Conan Exiles.

I don’t remember either Valheim nor Ark having been advertised before they had already sold millions of copies and had the budget for it. Both were made by companies that, at the time, were greatly smaller than Funcom.

And when you think about what makes a consumer make a puechasing decision, it’s not about the polish. They won’t see how polished or unpolished a game is until they buy it. Customer reviews, Youtubers etc. could give them information on this, but most consumers won’t spend hours upon hours of research before making a purchasing decision. They see a zombie ninja pirate with an assault rifle riding a robot dinosaur, think “that’s cool!” and buy it.

You’re of course right here, but I still think you’re not giving the proper value to reviews and scores.

Some users will buy a game because dinosaurs, but many others will simply become interested because dinosaurs, come to the Steam page, and then see that it has good reviews (ARK is “very positive” on Steam).

Right now Conan Exiles is “mixed” and “mostly positive” (recent/all time) and I know it’s been at “mostly negative” at times.

Conan Exiles has, generally, worse Steam, IGN, Metacritic scores, than most games in its niche.

And checking out those reviews, people constantly raise up things like bugginess, non-responsive AIs, crashes, features that don’t really work (e.g. purges), etc.

Ark and Valheim are both what one could call “unpolished” - perhaps more so than Conan Exiles - so I don’t think that’s the explanation for the statistics you presented.

I’m not sure how Ark was in the start, but it’s right now definitely less buggy than Conan Exiles (albeit, to be fair, in the last few years Ark has had way more money to pour into development than CE) and for Valheim, I suppose it also has less chances to be buggy since the content is much more limited.

Valheim was a bit of an outlier due to how big a buzz factor it got and how it went viral, but if the reviews had been bad, if the servers had been crashing and stuff had been disappearing like it was in Conan Exiles when this game launched, it would not have jumped to millions of players. Well, at least I think so, of course no one can know for sure.


To be honest, apart maybe for the unresponsive AI’s and the server “capacity/efficiency” points you made , I don’t think the combat system is the real issue that’s holding the game from greatness, I think it’s much more basic than this : in my years of playing Conan Exiles , I’ve warned countless of new players about 3 things , that the games does a real poor job at explaining to an “unaware new client” ( by that I mean someone that bought the game without having seen any “tutorials” videos on youtube) the decay timmers , do you know that 99% of new players that arrives on an official server hasn’t heard of it ( untill it’s too late or that someone like me warns them ) , then I of course warn them on the purge , 50 % didn’t knew that they are increasing a meter for each of their actions that will start an event to destroy their base , and lastly I explain them that their character is still in the world after they log out ( since I play on PVE-C ) and that as “good practice” they should log out with all their items stored in a chest since they may be “killed in their sleep” by other players or even the temperature system in some areas … now Imagine not knowing theses 3 things exists and no ones tells you about them ( you can already see a small percentage of them on the forums , why my base disapeared ? ( some are explained the decay timmer then , some are knowledgable players that encountered a bug ( be it decay timmer didn’t refresh correctly and they didn’t check with the hammer to be sure ect … ) , and some are wiped by admin ) , nonetheless having players being explained a mechanic that litteraly makes your entire playthrough vanish on the forums of said game is very bad for the player retention / recommend to others .

And I wonder what’s the percentage of players that went to the forums to complain about it vs the number of players that just uninstalled … :hear_no_evil: :speak_no_evil: :see_no_evil:


Valheim is not a good game to compare (I run one Valheim server with my 4 CE servers) since the game is more cooperative play than Conan Exiles. The world changes based what the players do on the map. Servers will tend to have smaller numbers than Conan Exiles since it was not made for large number of players, even though the map is bigger, but many locations (dungeons, caves, camps) are not repeatable.

I enjoy Valheim. Its a very good game. Its weakness if 20 players played and cleared the surrounding areas, a new player will have nothing to do until he sails far from the explored areas. Some resources such as iron and silver are limited.

Ark and CE are built on Unreal Engine, and are similar in concept so they are a better comparison. Ark is older, which has an advantage of more time for polish, fixes, etc. I personally did not care for Ark so I really can’t compare the games much since I did not play it long enough. Personal taste.

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I’m no designer, so I can only speak of what speaks to me:

  • The (seemingly) terrible server performance
  • The stacking amount of UX/small QOL improvements that could be done.

The other gripe I used to have were bugs, but I feel I’d be lying if I didn’t say those have been dealt with, at least to a bearable state.

90% of my negative feeling towards CE is because of server performance. That being said, I understand that Funcom doesn’t really have an obligation to provide servers. But I’m pretty sure that most people don’t - or they choose not to - and as it stands, this gives them a bad first impression. I often wonder if they couldn’t have less, better performing servers… or if they shouldn’t just cap them lower, because as it stands, no one’s enjoying their game when there’s like… over ~18 people. Definitely not over 20.

That being said, I’m just talking out of my ass, so don’t take my paragraph too serious if you feel so inclined.

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1st - The generalized lag, worsed after august 2022

2nd - Abusers in general, specially the meta reporters. In my opion was the most negative experience i had in all games i had played. Recently a word was added in regarding false reports, someone found in guiltly of doing so, will be warned to not repeat the fault. So why not warn players if they was reported for falling in some point of the rules? And give then the chance to correct their actions? Think it could be automatic. Some one can acidentally relate a false positve? yes. warning it, “hey your mistake”, is fair. The same with reported people, “hey fix this and that, you have x time to do so”. I know that i should go to a private server and blah blah, but not found one 100%, vanilla, and no wipe, that is the way i like to play the game, and i dont enjoy SP.

I know the FC dont like to talk about it but they shold look to it with more attention. I was used to play other games before CE. I toke a long time to join the game, because i ever heard of these issues. Actually im holding to get the BP and Bazzar because the current problems. Dont wanna to buy the bp and have to go SP to cheat it because my server is laggy, or to put and the all the deco stuff inside and get kicked for having a laggy building.

Sincerily im not trying to blame the team for nothing, wish the succeess of the game so it can be can be bridge to their other games, that you can say, “If their next game be like this one or better i wanna play and support it”


Well i readed not much but found someone says about lags

There is one thing what funcom did totally wrong to cause lags

And it was server merge - i mean maybe i am stupid and dont get how server payment work nowadays
but thing is that these g-portal servers are extra low grade and cant hold more than 20 players

As example while there was more servers and less players like 8-15 each day on 6422 there never was any lags that crashed server… Only 1 time when twitch drops aired… now when they halfed servers and merged … players are 20-32 (from40) and basically ping and server fps is like 600-999 and 3-10 ALL TIME when players are more then 20

what i would done ( in past tense or so) : I would not kill half servers but 25% out of 100% and rest of them would make 20 players ONLY, because why the hell there need waiting queues??? there will never be 40/40 or 40+ players on one official server because g-portal cant even hold 25 players…and server just shuts off…

with 20 max players server could start use of waiting queuses, and get higher ping like before and more fps

Or second : even they are sponsors, maybe or i dunno why exact g-portal… need to get better server supporters then… i dunno…

My point is that settings for queue are useless now and if more then 20 players onlinen - servers dying…

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I do so very much agree with you.

Just to think how bad the UI looks like it feels like a rushed work of 5 indie developers.
I mean, who would think “put ALL crafting pieces in ONE menu in Alphabetic Order within a very TINY section on your screen” a good idea?
It always made me reluctant when recommending CE to my friends.

Luckily, this has been improved on 3.0, which is a good sign.
It’s a GOOD game in general - great scenery, great character models, real open world and everything.
They have done it, congrats, and that’s it.
Greatness is never their goal.

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Its the greatest game that I have played, judged by the amount of time I have put into it. It is the game I have put the most time in, over the span of Atari games in the 80s to today.

I also don’t nitpick the crap out of things and I have yet to play a game or work with software that was bug-free.

Are there problems in Conan? Yep. As a game dev myself there are things I would have definitely done differently. Are there times I am annoyed at the game? Yep. Last night I needed a thrall and my zombie thralls all went invisible. New system new bugs, I did something else and logged out.

Is it the best pvp game ever? By far no. In fact if pvp was my primary concern in games, I would have dropped conan years ago. It is a poor pvp game and I note that almost exclusively all of the rage comes from pvp players - so I conclude that if you are a pvp primary player then this game is probably not going to be great for you.

As a sandbox set in one of my favorite fantasy worlds it is the greatest thing I have come across, because I am a builder and story teller and I enjoy playing on my private server with my friends where no one is trolling or land claiming or exploiting or destroying what I am doing.

If the game had no private server option I would also probably not be here either.

So it just so happens what makes the game one of the greatest things I’ve played is that it hits most of my checkboxes for what I want, but tried to market itself to a wider audience and missed the mark with the competitive git gud type players who were exploited by griefers and exploiters and script kiddies hacking the undermesh.

From that perspective I totally get why you would think the game is hot garbage.


If I were to go with one thing I’d say lack of polish. Partly that’s because the game tries so many things at once, it’s difficult to get everything polished - then again it’s a more than five year old game and Funcom isn’t an indie developer, no matter what a few people with a savior complex thinks.

There’s an ever-present feeling that anything or everything could be lost at any given time - not through game mechanics, but through glitches, bugs or similar.


I’m simply offering criticism and thoughts on why I feel the game isn’t as well-received and as well-known as I think it should and could be.

I love the game, it’s one of the best co-op survival adventuring action base building games there are. Admittedly it isn’t the biggest niche there is, but I put this game in the same bin with 7 Days and Die and Project Zomboid and Valheim and ARK and even Minecraft (to a degree). While I prefer Conan Exiles out of all of those, the general audience does not, and this game is worse reviewed than those games are.

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Yeah, I do feel that this game would have been more popular and better received if it focused more tightly on the core adventuring gameplay. A few dungeons more, less glitches in them, clearer progression through a story, less buggy combat.

Adding all the PvP stuff, purges (which don’t really work like intended and are just a way to get named thralls), etc, was maybe a mistake? Looking at the stats available to us, it seems pretty likely that most players never even try PvP and don’t play long enough to meet a single purge.

I’m sure players who enjoy PvP or the purges disagree with this but even they must agree that the focus is a bit all over the place.

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I’d vote for it being the bugs. My gaming group soldiered on against the bugs, but each update seemed to make them worse and worse.

ANd the lack of new content is a problem too. Big world, lots of interesting things, but once you’ve seen it all they needed to have kept adding more content, quests, dungeons, etc.


The only reason Rust and Ark do so well is because their combat systems is point and click. They don’t have to worry about combos and other advanced forms of combat for PVP.

If 20 players connected to a single server at the same time, its going to be a buggy mess. Hell if more than 4 connect. So you are definitely correct when you say Valheim isn’t a good game to compare. Its a singleplayer game effectively, multiplayer if you want a headache of desynch.

But let’s be honest, most of the issues being talked about here are server related. Not every Conan Exile player sees them. When the AI starts acting dumb, such as staring at players, attacking in directions they aren’t looking, or just becoming unresponsive, then you need a server restart.

Most servers need a reboot every 4 days or so. These are well running servers. Fresh servers. Usually running without a ton of mods or unmodded. Slowly as time goes on, through little quirks and bugs in the database (clean ups can help with this), this goes to 3 days, to 2 days, and then finally once a day.

If you find yourself having to reboot every day and then having to reboot more than once per day, its time to wipe. But wiping doesn’t always solve this issue.

So your average private server has anywhere from 1-20 players, 40 players, 50 players, 70 players, or more (most I’ve seen is up to 90).

A 40/40 private server, as in a 40 man server that is full during its prime time doesn’t have 40 players total in its community. Its probably closer to about 120 or more. Its not the same 40 players logging in every day, at all parts of the day. An 80/80 server is actually exponentially higher, at around 1200 players.

Officials on the other hand can have anywhere from 100-600 players, or even more for some of the more active players. Privates have incentives to playing all the time. They usually don’t allow serieal refreshing. Refreshing inflates the actual number of players on an official server.

The reason this matters is because even if you cannot have 600 players or more online at a time. Their buildings are always there. This is what causes the slow down and for many servers the eventual wipe. Eventually the player counts in the established builds get so high that you simply need to clean house.

This is also why a wipe wouldn’t work for officials. It would be a few days before said buildings come right back. The only fix would be to introduce a limit of how many clans (solo’s count as one) can have buildings on a server. Past that and people have to go to another server. Sounds good on paper and would improve performance significantly. Of course its easily exploitable. And refreshers would degrade the server’s ability to have active players. So it would require another system to encourage active play (actual active play, not a simple grind for a bit and then be good, effectively turning the game into a job, no one wants that).

Officials will simply have bad performance as long as they have as many people playing on them as they do. Only after most players stop playing and eventually stop refreshing will it go back to normal. FC can help this through optimizations. And they have. There’s been a marked performance improvements over the last two years. Those of us who have played on populated servers during this time (officials weren’t until 3.0) have noticed these improvements.

Of course this problem is exacerbated by poor server performance. If the server is splitting its resources too much (like G-Portal does) between virtual machines, then the problems manifest earlier. 40/40 unmodded servers should not need daily restarts. Even with the populations they do have. And when they are hosted by anyone but G-portal, they don’t. But that’s a sad fact officials simply have to accept, they will never have decent performance. They get exactly what is paid for.

Unfortunately it causes issues for them that they believe is prevalent throughout the game. They’re not. And before anyone says, “I have issues on my private server though” Make sure to preface that statement with which server provider you use, and how many and which mods you are running.


What’s holding back CE? No real message from the company directing people to it and the need to work with the key contribution folks to word link their content to others not vested into the game (could even be an agreement that they provide the store front items if they ensure their content is directed to a larger amount of folks (like “survival games”, “Ark”, “D&D” etc). The content gets into fresh folks eyes and they take to the game.

Also a significant discount of the game if not F2P. The business model changed so jump in fully. You need players to gain $. To gate said consumers with a paywall before they actually because your customers…sounds too much like Costco or Sams Club and you haven’t discounted the wares to warrant that paywall. So either do something new like paywall and discounted store items or full retail but F2P to get the # of potential consumers up.


You hit the nail on the head there. This has been a constant over the years that I’ve played this game.

In fact, it’s a testament to its awesomeness that it managed to keep me captivated despite the constant problems. There were other games I tried and stopped playing due to problems the likes of which plague Conan Exiles constantly.

For me, that’s one half of the “lack of polish” problem. The other is that every single time they implement a gameplay mechanic that looks like an awesome idea they do it in a low-effort way that hints at its full potential, but more often than not that full potential remains unrealized.

Almost every time I thought “wow, this looks super promising, I can’t wait to see where they’ll go with it”, the answer turned out to be “nowhere, this is it”.

It all goes back to the concept of “polish”, it’s just polish at different levels. At the implementation level, the polish comes from improving the QA outcomes. At the game design level, the polish comes from taking more time to realize your ideas rather than just throwing RNG at them, or coming up with a bunch of basic things that look like placeholders for something better.


Yes, this is very true unfortunately.