Hey all, so, I wasn't really big into the survival style games, usually they always just smacked of me as giant playgrounds for griefers (and to some extent that has panned out). That being said, Conan Exiles was the first one to draw me in, and I do see why they're so fun, especially the raiding/pvp aspect of it. The roaming gangs of gank squads, not so much. But finding that sneaky way into a base that the person didn't think of… that's golden.
So, due to the lack of content in Conan Exiles, I decided to give Ark a try as it was on a pretty good sale recently. Here are some of my basic findings:
Graphics: Objectively Conan has far FAR FAR better character models, ARK's are quite bad until you can get armor to cover up the ridiculousness, they're really a giant wart on the game because the rest of the game is stunning. The Dinos have awesome textures, poly counts on the models are high, just looks amazing, then the character models seem like this after thought. Conan is not necessarily lacking in this department, but like most of the points im going to make, I think its mostly a fact of Ark has been out for 2+ years and Conan hasn't. The world is beautiful in both games, and this is just more subjective, but the desert biome get's really old really quick. Again, that's subjective. I personally am very much looking forward to the highlands biome.
The building system: Despite Conan's overall lack of "content" compared to Ark (ark has way way more armor, craftable items, weapons, etc etc) the actual process of placing down buildings and such is so infinitely stupidly insanely better in Conan than Ark it's hard to believe Ark screwed it up SO MUCH. This is another really big wart on the face of Ark in my opinion because otherwise the game is good. They really need to "fix" the building system or make it more robust/snap better, etc.
UI wise I have to say goes ever so slightly to conan, there's a lot of really minor stuff that makes navigating in and out of various windows so much more fluid and nice in Conan than in Ark. Ark's isn't necessarily bad, just inefficient.
Thralls vs Dino taming: So this one is a painfully and gigantically obvious win for Ark. IMO this is the main reason why Ark feels so much more fun overall than Conan does currently. The whole system Is so much better fleshed out. In Ark dinos are actually useful for defense, they're useful for attacking if you're riding something around and get attacked, etc. The whole thing just makes sense. Now, I'm chalking this up to lack of content for Conan Exiles. IMO this is easily something that given a couple years time, Funcom could easily turn the thralls system into something just as cool and fun as Ark. This really is the best aspect of Ark IMO though.
I haven't done any PVP yet in Ark so I can't really speak to that aspect of it vs Conan Exiles, I have a feeling it's probably a bit better just due to the dino system, having defense turrets, etc, and overall just lack of content in Conan Exiles.
If you're into the base building aspect of these games, despite the lack of content, I feel like Conan easily cinches the win here despite Ark having many more building options. The whole system is so much more fluid, easy to use, etc. Ark gets really tiresome really quick, you only ever feel like you're fighting against it instead of working with it. If there is more than about a 3 degree hill near where you want to build, you have to resort to all manner of ridiculous tricks and such to get a base built, it's seriously seriously stupid. Not being able to stack foundations for example is a huge issue for me and something that Conan spoiled in effect for me for Conan. Not being able to rotate pieces, raise or lower pieces, change the angle/leaning of pieces, etc etc, is things that Conan spoiled for me. Now, to Ark's credit, it does prevent some of the completely ridiculous and frankly stupid "cliff" bases you see in Conan, and I don't mean ones on plateus, I mean stupid stuff like giant bases out on pillars, and places where the laws of physics clearly don't apply.
Overall I'd say Ark is the funner game, particularly if you are more into the PVE aspect of these games. It definitely feels a lot more like an actual survival game than Conan. Conan is really only a survival game in so much as you have to survive from other players, in PVE "surviving" in Conan is jokingly easy.
Final thoughts for me are basically this. Ark has had a lot more time to just create content, however, i feel like the developers started with a shaky foundation and instead of fixing the foundation, are just building this giant contraption on top of it that feels very shaky. IMO i would have focused on improving the building system a lot, and it seems like they just haven't done that. For example i found posts from almost a year ago from devs saying they were going to implement the ability to rotate building pieces, obviously that still hasn't happened. Ark really feels like its just lost its way, or has a bit of a lack of direction.
Conan on the other hand is suffering from the fact that its true Early Access (not the horse crap Ark is, where they are using EA as an excuse to get away with laziness) and as a result has a serious lack of content. Combat desperately needs to be revamped in the game. Overall outside of a combat revamp, IMO all that Conan truly needs is just a crapton of new content. IMO Conan has so much potential to be freaking awesome, its not even funny.
TLDR: Ark is probably the objectively better game, only due to the fact that it has more content and the Dino taming system. A year from now, i think Conan can take the crown easily.
Anyways, I just typed this out quick so I apologize for the lack of formatting and overall coherence.