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Vanguard: State of the Game

Posted Thu, Mar 26, 2009 by Dalmarus


A little over two years ago, one of the most hyped and hotly anticipated MMOs of its generation finally opened its servers. The masses went wild but not in a good way. Vanguard: Saga of Heroes was horrifically buggy, and for a vast number of gamers, it was completely unplayable on their computer systems. Sigil may have touted the game to be the spiritual successor of the original EverQuest, but despite all the prayers of the faithful, it just couldn't survive without some divine intervention. Thankfully, that intervention embodied itself in the form of Sony Online Entertainment.

Y-M-C-A!

SOE has owned the game for two years now and what a difference that kind of time can make. Since it's been quite a while since our last good look at Vanguard, I thought it was high time to get back in there and see how things are going. The size of the team may have changed over time, but they're still continuing to make it the best game it can be. Admittedly, I may not be the most unbiased person to write this; I spent a year pouring my heart and soul into the Ten Ton Hammer Vanguard site. But this is an MMO commentary, so hopefully you already realize that this column is just my opinion, nothing more or less.

First off, we can't talk about the current state of Vanguard without mentioning one of the more exciting achievements of the team: the addition of a free trial. Not only is it a free trial, but it was designed completely from the ground up to be its own entity, showcasing the talent and skills of the development team. SOE really took the time to explain things in a much clearer manner than had been done before, but without force-feeding everything to a new player. What sometimes feels like an unwelcome chore to endure in other games became a path of natural progression. Read my Isle of Dawn overview for a much deeper look. The team did an amazing job and it shows.

As a community, we had to wait a long time for the Isle to be released, but it eventually was. I'm hoping the same can be said for the long awaited Pantheon of the Ancients. Those of us that attended last year's SOE Fan Faire got the chance to watch a teaser trailer for the new area and some small hints about how the gods of Telon will become involved in the lives of mortals. The Hall of Shattered Souls was to be the new raid dungeon with Pantheon. I've never made any effort to disguise the fact that I am not a raider in any of the games I play. But the ending words that slowly appeared on the screen near the end of the trailer made me seriously consider becoming one though: "What lies within the Hall of Shattered Souls? Pain... Suffering... Agony... The Truth." Unfortunately, players are still begging that this new area comes to light soon.

I have to say I'm also a little surprised that neither an AA (Alternate Advancement) system, nor a level cap increase, has come about yet. Before I moved to Ten Ton Hammer's main site, I wrote a weekly column called Dalmarus' Vanguard Chronicles. One of those Chronicles contained a desperate plea to the development team to implement an AA system as soon as possible to buy them some time. This hasn't come to pass, and the rumbling from a massive amount of the community continues because of it. The game has been out for over two years now and the number of level 50 characters (the current cap) is staggering when compared to the (guesstimated) overall population. They need more things to do. I'd like to think a plan such as this is still on the drawing board somewhere, but I'll be sure to find out at this year's Fan Faire.

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