Vanguard: State of the Game

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...

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. href="" target="_blank">Vanguard:
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 href="" target="_blank">Sony

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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 href="" target="_blank">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 href="" target="_blank">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 href="" target="_blank">last
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 target="_blank">Dalmarus'
Vanguard Chronicles
. One of those Chronicles contained href="" target="_blank">a
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.

One recent item that has caused quite a stir was the announcement that href="" target="_blank">RMT
would be coming to Vanguard. There hasn't been any official statement
on whether or not the service would get its own server or be moved to
all live servers. Neither plan seems viable from my perspective. Even
though it's continuing to slowly grow, Vanguard (in my opinion) doesn't
have the population to support another server, no matter what the rule
set. This announcement also enraged a large number of current players
and I'd like to believe that the SOE gurus learned their lesson with href="" target="_blank">Star
Galaxies and wouldn't disregard the wishes of their current
paying customer base by forcing an unwanted service on their servers,
thus completely disrupting the current economy. A third (though
probably just as unpopular) solution would be to open a new server with
the understanding that once the transfers had completed, the remaining
non-RMT servers would be merged into one. Oh yeah… and the
PvP server would finally be put out of its misery. That’s
just my personal speculation on the subject though. Not everything in
the land of Telon is fodder for the href="" target="_blank">Doom
and Gloom

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Who are you
calling stoned?

I've mentioned before that I spent a significant amount of time fishing
on the beaches of the Plane of Tranquility in href="" target="_blank">EverQuest
and I loved it. It wasn't exciting, it wasn't very interactive, yet I
enjoyed the relaxation of it immensely. When I hopped on for the
purpose of making a brief fishing guide to add to the site, I
discovered two things. 1) The thirty minutes or so I had originally
intended to spend to get a brief overview turned into almost four
hours, thus making me late for work. 2) The guide was going to be
longer than a few words. The fishing in Vanguard proved to be far more
engaging than I ever expected it to be, so I had a lot of fun with the
guide in turn. It should be posted for your use (and enjoyment) next

Combat is still as fun and exciting as ever in Vanguard. Counter-spells
are my favorite aspect of Vanguard’s combat. Being able to
counteract an enemy’s spell may not sound like much, but when
you’re battling a healer designed for a full group and you
miss countering a spell she casts that brings her back up to full
health right before your group finishes her off, you’ve just
allowed a serious world of hurt to rain down upon your party. Never
underestimate the benefits of a well timed counter-spell. I literally
can’t count the amount of times that single act has
completely changed the tide of battle, for better or for worse.
It’s that kind of interactive combat that makes things so
much fun and it seems I’m not the only one to notice.

It's been slow going, but the population appears to be growing. To me,
that's for one reason and one reason only; even though it's not
perfect, Vanguard is still one of the best online games out there. It's
not flashy, and it's not meant to be devoured like that caramel
cheesecake your mother-in-law just scarfed down. If you're looking for
a game with some serious depth, a truly unbelievable amount of content
to explore, and one of the most helpful communities that exists, you
can't go wrong with Vanguard. It may not be the greatest thing since
sliced bread, but you'd be hard pressed to find something better.

What makes it so great you ask? Let me finish this with a brief tale.
There's a city that hangs over the edge of a cliff in between a dark
elf outpost (Evendusk) and a major city, Ahgram. As I was out hunting,
I could see it off in the mist of clouds, always tantalizing me with
its secrets. For almost a week, I slowly made my way closer and closer
to that city until one day, I finally managed to make my way to it
without being slaughtered by the marauding terrors that had previously
barricaded my approach. When I finally set foot in that city, I felt a
sense of accomplishment that can’t be described. Those are
the moments that brought back that magic feeling of the “good
old days” in gaming.

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