I love Vanguard: Saga of Heroes
, but I
always have tried to remain objective about its faults. I am sure Sony
Online Entertainment was none
too happy with my review
in September of 2007, which gave
Vanguard a below-average score despite my insistence that I enjoyed it.
I left Telon amid guild drama and personal conflicts roughly four
Now almost two years since my review, I have returned to Telon. What
has changed? How would I rate my experience now? Read on to find out!
First, I want to note some important factors about the changes in my PC
build between Vanguard beta and today. Then I had a Pentium 4 3GHz
hyperthreading processor, 1.5GB RAM, and a GeForce 7600GT 256MB
graphics card. Now I have the same Pentium 4 3GHz hyperthreading
processor, 3 GB RAM, and a GeForce 8600GT 256MB graphics card. Better,
but still not top of the line material.
New Vanguard characters have a choice between starting out in
the old areas available at launch and visiting the Isle of Dawn (IoD),
the area available to the Vanguard 14-day trial. I chose the Isle of
Dawn to see the new content and get a sense for what the in-game
community is like these days. Ten Ton Hammer’s Eric
“Dalmarus” Campbell has written
plenty on the Isle of Dawn
, so I won’t belabor the
point too much.
As Dalmarus noted, IoD does a terrific job of explaining the many
facets of Vanguard in bite-sized chunks without overwhelming the
player. I am not sure old starter areas had any deficits as far as
tutorials went, but the tutorial on IoD is polished and fun. The
central story focuses on the invasion of the Ulvari, sinister creatures
from another dimension. Your budding hero gets a chance to thwart this
invasion, taking the fight all the way to a temple in the mountains
accessible only by a Pegasus mount.
The design of almost everything on IoD is of high quality and looks
very deliberate. My character ran quests that ranged from the standard
kill and fetch variety to a number of interaction quests and even some
encounters with a minor deity. One early task had me work my way
through a cave to shut down an Ulvari portal by destroying the
generators that powered the portal. A new player might have marveled at
the open dungeon that went “miles” under the earth.
As a returning player, I was thrilled again with the feel of a good
The final quest in the Ulvari temple was nothing short of genius. I had
to use a Pegasus mount to reach the place. Getting those trial players
on winged mounts where they can experience that feeling of flying and
can appreciate the beautiful landscapes of Telon is a smart move. As a
returning player, I felt the urge to get my own permanent flying mount.
The first part of the quest had me go seek the aid of a rock deity who
had recently been corrupted by the Ulvari. Then I needed to face down
the Ulvari leader. The temple was laid out well and provided a fun
challenge for a duo.
One huge advantage to the design of IoD is that the NPCs carefully
connect the player to the stories on the main continents after you
complete all quests in the trial area. When I had stopped the Ulvari
threat, I was a hero on the Isle of Dawn, and my deeds were already
known in Telon proper. As such, I was given a choice of three places to
go where a hero’s aid was needed. This gave me a very direct,
if very generic, connection to the place I was going next.
Veskal’s Exchange needed help, so I was going there. At least
I had a bit of buy in for the local problems when I got there.