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A New Saga Begins – A Fresh Look at Vanguard Pt. 2 - Page 3

Posted Tue, Aug 18, 2009 by Ralsu

Scorpion


Gameplay

In my Vanguard review, I said gameplay is where the title shines, which still holds true today. The sheer amount of diversions in Vanguard can keep the casual gamer busy for years. In addition to the standard adventuring, the game boasts rich crafting that lets players build their own boats and more. Vanguard also has a Diplomacy system that unlocks fascinating lore and storylines while also contributing in a small way to raids. Speaking of raiding, players can do some of that, too, if the notion strikes.

I have been enjoying the rent-a-griffons in my return to Telon, but I also remember Sigil developers claiming, “You’ll be able to use almost any animal you see in the game as a mount.” It’s hard for returning players to overcome the disappointment that this isn’t true, but new players can appreciate just how fun it is to soar in the skies on a rented griffon and take in the sights. The freestyle control of the griffons tops the predetermined flight paths used in EverQuest II.

It’s the numerous extra things to do in Vanguard that keep me logging in every night. Like Ten Ton Hammer’s Eric “Dalmarus” Campbell, I found the Tao of fishing to be most relaxing. I can spend hours running around looking for different water sources to see if the fish are biting. Some play sessions are devoted entirely to harvesting. Others are spent only on crafting. When a friend logs in, I drop what I am doing and go on some adventuring quests.

Each facet of Vanguard offers a layer of intricacy that most other games don’t. Crafting goes far beyond the simple “combine items with the press of a button” mechanic. It has more complexity than EQ2’s system of different crafting actions to produce different effects. For serious crafters, Vanguard is a great game to play. Meanwhile, harvesting adds clothes that increase the yield, and Diplomacy offers quests in the form of a fun card game, a truly unique feature.

PvP is not a real focus for the Vanguard development team. A single PvP server hosts the action, which is mostly player-driven. The returning player in me remembers that Sigil clearly advertised that PvP was never intended as a focus, but an outcry on the forums late in development led to it being tacked on as a way to get the bullet point on the box. Luckily the PvP community is some of the most loyal of the bunch. Were I a new player looking for PvP, I likely would look elsewhere.

Finally, raiding is really starting to shape up in Vanguard. Hardcore raid guilds likely will get bored pretty fast, but the casual crowd who sticks with Vanguard will find plenty to challenge them. The developers are dedicated to adding to this gameplay element, so this will only get better. Hopefully the casual nature of the fan base will allow SOE ample time to tweak each new raid encounter to make it really outstanding.

Final Thoughts

It’s time to talk about performance again. As I said in my review, players who have no technical problems running Vanguard have plenty to be positive about, especially if they can get past their original expectations and appreciate the game for what it is. Those who do have some problems must decide if the game’s tremendous numbers of features make up for this shortcoming.

With good friends to play with, Vanguard could keep me happy for a very long time. Everything about Telon has a serene, calming effect on me. It’s not as crowded as World of Warcraft, nor is its subscribers as friendly to immature players. It has most of the fun features of EQ2 but with greater detail. It lacks the storied intellectual property of The Lord of the Rings Online or the PvP of Warhammer Online, but its massive world outshines both for explorers. Perhaps only Age of Conan and Aion rival it for graphics.

Vanguard, the game that it is rather than the collection of promises made during its development, is a terrific MMO well suited for the casual but serious gamer. The title received the criticism it deserved at launch, but it’s come a long way since then. It’s time to give Telon another chance.
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