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
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
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
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.