Vanguard has its problems; Stargrace mentioned last night while we were chatting that you really should think of it as still being in beta and that’s right on. And we now know from former Sigil employees that the artwork was in place, but most of the quests were written by new hires in the last year of development so in short, the game is absolutely beautiful, but the quests are rote and the game isn’t all that stable.
My first few hours were plagued by bugs and disappointments, such as having to ramp back the resolution I play at in order to get acceptable performance. But I moved past that. Since I have Station Pass on my main account, Vanguard is free for me as long as I keep up the subscription; so I will be able to check in now and then.
Vanguard players are passionate about their game. They know about WoW and EQ2 and consider both games for kids. In the Thestra general chat, aside from chatting about Cloverfield and the Packers game, were fears that SOE would be bastardizing the game to make it more palatable for players of other games.
These people like being the underdogs. They’ll tear off your face if you suggest it’s like any other game.
Really, though — it is. And that might be Vanguard’s real problem.
They promised the EQ1 experience, but in EQ1, you soloed up to level 6 (or level 10 if you were tenacious), and after that, you generally grouped for the rest of your gaming life. In Vanguard, you don’t seem to have to group that much. Which is lucky, since I’d be hard pressed to find someone to group with. The nearest city, Thrush(?), was entirely empty. That monastery where you end up when you, say, fall through the world and contains all sorts of trainers and stuff — entirely empty. Aside from the rare rider galloping through and one person running through doing diplomacy quests.
Diplomacy, that’s a fun one. The first real diplomacy quest I got is impossible to win. I don’t have the right cards. The lady hammers me with red cards while I power up her yellow ones, since yellow is all I have. I spent hours analyzing all her cards and all mine, and I can come close, but it’s clear that unless I can meet her in both red and yellow, or work around her with some greens, that I am not going to win this one.
So after a few hours spent writing a program to analyze diplomacy, I moved back to adventuring. Diplomacy will have to wait until I can play more effectively.
I really enjoy Vanguard’s combat animations. They did a lot of work on this, and they are equal (or better) than those in EverQuest 2. Here’s a video (with some snarky subtitles) of my low level bard, dual-wielding long sword and dagger, attacking some walking pumpkins. Check out the overhead two-hit action.
I am listening to “Shut Up, We’re Talking #18″ while I write this, and they are wondering if people are being too nice when talking about bad games, and they mention Vanguard … twice …. three times…. clearly they think of Vanguard as the example of a bad game.
It’s not a *bad* game. Even as far back as in beta, I didn’t think it was a *bad* game. Just a *typical* game. A game these days has to bring out the big guns right from the start. Instead of getting newbie quests to kill ants and frogs, why not give me a story to work through? Put me right in the thick of things. Use that diplomacy right from the start, first quest maybe, and for more than getting a slice of pie. Crafting and diplomacy are side activities that you encounter eventually but are never presented as something vital to know. Put those first; like you have to use diplomacy to convince someone to let you fight, and the first thing they have you doing is repairing weapons for the fight, before you are given one of those and sent to, finally, fight.
People coming new to VG only see what they’ve done before. In my first six levels, all I have done is what I have done in every single game since Dark Age of Camelot, my first game after EQ1 and first with a seamless world. I know there’s unique stuff out there, I saw it at the Fanguard I went to, but I don’t see any of it here. It needs to be front and center, hour #1.
They could do something about the character models as well. There’s sliders so you can infinitely adjust your nose size or forehead size, but only four hair styles?
(lol… SUWT just mentioned Vanguard again… in the context of EQ1 nostalgia wanting VG to be EQ again… and being disappointed…)
Vanguard is a game that needs a redoing of the newbie experience — at least the halfling one. Do what EQ1 did and concentrate all new players in some hubs, like, one for each continent perhaps. Get the innovative game mechanics right out there, first thing. And somehow, STOP people from expecting to see EQ1 again. I tell people again and again — if you want a sparsely populated game with a bunch of high level players similar to EQ1, well, go play EQ1. It even now has more people than Vanguard…
Vanguard has to figure out what’s different, and emphasize that. Perhaps the amazing artwork and vistas. Give us some lore. Make some quests that are a little more interesting to pull people through the content. Then you might find new people playing.
As for me — well, I’m not paying extra for it, so I’ll keep it around. It’s tough to figure out when I should play Vanguard when I have EQ2 available…