Vanguard: Saga of Whispers

I’m going to break with tradition and say something unusual. I’ve been hearing some good things about Vanguard. If Vanguard is a saga, then these whispers and annecdotes are novellette at best, with the tale of “broken” as bookcovers. At the very least, beyond the new-player areas these have been sightings of some non-rote quests, some of which actually sound like they’ll be fun when they work.

For instance, Granik related to me the tale of a quest to befriend an Ogre tribe, which had some well thought out storyline and a couple of quite interesting sub-quests. Unfortunately, the Ogres are agro to you, and so the storyline was interspersed with nasty deaths flaunting Vanguard’s masochistic death penalty.

Although I’ve played Vanguard, the things I’ve heard since then tell me that Work Has Been Done, and it would be unfair to use my experience to comment on all but a few areas that appear to have remained constant:

Vanguard does have zones, but they are done in such a way as to appear zoneless – you can see the terrain in the surrounding zones and beyond, and aside from actually entering a contained zone like a dungeon, you didn’t see cheesey zone “corridors” or “gates” like you do in other games. (The zones in EQ2 didn’t seem cheesey to me after EQ1, until I played Vanguard)

They’ve also chosen some strange deviations from “The Vision” that attracted many of us in the first place. For instance, at one point, we were lead to believe that Vanguard would be laying the smack down on inventory, making what we carried somewhat more realistic. But you have four inventory modes: Adventuring, Gathering, Crafting and Diplomacy. By switching modes, you instantly switch clothing, equipment, etc. So you are actually carrying or wearing four full loads of gear. And, each mode has its own packs. Your gathering mode has bags full of wood or stone and bags of picks, axes, saws, etc; your crafting mode, meanwhile, has a bag of tools like sieves, hammers, planes, tongs, etc, etc, bags of crafting neccessities like oils, salves, thread, etc.

This is actually kind of cool, but its the kind of upgrade I’d look for in WoW. Its not roleplay immersive, it’s gaming immersive.

On the other hand, the Vanguard “caravan” system means that if you get a regular group together, you can share exp so that its easier to keep co-level and together (since I’m hearing claims that you can easily spend upward of a real-time hour travelling between parts of the gameworld, I imagine this would be vital).

Vanguard did something smart in their beta. Every time you completed a quest, it presented a dialog asking you to rate the quest. When I first played, the newbie area I started in had just been released, and the quests were mundane. Others then have said they’re not bad but they are very, very generic. And I found them to be full of tediously “go and come back” stuff. You can’t put your crown jewels up front, but these quests were boring.

I played another month later, and the quests were slightly more polished, but I got the feeling that Sigil had set the bar for the 1-5 votes at 3. Those of you who have netflix or gamefly or something similar, when you rate videos on a 1-5 scale, do you use “3” to indicate “nuh, it’s ok I guess”? 1 being the lowest, I rate a quest 2 if it actually bothers me or I have problems. 1 if it really sucks. 4 is if a quest actually wakes me up off auto-run-here-and-back-pilot, 5 if I will be doing that one again on my next character.

But a zone full of 3s is a zone that reminds me I haven’t finished that Heritage quest yet…

Vanguard has flying mounts and, to its credit, it has vertical content to match. There are rumors of little flying islands and areas only flying mounts can reach. But there’s a general bug with mounts in vanguard that causes you to be dismounted on zoning. This includes flying mounts. As such the players who’ve flown them have worked out you need to either fly low enough not to die from falling damage, or very high so that you have time to remount before …. impacting.

I’ll be interested to see Vanguard in 8-12 months. The reports of brokeness are consistent with those that surrounded EQ1. Not counting Meridian 59, etc, EQ1 was the first MMORPG that I really got into, and I was too caught up in being a bard and exploring the lore, well and the lack of any other similar game to play, to be overwhelmed by its early brokeness.

I had a hard time trying to figure who the Vanguard player is. I hear lots of rumors of experiences of things like player-owned boats for travel, flying mounts. Now I’ve heard some details from players who’ve experienced these first hand in stress tests. But otherwise these reports seem to come from the ether. They’ve borne true in the light of stress tests, so people weren’t making them up. But who were these reports coming from? The answer seems to be hardcore powergamers. Aren’t they supposed to be the ones who ruined EQ1?

My hunch is that day 1 V:SoH is going to be primarily populated by the worst kind of players – the people who believe it was other people who ruined EQ1 (or AC, or …). The highly outspoken community that has surrounded V:SoH since day 1… Well stop there and analyze that for a moment. EQ1 is supposed to have been ruined by Verant/SOE listening to the highly outspoken whining of … well you see where I’m going with this?

16 Comments

I had some interest in Vanguard when it was “on paper”. I played beta 2 and lost all of it in a single blow.

Darkfall was equally promising, but the up-dates could be called up-ages.

Age of Conan… I don’t know what to think. Initial word is that apart from the constant keying combat system there’s nothing new there.

If PotBS doesn’t fill up all the expectations I’ll be playing EQ2 for quite long.

I tried the Beta of Vanguard and, although I was impressed with many of the talked about features, it just does not feel like a game I am willing to invest in at the moment. Give it 8-12 months, like KFSone said, and I’ll be checking it out.

Personally all my hopes and dreams are riding on Warhammer OL. I am looking for combat and world-server wide events. Although Guild Wars has elements similar to WHOL (taking territory from your rival factions) I am looking forward to the darkness of it :-).

PS: I have my EQ2 Monk up to level 18 but am stalling out on solo-able content. I find it ridiculously lame that a level 18 Monk can not take on a single level 12 Heroic mob – unless I am doing something wrong, which is entirely possible :-). Level 11 Heroic mobs are grey and solo-able (no XP) but level 12 Heroic mobs kick my arse? Maybe I need to invest in some new equipment.

My troll Shadowknight is 21, almost 22. I gotta also figure out what “heroic” mobs mean. I went to Wailing Caves and solo’d most of what’s in there, including several heroics. However, out in the commonlands, I can easily get owned by a heroic lev 15 mob. Go figure?

EQ1 is supposed to have been ruined by Verant/SOE listening to the highly outspoken whining of … well you see where I’m going with this?

Maybe the decision to not host a centralised forum had something to do with this too?

I’ve found VSoH to be promising. My biggest fnark so far has been with the quest dialogue system. Ugh.

I’m also looking forward to trying out the diplomacy system, I’ve been practicing by playing “Magic: The Gathering” with my 3 year old second cousin.

Laccy wrote:Maybe the decision to not host a centralised forum had something to do with this too?

Except as an “omg it was your fault” it’s a bit late. I think that idea is going to burn them.

There seems to have been a bit of a sense of doom hanging over Vanguard the last month or so, which seems in part to be radiating from Sigil who are perhaps a little under-the-gun from having been unable to get extra time from Sony.

Any new MMO needs its affiliates. WWIIOLs, understandably, abandoned it early. The game has had its highs and its lows, but in its highs it could have pulled people in if it had had affiliate sites.

So I can’t help but think maybe this was desperate sweetner for Vanguard affiliates who were showing signs of itchy feet. I’d noticed a little “decay” on some of the affiliates I visit.

When I played during closed beta, I did have some fun. But I didn’t play long because it could clearly sink as much beta activity as I could throw at it, and I didn’t feel that was right at the time.

Plus I didn’t like their implementation of the bard… Twisting, how I miss you. Apparently nobody at Sigil played Guitar Hero or noticed it sell a bazillion copies and re-bump sales of Playstation 2.

I’ll admit that the lack of need to visit trainers in EQ2 leaves the big cities feeling kind of lame. In EQ1 trainers were an important part of centering you on some place. I find a lot of EQ2 players don’t even realize that they have trainers, or that they have any purpose. They actually do, they sell apprentice 2 spells; the theory being you get your skills for free, but your trainer will help you hone them a little.

Vanguard makes you go to trainers to get skills, and different trainers have different skills to teach. I like that, I loved globetrotting in EQ1. At first. Eventually the trip across commonlands became a drag. I’ve seen that content, I’ve killed the giant and the griffin, but there’s still a chance they might kill me. I don’t want to fight them, I don’t want to see them. I want to go take a leak and come back find I’m in freeport, talk to my trainer, press a key, go make a sandwich and find I’m back with my group.

I want to play the game part of the game. I played Touring Virtual Scenery for 2 years plus my time in EQ1, thanks.

And frankly, given games like SWG and Horizons, I’ve come to view “massive world” as a scam; like the filler they put in pet food so that a 30oz tin of cat food only actually contains 5oz of “food”.

Get with me sometime and I’ll tell you all about.

…@/

i have played the bete of vanguard and in my opinon:
vanguard seems to be a extreemly good game mainly aimed at PVE players however the minimum spec required is abismol as ive had my computer about 4months and its the absolute minimum. also they have turned vanguard into the new eq, it will take ages to level up to the cap. there are some brilliant points about vanguard aswell. for instance the guild system sounds amazing and the leader of your clan beeing able to make a tent outside ‘instances’
in my summary beeing a wow player i have decided that wow is better for the reasons i have highlighted above, also there ou are abel to play casual and hardcore in wow where as vanguard ou have to be hardcore to get to a half decent level

All I can say is .. what’s going on with Vanguard reminds me of another MMO that was released a 4 and a half years ago that got pushed out the door well before it was ready. A MMO that turned into something special, but by then, the damage was done ..

Heh, make that 5 and a half years ago. Wow, time flies. :)

I’m of the same ilk as you kfs1, I played the bard in EQ1 and was engrossed with the game right up until they upped the level to 65/70.

I’ve also run out in Vanguard in the last few weeks as a trial, however it’s not polished in the slightest, broken quests, broken skills and lots of content mistakes.

All the major races (human, dwarf, elf) have quite a lot of quest and mob content, however if you move to some of the lesser race newbie areas the content dries up very quickly indeed.

I’ve had stories from friends saying that the early portion of the game is very WoW like however at L20 players become defined.

Barding for me was interesting (specifically the creation of your own specific songs), however … as with EQ2 bards it just lacks what drew me to EQ1, the fact that I can make a difference in a group with the skills I have when twisting songs.

Diplomacy was fun, until it broke.

For me, the “real skill” factor draw of a game is a strong one. It takes “real skill” to twist 4 or 5 bard songs over a lengthy in EQ1, it takes even more “real skill” to do the same and alter the songs being sung to adapt to situational differences on-the-fly.

In EQ2, the “real skill” difference between (for example) an ordinary melee and a “skillful” melee is one that understands how to slip in CA skill attacks between automatic melee attacks without affecting their overall dps. It takes a lot of concentration, believe me. It’s not just a question of bashing out those attacks as quickly as possible all the time.

I think it takes a real time commitment to come to terms with the “real skill” factor of a game, if it contains one. It’s not something that I believe is readily apparent from casual or interrupted time commitment to a game.

“lengthy period of time”

I didn’t get a lot of opportunity to really group with Laccy in EQ1, which always frustrated me. I’ll make that claim that I was a good bard in EQ1, not the best, but I definitely had aspirations to greatness, and watching Laccy work his piercers was always a chance to watch a master work :)

Part of my love of barding in EQ1 was that I was able to strongly visualize a lot of the mechanics that were in operation. I don’t know if you ever did Mistmoore with Ceryne and Autumnmoon and myself… We’d be up in the tower and I’d be doing precision crowd-control with AoE fear. We had one group, I think it might have been Bleys or one of Laria’s toons, but we charged into the tower (which set off alarms for them), and then I used fear. Someone /g’d “SHIT THE BARD IS USING FEAR”. It was a tough fight, but then we killed our first mob. /g “The bard is using fear?”. Another mob down. /g “How are you fearing without getting adds?”. Another down, 3 more to go, now I’m using charm too. /g “How are you fearing single mobs? How are you not getting adds?”.

Another mob down, now I can concentrate on charm and being a mana battery, and respond in clipped, 20-30 character responses:

/g We cleared the hall outside
/g on the way in so no
/g adds to pull while we
/g break spawn here
/g single fear, i know the radius
/g 234234

Which is about when I died :) *Right* before the last mob went down too :)

Don’t want to turn this into a “You da man.” “No YOU da man.” to-and-fro but the reason I’m going to say this now is because I’ll emphasise the “real skill” point.

I don’t think I’ve ever highlighted this to you. I’ve always told everyone who cared to listen that you had to be one of the best, if not the best, bard on the server, probably serverwide, and it’s because of one – simply described – thing: your ability to communicate while reacting to situations and keeping 4/5 songs on the fly.

Seeing 5 blinking buffs on the screen while trying to handle a situation and seeing Kayfess group tells on the screen – not just one-worders but fully crafted sentences, with punctuation and all – inspires a lot of confidence.

Course, you did fuck up a lot, but then there’s always a price to pay for being cutting edge. :)

you did fuck up a lot

I TOLD YOU! THOSE WERE PULLS, DAMMIT!

So, we’re running around on Befallen, chatting away on ventrillo, and I’m paying no attention until my brain goes back and does a double take. Granik or Ramp had just said “There goes agro master”.


Kayfess tells the group, “Incoming all the frogloks in the zone”
Kayfess tells the group, “I *may* need a heal”

I did have a knack for confirming bugs :)

234234 haha, done that a number of times … :)

btw, bards got nerfed in VG already (1 day after start), Speed buff reduced by 30% (seems like a lot of complaints on the PvP servers) and or DPS got cut a little too \o/ Just like EQ1 :)

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