I’m finding that the benefits outweigh the advantages by a sufficient margin to keep me entertained. It is very nice not having to worry about keeping up with the group – thanks to the brother hood system; and its very nice that each and every class is just different enough.
They do re-use a lot of base mechanical concepts – the Blood Mage’s “Blood Union” is represented thru the same system as the Bard’s “Dance Level” and the Disciple’s “Jin”. But saying that they are alike is like saying mele and casters are alike – they press buttons and one of their three bars goes down.
There is some overlap and common ground between classes, enough that you don’t have to completely re-learn the UI for each class or something petty like that. You do, however, have a significant re-learning curve with each class, which makes for compelling replay value.
So far I’ve played (mostly briefly) a paladin, a blood mage, a rogue, a bard, a monk, a disciple and a shaman.
I spent a couple of hours playing my Blood Mage with Granik’s druid on Sunday, and had a lot of fun. That’s a fairly novel and interesting class.
The bard class is particularly enjoyable for me; I’m a little loathe to invest in fully understanding my song combinations but I love the fact I can label them and that others can read the labels – even though I’d gotten out of the habbit of doing so, and I’ve had a good deal of fun experimenting with song-component combinations.
We’ve been re-organizing our group: we currently have myself (bard), Granik (disciple), Easting (dreadknight) and Snail (sorceror). We don’t particularly care if its the best combination of classes (really), as long as it isn’t utterly impractical.
I’ll post screenies later, but this weekend we headed into Ksavari Gulch. This sequence of quests provides you with a flying mount that only works within a limited radius of the Gulch, but it made it a really very cool experience indeed.
While we were waiting for Easting/Snail, Granik and I decided to do a quest that involved killing some turtles. There aren’t a great many of them and finding them under water was time consuming. So we fetched our little sloop and began sailing up and down the coast line turtle fishing. It turned what might otherwise have been a tedious camp into quite a blast :)
The group seems like it will work fairly well and I feel like I’ve lucked out on my companions :) We may need to twist Easting’s arm into playing in 3rd person to increase his situational awareness, convince Snail we’ve played an MMO before, snare Granik and teach me to talk a lot less/learn to do two quests in the same place and curb my itchy feet.
I think we finished last week a little badly – we’ve just ground a bunch of new characters up to grouping level twice and changed contintents while doing it, so we have a mismash of quests and only a loose link to the game’s storylines. I think we can re-center on the quest lines starting around the West Bunker in Qalia, which is the next big quest hub coming up.
Then we should be good – the one issue to tackle is what to do when the group isn’t online: if you go do quest X, the experience is all shared between the brootherhood, but the rest of the group still has to go do the quest. It can be both a good and a bad thing, since the one significant flaw I’m finding is that Vanguard gives too much exp and so it has a hard time keeping up with any of our groups – we very rarely have yellow or orange quests that can actually challenge us.