Tenfold Hate

Vanguard Week Two: An Overview
December 17, 2007, 1:08 am
Filed under: Vanguard: Saga of Heroes

Admittedly, I didn’t clock in as much game time in Vanguard this week as I did last week. I enjoyed the time I did spend playing it, but it didn’t quite scream to be played like other games have in the past. I haven’t yet found the answer to the question, “Why Vanguard and why NOT WoW, EQ2, or LoTRO?”

I rented a wyvern and took a bird’s eye tour of Qalia, but otherwise I’ve just been knocking off quests with my blood mage feeling like I’ve done this all before in a slew of other games. If this was my first MMO, I’d probably be in love. But it isn’t.

Vanguard is a fine game. There’s just some intangible that’s not quite sucking me in. For all of their faults, both WoW and LoTRO have a stylized, coherent feel to their respective worlds. I’m just not getting this from Telon. I’m not a big PvPer by any means, but I do miss having a vaguely meaningful way to mix things up a bit when I want a breather from kill and collect quests. And frankly, if I am going to pursue the pure PvE route, I’d much rather do it in Tolkien’s world than McQuaid’s.

Admittedly, I was never a big EQ fan. I know this is the closest thing to blasphemy that can cross an MMORPGer’s lips, but it just wasn’t for me. I have a wee bias against EQ’s brand of high fantasy. I think rainbows and unicorns are the stuff of little girl’s bedroom wallpaper, not high adventure. Vanguard is a little darker, a little grittier, but also a little too similar mechanic-wise from what I’ve played in the past.

I can be a little testy about this stuff. I loved Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. When San Andreas was released, I tooled around with it for a couple weeks then dropped it like a hot potato. Outside of a few different mini-games, it was the same old song and dance beneath the surface. The same can be said for most video game sequels. This is one mark of Nintendo’s genius. The Mario games are all similar enough where there’s some level of brand continuity, but they’re always offering enough new elements to keep things fresh and appealing.

The whole fantasy MMORPG genre sometimes feels like those too-numerous-to-name, competent but unspectacular, sequels pumped out by any number of console game makers. So you like Pac-Man? You’ll love Ms. Pac-Man!

I hope I’m not sounding too negative here. But I think for any fantasy MMORPG released at this stage of the game, there has to be an answer to the question, “Why this game and why not EQ2, WoW, LoTRO, GW, et al?” In week two, I have yet to find the answer. I hope I do.

Perhaps I’m spending too much time daydreaming about the copy of Tabula Rasa I hope to find under the Christmas tree this year. Perhaps my real life WoW cronies’ proposition to start up a weekly casual play group this winter has got me nostalgic about peeking my head back into Azeroth.

After a year of licking my wounds from raid burnout, maybe I feel like if I’m gonna go back to a familiar playstyle with gear-oriented advancement systems, I might as well do it in a game I had a year-and-a-half invested in rather than under the guise of a “new” game.

But for now, I’ll keep plugging away at Vanguard and having a perfectly okay time doing it–unless either Funcom or Mythic decide to drop beta invites in my stocking. But I’m not gonna hold my breath on that one.

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Christmas Comes Early in Telon
December 12, 2007, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Vanguard: Saga of Heroes

Vanguard Game Update #3 went live tonight. This is a biggie, including the introduction of Ancient Port Warehouse and Overland raids, further optimizations, a Khal revamp, new areas for player housing, and holiday content. Hopefully, the long-promised Trial Island is not far on this patch’s heels.

Welcome news for all those level fifties anxious for new content–and they threw some bones to the rest of us peons, too. Player reception to this update should be a fair indicator of whether Vanguard has a bright future or is just treading water until the axe finally falls. It’ll also serve as a good barometer of SOE’s true level of commitment to their red-headed stepchild.

My game is still patching, so not much else to add at the moment. Get the gory details over at station.com.

Vanguard Week One: An Overview
December 9, 2007, 9:09 pm
Filed under: Vanguard: Saga of Heroes

Today marks my first full week as a resident of Telon. My bloodmage reached level 14 this afternoon. There’s no shortage of quests at these early levels. In fact, they seem to pop up in huge clusters. I’m finding by the time I’ve made my way through 3/4 of them, I’ve dinged, run to town to buy spells, and then come upon yet another cluster of quests that pull me away from the region I had been exploring. I guess I’m not a completist when it comes to these things.

Almost everything you kill in this game impacts your reputation with one faction or another, either positively or negatively. I’m not sure how significant a role reputation plays in the game at so early a stage. I just hope it doesn’t come back to bite me on the butt down the road. I’m of the mindset that reputation should have positive repercussions for those with outstanding rep with a particular faction, but it should never be used as a glass ceiling to prohibit players from obtaining certain crafting patterns or access to a dungeon. I don’t have time for that type of silliness.

I had my first opportunity to try my healing shoes on for size in a small group quest outside the Neamsong Bunkers this week. I did okay, considering my group was composed of a sorcerer and a rogue. After our first wipe, I quickly learned that the traditional healing spells in my toolbar were just not energy efficient if I was gonna do a halfway decent job keeping my small band of adventurers alive. “Entwining Vein” is my friend. The spell drains life from a foe and transfers the hit points to an ally, allowing the bloodmage to mend allies and mutilate enemies all in one handy incantation.

The fun factor of this game, admittedly, has been much higher than I expected and technical difficulties on my new comp have been virtually non-existent. I did experience two crashes to desktop, both this weekend. Neither made me a happy camper. Otherwise it’s been smooth sailing.

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