Friday, June 10, 2011

Vanguard: Wait What?

Even though Evizaer is a fuddy-duddy, and even I took a long break from MMORPGs, I am back at it! And of all things, I am playing Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. I'll tell you why:

  • Classes and the adventure game at large are designed around groups. While it is possible to solo your way to level cap (some classes are more proficient at this than others), large parts of the game will be skipped.
  • There are no instances. (Ok, SOE added a raid instance, but that's the only one.) Dungeons you happen across will be filled with terrible things you cannot possibly solo and other players! I might actually have to talk to someone and group up with them to explore something!
  • Crafting-centric economy with complexity akin to Star Wars Galaxies. You can build a house. In the non-instanced world. And let everyone (or some or none) inside.
  • There is a unique "sphere" of gameplay called Diplomacy. It's not the most deep nor complex turn-based strategy game, but I enjoy playing it. I also love it as a vehicle for story/dialogue as I find myself actually reading the NPC text (which is wholly irrelevant to the strategy game itself).
  • Adventuring is dangerous. If the inference wasn't clear from the dungeon/group points above, mobs will kill you. People die at level 4 and 5. You don't start losing XP until level 10.
  • I am missing quests because I am not talking to NPCs. WoW and her children have trained me to just look for Quest indicators on tops of NPC heads (which do exist in Vanguard). But some quests only become available after you talk to NPCs.
  • The factions are not Us vs Them. At level 3 Diplomacy, I've already experienced a more nuanced and grey story than anything I've ever seen in a Blizzard product.
  • It is very difficult if not impossible to min/max your character. Attributes are too complex. Here is a quote from a TenTonHammer guide:
The attributes in Vanguard are also complicated, making pretty hard to limit yourself to 3. Try being a tank who chooses to min INT. You'll have a hard time telling who has aggro from that add. For once, it looks like we have a game that tries to discourage the min/max build approach.

As a reference, this is all of what Intellect does:
Spell Damage: Intelligence adds to the damage of all spells. The number revealed by the tool tip for INT is a percentage relative to 100% (the normal power of your spell), and casters will almost certainly want to take advantage of this statistic

Identify/Recognize: INT increases your chance to identify what spell a mob is casting and to recognize the tactics applicable to the battle. The tool tip does not provide a numerical value for this effect. The sooner a player can identify that a spell is being cast, the sooner she can attempt to counter it. This will help casters and healers. Recognizing tactics permits a player to take advantage of a mob's weaknesses. This helps all classes.

Detect/Perceive: INT raises your chance to detect opponents under stealth or invisibility and to perceive what opponents are doing during combat. This will be tied to skills measured on maximum potential versus a mob of an even level. Detecting stealthed or invisible mobs is critical for everyone. Perception reveals who has aggro, a crucial effect for tanks and healers.

Counter: INT heps your chances to counter a spell. This will be tied to your counter skill measured on maximum potential versus a mob of an even level. Casters and Blood Mages can counter spells.

Resist Counter: INT ensures that a player's spells will more difficult to counter by mobs. This is essential for casters.
  • Even though the newbie island is very much On-Rails, I am told that the world really opens up after you leave (at level 10).
  • The world is huge, but there are waypoint/teleporters to help people get around. Different grades of ground mounts. Flying mounts can be rented. Players claim that the game has years of content.

Just to air the laundry, I will paraphrase the development history of Vanguard. Developed by original Everquest devs under the guise of Sigil Games, Microsoft poured a lot of money into the company, and eventually Sigil brought SoE on board as co-publisher. VG launched in 2007 right as the Burning Crusade did. The game was massively hyped with features that just were not complete at release, and there were stability issues. SoE bought all the rights to the game after the failed launched, patched up the bugs, added some newbie/accessibility features, and then shelved the game. There hasn't been a content update nor patch to the game in over a year. Vanguard directly competes with EQ2, so it makes sense for SoE to let it rot.

I've been playing this past week with two (soon to be three) friends. We are still on the trial/newbie island. I am playing a Cleric (with plate, Ferrel :P). I definitely think there is cool stuff in store, and I can't wait to journal it here.


evizaer said...

What's next? Meridian 59? Ultima Online? ...Star Wars: Galaxies?!?!

motstandet said...

Wizardry Online.

Brian 'Psychochild' Green said...

Hey, nothing wrong with M59. :P (I'd have responded sooner, but I was on the road and had some computer problems upon returning.)

Anyway, looking forward to the reports on Vanguard. It's one of those games that sounds interesting, but definitely one I don't have the time to dig into deeply. I'm very interested to see how the new player experience is and how things have changed since back in the day.