Well, it’s official, I’m done. I really tried to stick with it (making it to level 15), but in the end, Vanguard‘s miserable performance just can’t be tolerated. I’ve tried dropping all of the game’s settings and resolution to the very bottom, tweaked the client .ini file, overclocked my GPU, turned off the game’s sound, maxed out my RAM, and even participated in a voodoo ritual involving the sacrifice of a chicken…all to no avail. It’s like no matter how hard you try, Vanguard simply doesn’t want to run well for you. (In fact, I’d say that the greatest enemy to be encountered in the game is the game engine itself.) And I’m not talking about playing the game with all of the visual settings set to maximum; I’m merely talking about getting the game to where it doesn’t hang or stutter — despite looking like ass.
It’s funny how I can run far better looking games like Oblivion with no problem, but Vanguard on the lowest possible settings runs terribly. Sure, out in the wilderness things run pretty well, but get around any buildings or large group of players/monsters and it all goes to hell — slideshow style. Of course, mention any sort of dissatisfaction around the Vanguard fanboys and you’ll only hear how you’re pretty much stupid for trying to run the game on hardware that’s older than last week. (Yep, if you want Vanguard to run smoothly, then apparently you need to have every component in your rig to be state-of-the-art, and if you don’t, then in the eyes of the Brad McQuaid/Vanguard apologists, you’re clearly a moron.)
The game’s developers keep assuring us that the performance will increase over the next year as they continue to optimize the engine, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay $15 a month to beta-test a ridiculously sluggish MMO. The performance issues should have been ironed out before the game went to retail. How anyone could expect to pull people away from World of WarCraft (which, by the way, runs beautifully on almost anything) by offering up an MMO that most PC users can’t even hope to run well is beyond me. And ya know, it’s really all too bad. There’s a lot in Vanguard that I honestly did like. Martial arts, player housing like Ultima Online, awesome mounts, huge world, deep crafting system, and challenging level advancement were all things that made me want to stay with this game, and if the game didn’t perform so pathetically, I would certainly keep my subscription active.
With WoW‘s continued dominance and the large number of MMOs to be released later this year, it was critical that Vanguard make a good impression out of the gate. With all of the bugs, nerfs, and dismal game performance, this obviously hasn’t happened. (You’d think they’d want to release a game that could be run on as many installed PCs as possible, instead of focusing on the smaller, hardcore PC enthusiast community.) The game is clearly still in beta, and by the time the dev team gets everything straightened out, it will most likely be too late as fans of the genre will have moved on to other recently released MMO titles.
Ultimately, I have to say that if you like the genre and are looking for something that has a little more meat on its bones than the current MMO flavor-of-the-month, then Vanguard is definitely worth a look. However, just be aware that as the game currently stands, you should totally ignore the published system requirements and set out to buy a top-of-the-line Alienware or Falcon Northwest gaming rig if you want a nice-looking and smooth experience.
Perhaps in 6 months or so the game’s performance will be a bit more optimized, but by then, I’m sure there will be other newly-released MMOs that are far more compelling. Pity, that.