Vanguard: Saga of Heroes

Not satisfied with the massive amount of discontent that I’ve already accumulated from the dozens of MMO’s that I’ve played over the years, I have gone ahead and jumped into the early pre-release period of Brad “Mister EverQuest” McQuaid’s Vanguard: Saga of Heroes.

Now, let me start off by saying that I don’t claim to be a Vanguard expert. At the time of this writing, I’ve only reached level 10, and as such, there’s a whole hell of a lot of content that I haven’t experienced. However, I’ve played long enough to form a few opinions on the game, and I’ve definitely discovered that my “this is EverQuest 2.5″ assumption is pretty much dead-on. (Although, I’m not really seeing the game do anything above and beyond what EverQuest II already has, so the “.5” tag doesn’t make too much sense.)

Anyways, here are a few positive and negative opinions:

WHAT HAS IMPRESSED ME SO FAR:

  • KUNG FU: The Asian-styled races, classes, weapons and environments are pretty groovy and somewhat make the tired fantasy theme a little bit more tolerable. I’m playing a monk and digging on the martial arts.
  • COMBAT (TO A DEGREE): Vanguard has the EQII-styled “chains” for special combat abilities… which is better than NOT having them, I guess. The varied fight animations ARE cool, however.
  • IT’S A BIG WORLD: Although I’m sure I’ll be more impressed by this as I go along, the world seems to be pretty damn large. (For the near 17 gigs of hard drive space this game consumes, it damn-well better be.)
  • A VIEW TO A KILL: Vanguard has this feature which allows you to see WAY off into the distance, and it’s pretty damn great. It really makes the world seem more realistic, and I was surprised to discover that looking down from a very high place can actually create a small bit of vertigo. Rad.
Vanguard: Saga of Heroes MMO group of elves by tree
Okay, you’re going to think I’m trying to pull one over on you, but Vanguard actually has Elves in it! No, seriously!!

WHAT HASN’T IMPRESSED ME SO FAR:

  • GAME ENGINE: Ugh. VERY resource intensive and near-impossible to dial in for all-around good performance. Reminds me a whole hell of a lot of Horizons: Empire of Istaria. Just when you think you’ve got the options set for good performance, you hit a town or city and the framerate drops dramatically. Just…freaking…terrible. (Of all the things that developers SHOULD be ripping from World of WarCraft, a smooth, fast-running game engine that runs on just about any gaming rig sadly isn’t one of them.)
  • BUGS: Enemies vanish during combat, forcing you to run backwards till they pop back into view; some quests (even major ones) are broken; players sometimes displayed as corpses moving along the ground.
  • DIPLOMACY: This much ballyhooed feature is actually a card game that, honestly, I find to be an uninteresting bore. I really don’t want to have anything to do with it, which is unfortunate, ’cause apparently some high-level content can only be accessed by those proficient in it.
  • COMBAT: This is essentially like every other fantasy MMO out there. Meet enemy, click through series of combat abilities on hotbar, repeat until end of fight, move onto next target. *Yawn*
  • LACK OF ORIGINALITY: Seriously, from the visuals to the gameplay, it seems like every few minutes you have to think about it and remind yourself of which MMO you’re actually playing. So far I haven’t seen anything that even remotely comes off as highly original or innovative. I might as well be playing EverQuest / EverQuest II / Dark Age of Camelot / Asheron’s Call / World of Warcraft / Horizons, etc., etc.
  • COST: The monthly fee is $14.99, which is standard, but what gets me is the $49.99 cost to get started. My opinion may change as I progress a bit more, but at this point, the $50 price tag feels like a ripoff. I’m sorry Sigil Games’ marketing team, but $24.95 would have been much more appropriate.
Vanguard: Saga of Heroes MMO mounts in pretty field
Don’t expect the game to be this pretty AND smooth-running. After installation, I recommend setting the video options to ‘rorschach test’.

So, much like a rat trained to repeatedly push a lever for a pellet of food, I shall continue on in my Vanguard journey. I have donned the blinders that keep me from acknowledging reality, all in the hope that the next time I report on the game, I’ll be stating things like, “OMFG! Vanguard is TIGHT, yo! Finally, someone has topped old-school UO and made a game that I actually CARE about and want to play forever!”

Fatsquatch Written by:

Professional nerd. Enemy of nonsense. Failed musician. Friend to the animals. Misanthrope. Jaded gamer.

4 Comments

  1. FlowingMindspin
    FlowingMindspin
    January 30, 2007
    Reply

    Good thing WoW is all I need as far as MMO’s go. The expansion is pretty groovy– then again, I wasn’t much into MMO’s at all until about 6 months ago with WoW, and I never even got to the initial end-game content… so the expansion wouldn’t seem tired and old-hat to me.

    Blood Elves are just flat-out cool, though… I can’t say the same for the Draenei. I probably misspelled that, but oh well.

    But thanks for letting me know to stay away from this one should I ever get sick of WoW. 😀

  2. Avatar
    January 30, 2007
    Reply

    At this juncture, I’m not going to say that Vanguard is something to totally stay away from. Sure, my initial impressions aren’t exactly overall favorable, but at Level 10, I’ve only begun to scratch the surface. As the game gets over the initial hump, I’m sure we’ll see some improvement. In fact, I only jumped in at the tail-end of beta, and from what I hear, the performance factor alone has been increased greatly from when beta started. Since they were able to make that much of an improvement to one of the game’s greatest issues, I’m hoping they can smooth out the game engine the rest of the way, making town adventuring a thing of fun instead of PAIN.

  3. Avatar
    zfunk007
    February 2, 2007
    Reply

    Great synopsis. Unfair in some ways (because MMO games are always buggy at the start which is why I always suggest to all reviewers to review them a year into their life cycle) but hilarious and very true. The market is completely saturated with these seemingly cookie cutter Fantasy RPG online games. What gives? Haven’t we reached our carrying capacity yet? It’s time to have a die off and only the strong survive…

  4. Avatar
    February 2, 2007
    Reply

    If World of Warcraft showed us anything, it’s that an MMO can be launched highly-polished and fairly tight. I’ve played enough of these things to expect initial problems, but some of the bugs in Vanguard are blatant and extremely noticeable during the first 15 minutes of play, and there’s no excuse for them to be there at launch. Hell, a lot of them are STILL there, even though the game has been patched a few times over the last several days. (The frequently-vanishing enemies during battles is about enough to make me wanna uninstall the damn game.)

    Basically, it just comes down to — once again — the developers rushing a game out the door in order to meet a publisher’s launch date. And in the case of Vanguard, I’m sure Sony wanted it to be released when it was, so that the Burning Crusade wouldn’t have such a great lead. (Which, of course, is silly. It would have been better to hold off until Vanguard was more polished and the shiny had started to wear off the Burning Crusade.)

    This “release early, fix later” mentality needs to STOP.

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