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I am posting my review of Vanguard from the perspective of a gamer dad with moderate mmorpg experience. I started playing online in Horizons..3 years played. Played Guild Wars since it's launch and did some beta play in WoW and SoR. Though relatively inexperienced in the mmo genre...I have been deeply involved and very active during my brief 3 years playing online. I base my review of Vanguard on two months of daily play...beta 5 to current.
I score with 10 being the best and 1 being the worst.
Chacter models / creation ~ 9
They look great. There are dozens upon dozen of options from adjusting the " tilt " of your ears to the angle of the tip of your nose. Oddly enough though...only 4-5 hair styles to choose from. In ones home town there is a sense that everyone looks the same. This lessens alot though as you level up and travel around to various other areas. A bit of a disappointment overall though. I hate seeing another avatar that looks just like my own. The massive variety of other ways to customize one avatar is the reason for the 9 otherwise it would be an 8. The incredible amount of races and schools available help keep the score up as well. Each race is very unique in its style of play..each has a very unique look and racial abilities.
Starting Areas ~ 9
The starting areas in Thestra actualy get a score of 10. Starting areas in Kojan get a 8. Starting areas in Qalia get a 9. This score is based on my experience on each continent. I think the way the quests are lined up and the way they introduce you to various aspects of gameplay are well done....the scores reflect which areas are better to start in. The leveling is fast early on and the pace is quick. Plenty of lore is provided though one has to pay attention to avoid getting lost. I learned the hard way that skimming through npc dialog is ill adivised...read it all or you will get confused easily.
Game Performance ~ 8
This score has come up alot for me. A few weeks ago I would have scored it a 6. Memory leaks have been fixed. Mobs no longer disapear while engaged. Stutter has been greatly reduced. My fps has increased from 15-20 to 25-30 with no adjustment on my end. For perspective sake...rig is a 3500 amd, Nvid 6600 gpu, 1 gig of ram...graphics set to high performance though I can play on balanced with a 5-10 fps hit on my cpu. Since graphics aren't a major priority for me..I play on high performance instead..game still looks plenty good to me.
I lose connections with the social server fairly often and the chunk crossing remain to be an issue. Those are my two biggiest complaints. Losing the social server connection forces a relog to fix and the chunk crossings can sometimes crash me to desktop and always involve about a 10 second pause while the new chunk loads. I think my 1 gig of ram has alot to do with that though. I will be upgrading ram soon...2-3 gigs is highly reccomended.
* UPDATE~ I have now upgraded to 3 gb of ram. Stutter is non-existant. Social server has not crashed once in days. Chunk crossings are barely noticeable now !!! I still play on high performance..BUT...I have view distance maxed, animation distance maxed, detail level doubled, lighting details doubled...with grass and fancy clouds turned off.
*EDIT ~ There are some ISOLATED accounts that have had some game breaking..can't log in or play issues. Out of 100 people in my guild..this has been an issue with about 3-5 that I am aware of. so.. I have had no such issues.
Warning..3-5% of the player base will have game breaking issues.
Combat ~ 10
I love the combat. I love the difference in combat between schools. I love the variety of skills and how positon is important. I love the fact that I have to use every skill I have in different ways depending on which mob I am engaged with. The particle effects are supurb. The combat animations vary greatly with lots of variety. A few weeks ago I would have scored a 9 here..but recent fixes have made combat a blast ! No cookie cutter abilities carried from one school to another. Each school is indeed...completely unique and requires different tactics to be successful. I will eventualy play them all...I'm in danger of too many alts simply because they are all so fun to play. One has to pay attention. This is no click and watch combat. Do that and you will die often. One actualy has to quickly learn a mobs strengths and weakness. One has to fully understand their own strengths and weaknesses. Not all schools solo the same and group the same. If you solo..pick a healing type school. You can solo well with other schools..but it's harder. I have had no difficulty leveling my Paladin solo. Mage types and light armor types is more challenging..but still possible. I reccomend rolling a Paladin or Cleric as a first character...expand to other schools once you become more familiar with gameplay.
Crafting ~ 8
I dinged crafting because it is still too buggy. Too many complications and too much of a grind. Despite the grind and complications it still gets an 8 from the sheer potential. It's a very engaging process where actual talent comes into play. I really feel like I'm making something. I get a good sense that I need to understand how to make something in order to make it well. Making it well is important. Their is a big difference from a grade A item and a grade B one. Harvesting is its own little mini game that is independant from the crafting process.
Harvesting is actually a 4th element of gameplay to go along with the craft, adventure and diplomacy aspescts.
Diplomacy ~ 9
To be fair..I have not explored this aspect of gameplay much at all. What little I have done I have enjoyed. There is simply to much to do. I have been too busy and having too much fun with the other aspects of gameplay to spend much time in diplomacy. Based on what my guildmates have done and what I've seen in game...it loosk fun and has great potential. Its an aspect of gameplay that has dynamic impact on everyone. Civic diplomacy can grant entire areas various buffs to adventure and craft that everyone in that area for a long period of time can enjoy.
Graphics ~ 10
Simply put...fantastic! I do not have a single complaint in the graphics department. They do require a high end machine. Any gaming rid bought today though for about $2000 ( not store bought ones )..custom online ones can play this game at max settings with acceptable fps of 30-40 range. The colors, lighting, view distance, animations, water....everything..gorgeous ! Don't listen to the nay sayers....most of them just got their egos crushed when their " killer rig " they bought a year go won't get the 60+fps they are used too. You will find most of them are under the age of 20 yrs and have their egos tied up in their rigs like one would have their egos tied up in there hot rod cars too. A year from now your standard $1500 cpu will run this game great with the price of technology coming down fast and the game continueing to optimize.
Community ~ 10
On the Thunderaxe server..I have found the community to be awesome. Lots and lots of older...vetern gamers that know how to handle themselves well. I don't advise anyone to come in from WoW thinking they all uber and great..trash talking anyone though. They will get jumped on pretty fast....and rightly so imo. Credits earned gaming in WoW are invalid as my 7 year old max level in that game. My biggest issue with the players on my server is they are TOO QUICK TO TRY AND HELP ! That's right...everyone is so eager to help you it is actualy annoying at times. A problem I can live with though.
This game is so big..and so deep..I could almost go on forever. It is a fantastic experience for those players who value the journey more than the destination. Its a great game for those that appreciate the fact that the sweet aint so sweet without some bitter.
Overall score is a very solid ~ 9
I think this score will be a 10 a year from now. I think Vanguard is going to be a major success. I would predict over 500k in subs a year from now ...with over a million subs within two years. I think this may even be conservative. Six months from now...once the remaining few bugs are ironed out...people will be coming to Vanguard to play in droves. I'm enduring a few the bugs now so that I will be set up real nice when this game explodes in population. I have no doubt at all it will. Its infamous status now is actualy helping things. Vanguard is nearly a household name as it is.
Vanguard is the game that sucks less than the rest !
Flamers ..flame on.
Jackdog....Godpuppet and all you other Vanguard trolls...have a blast and pick apart my review.
I rest my case