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After 13 hours of play, I've made it to level 10 on my Disciple. I've tinkered with a couple of other classes as well and taken my time exploring and doing a bit of harvesting and diplomacy.
If you are into RP and you don't have a game you're satisfied with, you (and your guild) should really try this game. I mean give it a good long try. I'm not into role play myself, but I can see the potential everywhere I go. My main in in Khal now. I went into the Tradewinds Tavern, upstairs. If you see a door you can open it. There are beautiful rooms where you can sit and have RP events. Any door I've seen, I've been able to open, in any building (except for the rat tunnels near the first quest area about level 3.
Is this a sandbox? I know there are levels and quests, but there really isn't a lot of handholding. You can do what you want to do. The world is huge. That's why I started playing. I was tired of instanced, corridored world, and this is not that. There are some "chunks" of the world where if you go over a seam in one of the areas, you might freeze up for a second or two, but I heard if you're running on an ssd that won't bother you. It's fine for me. I just love the open spaces and freedom to explore and do whatever I feel like working on. There are dungeons everywhere and they are open (non-instanced). I think this is much like what I wanted from a sandbox. But there is no pvp, so if you need that in your sandbox, you wouldn't like it. If this is not a sandbox, it is very sandboxy for a themepark. But I don't think it's really a themepark, either. Also, there is continental banking. So if you're stuff is in the bank, can only access it on that continent. There are 3 continents. Also, there is shipbuilding and you can build other structures (houses?). You can have your own house on a plot in the world which is not instanced.
Cash shop: I don't see any pay to win. There are some equipment sets you can buy from level 11, 21, 31, etc that boost your stats and help you level faster. They are pretty cheap. I forget how many station points they are. In a way, I can see how this makes up for the smaller population that leveling, since you can't really trade easily with other crafter or buy what you want on the auction house. I had some money left over from Planet Side 2, since I bought the Alpha whatever to get into beta. Also, I had some Station Cash from when I bought DCUO. So altogether I had 5000 SC I forgot about. I bought a cool mount to get around the huge world. If you are a free player, you can buy a horse in the starter town for 12 silver and change, which is not very much. It won't be as fast as the cs mount, though. You can also buy various xp boosting items. I don't see a need for those yet since I'm leveling pretty quickly and having a good time at my present pace. There is also bag space and bank space. I'm still thinking about whether I want to become a member. Main benefit I can see right now is better loot drops and faster xp gain. Probably will sub, but doing fine with the loot at my present level. I don't see the cs as objectionable in any way at this point if you think of VG ftp as a trial. Also, I think you can play the game without getting the leet gear for free.
Economy: I don't know how it is at the higher levels, but I wanted to pick up some lowbie stuff for my level 10 but there was nothing listed on the auction. I'm doing fine with the stuff I've gotten to drop and as quest rewards. I don't know how it is for the higher levels.
Graphics: It took me about 10 hours to get used to them and now they are totally fine, although my toon riding on the spirit wolf looks a bit stiff. From the beginning, I thought the epic graphics of 2007 were still serviceable today. It was a trade off for me to be able to get an amazing world to play in and gameplay that right now seems more complex and interesting than what's on offer with today's crop of releases, no matter how pretty the graphis and the action combat is. If you can't get past the dated graphics and somewhat stiff combat animations because you can't endure putting at least 10 hours into the game, then you don't even need to bother trying VG. For me, I'm glad I looked beyond that. Now the graphics look fine and the world is actually beautiful with day/night cycles that are noticeable, weather, and beautiful vistas. The character animations are fine as well and I've come to appreciate them for what they are.
Population: I'm on Telon server. I didn't care about seeing a lot of people in the suggested starter area. I chose to go to my racial hometown of Khal to start. I play at Oceanic times, so I'm used to quiet North American servers. I did see a couple of other people in the starter area with me, but there is a lot of space, so we didn't run into each other while doing our starter quests. When I'm ready to log off late at night, I can see more players starting to come into the game. I saw higher level players on their flying mounts and in the bank. Probably, when I logged off there were about 12 players in the Khal bank. It was Tuesday morning about 1AM at GMT +9. I'm not sure how the population is in other areas of the world. I saw a couple of guilds recruiting in chat, including an Oceanic one. People are also talking in chat, sometimes about lag, which hasn't been a problem for me yet.
That's it for now. I'm looking forward to going back in and continuing my journey. I'm splitting my time between VG and LOTRO right now, so kind of going back and forth and the mood takes me when I have time to play.
Has anyone else started VG recently and are you thinking of sticking with it?