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Vanguard Re-Review, by Stephanie Morrow www.mmorpg.com/gamelist.cfm/game/147/view/reviews/load/69/Vanguard-ReReview.html.
A re-review is definitely warranted. A large, and diverse, game of Vanguard is somewhat difficult to review because you do have three spheres of gameplay (adventure, crafting taken to new levels, and a fairly unique diplomacy system). Most people want to hear about adventure, and crafting is often mentioned as an aside. The crafting system in Vanguard, however, based on limited knowledge I have, is deep and complex enough to have its own separate review. Crafting in Vanguard, e.g., is interactive in terms of literally watching trees slowing fall visually and hearing the audio of cracking timber. Fishing is also a feature that is different from fishing I have experienced in other games, for better or worse.
A. Vanguard's Release
The author is exactly right in describing the release of Vanguard as an "epic failure." It was an unmitigated disaster, pronounced by awful communication from SIGIL, INC. and no central forum to voice distate. Hence, people went to private forums to voice their problems, and some of those private forums were pressured, either implicitly or explicitly, to censor truth. I mention this for two reasons, which is not to open-up old wounds: (1) censorship is wrong (almost always) and (2) corporations should learn from this when they release games (i.e., get a forum, be honest about a game's buggy state, do not tell people/customers to go buy a new computer when they experience performance problems - try to "fix" those problems). If I have opened old wounds, I apologize; but I do think it needed to be mentioned.
B. Vanguard Today
The author is right that "content has been added," bugs fixed, and features have been implemented such as player galleons for travel and fishing. The community, though smaller, is excellent.
Performance is improve for many but still holds the game back. The author is right that "when you try to open doors there’s a very small amount of lag as it swings open but it’s not nearly the performance freezing monstrosity that used to occur." I am reluctant to discuss performance because it is like the weather in certain parts of the world. If you do not like it, just wait five minutes and it will change. I have gone on raids that were unplayable, basically, due to lag. I have also done the same raid where I hardly lag and was told that a "patch" or a "fix" or something like that screwed it up and they were working on it. My own recent experience, however, was that performance was quite good but not great. The author also wrote some suggestions for improving performance such as turning off shadows and sound.
2. Graphics/World Feel
"Telon," the author wrote, "is absolutely beautiful." The author wrote that the game "still looks beautiful" played on balanced settings. The cool thing about Vanguard is its weather system, as you can "spot storm clouds off in the distance and watch as they approach." The great world of Telon is a very diverse place with all sorts of societs, cultures, creatures, mobs, deserts, rivers, caverns, and you name it. The world is, by far, the game's greatest asset; and it is my advice that opportunities to exploit the sense of travel and explortation should be taken advantage of more.
Vanguard, or Telon, feels like a "complete" world. When I play some games, the worlds do not feel "messy." Worlds should be messy and not necessarily neatly categorized such as, here is the High Elf area, now here is the bad area, and here is this and that. There should be human colonies, gyspie travellers, pirates that occassionally raid coastal towns and enslave people (if you die by them, you, yourself, could be enslaved).
The world of Telon boasts maginificent cities such as Traganor to vast beaches and dark forests. Old Targanor is inhabited by a vast undead army, and you have undead patrols in certain areas.
Telon, to many of us, does not simply feel like a video game world. It feels alive. It feels real. And it is an exciting place to just simply get on your galleon or your horse and explore.
3. Character Customization
The author describes character customization in Vanguard as a "key item." The author goes on to describe customization as an "in depth process," at least at the character creation portion.
i. Attribute Points
I disagree with the author, respectfully, on this point. It is not a slight disagreement. The author also did not mention how players can use attribute points to add points to say strength and dexterity to build a certain kind of Rogue or Caster. Each time you level, you can allocate attribute however you wish.
The author also did not mention that certain, but as far as I know not all, classes can choose "paths." Paths are similar to customization, but I think only better because there is more story and true Questing behind it.
iii. Alt Advancement
Character customization is an opportunity, I think, for Vanguard to distinguish itself from some many other games that have basic specialization decision-trees. Alt advancement is to be released "soon." It at least has me, and I know I am not alone, very excited to see what it entails. Alt Advancement could be one "key item" that really takes Vanguard to the next level.
I must say that audio is possibly the most underrated feature in MMORPGs. The most underrated feature. I really do not have anything to add to what the author wrote.
i. Three spheres
As previously mentioned, Vanguard has three spheres of gameplay (adventure, crafting, and diplomacy). Apparently, each sphere has its own Quests and stories. The author describes diplomacy, however, as a "grind fest" and of "little use." The author is probably right.
Vanguard's combat system is sophisticated. Some people disagree, but I think it is a great. You have a system in which certain class abilities complement other class abilities. I have reviewed and analyzed combat before, so I will just mention it as an aside.
Classes are a great stregnth of Vanguard. You have many choices to choose from, and each of the classes "own" in their own right. The nice thing is that all the classes, as far as I know, are capable of soloing when you want to solo or cannot find a group.
Many fun tasks and Quests throughout Vanguard. You have deep, long Quests such as those for a specialized mount. You also have tasks you can complete in certain towns and cities. The Quest and task system is another great strength that I often do not mention and rarely see mentioned.
Many dungeons throughout Vanguard. Many dungeons are challenging and offer adventurers valuable rewards for taking the time, and making the effort, to conquer them. I have had great experiences in Vanguard's dungeons.
Vanguard's community is excellent. Perhaps one of my all-time favorite guilds, and I have been in many (lead many) in different games, is in Vanguard. The author is right when she alludes to the loyalty of the Vnaguard playerbase by describing their "passion" for the game. Vanguard does have a special and unique community, and it could be because it is a smaller community.
The author concludes that the game is "far from perfect" and mentions that some bugs still remain. Overall, the author's review is fair, balanced, and accurate. Vanguard's crafting system could, by itself, be reviewed; and there might even be one out there somewhere. Many people could play Vanguard and experience Vanguard in different ways:
The nice thing about Vanguard, due to its size and diversity, is that people are able to experience the game in different ways. One player's path of character development is totally different from another's. The game is not linear, which is great. The world is not cookie-cutter, which is great.
Vanguard was an ambitious project that was lead by very bright, talented, and creative people. It is on the right track of not only possibly fulfilling its destiny as a great and brilliant game but also undergoing certain modifications that are necessary.
Travel, for example, is a modification that was, and few people would disagree, necessary. Whether these "modifiations" and deviations from the so-called vision profit or undermine Vanguard is what makes it more interesting for me to watch.
Vangurd, for all practical intents and purposes, remains incomplete. The world could still be filled-in more with more content, dungeons, and innovative features. Character customization, I think, is lacking; but an alt advancement system will be implemented. Whether this alt advancement system is a "modification" or a part of the original "vision," I do not know. Alt Advancement, if done properly, would profit Vanguard well.
See you in Telon in the future!