Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Let's talk Vanguard

Played a few days on Vanguard now and here's a completely unformatted and quick list of the things I've liked so far:

  • OMG, healing is so much easier with defensive and offensive targets
  • Crafting and diplomacy mini-games add a nice level of complexity but not too much. Rewards you for paying attention rather than pure grind, me likey.
  • The fellowship and caravan systems (when they're bug free) are a nice touch, no one plays alone anymore, it's nice to stay with friends
  • The melee and spell chains are reminiscent of Final Fantasy and anytime I say something is reminiscent of Final Fantasy, that's a good thing.
  • The spell awareness and dispelling abilities is yet another example of putting more attention to something and not just grinding
  • Early access to mounts but slow mounts is a nice nod to giving players what they want without sacrificing the feeling of achievement
  • Group harvesting can turn out to be an actual group activity if they work on it just a little more. It's still a good direction since previous group activities were all hunt-related
Vanguard is turning out to be a pleasant experience and gives me a good taste of the next evolution of MMOs. It is not, however, a WoW killer. I just don't think it's polished enough. It doesn't feel like a world to which I could connect. Yes, I read every line of story. I try to figure out the purpose for killing "12 grey wolves". I try to feel the sense of accomplishment for fighting back invaders (even if I know they respawned the moment I left). But overall, things are not tied together very well. Quests are just loosely tied together to bring you to the next area. Exploration is limited to fulfilling quests but there's little sense of any area being "lived in".

I applaud them for taking MMO's to the next level but it feels to me like they nailed the concepts but failed in the execution of fleshing out a truly great game. I'm not going to stop playing though, at least not yet. This is one to experience if for no other reason than it leads us into the next era. The best way I can think to describe it is playing UO before there was EQ. You knew something big was happening but probably not in UO. It doesn't mean you shouldn't play it in the meantime.

By the way, I'm Earen on server Florendyl. Stop by and say hi.

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