So here I am, with capped toons in several games, tons of gold and glory in myriad imaginary lands, great friends to quest with in established worlds, and yet once more I grit my teeth and hit the download button on another game. This time it's Vanguard, a truly old graphics, clunky movement, archaic combat game that I can't even begin to explain without going into Thee Amazing Aspects of Great Games discussion. In the interests of not boring you to death I'll just tell you a bit about the game.
I like Vanguard. I checked it out mainly because it has player housing and after the rumors of LOTRO's housing revamp settling into "they're doing some small changes here and there and kicking out squatters" I'm jonesing for housing. I hopped into EQII (where for some reason I STILL don't have a capped toon) and puttered around but (insert your sigh and weary eye roll here to indicate you're sick and tired of me saying this) there's nothing like SWG housing and I miss my home sweet home on Corellia.
So off I went to the wide spaces of the interwebs and soon I ran into mentions of Vanguard. "Old, clunky, archaic!" And yet there seemed to be a rabid fanbase established firmly and after a bit of poking around I found out a few amazing and a few distressing bits of info. First of all, there's player housing that you can decorate internally. Second of all, the reason there is player housing is that like SWG, like EQII, this is an SOE - Sony Online Entertainment - game. Yep. It seems that SOE is one of the few larger gaming corps that includes housing in the game and for that *shudders* I thank them. For the rest of the mutated logic that fills their game development decisions I whap them on the nose with a rolled up newspaper.
So I download and head into game and it's very oldschool as far as the look and feel. However, I quickly learn that there is atmospheric flight. Yep - pegasus like horses are available for rent and fly players around like myth laden rickshaws. After a few weeks I sprung for a flying mount of my own and got a ladybug (Yes, a ladybug. I know, I could have picked from lizards and spiders and huge ice demons but I got a ladybug mount. Stop judging. ) and now I flit around like a demented halfling, dive bombing npc's and seeing how many confused players I can get to ask me "um... a bug?".
The second Woot! moment came with the crafting. Which is intricate and difficult to learn at first since the logic is defined nowhere and the instructions are minimal ingame at best. The whole process reeks of nerdy devs developing a system that makes them giggle with joy but really is just a labyrinth of convoluted rules, requirements, tools, and resources. I love it. Crafting is reliant upon your choices to determine success so you can be amazingly, incredibly horrible at it until you get the hang of the crafting logic. Ingame community is helpful and I asked a lot of questions while people did their best not to put me on mute after the 78th "but I wound up with a requirement for water/a chisel/solvent/basalt/an old boot/ a goat ear/ mid crafting and I lost it all!" whine of mine in general chat.
There is also an ingame card based system of diplomacy in Vanguard, which like the crafting is tough to work out initially and then gets to be fairly fun. No way to play against other players that I can see but the NPC's are pretty lively and the conversations are lore illuminating without being pedantic. (<--spiffy word use alert).
And apparently I'm a long way from housing which is expensive and difficult as it gets built by your character from the ground up. But at least it's there and while it's nothing like the "here's 10 housing slots go buy a house and start dropping stuff in it in your first week!" world of SWG I can appreciate that there is indeed a spot for me to call home down the road.
BORING LOGISTICS FOLLOW
Vanguard is free to play with a monthly sub available (14.99) if you want extra bells and whistles. There's a lot of stuff to fill your bags and and ingame store for those who want the fluff. If you're into EQII as well as Vanguard it might be worth doing an SOE station pass for 19.99 a month as you get most of the SOE game memberships that way. Download is easy, game runs smoothly.
BORING LOGISTICS END
It's old, it's clunky, it's archaic but Vanguard also has a stellar community and one of the most intricate ingame crafting systems I've seen. So far I've only made one toon - a healer (I know that shocks my regular readers) - and I've killed a great deal of humanoids but so far not one pig/piglet/boar/wild boar. Could it be that I've finally found a game with no pig mobs! For that fact alone it might be worth a looksee. Check it out and let me know what you think.