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MMO Chronicles

My adventures, experiences, and general thoughts about MMO's as I encounter them.

Author: Baldur

Return to Vanguard - First thoughts and experiences

Posted by Baldur Saturday October 27 2007 at 3:40PM
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Preface~
Let's get right down to business - I played Vanguard the first day it was released, and cancelled within the first month. It was buggy, poorly optimized, and lacking in many areas. With the latest updates to the game, I decided to give it another shot. Below I'll outline how things went and what I think about the game so far. For some images from my travels, scroll to the bottom :)

Installation and patching~
This was a breeze. Installation took about 20 minutes (I had the original installation discs), and patching the game took about 2 hours (I'm on a 5mbps cable connection). Before patching I had to re-activate my account, and much to my surprise SOE had revamped this part of the process. It was much easier and smoother then the last time, so that was nice. All said and done, it was about 2 hours 30 minutes from installing the software to logging in for the first time.

First login, and character creation~
Upon first logging in, I noticed my old characters were still there. Their servers had changed after the server merge, but that's no big deal. I have an 18 Sorcerer and a 23 Bard - but I decided to roll a new character to really experience the game fresh again. Creating a new character is easy - this time I decided to make a Wood Elf Ranger (Wood Elf for the extra +Dex per level, as well as the fast wolf transformation runspeed buff they get). Rangers just looked like a lot of fun, as they are categorized as an offensive fighter in the game. Vanguard gives the player a ton of options when customizing your character. Every single aspect can be changed, from sizes to weights, from cheekbones to ear widths, heights, locations, etc. You can even change things like arm size in respect to leg size, neck length, and more. All in all, your guaranteed to make a character that is very different then anyone else.

Entering the game for the first time - first thoughts~
I entered with my newly made Wood Elf Ranger, Torax. This time around I am playing the game with all graphical settings maxed out (16x AF as well). Sadly the game does not support AF yet, but this is in the works for a future patch. Upon entering the world, I was blown away... there's no other way to put it. The shadowing, the landscapes, the view distance - amazing. I had completely forgotten how majestic this game really does look.. Travelling around is a real treat, the landscapes have so much to show and there is always something you find while exploring. I finally uploaded some ingame screenshots I took - look at the bottom of the blog to find them.

Questing, Leveling, and the GUI~
I began by picking up the starting quest line and running through it. It's pretty straight forward and I really enjoyed the story it told. One thing I had forgotten was how slowly you level in this game. That's never a bad thing, as you really feel like you earn each level. Every even level you can train new skills at your respective trainers, and they usually have quite a few [skills] for you to learn. The quests give decent equipment as you work your way through them, and after the first 4-5 levels I was really getting into the game. The GUI is pretty simple, so I decided to use a customized GUI to really expand the information shown onscreen. I went with DroxUI as it has a lot of features and is pretty much bug free.

Guilds, groups, and other randomness~
The next big thing I wanted to do before I got past level 5 was join a guild. The new socials panel really helps ease players into that process of finding the right guild. Un-guilded players can load up the guild section of the socials panel, and get a quick overview of ALL guilds on the server currently seeking players (similar to the EQ2 socials panel). Each guild listed is selectable and shows a list of officers currently online and offline. I was even able to set my options for what type of guild I wanted out of a list of around 20. Things like casual friendly, chatty, raid oriented, group oriented, crafting, adventuring, etc. I found a guild very quickly, struck up a conversation with an officer and within 20 minutes I was a new recruit to the Black Sun guild. This is a big step for me, as it helps me to meet new players quickly and really get into the social aspect of the game. The guild, with around 380 members at the time of this writing, has 10-30 members on at any given time and is very active. It's great as the first thing one of the officers did was craft me some great weapons. I also grouped up from time to time as I quested, and it was easy and fun. The new LFG tool in the game is fantastic and makes finding groups a snap - you can specify what type of group you want (dungeons, questing, adventuring, etc) and then even specify which quests or which dungeons you want to explore. The tool even shows you how far from each dungeon you currently are and their level ranges - making it very simple to isolate the closest, in-level-range dungeon you want to explore with others. I would also highly recommend installing a map mod like InfoMap Advanced. Not only does it add a mini-map to the game, but it updates all the game maps with new, detailed ones that contain many more POI's and locational information (harvesting nodes, binding stones, etc).

Optimizations and enhancements~
I'm sure many of you are curious about this - the game engine is much better now. The chunking problem is non-existant. The animations for running, walking, and fighting are a lot smoother now as well. Overall the game engine is much more responsive and the framerates are higher all around. With all the settings maxed, I get on average 20-60 FPS depending on where i'm at. Huge cities bring me down to the 20's, other places I run from 30-50 usually. Remote locations I can get up to 70+ fps. The vanguard team is working on a new NPC structure that should greatly enhance the npc's of the game, and improve performance at the same time. They are also working on revamping the city of Khal, streamlining it and overall making it a better place to stay.

Final Thoughts~
Well, I'm loving the game. I'm level 9 currently, and i've been playing for 2 days. I've accomplished a lot so far, from joining a guild to exploring the land to grouping and adventuring. I find myself getting pulled into the quests due to the immersion of the world around me. I can't wait to get a mount and a ship at some point - and who knows, maybe even a house! Our guild is currently working on a guild hall, and once that's complete we will all have a place to congregate and hang out together. It's exciting times. I'm impressed with the vanguard team as well - even though we've all heard that they have been decreased in size, they still manage to really put out quality patches that are quite big in scale. I believe they plan to have a trial at some point, and this is when I recommend everyone to come give the game a try again - you'll be thoroughly impressed. If you can't wait, then come on down and join the Seredan server... shoot Torax a tell and let's strike up some good times :)

Screenshots from my travels~
(Images are compressed from 1680x1050 TGA to 1260x788 JPG)
  

Player_420 writes:

My thoughts exactly...in fact my experiance was the exact same way. I recently re rolled...and wow

Sat Oct 27 2007 3:44PM Report
Baldur writes:

That's great to hear... I'm hoping more people will give the game a shot. It's much improved

Sat Oct 27 2007 3:54PM Report
Selgonas writes:

What are you using for a graphics card (or cards)?

Sat Oct 27 2007 7:45PM Report
Baldur writes:

Currently i'm using an 8800gtx. I used to run 2x7800gt in sli mode - with that I was able to run the game on medium settings without much troubles. Granted even with this card I had heard that chunking and hitching were big issues till the latest patches. GU3 should help enhance things even more :)

Sat Oct 27 2007 7:59PM Report
grayfox72 writes:

Was considering reinstalling and rerolling, this article sealed the deal. :D

Sat Oct 27 2007 9:33PM Report
MMOPlaya writes:

Hiya!

Good to hear that you are happy with the current state of Vanguard.  I too am enjoying myself, and it is refreshing to see someone as equally excited about the game as I am.

The dev team have indeed done a TON of work streamlining processes and optimizing graphics.  Even after this last patch, I have noticed a significant 6-8 FPS increase.  And as you have said, they are continually working on it.  Hurrah!

I too am on Seredan, and have a Level 30 Khalian Human Ranger - look me up! Name's Somanthia.  Ranger is great fun!  Enjoy!

Sat Oct 27 2007 11:02PM Report
Baldur writes:

Someone already messaged me ingame who read this article - got them in the guild ^^ Already having a blast!

Sun Oct 28 2007 12:50AM Report
hibye123 writes:

so this game is picking up i tried it when it first hit didnt like the buggyness has that been fixed kinda was gonna resub

Sun Oct 28 2007 1:15AM Report
Baldur writes:

Lots of the bugs have been fixed - especially relating to the engine and chunking. I haven't crashed to desktop once since I started back, which is a farcry from how many times I used to CTD when the game first came out. You won't be falling through the world, or randomly teleporting and dying anymore :)

Sun Oct 28 2007 1:29AM Report
WindKun writes:

Any chance the guild is stormhaven?

 

If so this is one of your co-leaders zhuge <3

 

I haven't been on in awhile, but I know we're a huge guild, working on our G-hall, and on the same server... :)

Sun Oct 28 2007 2:03AM Report
WindKun writes:

awww.. just read black sun, nevermind.

 

I'll still be around to help <3

Sun Oct 28 2007 2:04AM Report
Septopus writes:

Is  this game crazy hardcore? The only this holding me back is my casual play style, since I only put in a few hours here and there throughout the week.

Sun Oct 28 2007 2:28AM Report
rait writes:

Up to you Septopus you can play however much you want and join ether a casual or hardcore guild.

Rait - Reverence on Seradon

Sun Oct 28 2007 4:46AM Report
plescure writes:

thanks for the heads up baldur. i was verysimilar to yourself in that i didnt extend my subscription beyond the first month as the game to me seemed almost unfinished! however ive been thinking of going back in for a while now and you info has pretty much convinced me. once again thanks! (unless your lying of course in which case you owe me £9.49 :)  )

Sun Oct 28 2007 8:53AM Report
Baldur writes:

thanks for the comments all! the game on release was _very_ hardcore - they've made a lot of changes in that department (and also made more items BoE/soulbound). I plan to write some more once i've played the game and experienced more, but overall it's become more friendly to casual players as well.

Sun Oct 28 2007 9:41AM Report
hibye123 writes:

I w thinking of making a Bm but dunno if there un or wat any1 tell me or something

Sun Oct 28 2007 4:16PM Report
ianicus writes:

Its nice to hear you had a easy time getting back in, I just tried using my guest trial that came with the game when I bought it, befor I subscribe again. The sony website wont even allow new account creation at the moment. Typical buggy crap sony, I should have known nothing has changed.

Sun Oct 28 2007 4:48PM Report
neschria writes:

I enjoyed your review and your screenshots. My computer can't handle Vanguard, but it is on my list of games to try when I buy a new rig.

Sun Oct 28 2007 6:29PM Report
LouiseK writes:

I'm glad someone made a topic like this... i tried it on release and gave up when the free days ran out.

I really enjoyed it but i found none of my play mates could put up with all the issues they'd released it with so we stopped.

Its just such shame... its really hard to pull it back when you release it prematurely. It could have been amazing...

Sun Oct 28 2007 7:47PM Report
Jadetooth writes:

one or two of the big updates more, and i'd say this game is ready for re-release. I really like this game, and i really hope SOE gets it fixed and re-released, it's really a good game deep down :P

Sun Oct 28 2007 9:13PM Report
Baldur writes:

@ Ianicus - SOE did mention that they would be having possible technical difficulties with the fires going on near san diego. Not sure if that's why you couldn't register, but I imagine it's possible they have servers somewhere around there that could be affected.

@ Skinnys - SOE does plan to do a re-release once they get the next big patches out, I believe by offering all previous players free play time to experience it again (or a free trial, not sure). I'm looking forward to it ^^

Sun Oct 28 2007 11:22PM Report
lumio writes:

nice review!

Mon Oct 29 2007 3:01PM Report
hibye123 writes:

Sound good wat happens if they rerealse it though? i rember SWG when that had a NGE it srewed up that game pretty bad

Mon Oct 29 2007 5:21PM Report
ianicus writes:

UPDATE: So I used an alternate SOE account I had used for a SWG trial and was finaly able to get the trial buddy card going. So far I like what I see, the game does seem alot more stable, the graphical issues seem to have become far less of a problem, Im going to run the whole 10 day trial than figure out if I want to subscribe again.

Mon Oct 29 2007 9:05PM Report
Baldur writes:

Let me know how it goes ianicus - if your on the seradon server, shoot me a tell!

Mon Oct 29 2007 10:43PM Report
hibye123 writes:

Baldur wats ur guys name i want to pm u in vanguard

Tue Oct 30 2007 5:12PM Report
ianicus writes:

Ok so maybe I spoke too soon. There does seem to be alot of stuff still messed up for some reason. Thike the character animations...thats really REALLY annoying. How am I going to chop this tree down with my axe on my back? ugh. Since the game really appears to be still very unpolished im throwing in the towel. Hope you all have fun, but I have certainly not been persuaded.

Fri Nov 02 2007 10:56AM Report
Baldur writes:

Ianicus - I haven't seen any animation problems so far. When I mine, or skin, or chop... the character is always holding the correct tool and swinging it accordingly. Not sure why thats happening to you.

Fri Nov 02 2007 7:43PM Report

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