As stated in my first blog entry, I am a casual player. I prefer to explore and wonder around the game world as opposed to racing to the end-game and having my character twinked out full-throttle to level 50.
I have played Vanguard since I was accepted into late-stage beta and have stuck with it since mid-December of 2006, and currently subscribe to Vanguard (and the rest of the SOE games) via the Station Pass. I currently play what I call my "main" which is a level 30 Adventurer (Ranger), level 5 Artificer, and Level 1 Diplomat. For those unfamiliar with Vanguard and the 3 (yes 3) different levels I mentioned for my one character, read on...I'll explain in a bit. Follow this link to see my character page on the Vanguard website.
By the very fact that it has taken me almost 11 months (since launch in late January of 2007), to reach the adventuring level of 30, should indicate that I am indeed a casual player of the game. I take my time. I have just under 2 gold to my name, and have just recently purchased my tier 2 horse (obtainable at level 20), I have no boat/ship, no house, and no other mount besides my trusty horse. I can barely afford the 20 silver it costs to rent a flying mount to get me from point A to point B. And I LOVE IT.
The reason I love it, is NOT the fact that I don't have a house or a ship, but the fact that they are in the game and obtainable through hard work. They aren't just handed to you. Most MMO's don't even offer housing or boats and the very fact that they are available makes me even more interested in getting one...just not at day 1. I have seen far more of the game world either on foot or by horseback over the amount of time that I've spent than anyone with a boat or house.
And the Vanguard world (Telon) is BIG. How about 3 full continents to explore, none of which are instanced with huge port cities, with every climate you can think of from desert to tropical, separated by huge bodies of water that you can sail between with the right kind of ship...that's right travel from one contenent to another via ship - now that's exploring! Or if you rather fly...you can do that too with a flying mount (not currently in game as of this writing but in testing I believe). Getting around the game world is just like getting around the real world...you need to plan how to get there and take the time to do it! This is really good if you are a casual player who also likes to roleplay. Imagine starting up a caravan of friends in Thestra who need to travel to the far reaches of Qalia in order to begin a quest for "The Sword of a Thousand Truths"..and you map it out and traverse the contenent till you hit water...now what? Guess we need a ship! You could try to hire a boat much like Obi-wan and Luke did when they hired Han Solo. You get the idea. This game is chock full of opportunities like this. Now if only I could find people interested in doing something like this...
Earlier I mentioned that my character has 3 levels (or Spheres) associated with her...Adventuring, Crafting, and Diplomacy (there is actually a 4th level, called Harvesting). These 4 levels run independent of each other and it's actually like having 4 different characters all rolled into one. You are not required to pursue any of them but they are available to you if you desire. They are kind of like have a subclass, instead of having to roll a character for each "sphere" as they call them. This is a dream come true for a casual player.
Here's the breakdown:
- Adventuring Sphere: Your primary "combat" school - or your class. Mine is Ranger. This is the typical MMO character model. But Vanguard offers 3 more!
- Crafting Sphere: Your chosen "crafting" school, such as Blacksmith, Artificer, or Outfitter. You pick one, but you are never stuck with it...you can change it you just start from scratch each time. For now I have picked Artificer.
- Diplomacy Sphere: Interested in politics? Interested in the real backstory of the town you are shopping in? Want to move in? Want to sway the local government to lower taxes? The Diplomacy Sphere is your unique opportunity to don your best diplomatic garb and go talk to the townspeople (NPC's) and engage them in conversation by playing a type of card game, making sure your agenda somehow gets played into the equation. If you are good enough, you may just win enough hands to move these invisible "levers" in your favor, swaying a benefit to you and to all who visit the town, by means of a special buff to either your adventuring, or crafting attributes.
- Harvesting Sphere: Although not really a sphere in and of itself, it is yet another ability you can gain to assist you either financially (by selling what you reap/sow) or to assist you in your crafting sphere. Imagine grabbing a woodman's axe and chopping down a large tree so you can harvest the wood from it. Your buddy can grab and axe as well and help out!
As you can see, there are TONS of opportunities in Vanguard for a casual player. You really do have the sense of freedom to do what you want, when you want to. A true sandbox type game, Vanguard is everything a MMO game, in this player's eyes, needs to have.
PART 2 TO FOLLOW IN THE NEAR FUTURE. STAY TUNED.
I run a message board dedicated to the MMO player, and offer a wide range of topics to discuss. You can find it here. Feel free to come on by and check it out and if you like what you see, please feel free to sign up and post!
Have a great day.