So, I started the trial for Vanguard a few days ago...I did play at release, and again 6 months later, and I think once more when they offered free time that one December. All three times the performance was horrible, and crashes were frequent.
Now I started trial about 10 days ago, and performance has improved immensely. Same system I had when I played it before (well, besides the extra 2 gigs of ram, and Windows 7 64bit, those two are new)...and I can play on max settings, with no performance problems at all. Though my system is pretty high end, so I don't think lower end PCs would work too well...at least not on max settings. But still, I haven't had any lag at all from when I've played and haven't crashed once.
It seems like a game a lot of PvErs would like, and I see a lot of features people look for in a MMO that are in Vanguard.
BUT, for PvP...Vanguard is heavily lacking, partly because the PvP server is pretty much dead. Maybe it would be better if more people were playing on PvP server, but rumor has it that only like 100 to 200 people play on it.
Here are some good things that I like about Vanguard
1. HUGE world...and I've found tons of cool stuff by just exploring off the track. And I love exploring in MMOs and RPGs.
2. A good amount of classes to choose from, not much else to say about it. Classes are a lot of fun
3. You can move and cast at the same time...you aren't stuck in the ground like a test dummy waiting for a mob to beat on you
4. Crafting is awesome. Tons of different items to make, and its really interactive...I'm still new to crafting, but so far its really good
5. THIS ONE IS A BIG ONE: YOU GET BONUSES FOR GROUPING...yes...I grouped with my friend who joined me, and I got BONUSES to grouping. I got a good buff, and bonus exp. Not like in certain other MMOs, where you get heavily penalized for grouping. Oh, and when you harvest a node...I think need to be in a group, not sure...but if your friend starts harvesting...say...copper...you can harvest the same copper node as him, and you again, get bonuses to harvesting and harvest a lot more than you would solo.
5a. That isn't to say the game is group forced, I've soloed plenty too (and some classes solo better than others)...but this game seems to be grouping encouraged...great :D
6. This one is only a minor one for me...but lots of mounts to choose from :D And you can fly anywhere pretty much
7. This one is just what I've heard, so don't take it for granted...but housing system I heard is good in Vanguard. But I'm too poor to think of having a house
8. Amazing graphics (though graphics is personal taste, I myself really like them)...great view distance, and Qalia is my favorite place in the game :D
9. This one is a big one too, but amazingly friendly community...at least on Seradon. Not sure what other servers/pvp server is like. But plenty of games have friendly communities.
10. It does have quests to follow, but it has TONS of sandboxy elements to it too...I'm not forced on a certain path, I'm pretty much free to do whatever. I say its sorta a hybrid, kind of like Fallen Earth.
Outside of that, thats what I've seen so far on the trial, might have missed a couple things...but lets move on
Now some negative stuff (what, you thought I was gonna be like...OMG BEST GAME EVER, NOTHINGS WRONG...nope, there are major problems, so you decide if they would be gamebreaking or not
1. Game is looking to be on life support, and it is looking like SOE is going to cancel this MMO...rumor has it that they don't want it competing with EQ2. I say game has less than 5 years left...and thats me being really optimistic.
2. On trial Isle, there is an area in the swamp where if you find the right hillside (underwater), if you start swimming underwater, you can go right through the hillside...and go right under the world. Not like this is only MMO to have this problem, WoW I've gone under stormwind plenty of times, even got banned for it once for exploiting a glitch (which they still haven't fixed)...but back to vanguard...this hillside hasn't been fixed for as long as I remember. Watched my friend do a trial when the isle was new, and the bug has been there since then.
3. Low population for such a large world. Seradon is most populated, but even then, its still rather on the low side (which ties in with number one)...don't bother going to the PvP server, thats the least populated server I've seen in a game, and there are talks of merging it...
4. This ties in with number 2...but tons of bugs, and some bugs I faintly recognize seeing from release. Oh, do you have WIndows Vista/Windows 7+a high resolution monitor? Yup, you still do NOT see rain...they haven't fixed rain since I can remember. Thats a major problem for me...you can hear it, but can't see it. And who knows when this will be fixed. Not everyone has this problem, and people with even low resolutions can get it...but its pretty common, especially with higher resolutions. Can't see snow either, but not seeing snow is not as common as not seeing rain, but they tend to hand in hand. Oh, and you know the pet dragon you get as a Dark Elf (racial ability)...yup, you yourself can't see the dragon (its invisible), but people around you can...
5. This ties in with number 1...but there will be no new content for a year (at least thats what I got out of that news post)...they are focusing on fixing bugs. Which, fixing bugs is great...because there is so many in Vanguard....but its not a good sign when they scrap all their content ideas, and put them on "indefinite" hold. Hopefully they finally fix rain...but no content for all year doesn't look good, and goes in with SOE spending a lot less money on Vanguard
Thats the biggest ones that stick out for me.
So negatives aside...I hear people on different MMO forums looking for that MMO, and the features they talk about are in Vanguard. Except for PvP, though there is a PvP server, its not really a hopping place...unless they can get tons of people back to vanguard and some of those people go to the PvP server.
So, what happened to Vanguard? Yes it released horribly, but its a fun game and its actually a WORLD and not an arcade style singleplayer MMORPG game where I get penalized for grouping. SOE needs to put more money into Vanguard, because a lot of people would like it...its a great alternative to WoW. Especially if you are more of a Fantasy person like I am :D Not many sandboxy Fantasy MMOs out that are "modern" and PvE based...I myself am a PvE person, but that isn't to say I'm anti-PvP, I like Pvping occasionally too.
Sadly, it seems like SOE only got Vanguard to keep it off the market so it doesn't compete with EQ2, which reminds me of WoW in a lot of ways...except good house system in EQ2, and way better crafting...heh...but maybe those are just rumors about SOE, who knows
Wish Vanguard was a more lively game though.