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Fighting Words: EQ2 vs Vanguard Pt. 1

Adam Tingle Posted:
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Can you count suckers? I say, the future is ours… If you can count! Now look what we have here before us. We got the WoW’ers sitting next to the Lord of the Rings Street Boys. We’ve got the EverQuest Runners right by the Warhammer Online Rangers…nobody is wasting nobody. That….is a miracle…Caaaan yooouu diiigg itttttttt?

Today, dear reader, the very contents of this article will force me to go into hiding after its publication. Just which Sony Online Entertainment game is better? Just which makes use of Brad McQuaid’s imagination best? Perhaps it is the golden child EverQuest 2? Or maybe it is the slightly scruffy and under supported Vanguard? Place your hand by your mouth in preparation and I will reveal the answers you crave. Remember to leave your knives and guns at the door, and as always, don’t go for the faces. Get ready for the SOE Bloodbath!

In the red corner

If only the tinkers at SOE were intelligent enough to create a time machine and destroy the creators of WoW as children, then we would be looking at a different MMORPG landscape right now. Released in 2004, EverQuest 2 you might say is the rightful heir to the online role-playing throne. Boasting some of the nicest visuals of any game available now and the largest selection of expansions known to man (or you know, quite a few), EQ2 is a solid and entertaining romp. While it has divided fans of the original EverQuest, it is safe to say that this offering of Norrath goodness is one of the greatest games on the market at the moment. Is it the best MMORPG that SOE has to offer? Many certainly believe so. Going to toe-to-toe with this goliath of the genre is no easy task.

In the blue corner

The unwanted bastard child of Brad McQuiad and SOE causes mixed emotions. With some stunning visuals, an impressive scope and ambitions up the wazoo, Vanguard could very well be one the greatest games of all time- if it wasn’t for some very difficult growing pains. Vanguard has suffered the kind of tragedy only an orphaned child could speak of; with its original development studio folding, its lead developer heading for the hills and its mean step-father SOE forcing it to live in a metaphorical cupboard, Vanguard has had a tough time. For all that has passed however, Vanguard is still an amazingly detailed and exciting game. Does it pose challenge enough for EverQuest 2? I believe this is a game that would give any MMORPG a run for its money.

Both games will be scored out of ten in a number of categories. The highest scoring will be deemed the winner. Remember to read in a brightly lit room and to take fifteen minute breaks if you begin to feel nauseas and dizzy.

Visual Thwoar

Starting off like the cheap graphic tarts that we all are, EverQuest 2 is undoubtedly a beautiful game. While some claim that the game has a quality of plastic about it, I feel that EQ2 has some of the best graphics of any game currently available. Zones and dungeons look amazing, certain areas will reduce you to jaw dropping awe and overall, this game just looks absolutely excellent. The only negative to this is that even today most PC’s struggle to handle the full graphical capabilities and this is not a game you can play on a cheap laptop or desktop, EverQuest 2 requires a nice cash investment to enjoy. Overall, the graphics can reduce one to tears, orgasm or both. 9/10

For me personally, Vanguard garners mixed feelings of its graphical prowess. At times areas look fantastic and vibrant with color; other times textures can look stale and rushed. Vanguard’s graphical power somewhat reflects the game as a whole- it has moments of greatness and ugliness. Thankfully for the most part however, Telon is as fantastical as its setting and, like EQ2, if you have the machine to run it, Vanguard will please the eye. One problem with Vanguard I do have however, is the overall theme of the game seems a little mismatched; this is of course due to multiple developers but it does detract from the games overall identity. In short, pretty most of the time, Vanguard is still a looker. 7/10


Being that we are discussing a sequel and spiritual successor to EverQuest, it is only right that both games are marked on their similarity to said game. EverQuest 2, although a direct sequel, takes place in a kind of alternate universe to its original whereby the world has been torn asunder for some apparent reason. EQ2 offers a lot of the bells and whistles that its predecessor did but for some reason the developers of the game failed to capture that core EverQuest experience. The game world as said is broken and never delivers that sense of fantasy immersion and one of the most outstanding and annoying features is the game’s difficulty. While it is true that most MMORPGs are easy these days, EQ2 takes the prize here. The game comes equipped with a stop XP button that is needed to keep up with achievements; I don’t understand why the developers couldn’t make the game a little more difficult and avoid this. For a game that purports to be a sequel of one of the most difficult games ever, this feels like sacrilege. Points for the sheer number of classes, races, zones, cities and all other bells and whistles, however, points detracted for a broken game world and awful leveling- a Real game breaker. 4/10

Being that Vanguard and EverQuest were both created by Brad McQuaid, it is no shocker that they have a passing resemblance. Recently, I found myself awake in the early hours of the morning starring at the glow of my monitor. I was within a dark catacomb with a group of like-minded explorers; we had found untold wealth, a number of shiny weapons and also garnered tales of heroics within this place. Why was I awake until the early hours of the morning though? Because our journey had started, we had found loot and now we had to get ‘the hell of out of dodge’. Never since playing EverQuest have I felt fear like it; crawling through passage ways; hoping that that god damn arrogant Rogue doesn’t do anything too hasty; clutching at my sword and loot with hope in my heart; just waiting for that final tunnel filled with light. This game perfectly succeeds EverQuest in the way a game by Mr.McQuaid only could. If you want old school adventure and immersion for immersion’s sake, Vanguard is your game. EverQuest’ness? This game is EverQuest 2 by all rights. It’s just a shame that it couldn’t use Norrath. 9/10

Game World

The world of Norrath was a place where I first found my true online-gaming love. With a rich lore and history to it, the developers of this game really had to go to major lengths to ruin its greatness. Set five hundred years after its predecessor, EverQuest 2 takes place within ‘The Shattered Lands,’ a series of island zones connected by bells that instantly transport the player to the next. Since its release, SOE has spent the majority of their expansion content putting the game world to how it should have been in the first place. Continents such as Faydwer and Kunark have been restored and transport elements such as boats have been put in place. My own views upon the world of EverQuest 2 are somewhat biased as a devoted veteran of its predecessor, however, I do feel that the world of this game is fundamentally broken and inconsistent. Rather than feel like an actual world, Norrath now just feels like a number of themed levels connected by portals rather than a massive expansive landmass. Zones are gorgeous and richly detailed but the game drops all immersion when faced with a line of zone teleport buttons. Stunning sights are abundant but ultimately, the world feels like a set of zones rather than an actual world. 4/10

Coming directly from the imagination of Brad McQuaid is Vanguard’s world of Telon. Spanning three continents and several climates, Telon is massively expansive, detailed and delivers everything that an MMORPG world should be. The landscape is littered with towns, villages and cities and exploring throughout Vanguard feels exactly like it should. Vanguard captures that old school sense of wonderment and excitement, something that newer games fail at with their funneling and linear paths. Some of the sights are spectacular and immersion factors high with various modes of transports not opting to fast track players to their destination. Telon only loses points on its game world however for its inclusion of teleport stones which bypass the essence of the game. While only included to help a dwindling population get to one another without spending hours travelling, they do ruin the immersion and excitement built up by the game world. 7/10

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Adam Tingle