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E3 2005 Preview

Reed Hubbard Posted:
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Programmer Ben Tarr shows off the crafting system

Live from E3 – Friday, May 20

A crew from Sigil Games Online was on hand to show off the company’s first big game. Vanguard: Saga of Heroes is in the early stages, but already it looks impressive. Programmers David Forrest and Ben Tarr spent some time describing the game and the unusual approaches they are taking to the genre.

Not all races or classes are yet revealed. In fact, not all will be available at launch. The players are encouraged to explore and discover for themselves. At E3, the announced classes are Warrior, Sorcerer, Ranger, Pscionisist, and Cleric. Each character class will be different, even extending to the UI presented to the various players. The interface will customizable, so players will have the freedom to do what they wish. A couple of races, including goblins, orcs, kurashasa (cat people), and three types of elves were discussed, but there will be several more.

Group play is very important within Vanguard. Forrest explained that a level 25 Warrior will not be able to solo a level 25 dungeon. There are going to be solo options, but combat is only fully realized in a group within the game. As such, warriors, for example, can select an offensive target and a defensive target. While fighting a group of monsters, an attack on a cleric may cause the warrior to break off and jump in front of the melee. This is part of reactions, which help a player inside combat. Other reactions include the ability to fend off or even offensively counter attacks from opponents.

Regular attacks are supplement with chained attacks that give the player a chance to deal significant damage. Chains start with opening moves, followed by one or more bridge moves, and end with a finishing move. Casters will have to memorize their finishing spells prior to combat and expend them when they are cast. Memorizing three finishers means three chains until combat ceases. There will also be shared chains, including communal casting, which will be a way for casters to combine their abilities through a chain.

Essential to the Vanguard experience is the ability to learn from NPCs. A caster may encounter a powerful sorcerer in a dungeon and, during the course of battle, detect information about a spell he is casting. If his awareness is well developed, he can even learn the spell himself. Warriors may experience the same while attacking a tough melee opponent. When asked if players will be able to train each other, Forrest was a bit tight lipped. “We haven’t announced anything about that yet,” he explained.

Combat is just once facet of Vanguard. Diplomacy, harvesting, crafting and other aspects of the game are equally important. Diplomacy works in a method called “parley,” where a player will engage is an interactive verbal contest with the NPC to achieve his goal, be it gaining confidence or building reputation or some other such endeavor. Crafting will be different in that the player must “work against” the apparatus, as Tarr put it. Players will have a certain number of action points and will be required to expend them during the process. If the fire gets too hot, cooling it down may take 50 points, leaving fewer for other parts of the process. Crafting will also be accomplished using a work order system, so players aren’t required to make 1000 worthless lanterns just to get good enough at smithing to make banded armor.

The game’s graphics are quite nice and are still being honed. All in all, it looks to be a very exciting title. To find out more about Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, visit the official website at http://www.vanguardsoh.com.


Reed Hubbard