After just two hours or so of play, here are my initial, immediate impressions (not a review!) of Vanguard. As I mentioned in my previous post, I created a Kojani Disciple on the Xeth Server. I decided on my class first, just from reading the class descriptions and choosing one that sounded interesting to me. This was a harder choice than I thought it would be, because so many of the classes sounded cool. I also considered a Paladin, Ranger, Necromancer, Druid, or Shaman. Again, no other game I’ve seen has a group of classes that seems as varied and interesting to me than Vanguard. Once I had selected Disciple, I was now restricted to which race I could choose. None of the Thestran races could be a Disciple, so that left a Kojani or Qaliathari race. The majority of my time in the beta was spent in Qalia, and I don’t think I spent any time in Kojan as I think it was inaccessible at the time, so I settled on a Kojani race. From there, I chose the human simply because I prefer playing human-type characters, nothing more, nothing less.
I didn’t spend too much time with the character customization. I actually liked the pre-generated look that came up by default. I changed a few sliders here and there, but I wasn’t too worried about the look of my guy. I spent more time thinking of the name, Qae Zhynn, which ultimately came out sounding like a spice. Ah well.
With all that done, I soon found myself on the shores of a small island amidst an invasion on nearby Shang Village by the Imperial Army. As a member of the invading army, my first quest was to boost the morale of some fellow soldiers who were having morality issues with the fact that the village was comprised of just women and children and weren’t carrying out their orders. It didn’t take long to discover that I was heading down a bad path, blindly following orders without thinking of the consequences. A few quests down the road I was tasked with killing Master Fhungusu, the leader of Shang Village. I became a little concerned when I saw he was level 50, slightly over my head as a level 2 character. It turns out he foresaw my coming, and he reached out to my character, telling me it was time to be born again. I was instantly teleported miles away from Shang Village to Dellerjuba, where my road to redemption was to begin.
I quite enjoyed this opening experience; it felt very dynamic. It was neat to see non-player characters running around, fighting; for once I didn’t feel like I was all by myself. It was also nice to know that this is just one starting experience among many, based on which race you choose.
I’m still in awe over the world of Telon. The world graphics are great, and I haven’t had any performance issues at all. I’m currently playing with my settings on medium which looks just fine, and performs just as well. I’ve even run around a bit with all the settings at max which looks even better and is still decently playable. There has definitely been some optimization done since the beta period.
Before I get into some of the things that I thought were really cool, I have a few issues that jumped out at me. Remember, this is only after two hours or so of playing. First, the font over characters’ heads is butt ugly. It’s so incredibly plain that it stands out, and I find it to be quite jarring. Secondly, I can’t stand the targeting reticule. It just seems so big and stupid looking. I’d prefer it if it was just a flat circle around the target, rather than the three dimensional monstrosity that it is now. Finally, some of the character animations are crap, plain and simple, especially while swimming. I’ve heard that the character models are going to be revamped, which is sorely needed, because they don’t fit with the gorgeous looking world.
Here I go again about the world of Vanguard, which I think is top notch. It was what sold me on Vanguard in the first place, back during the last hour of beta when I got to fly around Qalia. This is the closest I’ve seen an MMO come to creating a play space that feels like an actual world. What I wouldn’t give for a flying mount now…
Next, there was something awe-inspiring standing by the shore and seeing a player-made boat float down the river. It’s hard to explain, but it definitely served as a “cooooooool!” moment for me. That’s just another thing to strive for I guess, but at this point I have no idea what it would take to get one.
So after just a short time with the game, currently sitting at level six, I must say I’m enjoying it a fair bit. Of course, it’s pretty hard to get bored of an MMO this early in to it, so I’ll just have to wait and see.