One Week Gone: A Look at Vanguard’s Potential
By Splarf

Vanguard is one of the most eagerly-anticipated releases to the MMORPG genre in years for a reason: it rocks. Not since the release of World of WarCraft has the market seen this kind of attention to detail. What World of WarCraft did for the genre is now looking to have been just a template by which newer, better games will be judged.

Vanguard, originally a project licensed by Microsoft, is a credit to the mere 100-employee-strong Sigil Games. There will be headaches, as there are with all new releases. There is no playing this game on a 1 GHz machine and a gig of ram is bare minimum. The server performance leaves a little something to be desired and there are definitely bugs in the game, but people who started World of WarCraft on release will remember the extreme headaches and the more minor annoyances (like the looting bug) that were the butt of video jokes online for months. If these initial problems are any sign of what’s to come, things could be a lot worse. Rumors indicate that Sigil was not ready to release the game and that Sony pushed for the release about three months early.

There will be players in the WoW universe who will not even look at Vanguard. That, I say, is a real shame. After all, when the bugs are out and the performance is where it should be, there will be little contest as to which is the better game. Vanguard is just destined to be THAT DAMN GOOD. Of course, that determination will be largely made by the player making the comparison. Vanguard is bound to see a more mature audience flocking to its world as this is a game of patience. No one is leveling to the cap in a week while progressing in crafting in the same period. Indeed, Vanguard is the kind of game where one will be challenged to work on the different aspects, from crafting, to adventuring to diplomacy, in a more balanced way. It seems it will be more beneficial, if one wants to create a “complete” character, to do a little bit of each, as needed to maintain that balance.

The crafting, alone, is a good reason to enjoy this game (details will be included in my crafting article). This is the only game I’ve seen where a player can take on work orders and be provided the materials to complete them so as to level their crafting skill and turn in their completed works for some copper, some items, maybe even a shot at a rare item. The taskmasters give the players gear that improves their crafting while at it! I know two other players who were leveling by doing actual crafting of materials they harvested themselves. When I told them my level in crafting from doing the work orders, they responded that they had missed the boat (and we haven’t even built a boat yet) and immediately set off to collecting work orders. The fact that I had five times their amount of money played largely in their decision.

The value of a game is not just in its originality or its bells and whistles; a publisher’s ability to make it play smoothly and squash the bugs is ultimately the deciding factor in determining its number of subscribers. As a way of comparison, I played World of WarCraft from beta until the week Vanguard was released. I had 4 60+ characters. When I logged onto Vanguard for the first time, we were mere weeks into the Burning Crusade expansion. One day after I played Vanguard, I canceled my World of WarCraft account and I haven’t looked back. Sometimes you have to see something with awesome potential to appreciate how you’ve been settling for less. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed WarCraft immensely for a long time, but Vanguard’s rich graphics and all the bells and whistles made me willing to tolerate bugs or performance issues for a while. It took only a gander at the crafting and diplomacy systems to convince me it was time for a change. One thing I am sure of is that millions more will follow. When they see the diplomacy system, how they can buff themselves and other players in a township with it, how they can reap rewards with the in-game games that are crafting and diplomacy, they will see the true value in this title.

In my coming articles, I will be pondering the aspects that make Vanguard a truly “new” game and sharing them with the Vanguard WarCry’s ever-faithful readership. I plan on covering information about crafting, the battle system, the quest system, the interface, and the previously unheard of Diplomacy system that distinguishes Vanguard from the wanna-be’s. Since housing and the ability to build (and later, battle with) boats is going to make Vanguard a long-term investment of players’ time (and money), I will also be covering those topics. I am always open to discussion or ideas about topics, different ideas, or responses to my articles. Feel free to drop me a line at [email protected]. I try to answer all emails!

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