Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fast News Day: Vanguard, WoW, Rift

Oh, it's all happening today!

Vanguard finally went F2P for real. The matrix is probably just about okay now. Some of the problems I alluded to earlier have been smoothed over. Perhaps most importantly, changes have been made to grandfathering so that returning players won't find most of their character's gear in an unuseable heap on the floor as happened in previous conversions. Say what you like about SOE, they do learn. Slowly, but they get there.
Now available in blue.

I logged in my primary EQ2 Silver account with no problems. The whole process was delightfully smooth and the interface is attractive and clear. The fully-free racial choices are dismal -  humans, half-elves and halflings - but any race is playable to level 20 which takes the sting out of that. Class choice is much better, with seven to pick from, including signature VG options like Disciple and Necromancer as well as the traditional Warrior, Rogue and Cleric.  I went for a Kurashasa Cleric because I really need more characters I'll never play I haven't played a Kurashasa since beta and I've never played a cleric in Vanguard at all.

One day all this will be mine. Muahaha!
There's a choice of where to start - Isle of Dawn or your Racial Starting Town. For cats that used to be the appalling pocket dimension but now it's Cliffs of Ghelgad. With its superb views over the sea to the magnificent harbor city of Khal it's one of the most attractive starting areas in the game If you don't mind scorpions.

There's even a choice of servers. The EU server, Halgar, is still there despite several threats/promises to close it. I imagine the PSS1 deal has something to do with that. On Telon, the U.S. server, there were plenty of new characters running around and chat channels were buzzing. Longtime Vanguard dev Silius was on, both Broadcasting and talking in chat.
Dev ninjas own name shock
There seemed to be a lot of returning players and the vibe was mellow.

Being Vanguard, there were bugs. By the time he got to the bank in Khal my cleric was walking on air. Literally, hovering two feet above the mosaic tiles. All in all, though, it seems to be going rather well. I only logged in to sample the (re)-launch-day ambience but Vanguard sets its hooks so fast and so deep that before I knew what I was doing I was killing beetles and leading a camel to town.

I really hope F2P does the trick and gets this wonderful MMO the audience it deserves. The stream of questions about how to use the SC store that popped up the whole time I was playing was a hopeful sign.

It would take nothing at all for me to be back playing Vanguard regularly again. Nothing, that is, other than the sheer range of new stuff piling down the tunnel at us from all directions.

Steady, boy!
I'm not about to be swayed by Pandas into giving WoW another run, but Blizzard must really be counting on them. In news that can have surprised no-one today, the huge
(6 GB !!) pre-panda-patch that includes a bunch of new content and systems got an official date: 28th August. That rings a bell.

And finally, throwing their hat into the ring, Trion came up with a Rift offer that verges on "too good to miss". If you're a current or ex-subscriber and you take the Annual subscription you don't just get the really rather attractive rate, which works out at $10 (about £6.50) a month, you also get the full Storm Legion expansion for free, plus some other odds and ends. I don't have time to play Rift. Really I don't. But that's two new continents that treble the size of the world. And some form of housing. For the price of one bottle of wine a month. Okay, a slightly better bottle than I normally buy, but still, I bought four bottles this weekend alone...

I wonder if Turbine have anything up their sleeve?


  1. Oh, they did away with the Qur'xa area for the Kurashasa? That's probably a good decision. I played a Kura disciple when the game went live in 2007, just because I liked the cat looks. I was completely confused about what was going on, not even to mention that the whole "teleport back and forth between tiny rooms and areas" felt disjointed, and whole area simply looked ugly.

    It's probably a testament to the good sides of Vanguard that despite that starting area, and the bugs, I didn't stop playing there and then, rather stopping playing about 20 levels later, which at the delightfully leisurely leveling pace still amounted to quite some time.

    And I'm totally with you on the "good food and/or bottles of wine" measuring for subscriptions! I've done it before, arguing that a standard subscription costs less than what I might spend on a somewhat lavish, full, self-prepared meal on the weekend, with wine and all. Not even to speak of going out for one.

  2. They pared down the starting areas. I'd have to look it up but I think there are four now plus IoD. I assume that the ones that were their own zones, like the Kurashasa one, have gone for good while the overland ones are still there if you go and find them. Actually, I might go and find out when I get a moment.

    I'm so glad to see the Kurashasa zone gone. It was hands-down the worst starting zone I've ever seen in an MMO. I told them that in beta, but did they listen?


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