Saturday, August 4, 2012

It's A Date! : Vanguard

And for good or ill, that date is August 14th. Will free-to-play save Vanguard or ruin it? Place your bets now because we're about to find out.

Good old Vanguard. First name on every "should go F2P" list for years. Played by two men and a dog when the dog didn't have a better offer. Hanging on by a thread of sentiment, and that thread had to fray, didn't it?

Apparently not. Someone at SoE applied the paddles and jolted the game back into life. Devs switched on a few lights and brushed off the cobwebs and by golly if the old girl wasn't still running! Y'know, maybe if we just fixed her up a litlle...

So here we are. Naturally, now F2P is a reality there are those who find they'd rather scuttle the ship and go down with all hands after all. The cure looks to some worse than the disease. (I have a bucket here I mix these metaphors in). Too late, naysayers. Change is coming.

It's a very busy summer. The Secret World at the start of July, GW2 at the end of August, Ministry of Pandas in late September. Plenty of other, lesser stuff flying around too. Hard to find a slot. Mid-August looks not bad at all.

Vanguard is a truly great MMO. One of the very best. For a F2P game it comes to market with a huge amount of content despite never having had a single expansion. For a F2P MMO it's also on the demanding side, with a UI that isn't all that WoW-like and combat that doesn't reward charging straight at anything in front of you and bowling it over like your five-tear old welcoming you back from your weekend "business trip" to Bridport.

Vanguard crafting is particularly, um, challenging. It's not that it's complex (though it is complex). It's that it's harder, much harder, at lower levels than it becomes later on. That'll be a novelty for many. It was a novelty for a lot of us. Diplomacy nothing anywhere else. Then there's housing that's actually out there in the world, and boats that you can in fact sail. The capacity for confusion is limitless.

In the end, though, throwing open the doors has to be a good thing. Even if only a few people stick, even if the unfamiliarity of the systems brings tantrums and ragequits, the influx of new blood will revitalize things for a while and once the pay barrier is down there should be a constant trickle of interest even when the publicity dies away. It has to be better than stasis.

I'll be giving it a run in the brief window of opportunity before the GW2 juggernaut crushes all free will. I can already play Vanguard whenever I like, of course, being as how I have Station Access, but it's going to be fun to be there for the inevitable chaos of the first few days.

Good luck Telonians and hang on to your hats!

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