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Author Topic: After retrying various MMOs, I find Vanguard is now REALLY actually playable  (Read 9705 times)
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DArtagnan
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« on: June 04, 2008, 06:47:10 AM »

Ok, so I was miffed with AoC and I'm awaiting fixes and what not.

So, what does any sane and desperate MMO fan do? He wastes his money on resubscribing to various MMOs he's played in the past and left, or he tries out trials when possible - just to see if enough has changed - or if he was wrong about them for whatever reason. Just the typical desperation of a starving player.

So I re-tried the following games:

LOTRO
EQ2
EVE
Shadowbane
DDO
Vanguard


LOTRO - as we all know - is a damn solid product. It has an absolutely rocking world with equally great lore. My personal problem with it, however, is two-fold: combat and no PvP. For all its greatness, I simply can't get past the dull combat and the lack of real PvP. But one thing I will say: LOTRO has the best and best looking interface of any MMO, ever. This doesn't include customized UIs like in WoW, of course, but even so I think it can compete.

EQ2 - great game, to be honest, but it also has a lackluster combat system, and I wasn't able to find a PvP server with a good enough ping. Also, I generally don't like instancing and EQ2 is a bit on the heavy side here.

EVE - There's something about it, for sure, but it just isn't my style. Too stale and clinical - and appears like an endless black grindhole to me.

Shadowbane - Ahem - ahh, no.

DDO - Not that bad really, and I'd probably play it if it wasn't for other games. Also a recent major update was just released, but I didn't get to check it out in time. But it's not really an MMO in the traditional sense.

---

Vanguard

Ok, so now I get back to Vanguard. A game I've retried at least 3 times since release. I always come to the same conclusion, and that is that it's a game shock-full of brilliant ideas but ultimately flawed beyond being salvagable.

That is... until now.

I've never really been able to play much beyond level 10 before the game became too blatantly buggy or messy. In the past, it was mostly a case of reaching one of the big towns and kissing performance goodbye. That, or it would be the mindlessly dull starter areas with totally by-the-book quests.

But, they recently released the so-called GU5 - which is what they call their big updates that come along once every three months or so. This particular update had a bunch of stuff, but most prominent is the "Anti-Hitching" code. Vanguard is a huge seamless world, and as such it suffered from terrible stalling - especially when entering big towns or dungeons. But, I'll be damned if that isn't almost completely gone - at least from my setup.

Furthermore, and I don't know if this is just me, but the starter quests seem much more abundant and really admirably entertaining. It's no longer placeholder stuff, as I seem to recall thinking of them in the past - though I might have been a touch harsh.

With all the fixes and polishing they've done in the last year or so, it REALLY is a new game. Sure, it still suffers the odd quirk, but nothing big.

The more I play, the more I get impressed with the awesome feature-set of the game.

Here's but a limited list:

GREAT combat system

Ok, so it's not AoC action, but it's paced very nicely and has a ton of clever ideas like chain-attacks, counter-attacks, rescue actions, counterspells, and much more.

I always liked combat in Vanguard, but now that the rest is working, I'm truly starting to appreciate how deep it can be.

Brilliant class design

I've tried quite a few classes, and they all get a TON of unique and useful abilities. It's like christmas every 2 levels, and almost all moves (so far) have unique animations and effects.

Unbelievable world

The largest world in any MMO, period. More than that, it's 100% seamless. No loading screen EVER. It's also VERY pretty. It's not AoC pretty, but apart from AoC it's the best looking world out there, and it's probably 50 times bigger than AoC in terms of sheer landmass, with a TON of variety.

Great dungeons

This is one of the most surprising aspects of Vanguard, really. I never thought they'd manage to put really cool dungeons in such a huge world. I though they'd just carve out a hole here and there, and call it a day. But I was wrong. There are dozens of completely unique dungeons, and they're now populated with unique mobs with decent drops. Some of them are insanely big, and it's really something to look forward to.

Best crafting system ever

What can I say. I love crafting systems when they're done well, and when crafted items can be customized and can compete with PvE gear. This is the most involving and entertaining crafting system out there, but it DOES take a lot of work. It's the anti-WoW system. I always loved it, and that hasn't changed.

Best Housing implementation since UO

I was a huge fan of UO, and especially prestige related gameplay like housing. Since Vanguard is 100% non-instanced, it also means that player housing is done in the open world. You buy a lot, and then you can make a house with a zillion customization options. Now, I haven't tried this myself, but from what I've seen and what I'm hearing, it's truly unsurpassed in this regard.

Ships

Ok, big deal, ships. But they're there and you can sail the waters as you want. Just a little extra cool thing.

Loot

Ok, call me a loot whore, but this game is loot-oriented. I know many support limited or restricted loot systems, but I just happen to love loot and it remains a big incentive for me, personally. Since I've yet to get any high-level loot myself, it's hard to say for sure, but judging from various sites and inspecting of players, this aspect is pretty well done and most definitely means a LOT in terms of power.

Flying mounts

Ok, WoW has them too. But, again, this is a GIGANTIC 100% seamless world, and you can go anywhere at any time. In WoW, you can fly around in Outland and that's it. There is a difference.

Diplomacy

A completely unique idea in MMOs, and though I haven't messed with it myself, I can see a lot of potential with it. It's a way to quest seperately, and a way to manipulate NPCs and gain significant benefits. A mini "magic the gathering" card game.

---

Ok, that's some of the good points, and of course there are bad points.

PvP

Only 1 low-populated PvP server, and it has almost no system in place of any kind, beyond some "infamy" and apparently currency looting. I haven't tried it myself, as I can't get a decent ping from EU to the Sartok server. But still, it's there at least.

Aesthetic quirks

Unfortunately, there are still things pointing out this was never finished. Mostly, I think certain animations are pretty poor - especially stuff like other players and mounts. Not REALLY poor, just not good. They also removed a chunk of character customization (visually) a while back, because it was apparently the only way they could add visible helmets. Also, it helped performance or so they say.

However, they WILL add new models with customization sometime before the end of the year. The new models are supposedly MUCH better, and I can't wait for them.

Beyond that, there are little things that bother me like the way mobs pop into view, and little objects aren't drawn until you're very close. Just little imperfections that tell of a lack of polish.

---

But that's really all the bad things I can say about it.

Naturally, it comes down to taste, and if you're into casual MMOs that don't require a big investment, you don't want to come near Vanguard. It HAS changed from EQ-hardcore to somewhere between WoW and EQ, but it's not a casual game, really.

However, if you've been fascinated by it before and have given up, or you're looking for an alternative to whatever MMO you've been playing, I HIGHLY recommend you try it out. I understand that it's dirt-cheap in many places like amazon.com (5$ or so). That'll give you a free month to check it out.
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Razgon
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« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2008, 06:57:24 AM »

oh come on!! that was just blatantly evil to do!!  icon_eek  crybaby

sigh... *goes to resub vanguard*

but thanks for the awesome writeup! :-)
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DArtagnan
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« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2008, 08:46:13 AM »

Quote from: Razgon on June 04, 2008, 06:57:24 AM

oh come on!! that was just blatantly evil to do!!  icon_eek  crybaby

sigh... *goes to resub vanguard*

but thanks for the awesome writeup! :-)

Glad to be of service slywink
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Razgon
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« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2008, 08:57:28 AM »

hmm...I may have to tell my GF to not disturb me for a little while after this ;-)

IF I decide to give this a try, I'll look you up... It does sound intersting, and I can really appriciate the whole "waiting for AoC to be patched" thing actually. Lots of good stuff coming out this and the next month.
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DArtagnan
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« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2008, 09:01:00 AM »

Quote from: Razgon on June 04, 2008, 08:57:28 AM

hmm...I may have to tell my GF to not disturb me for a little while after this ;-)

IF I decide to give this a try, I'll look you up... It does sound intersting, and I can really appriciate the whole "waiting for AoC to be patched" thing actually. Lots of good stuff coming out this and the next month.

Hehe, I'm currently in the early stages of persuading my GF to play Vanguard with me.

She already agreed to Age of Conan, but I've told her we should wait a while until it's fixed.

The only problem is that I've been bashing Vanguard in front of her for years, and I've been very specific about it being "hardcore" and not like WoW (of which she is a great fan). It's going to be a VERY uphill struggle, and I'll bet AoC is ready before I'm done persuading.

Silly me, I never did learn how to play an MMO without RL friends/companions. I always thought it was kinda lonely without that aspect.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2008, 09:03:37 AM by DArtagnan » Logged
Arclight
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« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2008, 09:20:28 AM »

Get a room you two. eek  J\k  icon_wink

Never played Vanguard.......one of the only MMO's I didn't.

I don't know why but I've never been interested in it.
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DArtagnan
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« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2008, 09:23:35 AM »

Quote from: Arclight on June 04, 2008, 09:20:28 AM

Get a room you two. eek  J\k  icon_wink

Never played Vanguard.......one of the only MMO's I didn't.

I don't know why but I've never been interested in it.

Well, I think they're down to ~20K subscribers so you're not alone slywink
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« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2008, 11:53:01 AM »

...which is a curious thing for sure.

How does a game with 20,000 subs rebound?  In a nutshell, you had a bunch of excited hardcore MMO players come into VG trying their best to overlook the trainwreck that it was, mostly by focusing on the innovation and cool feature-set it brought to the party.  But eventually, reality won the fight and people left in droves with either bad attitudes or disappointed to the extreme.

Fast forward to present day - assuming for a moment your impressions are reasonably accurate - and you have a game in a state people were hoping for when they jumped on board initially.  But now the passengers have set sail on different (yet possibly inferior) ships.

I'm not an MMO aficionado, and don't pretend to be.  But I enjoy the genre quite a bit, and am curious if a game like this can rebound, or if it is doomed to die despite the efforts made. 

Why do I even care?  Simple really.  I followed YK's and Arkon's posts with great interest when VG was first released.  Those two alone put up quite a battle defending the game when others were slamming the piss out of it on the OO forums.  I've been curious about it ever since.
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« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2008, 12:25:15 PM »

I see what you did there.  I got tricked into Vanguard before.  Then I got shanghaied by all the bugs and general "not-done-ness" of it. 

Still, the massive world and the huge dungeons were what had me interested in it in the first place.  I may have to check this out at some point soon.
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« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2008, 12:36:12 PM »

Don't forget the battle lobsters!  Roll Eyes

All kidding aside, there was a LOT to like about Vanguard. The world was excellent, the dungeons were easily some of the best I'd ever seen in any game. Class implementation was stellar - they had the best necromancer of any MMO ever. Crafting was endlessly deep, and the diplomacy system was brilliant. Had it released in a stable state, it could have ended up being one of the best MMOs ever.

That's the reason I defended it so vigorously at launch. I knew behind all the bugs and performance issues, there was an extremely good MMO under there. Unfortunately, they were never able to get their act together. Nobody was as disappointed as me when Vanguard failed.

It's great that they're ironing things out, but I don't know how you resurrect a world in which everyone has left. Too little, too late. And it's a damn shame, because it really had some bold ideas. If I knew the population was dense enough I could easily find a group, I'd probably give it another whirl. But the stigma attached to the game from its disastrous launch I fear has run most people off.


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« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2008, 12:53:33 PM »

Yep, there really was a great MMO in there that was just overshadowed by the problems it had. So much potential, so many lackluster moves by the crew. If the developers had moved fast enough to fix the most glaring issues before people starting leaving, it might have had enough people still playing that I would be temped to give it another chance with each major update.

I did return when the had the returning player week a while back, and did see lots of improvments, but it was so so dead.

AoCs combat on the individual level is better, but the class interaction of VGs group combat is still the tops.

Too bad.
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DArtagnan
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« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2008, 01:02:29 PM »

It's pretty ironic that I'm here trying to "sell" the game, considering I was a pretty firm detractor upon release.

I always knew it had potential, but I wasn't willing to forgive the utterly atrocious launch state, nor am I the slack-cutting type in general.

Even if I've retried the game numerous times, it's mostly been out of desperation - much like it was this time - and I always knew i'd be disappointed in the end.

But, I don't know what to say except that the thing has finally reached a point where it lives up to my - shall we say - minimum technical stability and performance demands.

It was never about missing features or even a general lack of content, but simply a matter of a borked functionality and aesthetic scares.

I clearly remember YK defending the game, and I feel for him because there WAS a lot to defend. I guess we just had a different reaction to the launch state - which I simply found unforgivable no matter what good might have been hiding there, and I'm sure the fact that I was caught up in WoW at the time had something to do with it. WoW - whilst basically an MMO-light (at least upon release) felt SO polished and just had that Blizzard magic to make you overlook a somewhat thin feature-set.

In any case, I felt it was right to mention this - because I suspect some of you might be in the same "wait-and-see" position with AoC.

About population, it seems "ok". With only 3 PvE servers, there's bound to be someone around to quest with. Personally, I've only solo'ed so far, but I've done a few searches and there's definitely enough people around to make it seem like a social experience. I meet a few players in every area, and as we're talking a seriously huge world, that's not TOO bad for a game in this state.

But there's also no getting around the fact that population is at an all-time low, and getting in groups will most likely take time.

The general "gist" around various forums is QUITE positive right now, though, as people seem to be coming back and have primarily very good things to say about it. The only thing I'd forget about is PvP, as it seems clear the developers are NOT aiming to improve that, and PvE is definitely the focus for improvement.

I listened to a 1.5 hours podcast with lead guy Silius Something, and he was very obviously passionate and talented. Before that, I had the impression that the new small team was basically on auto-pilot doing a bit here and there to make a little profit. But that's not what I got from him, and it seems they're really doing a lot of smart improvements in preperation for something bigger. I also liked how humble they seem to be about the game being a "diamond in the rough" and none of that "it's GREAT" BS.

I think Vanguard has ONE last chance, and that's the upcoming Trial Isle. I believe it's meant for the next GU (GU6) and close to that will be the new character models.

If that doesn't work, then I'm afraid nothing will ever save it - for real. Note that by saving, I mean turning it into a profitable venture, as it will never be a huge thing.

But, as I've said, I've never felt the game was finished or really working until now. But if it was released in its current state, I have no doubt it'd be a hit. Not necessarily a smash hit, as it doesn't aim for a huge market.

The best reason for trying it out is that it's extremely cheap at the moment.

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« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2008, 01:26:24 PM »

Your SOE check's in the mail!  icon_wink j/k

I give SOE credit for not giving up on the game that Sigil borked so badly at launch. SOE seems to have a whole stable of small-to-modest playerbase games, which one can either knock them for (if you know your game's never going to have a truly massive player base, SOE's the publisher to go for!) or respect them for keeping stuff like this and The Matrix Online updated and not pulling the plug on them (a la what NCSoft did with Auto Assault).

I had a gamer bud who worked for Blizz in tech support, and I recall around 2004 he was complaining about how unfriendly SOE guys were at trade shows. It was sort of, "We're Everquest. We're the 900 lb. gorilla, and we're not talking to your newbs." Obviously things are different now.  icon_neutral So I guess now I have a vision of a more humble SOE trying to shepherd a flock of mostly modest playerbase games, and it's impressive if they have resuscitated Vanguard so well.  icon_smile

I would say the same though for Turbine, who still updates Asheron's Call (!) and just released a big DDO update (introducing a new Monk character) despite the fact there can't be any terribly sizeable player bases for those games at this point and the chances of growing them (even via download versions of the game client) seems faint.

If you live for combat and characters, you should try a trial of COH/COV some day. As much as I'm enjoying AoC and enjoyed a few months of LOTORO last year, I seem to keep floating back to COV for the very different and more lively forms of combat there. Of course if your world begins and ends with Fantasy MMOs, or you must have new gauntlets every day, then you can take a pass.  icon_smile
« Last Edit: June 04, 2008, 01:30:54 PM by Blackjack » Logged

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DArtagnan
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« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2008, 01:45:47 PM »

Quote from: Blackjack on June 04, 2008, 01:26:24 PM

If you live for combat and characters, you should try a trial of COH/COV some day. As much as I'm enjoying AoC and enjoyed a few months of LOTORO last year, I seem to keep floating back to COV for the very different and more lively forms of combat there. Of course if your world begins and ends with Fantasy MMOs, or you must have new gauntlets every day, then you can take a pass.  icon_smile

I actually don't necessarily have a preference in terms of setting, though I do have a soft spot for fantasy and sci-fi.

I never DID try CoV/CoH, though I downloaded a trial at some point but never got around to actually installing it. Last time I wanted to try (just recently in my desperation smile ), I believe it had run out despite never being actually used - and it seems to connect to your account. I guess I could just make a new one and try it out.

There are many things I like about MMOs, but the most important to me are the core mechanics. Since you spend 99% of the time fighting, I think combat is definitely one of the most important aspects, if not THE most important aspect. Then comes character development, as I'm a sucker for min/max gameplay and I love to customize stuff.

That said, even if the core mechanics are perfect, there still has to be an actual game beyond that. Vanguard is currently the one that has most of the features I enjoy in a game of this genre, except for the lack of good PvP. Also, I REALLY miss AA/Talent trees to customize my character, but I can deal with that.

But thanks for the recommendation, and I'll try CoV/CoH out eventually. Those games just have a very "spartan" feeling about them, but I really know next to nothing except for the premise, so maybe I should check them out soon slywink
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« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2008, 01:54:36 PM »

D'art - go do a search on YouTube for "Vanguard mounts." The new racial mounts they have coming up are.....I don't have the words.

Lobsters, turtles, giant ants....and those are just the normal looking ones. Personally I think they are utterly ridiculous, but some may find them cool.
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« Reply #15 on: June 04, 2008, 02:00:30 PM »

Quote from: YellowKing on June 04, 2008, 01:54:36 PM

D'art - go do a search on YouTube for "Vanguard mounts." The new racial mounts they have coming up are.....I don't have the words.

Lobsters, turtles, giant ants....and those are just the normal looking ones. Personally I think they are utterly ridiculous, but some may find them cool.

Good god, could the animations be any more stiff?  retard
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DArtagnan
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« Reply #16 on: June 04, 2008, 02:05:42 PM »

Quote from: YellowKing on June 04, 2008, 01:54:36 PM

D'art - go do a search on YouTube for "Vanguard mounts." The new racial mounts they have coming up are.....I don't have the words.

Lobsters, turtles, giant ants....and those are just the normal looking ones. Personally I think they are utterly ridiculous, but some may find them cool.

Yeah, I heard about them.

I agree that some of them are pretty silly, and I don't personally see myself pursuing them as a goal.

That said, having played WoW - I'm kinda used to both cool and ridiculous mounts. I see them as basically just another end-game goal that you can either ignore or get into.

I'm not a huge RP person, so I'm not bothered by such things - but I admit I don't think the game is any better because of some of them.

I think some of the wolves and spiders looked pretty cool actually, but I'm getting a horse myself smile

It seems to me they simply figured out how to put players on some of their standard mobs, and scaled them. It's a pretty weak reward for the faction thingy they've put in place, but I guess it's at least something.

In any case, I don't think it's indicative of the direction they've taken. I think they've made GREAT strides in terms of performance and as I understand it, the end-game raid APW is pretty cool with lots of nice rewards.
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« Reply #17 on: June 04, 2008, 02:35:30 PM »

I'll retry it for the 3rd time at some point.  The newish computer I got should make a bigger boost to performance than any code tweaking they've done.  I managed to get to level 22 at launch with craptacular performance before finally giving up.  It really shoulda been(for me at least) the holy grail of mmorpgs.  Still, I thought the Paladin class was the best in any game to date.  I just loved it.  I'll play AOc till my free time runs out then decide if I want to renew or try this again.
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« Reply #18 on: June 04, 2008, 02:44:38 PM »

I still have a soft spot for Vanguard.  And to be honest if performance wasn't so horrible on my machine I would probably still be playing.
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« Reply #19 on: June 04, 2008, 02:45:34 PM »

I've always thought that the concept of Vanguard was fantastic, it was just the execution that I (and many, many others) felt was so bad.  As soon as I burn out on AoC I'll have to give Vanguard another look. 

D'art, is it still a memory/system hog?  I remember my new system (at the time) was still brought to its knees even though every other game I had I could play at ultra settings with no hitch.

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DArtagnan
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« Reply #20 on: June 04, 2008, 04:07:42 PM »

Quote from: hepcat on June 04, 2008, 02:45:34 PM


D'art, is it still a memory/system hog?  I remember my new system (at the time) was still brought to its knees even though every other game I had I could play at ultra settings with no hitch.



Well, it's been performing reasonably well for me for a long time - even as far back as a year ago or so. That is, APART from the hitching, which is basically the stalling/loading delay when entering new areas or dungeons. With GU5, the hitching has been heavily reduced - at least for me - to the point where it's never worse than what you get in LOTRO when entering Bree or Thorin's Hall. The hitching problem used to be one of the major reasons I never really got into it. Big towns or dungeons would completely stall my computer and it never got smooth. It's a whole different story now.

If you try it, just be sure to let it pre-compile shaders as it asks you to do when you boot it up after patching, and some people have reported that the improvement wasn't noticable until they played for a bit and THEN restarted.

My specs:

Core 2 Duo E6550
Geforce 8800GTX
2GB Ram
2xRaptor in raid 0
XP
Latest Nvidia drivers (175.16 i think)

Not a slouch, for sure, but not top of the line either.

But I don't want to make it appear that it's 100% smooth sailing. It's not like WoW or Guild Wars, and it still hitches and has the odd visual bug or quirk.

But overall it runs at a smooth frame rate pretty much whatever I do, except for the most heavily populated areas like Khal or another major city, where the frame rate is decent but not exactly smooth.

Keep in mind that I run at MAX settings with 4xAA (you can force it through control panel) - and it looks pretty damn good. The only subpar aspects of the visuals are the mount animations and some aspects of the player models, though I wouldn't call them bad - just "meh".

Of course, I mostly solo, and I suspect that it'd be a different experience in bigger groups - though I haven't had any trouble with players near me.

I tried Everquest 2 again recently, and that runs A LOT worse for me. But I think that has to do with it being primarily CPU dependant or so I hear.




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« Reply #21 on: June 04, 2008, 04:30:19 PM »

A friend and I resubbed Vanguard in October of last year and played for about 5 months or so. The game seemed greatly improved as far as bugs and stability and there quite a few changes and improvements to the game. Of course the fact that there were only a few thousand players on the servers at any given time could be a big part of why the game seemed to run smoother.

The dev's definitely seemed to be listening to the small contingent of dedicated players and were altering the game accordingly. A big complaint I remember from launch was the tediously long travel times, which was addressed with the addition of the Riftway system for example.

The problem my friend and I ultimately ran into during our recent sojourn was server population. We had alot of fun running as a duo from level 1 to the low 30's but at that point we hit a wall. Once we hit the low 30's level wise we could no longer duo as more and more of the content required a group. Finding a decent group was on some nights simply not possible and we would simply have to logoff after an hour or so of trying to get something together. The majority of the playerbase still playing at the time was either maxed level or attempting to rush through the game to get to max level. Another issue with grouping was for all the many myriad of quests there are only a handfull that actually offer nice quests rewards and so those are the only quests anyone ever wants to do. This causes several problems. First it makes it difficult to get into a group, second if you do get in a group there are queues to kill quest mobs. I remember one evening where we actually found a group, entered the dungeon we needed to for this particular quest and our group fought our way to the room where the quest mobs spawned. When we arrived at the room there was a full group of 6 folks already working on the quest and 3 groups already in line ahead of us, which by the way each player needed 15 monster parts from a 5 mob spawn with an 8 minute spawn cycle. So 6x15=90/5=18 spawn cycles x 8 minutes each. The drop rate for the quest item on each mob was about 85% so while it was high it was not guaranteed.

The other major stumbling block coming back into the game was the economy. Frankly it was completely screwed and incredibly out of balance. New players simply could not generate enough in game coin to make use of the auction house as prices were pretty insane. Which brings me to my final issue I had coming back to the game, loot. Loot, at least back in March, pretty much sucked. Which was pretty much why everyone spent so much time doing very specific quests since this was the only reliable way to gain decent equipment. I'm not saying every mob needed to drop epic purple items but the occasional nice yellow drop would have been good and added a bit of excitement. Player made equipment was probably the best gear you could acquire pre-raid, however as I mentioned the prices on this stuff was astronomical.

IMHO Vanguard has come a long long way since it's initial train wreck of a launch but there are still simply too many inherent problems in the game for it to actually make a comeback. Even as an interim MMO, i.e. a game folks play while waiting for the next big thing, there are simply too many other selections of games that actually work well like EQ2, LOTRO, WOW and my favorite interim MMO COH/COV etc. Hell there's even a fairly decent selection of free MMO's out there now.

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« Reply #22 on: June 04, 2008, 04:47:50 PM »

FWIW - I think some of the recent content changes dealt with loot. At least that's what the podcast was partially about - where the world drops and quest rewards had become "too good" in comparison with crafted gear, or at least that's what some of the high-level players complained about.

Not exactly sure at what point the Bind on Pickup changes were made, but supposedly the loot change happened around the same time.

Also, the lead guy in the podcast talked a lot about how the economy was one of the reasons they made the loot changes.

But, I really don't know how the reality of the economy is doing right now. It's not something I've investigated.
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« Reply #23 on: June 04, 2008, 06:27:55 PM »

Quote
...we actually found a group, entered the dungeon we needed to for this particular quest and our group fought our way to the room where the quest mobs spawned. When we arrived at the room there was a full group of 6 folks already working on the quest and 3 groups already in line ahead of us, which by the way each player needed 15 monster parts from a 5 mob spawn with an 8 minute spawn cycle. So 6x15=90/5=18 spawn cycles x 8 minutes each. The drop rate for the quest item on each mob was about 85% so while it was high it was not guaranteed

And people say instances break their immersion.  Roll Eyes

Due to the above, I will never play Vanguard, no matter how great is their class implementation, etc.
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« Reply #24 on: June 04, 2008, 06:38:37 PM »

I think each approach has its benefits and detriments.

Situations as described above are obviously not wanted, but given the size of the world and the relatively sparse population - I don't think it will be the typical situation. Then again, I'm sort of OK with it as long as there are other things to do.

I ADORE the idea of such a big world that remains so open throughout. I'd personally simply accept that I'd have to do it another time, and go do something else.

The great thing about Vanguard is that there's always something else to do - be it crafting, decorating your house, doing a diplomacy quest, exploring with a real sense of reward when finding another dungeon, etc.

However, it's the nature of any MMO that you will reach a point when you've seen most of the content. I just don't see that happening with VG for a LOOOONG time, seeing as I'm a new player.

I completely understand why some people prefer instancing as it holds many advantages. I just don't like the way it leads players away from the open world.

If you look at WoW - as an example - everything exciting in that game is taking place in instances. Nothing you do in the open world matters one damn - except for levelling your char of course. Everyone is doing their own thing in a completely removed part of the world.

Of course it's all down to personal preference, and I won't deny that I can be frustrated with waiting for spawns - just as I was in WoW when TBC was first released. Half of the named quests were impossible to do during the first week, unless you sat down and waited. Not particularly fun.

But as long as it's the exception rather than the rule, I'm more than willing to sacrifice the occasional frustration in return for a completely open world.
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« Reply #25 on: June 04, 2008, 07:02:26 PM »

Here's a re-review I found on MMORPG.com.

I think it says it much better than I did, and I must say it's quite close to my own thoughts:

Quote
"I have a confession to make: While I was waiting for the Age of Conan launch, I decided to dip my toes back into Vanguard for a bit. It wasn't as crazy of a proposition as you might think. I've always liked Vanguard. It was never the design that was flawed -- it was the execution. Vanguard failed not because it was a bad game, but because when it launched it was a horrible, buggy, crashing, slow, unplayable mess. I know this because I was in late-stage beta, and that experience made me pass over the game when the launch date finally rolled around.

 
However, a crack SOE development team picked up the pieces of the broken dream of "the Vision," as McQuaid called it, and they've been working feverishly to stitch them together into something both exciting and stable over the last year. Last week, spurred by a desire to just have some fun, I dusted off the copy of the game I bought this fall and rolled up a Necromancer. I didn't expect much. I was just killing time until the Age of Conan launch started. Surprisingly, Vanguard grabbed me. Without really intending to, I was having more fun in an MMOG than I had had in a long time -- so much fun that when the AoC servers finally came up, I was still playing Vanguard. All this week, while logged into AoC, I've been thinking about Vanguard. I'm seriously contemplating putting Age of Conan on ice for a while to go play Vanguard some more. I was enjoying myself that much. What's so great about this allegedly terrible game that I'm willing to play it over the brand new blockbuster flavor-of-the-month?

Well, a lot of things. Lets start with what I think is the crowning achievement of the game: The dungeons. Oh. My. God. If you're a game designer, or you ever want to be a game designer, you need to go right now and play Vanguard for no other reason than to explore the dungeons. Vanguard's dungeons are cool for a number of reasons. They're non-instanced. They're enormous. They're dangerous. They have character. They're epic in both scale and feeling. I love Vanguard's dungeons because they often work like an onion -- each time you peel back a layer, you find another one underneath. It's really hard to understand what I mean unless you see them for yourself.

The dungeons often start off with some unimpressive opening: a cave mouth, a temple entrance, or a crashed ship. You explore a little ways in, get a feel for the place, and say to yourself, "Okay, this is a cool place. I could level here for a bit." Then, you notice a small door that you can click on, which you didn't see at first for some reason. The door swings open and reveals the next part of the dungeon... which is huge. You realize that everything you've seen until now is just the foyer of the real dungeon, which is deep, enormous, mysterious, and full of treasure and fascinating things to see. You repeat this process three or four times before you make your way to the bottom of a truly epic dungeon experience.

Speaking of epic experiences, that's a feeling that stays with you wherever you are in Vanguard. While the buildings, architecture, and landscape are impressive in other games, they're simply amazing in Vanguard. When I'm riding through enormous canyons with impossibly high walls on my way to some distant city, I really feel like I'm exploring some distant land. Travel is meaningful, and there's a lot to see on the way. Since they give you your first horse at level 10 (and a variety of other interesting mounts as you level), you can go do all of the exploring you always wanted to do. EverQuest's motto has always been, "You're in our world now," but Vanguard is the game where you actually feel that way.

Quests are plentiful wherever you go. Vanguard doesn't take you by the hand and lead you on a carefully planned ride from spot to spot. When you've outgrown your current area, you just open your map, pick a new place with a dungeon around your level (the dungeons are marked by level on your map), and start your journey. You inevitably find stuff to do on the way -- at any given level, I've had more quests to do than I could possibly complete before out-leveling them. Granted, my highest character is in his mid-20s, but I suspect the pattern continues on into the higher levels, given the massive size of the world. It really makes you feel like you're living an adventure instead of running on someone else's pre-planned quest track.

Combat is complicated, challenging, and fun. Skill plays a very definite and observable role in the process. My Necromancer, through careful use of his fear, DoTs, pet, and special abilities, can fight 4-5 opponents at once under the right circumstances. One slip-up and I'm dead, but if I play skillfully I can keep it up indefinitely. It's like riding along the razor's edge, and when I do it well and win it's a major adrenaline rush. Doing it in dungeons is even more satisfying, because victory is sweeter and death is punishing (fighting your way back down to your corpse is both frustrating and rewarding -- you have no one to blame but yourself).

Many dungeons and group quests are built for 2-3 players to tackle them, making Vanguard the perfect game to duo with a friend in. The harder dungeons are designed for full groups, and any class in the game can solo. Vanguard can accommodate any playstyle, whether you want to dungeon crawl with four friends or just grind out some XP questing by yourself. The most fun I've had in the game was definitely doing the two-man dungeon runs with my brother. Small, tight-knit groups exploring sprawling and deadly dungeons is a great recipe for memorable and fun gameplay.

The technical issues have dramatically improved since launch. There's still some hitching when you cross zone lines (something that will supposedly be much better after the upcoming update), and graphical glitches still crop up from time to time, but I have yet to run into a bug that crashes my game or makes things unplayable. It runs just fine on medium settings and looks fantastic. With a live team working on putting out consistent updates, the problems get smaller and the game gets better all the time.

Vanguard has had a long and difficult history. The game might still be rough around the edges, but it's constantly improving. It's good enough now that you can actually dig in and see the meat of the gameplay, and what's there is pretty amazing. The community is friendly and helpful, the world is exciting, the quests are everywhere, and the game is fun. With some more love and work, this really could be the EverQuest 2.0 I talked about last week. It certainly has that feeling. Like I said, it's good enough that I'm itching to play it even while Age of Conan sits waiting in my lap.

I agree with everything Thom Terrazas said in his recent interview, and I really think SOE should re-launch the game, from a marketing standpoint. Vanguard today is not the same game that it was a year ago -- it's much, much better. It's a really fun game. Having spent some more time with it, I'm really hoping that SOE continues work on it. It would be great to see the same ideas carried forward into more content at high levels, more stuff to do, possibly even an expansion. A jungle continent or a snowy northern continent perhaps?

Do yourself a favor and give the game another try, if you haven't yet. It's a pretty amazing ride, and there's a lot to like about it."
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« Reply #26 on: June 04, 2008, 07:42:31 PM »

It would be really neat to see SOE do that relaunch - either giving away the client for free, or packaging it in with an expansion, tossing out a trial week, etc. Really the only thing that would keep me from trying it out again would be low population. Unless they've really improved solo/duo content all the way up into the higher levels, the inability to find a group to explore the dungeons I think would kill the game for me after awhile.

A massive relaunch with all the accompanying marketing, etc. might go a long ways in correcting that.
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« Reply #27 on: June 04, 2008, 07:49:58 PM »

All I want is for the furries to have tails  crybaby
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« Reply #28 on: June 04, 2008, 11:16:01 PM »

Quote from: Cragmyre on June 04, 2008, 07:49:58 PM

All I want is for the furries to have tails  crybaby

Yeah, I noticed that whenever I saw one running by - why don't they have tails?

And I tried out the game for a month a month or three back - it didn't hold my interest. It did play a hell of a lot better though when it came to FPS and crashing problems.
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« Reply #29 on: June 05, 2008, 04:21:41 PM »

Damn, DArtagnan, I gotta admit, I am intrigued now. Not enough to drop AoC for it, but enough to keep an eye open for some kind of promotion, like a 10-day trial with a downloadable client.

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« Reply #30 on: June 05, 2008, 04:24:26 PM »

Quote from: StriderGG on June 05, 2008, 04:21:41 PM

Damn, DArtagnan, I gotta admit, I am intrigued now. Not enough to drop AoC for it, but enough to keep an eye open for some kind of promotion, like a 10-day trial with a downloadable client.



as far as I understand, next big update contains a trial isle...
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« Reply #31 on: June 05, 2008, 04:46:16 PM »

Quote from: Razgon on June 05, 2008, 04:24:26 PM

Quote from: StriderGG on June 05, 2008, 04:21:41 PM

Damn, DArtagnan, I gotta admit, I am intrigued now. Not enough to drop AoC for it, but enough to keep an eye open for some kind of promotion, like a 10-day trial with a downloadable client.



as far as I understand, next big update contains a trial isle...

That would get me to give it a shot.  I subscribed to EQ2 after playing the Trial Isle.
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« Reply #32 on: June 05, 2008, 08:13:16 PM »

Yeah, personally I find Vanguard and EQ2 to still be the most "complex" of the MMORPGs out there.  By "complex" I mean that there is more to the combat and crafting systems than other games.  Also, both Vanguard and EQ2 have the widest variety of races and classes to select from.  There are some drawbacks to this though - EQ2 has a much more difficult time adding in additonal armor models because they have to do them for each race and gender combination, and this is why it has taken so long to begin seeing some variety.  Vanguard took the easier way out - and that's why you don't see tails and the like.  They use similar models, but change out the head, hands, etc.

In any case, I'm a fan of having tons of different attack skills to choose from for different situations.  In EQ2 there are varieties of instant buffs, snares, facing dependent attacks that keep things spicey.  Vanguard also has chains and a variety of attacks to use that are situationally dependent.  Personally, WoW gets very boring - I feel for those pyro mages, for example, who just repetitively cast the same sequence of spells for damage.  Some people may prefer simplicity, but I have a good 6 hot-bars filled in EQ2 that contain useful skills, items that I use in situations, or potions.  Vanguard isn't too far behind there.

I'm playing AoC also right now, as well as EQ2, but I'm also in the camp that AoC needs to make some improvements.  Grouping in AoC is a pain as the "summon to instance" command seems useless at the moment so it is very hard to meet up with a group (basically you need to go back to the beginning of a zone, zone out, and zone back in to join the leader's party).  I have a station pass so I occasionally hop into Vanguard, but I'm waiting until they have some kind of rerelease so the population jumps up a bit.  I like grouping.  =)   Instancing and zones have never been pet peeves for me - I sometimes actually prefer joining a group and entering an instance.  It brings me back to the D&D days where it's just your group and the dungeon.  I'm looking forward to a time when some of these games can perhaps add some more randomness to the dungeons - kind of like what Anarchy Online tried to do but with more complexity.  D&D online gets a bit old because the dungeons are always the same after the first run through, and you rarely group with people who haven't been through the dungeon once.
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« Reply #33 on: June 07, 2008, 11:44:15 PM »

Quote from: DArtagnan on June 04, 2008, 06:47:10 AM

Ok, so I was miffed with AoC and I'm awaiting fixes and what not.

So, what does any sane and desperate MMO fan do? He wastes his money on resubscribing to various MMOs he's played in the past and left, or he tries out trials when possible - just to see if enough has changed - or if he was wrong about them for whatever reason. Just the typical desperation of a starving player.

...<snip a really good write up.>
Naturally, it comes down to taste, and if you're into casual MMOs that don't require a big investment, you don't want to come near Vanguard. It HAS changed from EQ-hardcore to somewhere between WoW and EQ, but it's not a casual game, really.

However, if you've been fascinated by it before and have given up, or you're looking for an alternative to whatever MMO you've been playing, I HIGHLY recommend you try it out. I understand that it's dirt-cheap in many places like amazon.com (5$ or so). That'll give you a free month to check it out.

But does it have respecs?  slywink

Like you I am somewhat miffed at AoCs current state.  I may stick with AoC until Warhammer comes out,  I may drop AoC and play some single player games, or I may drop AoC and try another MMORPG.  You made VG seem interesting enough for me to consider trying it for a month or two.

A free trail or a cheap initial game price would be a good incentive.  I have not seen any price drops on VG like some other mmorpgs.  Why make the game more expensive than WoW for the game/first month?
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« Reply #34 on: June 08, 2008, 06:16:37 AM »

Quote from: Jafisob on June 07, 2008, 11:44:15 PM

Quote from: DArtagnan on June 04, 2008, 06:47:10 AM

Ok, so I was miffed with AoC and I'm awaiting fixes and what not.

So, what does any sane and desperate MMO fan do? He wastes his money on resubscribing to various MMOs he's played in the past and left, or he tries out trials when possible - just to see if enough has changed - or if he was wrong about them for whatever reason. Just the typical desperation of a starving player.

...<snip a really good write up.>
Naturally, it comes down to taste, and if you're into casual MMOs that don't require a big investment, you don't want to come near Vanguard. It HAS changed from EQ-hardcore to somewhere between WoW and EQ, but it's not a casual game, really.

However, if you've been fascinated by it before and have given up, or you're looking for an alternative to whatever MMO you've been playing, I HIGHLY recommend you try it out. I understand that it's dirt-cheap in many places like amazon.com (5$ or so). That'll give you a free month to check it out.

But does it have respecs?  slywink

Like you I am somewhat miffed at AoCs current state.  I may stick with AoC until Warhammer comes out,  I may drop AoC and play some single player games, or I may drop AoC and try another MMORPG.  You made VG seem interesting enough for me to consider trying it for a month or two.

A free trail or a cheap initial game price would be a good incentive.  I have not seen any price drops on VG like some other mmorpgs.  Why make the game more expensive than WoW for the game/first month?

That's strange, I've heard several people talk about how cheap it is right now. I'm not really sure where you'll find it so cheap, as it's most likely US specific retailers/sites in most cases. I've heard it to be as low as 5-10$. I'm pretty sure amazon was one place mentioned.

I know that it sells for ~20$ in Denmark, which is around 25-30% of what a normal game costs here.

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« Reply #35 on: June 08, 2008, 04:24:02 PM »

I tried it this morning on a buddy pass.  I can't say I was overly impressed.  I played the blood-healer-thingy.  There are a few spoilers below in my initial impressions but I don't think you'll mind. 

Disclaimers first:

1.  I only got to level 6.  Yes, I realize that getting to level 6 is not a comprehensive evaluation of the game.
2.  It was far better than it used to be.  Far, far more stable.
3.  Graphics are good (on par with EQ2)

But overall, I just didn't get much out of the game.  In my few levels, they could have called it "Generic MMO 1542" rather than Vanguard...it wouldn't have made any difference.  I've heard many a MMO-fan say "if you get past level x, it's really awesome".  I've never found that to be true - either I like it or I don't and I almost always know it pretty quickly.  My initial impressions held in WoW (excellent), LOTRO (good but dull), COH (uninteresting), EQ2 (good bordering on very good), Ultima Online (great), Star Wars Galaxies (bad) and so on...it seems either the game grabs me or it doesn't.

Before starting, I had to create a character.  Ok, no big deal.  Except EVERY SINGLE NAME has been taken.  I tried well over two dozen uncommon names and couldn't find any acceptable to the game.  I even tried Waaalt Blackadddddar and it still wouldn't work.  For a game with so few players, there's something very, very wrong with that.  I finally named my character Names Taken.  They better come up with a name generator prior to their Trial Isle or many people won't get past the character creation.  Seriously, that's a pretty big barrier to entry.

So Names Taken started in the Asian area (whatever it's called).  I rush forward to find a brown village.  We're attacking it.  I don't know why.  I don't know why I'm one of the troops attacking it.  I don't want to attack it.  Dammit, I don't have a choice.  Ok, let's see where this goes....take treasure, kill villagers, beat up guard and kill a level 50 in a house.  Oh, he tells me I'm on the wrong path being in the service of the emperor.  The conversation ends and nothing happens.  Ok, so where do I go now?  Let me Alt-tab out and I'll look it up online.  It seems he's supposed to port me somewhere.  Go talk to him again.  Nope, still no port.  Hmmm....so I stare at the screen for 45 seconds and *poof*, I'm ported.  Christ Almighty, that was slow...and a hair-raising escape from my indentured servitude to the emperor would have been much more engaging than a simple port.  That starting zone was not at all impressive.

Ok, so I'm ported to a prettier village.  Therefore, I can instantly deduce this is the "good" village.  So I run a couple of quests in the village...not too bad.  Generic quests 101, but at least the game performance isn't too shabby.  Confidence is up a bit and by the time I'm level 3, I have the quest to go talk to Omi down by the beach.  And I find it bugged.  And given the conversation with other newbies in the area (all 3 of them), it's obviously been bugged forever.  So I continue on and take on a couple of other quests.  I find that the quest locations/descriptions are pretty vague.  I'm supposed to find fishing supplies to the NE next to some portal, yet they're not to the N at all (just E).  And the portal doesn't look at all like a portal, but a trellis.  I miss glowing quest item indicators.  I run a few more quests and, again, I run into a quest where I'm supposed to make a choice about being good or bad.  So I go to the essence, start the conversation path and nothing happens.  No mob is summoned.  I drop it and try again.  Nope, no mob is summoned.  Wait!  I remember that the last trigger was slow!  So I try again and wait...sure enough, after about 40 seconds here comes my mob.  Moving, on, I did a few other quests to the point I have to find Komodo Dragons and some Kojuko Beholders.  Except the dragons seem to be a rare spawn (found 2 in 20 minutes) and the beholders don't seem to exist at all.  Grrrr...at this point I logged off.  I'm not sure I'll log back on ever again.

Now it's not a total loss.  I've played far worse - including Vanguard in beta.  The graphics are beyond acceptable, the game actually *works* and there's an awfully big world out there.  My guess is that there's probably a decent game somewhere here.  Maybe I just like my hand held a bit more, but I just don't think it's polished very well.  I've gotten lazy over the years with WoW and LOTRO providing things like better location descriptions, more engaging dialog, glowing quest items to identify them easily and more help to the new player.  It's hard to go back to the "figure it out" type game world and there are too many annoyances that get in the way of fun - the character creation, bugged quests, long trigger times, hard-to-find mobs, uninteresting/unexplained starting areas and the vague descriptions just turn me off.  I'm sure others will like it, but my short experience leads me to believe that Vanguard is still not ready to become a top-notch MMO.
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« Reply #36 on: June 08, 2008, 09:15:33 PM »

I remember reading about that race or whatnot you picked - their starting quests are a total mess.

I think the Kojan continent is the one that's the most 'finished' out of the areas. Of course, the island only goes up to level 20 or so, but it's a nice, peaceful place. Feels 'elven' for lack of a better term.
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« Reply #37 on: June 09, 2008, 01:21:48 AM »

Quote from: YellowKing on June 04, 2008, 07:42:31 PM

It would be really neat to see SOE do that relaunch - either giving away the client for free, or packaging it in with an expansion, tossing out a trial week, etc. Really the only thing that would keep me from trying it out again would be low population. Unless they've really improved solo/duo content all the way up into the higher levels, the inability to find a group to explore the dungeons I think would kill the game for me after awhile.

A massive relaunch with all the accompanying marketing, etc. might go a long ways in correcting that.


They need to do what they did with EQ2 recently. Open it up for an extended period. Plus offer more than just a week or two for new players. Give the client away, offer at least a month of free play, and make it $9.99 a month. Basically with the bad press this game got they need some serious marketing just to get people to even look their way again.
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« Reply #38 on: June 09, 2008, 06:29:32 AM »

I'm liking it so far.
I dont play it for the graphics, but for the great many options and awesome community this game has. I mean, come on,I can build a friggin' boat?!  icon_eek

anyways, like many others, I feel I want to wait before playing more AoC, especially with all the promised updates on the way....
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« Reply #39 on: June 09, 2008, 08:13:27 AM »

btw, if anyone wants to play with me, I'm on the, eh, Seradon I think its called, server...its the only one with RP as far as I know

eh, and by play with me ,I mean grouping!!  ninja
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