By G. Lance Brazell Aka: -Avalon-
Vanguard: Saga of Heroes is one of the newest online games on the market
today. It features many different elements from various successful games.
Features such as a versatile user interface, a well rounded quest system, and
enhanced travel methods. I think the game needs to be looked at in a different
The game includes a game to manipulate one of the three spheres, diplomacy. To
play the game of diplomacy, one needs to understand the pieces of the game.
There are four suits: reason, flattery, inspire, and demand. Everyone knows what
they mean in a basic way. For instance, a red card, demand, means that the
player is requiring and forcing their statement or actions on the non-player
character. But, let us apply these suits in a different way.
Vanguard is a very gear-centric game, pretty much like every other online game
out there. For what hero would rather be called "The Knight in a Patchwork
Tunic" versus "The Knight in Shining Armor"? What fool would
challenge the deadly flame breathing dragon with his somewhat trusty toothpick,
sorry, rusty dagger?
Nay, gear-centric is unfortunately a major way of being for online games. Not
only does the better equipment help your character survive the new challenges of
the next dungeon around the bend. It also provides a character status within
their server, and possibly even the game itself. But what better and higher
level gear does best, is make the character look the look. If the best armor in
the game looked like a barnacle ridden, rusty suit of plate mail, then what fair
maiden would lower herself to even think of asking the knight wearing it to go
forth and save her kingdom?
Vanguard hosts a large variety of equipment both crafted in the forges and
shops, and dropped by slain enemies. These items come with an even larger
variety of benefits. Unlike in some games, here heavy armor actually has a huge
difference in armor bonus over the next tier, medium armor, which has just as
much difference under it to the light armors. Axes can do the most damage
potentially, but can also do the least damage potentially due to the large
difference between its minimum and maximum damages, whereas a long sword has a
very tight damage ratio and gives a more consistent damage output.
Equipment in Vanguard also has some of the best designs and artwork thanks to
the work of Keith Parkinson and other artists on the Sigil crew. Even some of
the lowest level outfits look somewhat heroic, and the weapons look anywhere
from mundane as can be on up to brilliantly forged from master dwarves of
Speaking of artwork, the quality does not stop at the gear. Some of the scenes
in the game are so wondrous and awe-inspiring, that it has caused skeptical
players who did not think much of the game at first to pre-order the game during
beta testing. With the recent performance boosts, and additional artwork patched
into the game, it truly is a masterpiece of eye-candy.
Along with the artwork, the soundtracks are pure beauty. Players can hear the
Arabic music of Qalia, or visit the High Elf lands around Leth Nurae to hear
ethereal vocals. In dungeons, the sounds turn to dark mystery and danger, which
is especially potent when combined with a very detailed ten foot tall gleaming
black spider so real one would half expect to see real poison dripping from its
The game continues to draw players back over and over. Players are making videos
showcasing the art and sounds of the game. The castle of New Targonor perched
upon its seaside cliff. The green mist clad ruins of Trengal Keep with the
winged dark shapes barely seen in the sky only hinting at the dangers that lay
One of the harshest parts of this game is its requirements. The game truly needs
a decent computer just to run it on its lowest settings. Players, since beta,
have been posting tweaks that can be made to the client to be able to trick the
game into running better on lower end machines. But by doing so, players are
doing a couple of things. First, the game seems to not like being messed with,
as the more it is tweaked the more often CTDs (crashes to desktop) seem to
happen. And, secondly, it cheats the player out of seeing what the game really
has to offer visually, and, as sound being turned off bumps the performance a
great deal, musically.
The game is akin to trying to do some of the higher end race tracks with all the
turns and twists. If someone tries to take a ford Taurus on the track, they are
going to be sorely upset over the performance, whereas if they took one of the
tinkered high power racecars to try it out, they may actually place in the top
It is a fine balance. The developers have already said that they had a choice
when they made the game. Paraphrased, the choice was to either plan the game
around today's capabilities and in two years it would need improved heavily to
keep up with the newer technology, or plan two years ahead and build it for then
so that the game would have a great deal of longevity. This trade-off has its
prices though, and stability on machines of today is one of them. As time goes
by though, players will start to have better machines, but will Vanguard have
been forgotten by then because so few could play it back when it came out?