Dam Dwarves!

First off, as Ockene mentioned in his blog, Three Rivers looks a helluva lot like Ireland. An image reinforced by the large number of leprechauns, I mean Dwarves, in the area. I, of course, am rather horrid at remembering to take screenshots, but I wrapped up pretty much every soloable quest in the area, and leveled to 14 on my Dread Knight Grelleth.

I did remember to stop by and take a screenshot of the Dam Dwarves, and here it is:

Image

Having run out of solo quests in the area, i think I’ll head off elsewhere next. I’ve been told of two quest chains that reward a solid amount of gear and xp: Hunter’s League, which starts in Qa Riverbank, and URT(United Races of Thestra), which starts in Renton Keep. More later.

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Fortune Favors Procrastinators.

Now, I’ve never had much faith in SoE’s ability to have a decent freemium system. Their EverQuest and EverQuest2 freemium systems seem haphazard at best, especially when compared to other, successful, freemium games such as LoTRO and DDO. So imagine my surprise, as I’m bullshitting in general chat on the good ol’ IoD, when someone mentions that Vanguard changed their freemium system, removing the majority of the f2p restrictions.

 

You can see the announcement here, and the f2p/premium comparison grid here.

Basic summary: All races and classes are now free to level55(Justifying my utter procrastination in unlocking the race/class combos I was using, see I knew it’d be cheaper than 1000sc to unlock orc rangers at some point!). As a matter of fact, Premium now seems like a convenience option more than anything. Discounts on travel, repair and broker fees. The only gameplay-altering change I see between f2p and premium is gear limitations – and if there are gear unlockers in the Marketplace(something I need to check out now, I’m assuming it’s probably had a radical overhaul as well) even that only changes the leveling game, as a player can just purchase gear unlockers for their best in slot dungeon  and/or raid gear and deal with being slightly underpowered until they get those drops. I forsee raid tanks all being subscribers, at least until they have all their BiS items.

Yeah, Vanguard just got upgraded from ‘experiment’ to “I wanna see how cool this game is”.

Kudos to Sony on what is now the most awesome free to play system on the market. Even Smedtard deserves his share of the credit for this, now if only he could stop ruining EQ1 for the first time since 2005….

Raitarolled!

I’m a great one for going back to something that I’ve previously abandoned and finishing it up. Unfortunately for me, there is no going back to the IoD in order to finish the Diplomacy saga there. So, of course, I just had to reroll Raitaro. 6 hours later I find myself a level 7 ranger, level 6 artificer and level 4 diplomat. The IoD diplomacy chain is still rather annoying to me, but my experience with various diplomacy quests in the greater world tells me that I’ll have an easier time with diplomacy quests that are a level or two below me, but at level ones will be rather difficult.

I’ll stick it out and chronicle my temple experience for the blog of course. Oh yes, I almost forgot. Turn’s out I was missing something when I tried the old starter area quests. I found this page over at vanguard.wikia.com which shows where the old racial quest lines ACTUALLY start. I’ll add that to my list of to do’s for after I leave the IoD. Or maybe I’ll reroll Grelleth and see about doing all those quests on him with a home city starting option.

A Need for Heroes and On to Ca`ial Brael

On to Ca`ial Brael is the name of the level4 diplomacy quest that sends me across the continent of Kojan to the Wood Elf city of Tawar Galan on my intrepid Orc Ranger Raitaro, while I’m still somewhat iffy with diplomacy, I decide to go for it. Upon completion the reward is a horse, identical to the one I got on the IoD. However, the person I receive this reward from is a horse vendor, who gladly sells me a Dark Gray horse, one of several stylish choices, for 12 silver and 50 copper.

Did I mention that I took a rift to get from Wildgrowth Forest to Jalen’s crossing to cover about two-thirds of my journey? The Rift Keeper at Wildgrowth told me that apparently, there’s A Need for Heroes – in 4 different places. I accepted all the quests, which are really just pointers, simply because the reward for the pointer quest is a 10% xp boost pie. I recall, and being bound near Martok City proper, I find my way to the forges, where I meet a nice Orc lady named Kimak who let’s me specialise as a weaponsmith. Then I make myself a snazzy little blade.

sword

By this time i’m getting bored with the Martok quests. It feels like I’m doing the broken remnants of what was once a great quest chain. Almost as if there was a revamp, which was implemented when it was about halfway finished, but then got scrapped before it was complete. So, with some trepidation I abandon my Martok quests, but keep the Need for Heroes quests. After all, 10% xp boost pie! Besides, everyone knows the Cake is a Lie, right? Unable to completely abandon my Orcish roots, I retain the quests from Wildgrowth forest, and start working on those.

I also retain some pointer quests that go to Ranger and Crafting trainers, might as well collect free xp and silver on my way to find adventures and glory elsewhere after I finish with Wildgrowth Forest. There’s also a pointer quest to Gulgrethor Fortress which I find. It’s red, and marked as level15 in my log, on the map Gulgrethor Fortress is a level12-15 area, and i’m guessing it’s a dungeon. Might as well hang onto this quest too.

Wildgrowth proves to be a well made, although small, questhub. The scenery is gorgeous, reminding me of my local Cascade Mountains at times. There prove to only be a few quests however, and these are rather easy to solo. I’m soon on my way to Khenvor with a pointer quest after finishing the quests at the Wildgrowth Forest hub.

Khenvor itself, turns out to be pretty fun. I piss off some necromancers and get turned into a rat at the end, but essentially Khenvor is a city ruled by the devious Clan Gulgrethor, and as a memebr of Clan Martok it is my duty to cast honor aside and infiltrate this town to gain information for my war leaders. Mostly i run errands for some self-important Goblin bean counter, and poke around at the behest of another Clan Martok agent whose cover is apparently already blown.

Somewhere in this period of time I get rewarded these snazzy gloves, I’m hoping they are the first of several pieces in a new set of gear, we’ll just have to follow this through and see now won’t we?

Gloves

All in all not a bad run, leveled to 13 and gained a few upgrades, 3 of my IoD set pieces are now taking up space in appearance slots so I don’t look all patch-work.

Random Musings on Vanguard

A few things I’ve considered as I’ve played Vanguard these past few days:

The freemium model is rather good for an SoE game, offering more to free players than their other titles, but I still rank the SoE freemium model far below that of Turbine with Lord of the Rings Online and even Dungeons & Dragons Online. With no in-game way to earn Station Cash, Sony forces the player to spen d cash in one way or another, either with a subscription, or by paying for gear, bag slot, race and class unlocks.

The content depresses me. From what I remember, combined with my observations, each race used to have a cohesive starting area, now each continent has a quickly assembled, sometimes incomplete-feeling, quest chain which is blown away by the efficency of the Isle of Dawn starting area. The thing is, separate racial starting areas, with their own quest lines, are what made Norrath such a huge world when I played EverQuest, and I feel that Telon has lost something with Vanguard’s continental or tutorial isle starting areas. The world feels much smaller than it actually is, and I believe that’s to the detriment of the player.

Ah well, back to Martok on Raitaro

Altitis strikes when you least expect it

I usually follow this pattern in MMORPGs – the race/class combo I made first is the class that suits me best, and I spend my first several months playing a new game fiddling with alts before ultimately going back to my first choice anyway. So it’s no surprise to me that I find myself at the character creation screen again.

Enter Trimdet: The Raki Paladin whom I send to his home city instead of IoD. This is when I discover that the Raki, a Kojani race, get sent to Shang Village. And if the Raki do…. So I delete Trimdet, reroll him as an Orc Paladin. Sure enough, Orcs start out in Shang Village as well. If I had to guess, I’d say that the devs merged the racial questlines together into continental hubs at some point when the Vanguard population was dwindling, most likely in an effort to bring the few remaining players together and stave off server merges temporarily.

Trimdet makes it to level5, but I still feel that the Shang Village quest lines aren’t as well done as the IoD. Besides, by this time I’ve decided i don’t much care for Paladin flavoring, Sword and Board is meh. Also, it struck me that Orcs shouldn’t be allowed to be Paladins, and a quick check at vanguard.gamepressure.com shows me that I am correct – Sony must have opened up race/class combos completely with the freemium model shift.

Enter Grelleth. My Orc Dread Knight. Interesting flavor to the class. I decide to be a bit slower on the isle with him, grab all three sagas at once, maybe actually finish the diplomacy saga this time around. He makes it to Sun Village before I log off. I’ll try and remember to cover that Temple run in detail when I get to it, but I plan on not going until I’m ready for the temple part of all three spheres: crafting, diplomacy and adventure.

Crafting bores me, Diplomacy frustrates me, Adventuring keeps me excited enough to push all three spheres anyway. It’s like reading a novel, for example. Now imagine having 3 novels, Set in the same place, at the same time, with the same characters. Each novel has a different plot, and you can see a much bigger story when you read all 3. That’s how the questing and lore in the world of Telon is: Crafting, Diplomacy and Adventuring all tell part of the story, and it’s far more interesting to know the whole story, than just one or two parts of it.

The Road to Grimsea Watch, and Beyond….

After about half an hour of diplomacy, during which I somehow managed to find 3 crafting quests that I had missed when I did the Artisan’s Saga, I got bored. I’m in it for the adventure! I can handle the crafting, but diplomacy is something I’m just not ready to deal with. I abandoned all my quests, made a level1 orc alt and started him at his home city instead of IoD so I knew where I was headed, logged back on Raitaro, took the riftway to Tomb of Lord Sang, after a quick google search found me this map so I could plot my course to the glory awaiting a lowly Orcish Ranger.

So I trek off towards Grimsea Watch, not realizing that I could have taken a rift there at pretty much any time. About halfway there on foot, a trek of some 10 minutes, including a 2 minute swim across the English Channel, I run into Shang Village – the human starting area. Of course i can’t resist taking a peek can I? I’m soon engrossed in figuring out the newbie quests of Sang Village, and spend the next hour or so being suitably impressed by quest chains which appear to reward identical or equivalent to IoD rewards, as well as discovering that it is possible to get the Bracelet of Lucky Charms here, in this racial starting area, and not only on the IoD as I had been led to believe from my reading up on the new tutorial area.

Of course, this mildly interesting diversion isn’t getting me to Grimsea Watch any sooner, so I trek off again and eventually find my way to my destination. I’m immediately dissapointed. I can find only 1 quest in Grimsea Watch itself, and it’s level 3, there are no other quest areas that I can find any closer than Veenax Garrison – where I load up on 2 more quests and a diplomacy quest, all level 5 quests.

I can’t help but wonder why it is that I can’t find a quest hub as well done as the IoD or Shang Village, but ultimately attribute the rugged questing environment for Orcs as a proving grounds for military recruits. I find myself clearing out local pests, then facing a trial by combat in Fanx Caverns, assisting a local shaman in Gaxton Village, before finally finding myself rather dazed and confused, and entering the City of Martok. I find myself grabbing crafting and diplomacy quests which end up leading me to more adventure quests, which lead me to more crafting and diplomacy quests. It seems like a sparse questing environment at first glance, but I see it as a complex interwoven pattern – a story told only by doing all three quest lines as they cross each others’ paths.

As I log out of Vanguard today, I find myself pleasantly surprised at the wealth of questing in all 3 spheres, even in a remote and seemingly overlooked racial starting area like Grimsea Watch. I wonder what Martok has in store for Scout Raitaro of Martok, the 12Ranger/10Blacksmith/6Diplomat?