Ardwulf Returns to Vanguard

You know how I keep saying that I want to wait a little bit longer to resubscribe to Vanguard? Well, the little bit of temptation introduced by the new Vanguard promotion wore away at me until I bit the bullet and upgraded my current EQ2 account to a StationPass. So Ardwulf has returned to Vanguard, hopefully, this time, to stay. Besides, I can hardly run an effective blog about the game from totally outside it, can I? Some of my guildies even still remembered me (I count myself lucky they didn’t throw me out in my absence.)

So far I’ve spent about seven hours in-game and have the observed that the chat servers are still wonky; I was not connected most of the night last night. And the highest rendering settings no longer work right for me – all I get is a weird blur of textures. One notch below that and everything’s fine, and the highest texture settings still work. There are still weird graphical artifacts here and there, flickering textures and such, but they seem no more common than before, and perhaps less.

Ardwulf Looks to the Journey Ahead

On the plus side, the name layering issue (specific to 8800 series video cards, I believe,) has finally been fixed. This was a pretty serious issue – it affected playability by not letting me see resource nodes or what mobs were hostile at a glance, so it was a great annoyance for me. It’s no longer a problem.

Performance in general seems a touch better, and the character occlusion feature (which I thought was supposed to be on by default – it’s not,) does help on top of that. I was frequently running at 30-50 FPS at very high settings, and only once or twice did it dip into the single digits. Chunking seems better at least part of the time – now only sometimes does it cause serious hitching. I would like to see this go away entirely, since it detracts from immersion.

Client stability seems dramatically improved. Seven hours and no crashing is a gigantic improvement from two months ago, when I could count on at least one crash an hour. I stress that this is so far. I will be reporting again on it after more play, as this is a key point which led to my quitting Vanguard twice before.

In-game, I found that Ardwulf, my main, a Varanjar Ranger, was 11th level, not 13th as I’d recalled, but that my secondary Hrishnak, an Orc Dread Knight was 8th when I’d thought he was 6th. I kept also Grar, my 4th level Dwarf Cleric, and Mukhtar, my 6th level Varanthari Warrior. Everyone else I deleted, since I’d spent part of the day before deciding what character combinations I wanted to play in an insanely obsessive manner.

Ardwulf Stands at the Gates of New Targonor

I spent a good chunk of time running Ardwulf to from the Vault of Heroes to New Targonor to pick up the reindeer holiday flying mount… and then couldn’t find the vendor. This was quite a hike. But I boated over to Khal and found him there, and was flying around much of the rest of the night.

Don’t get me wrong, a free flying mount for everybody is a nice holiday perk, and it works great in Vanguard with its impressive detail along the vertical axis. But it also speeds up questing enormously, and I’m not sure that’s such a good thing. After unlocking a couple of riftstones on Thestra, I ran Ardwulf from 11th level where I’d last left him to 13th, in not much more than an hour. Next up I’ll be finishing the content in Vault of Heroes, then probably on to Qalia and Ksaravi Gulch.

Ardwulf Departs For Points Unknown

I may not post again until the day after Christmas. Everyone have a happy and safe holiday, and I’ll be seeing you next year.

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