We got a bit less done toward packing for the move than we planned today. But the good news is I got to spend a solid 5 hours in Vanguard – with no crashes, although the World Server did go down once. I logged back in and everything was fine.
As I mentioned yesterday, I have been pursuing the United Races of Thestra quest arcs, of which there appear to be at least seven, each granting a weapon or piece of armor. The armor is skinned just like the equivalent vendor-bought stuff (although it’s a different color,) but the stats are much better – far better than the armor Ardwulf has been wearing. For this reason these quests are very much worth pursuing, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to group with another Ranger of similar level, at a similar place in the quest progression. As an added bonus, I think they’re lots of fun.
As I’ve discussed previously on my blog over on the old GAX site, I’m not so much a fan of instancing and zoning; I think they both detract from immersion and verisimilitude for various reasons which I may go into again at some point in the future. Vanguard’s lack of these is a part of its appeal for me. But as we all probably know, complete persistence has its drawbacks as well, and these have come up several times over the course of the URT quests, which seem to be fairly popular among Thestran adventurers in a certain level range.
In other words, in various places one has to compete for mobs or collectable quest items with other players gathering the same things. I did not find, to the level that I’ve experienced it in Vanguard, that this detracted from the game experience, although I can see that if you’re trying to camp a mob that only spawns, say, once every twenty minutes, this would get frustrating pretty quickly. But the mobs I’ve seen so far spawn pretty quickly, so even though there’s plenty of kill and pickup stealing going on, it doesn’t represent much of an increase in time or frustration. In fact, I felt it increased the sense of rivalry with the other folks going after the kills, and the sense of camaraderie with my group, both of which I think are healthy in an MMO, the point of which is, after all, that you’re sharing the world with a (hopefully) large number of other players.
Which brings up a brief digression – population. Some months back, when I first tried the game, the population was pretty small, to the point that not only was it difficult to find people to group with, but you’d hardly ever even see other players at all. The server adjustment back in August merged thirteen servers into five, and the effect was immediately noticeable. And the population now seems very healthy, especially considering the vast scale of the Vanguard world, although at least some of that has got to be due to the holiday promotion. Hopefully a decent number of those old players will stick with Vanguard for a while longer now, keeping the player numbers up, which’ll make for a healthier game environment for players, and a healthier financial situation for Vanguard as a whole.
At any rate, I’ve now completed three of the URT questlines, all of which I’ve found highly enjoyable, and which have pushed Ardwulf to 18th level, a key achievement for a Ranger (here you get your first access to true roots, heals and temporary combat pets.) In one of the niftier points in one of the questlines, you have to kill some rock elemental-type things, which drop some particular stones that you need for the quest. But after you kill them, you can also mine their remains for harvestable stone. I wonder if this is true if you’re killing, say, treants or iron golems as well? (Not that I’ve seen any iron golems. But I have seen treants in a couple of places, including around the Tree of Life.) At any rate this enabled Ardwulf to hugely boots his Quarrying skill
I’m not an “RP” type of player per se, although I do like to throw out in-character bits of dialogue from time to time. I do, however, need to have a grasp on the character I’m playing; I need to be able to picture him (or her) in my head and find a fundamental appeal in that. Without this, any MMO (or tabletop RPG, for that matter) doesn’t seem to hang together quite right, and if I can’t find a character that really appeals to me in a game, I’ll end up abandoning it sooner rather than later. (I frittered about with WoW for several weeks before finally settling down on an Orc Hunter.)
Ardwulf has this basic appeal for me, more so in fact than any other MMO character I’ve played. But in retrospect I might have been better off making him a Warrior instead of a Ranger. Not because the Warrior is a better soloist (I have no idea whether that’s true or not,) but because the set of abilities that the Warrior gets seem to fit better with that mental picture that I have. Perhaps as a result, I tend to play Ardwulf as much more melee-centered than I imagine most Vanguard Rangers are. Not that there’s a problem with this, although Ardwulf has sometimes felt a bit fragile in certain types of encounters. But this is why I’d be pursuing the URT quests, even if I didn’t find them fun in their own right.
Hopefully I’ll get some playtime in tomorrow. If so, it’ll be time for Ardwulf to save Silverlake… and get his next shiny armor piece.