There are times when you come back to a game and you wonder why you left. This is one of those times. For all its flaws and blind spots and rough patches, Vanguard is a game that seethes with character and atmosphere. I hesitate to use the word “Vision” in the context of Vanguard, but if you drop the capital it’s clear Vanguard had some. It may be that a Vanguard with better project management and therefore a less troubled launch would have had less character. But as I’ve said before, give me a game that tried to do something distinct and only partly succeeded over a title that took a pedestrian path every step of the way.
I have always taken far more screenshots in Vanguard than in any other MMO. As a visual experience it has many failings in art design, but it has a lot of triumphs, too. In no other video game have I ever stopped what I was doing to gawk at a sunset. Its graphics are dated in many respects, but to me it still looks as incredible as ever, and the details that the original Sigil team put into the world really shows the love they had for it, whatever that team’s management failures. Even in areas I considered myself to have explored thoroughly, I’m still finding new things.
For my money, there are more amazing sights per chunk in Kojan than in Thestra or Qalia (each of which boasts more than a few, to be sure.) Among Vanguard’s many starting areas, though, I’ve never gotten all that far in any of the Kojani ones. I have made a point, this time around, to start new characters in starter areas I’ve previously underexplored, and I look forward to seeing more of the Kojani Isles. And the Bard in particular I see myself playing a lot of.
At some point, I will get around to playing Ardwulf himself again, and to doing some group stuff. But right now I’m having a great time just playing lowbies, exploring the content in all three spheres… and none of the starter areas I’m playing in has really let me down. The questing is conventional in the broad sense but very, very clever in any number of places, and the depth of the non-Adventuring spheres really makes Telon sing with depth.
One of my rebuilt characters is Mengku, a Bard. My previous Bard had been a High Elf, lost in the server merge; wanting to see more of the Kojan content convinced me to pick Wood Elf this time around. I have him up to level 8 so far and have started the Diplomacy content in Ca’ial Brael. Being able to play and progress without necessarily engaging in combat is a really nice break from the usual. I also plan to make him a leatherworker, but I want to get the diplomacy stuff in town done first, and get him to level 10 so he can go claim the IoD trinket at Tanvu.