The game's free trial is back online now that the dust has settles from the SOE hack, so I decided to take it for a spin.
Searching for character
|The refreshingly varied list of character races include cat, wolf, and fox people, along with goblins, giants, and other fantasy staples.|
I wanted to try out a class with a good reputation for soloing to mitigate the difficulty, since I don't expect to be grouping much more than I do in other games (read: not all the time). My first attempt was a Necromancer, your typical ranged DPS with pet. I somehow keep forgetting that I hate to play ranged classes with pets because I end up feeling like my job is to watch the NPC do the work of actually fighting mobs, and this lasted about four levels.
My next attempt is Disciple - a melee healer, with normal mana-based heals supplemented by heals on a melee combo point-like mechanic. This is going much better, and it's moderately likely that this second character will stick, if for no other reason than because I'm not prepared to spend the time it takes to test drive all of the game's classes. (Many classes don't get key abilities until a good way through the game's level curve.)
It's worth nothing that Vanguard classes appear to be ahead of their time - DPS healer archetypes like the Disciple and the Blood Mage are increasingly popular in more recent games like Warhammer and Rift.
Complexity for its own sake?
|The character sheet has six panels, half of which have multiple tabs, and some of which aren't where I expect to find them|
On the one hand, I can definitely see what appeals to players who miss the old school days. Vanguard has a crafting system like EQ2's, only this version features more steps, components and subcombines. There's also a "diplomacy" minigame in which a number-based card system is used to model players negotiating with NPC's. Adventurers can expect a group dungeon before they hit level 10. On the other hand, some of the complexity feels redundant.
Almost anything the player does advances multiple skills, factions, diplomacy standings, etc. Characters have four separate sets of gear, stats and exp (adventuring, harvesting, crafting, and diplomacy, with an extra tab for your mount and appearance gear), each of which can be further equipped with containers of varying types. I failed a crafting combine early because I got an error message saying that I needed a "rigging tool" to fix something that had happened, and I made the mistake of buying a second toolbelt to put the missing device into. Apparently you can have more than one belt, but you can only use the tools from one belt in a single crafting effort per combine, - I ended up losing my materials because a tool I needed was in a belt I didn't realize was inactive.
Some of this stuff isn't more challenging or more strategic, just complex for the sake of complexity. One wonders if the game's notoriously rough launch might have gone a bit smoother if someone had asked whether some of these stats and tabs and mechanics were really adding to the game.
Does the trial play to the game's strengths?
|A familiar looking quest system|
I'm probably going to spend a bit more time with the trial before making any decisions, but it looks like players need to upgrade to a real account to get a real view of Telon. That's an unfortunate situation for a game that is looking to attract more players.