A screenshot from Vanguard: Saga of Heroes.
A screenshot from Vanguard: Saga of Heroes.
It’s been an active week for long-quiet Vanguard blogopshere. New videos, blog posts galore, and lots of discussion around the internet. Here are the highlights:
Here is a Vanguard Forever original production. I think it’s pretty good. Not just because it’s viewable in glorious 1080p, or because it shows off the beauty and grandeur of Telon and the magnificent Todd Masten soundtrack. And not just because I made it.
I am not a video-making geek. When I finished it I thought it was about as good as I could make it, but I’m already seeing opportunities for improvement next time. And oh yes, there will be a next time.
More or less arbitrarily I’ve decided that Ardwulf is pursuing the questline to get a unicorn mount. The whole line is said to take about 24 hours of play by itself, and I think that may be optimistic. It’s mostly soloable with caution, but there are times in the chain when a partner or two really helps.
The quest begins in Silverlake, where some Zar cultists are holed up on an island out in the middle of the lake. Killing a few particular cultists (Zar Ritualists) will eventually drop a unicorn horn that grants a quest to kill Zar himself. To do this, you collect 100 flowers in three different colors from around the island or from an outpost on the lakeshore. These are level 22, 3-dot mobs, so killing them is fairly time-consuming even at level 28, which I was — the point at which they also fail to grant experience. There are also a lot of roamers, so even overleveling the place, if you’re by yourself you can die fairly easily.
Once you have enough flowers you can sacrifice them up at the altar on the island to summon Zar. Unfortunately, I couldn’t kill him the first time and had to get help from Quert — which means that to summon him again I had to collect another 100 flowers. Thankfully, with help this goes a lot faster, and two Rangers knocked the 4-dot Zar down fairly easily.
Once you’ve turned that in you get an escort quest which involves traveling several chunks away, then returning to Unicorn Rock overlooking Silverlake with the escort. This is easy but it takes a bit of time. Then it’s off to Qalia, near Lomshir, to kill a large number of Dark Elves who are exploiting the unicorns. These are also 3-dot mobs, at level 24, but they are considerably less tough than the Zar cultists.
Next up is contacting several different scattered unicorns for your unicorn buddy. One is on an island well west of Qalia, and the other two are on isles up in Kojan. I’m in the middle of this part now. It’s a lot of running around, but in the process I’m seeing new parts of Telon that I haven’t seen before, and that’s fun.
I’m about halfway through level 29 at this point, and not gaining XP at a spectacular rate because the actual quests are pretty much at the lowest level that I still get XP for them. But that’s okay — later quests in the chain are higher-level and Vanguard is a “take my time” game anyway.
One side effect of the venture into Wailing Winds Asylum was that shortly after completing it, Mengku received a gift from a random friendly player; a yellow weapon that was about a 300% DPS increase from what he’d been using. Thus equipped, he’s been a bit more potent. That’s good, because upstairs from level 10 the challenges of Vanguard become more pronounced.
After ridding the world of some Gulgrethor filth Mengku is now level 14, has three very nice songs in his repertoire, and is disposed to venture into places like the Tomb of Lord Tsang, perhaps the premier dungeon on the Kojani isles. However, as he’s continued to mature I’ve started thing about how I’m actually playing Mengku. He’s doing a lot of work with his bow, for example. Mostly this is just for pulling, as the Bard doesn’t really have any archery-specific abilities. When enemies close it’s melee time.
Given that this mix of ranged and melee seems to be my preferred playstyle in Vanguard, my thoughts naturally turned to Ardwulf himself, who has been sitting in the second half of the twenties for four years or so, and a 28 for at least a year. A quick hop in to work a bit of the start of the Unicorn mount chain gifted me with a couple of deaths, despite the three and four dot mobs involved being low enough to grant me no experience. Getting killed and taking the XP hit without getting any back is a bad cycle — clearly, I was out of practice with the Ranger. So I went in and did a thorough ability audit, adjusted his rotations and made some small upgrades to gear. He hasn’t got all that much money for whatever reason, but I was able to scrape a couple of things out of the brokerage.
Venturing back down to the Trengal Keep area, it wasn’t long before I’d gotten a blockbuster 2-piece drop off a random mob, found myself in a TK dungeon group, and hit level 29 without even completing any quests in the area (though I did make progress.) And my retuning was effective. Our TK group consisted of a Monk, a Rogue and me (a Ranger,) so without a healer it was fairly harrowing and there was a full wipe near the end. It was also an incredible amount of fun.
It does seem like the population has ticked up a bit, although we’re in an SOE-wide double XP weekend and that may have something to do with it. In mere months, though, Vanguard is going to be free to play and at the very least Telon is going to feel absolutely packed with people. Imagining three or four group all clawing their way through Trengal Keep and other mid-level dungeons has me pretty excited.
This week (yesterday, actually) brings another game update of minor bug fixes to Vanguard. These are small but now coming almost every week, portending good things to come. Here are the actual update notes: