Looks like Vanguard Game Update #2 was patched to live servers about a week ago. It’s the first patch since SOE took over Sigil and fired more than half of the staff. After reading the patch notes, I’m glad I cancelled my subscription. What a letdown. Let’s have a look at the major changes and new features:
Guild Halls?! Who cares? Most guilds have either imploded of left the game a long time ago. Only few people ever cared about housing in Vanguard to begin with. Who needs a pointless house in some god-forsaken corner of the world, much less a guild hall? They have been wasting development ressources on THIS? Is this a joke?
The Brotherhood system allows players to share EXP as long as they’re within 5 levels from each other. A feature like this has been promised since beta but it comes at a time when it should have been very, very low on the priority list and that makes it another major head scratcher. A pointless feature and a waste of time. It’s not even as cool as EQ2′s mentoring system which allows higher level players to scale themselves down to a lower level.
Part of Vanguard’s initial “Vision” was that Bind on Equip / Bind on Pick-up mechanics would be used in moderation. It was a bad idea. EverQuest could get away with this because the rate at which items entered the world was extremely low. With the rate at which items enter the world in VG, BOE/BOP is a neccessity but it is yet another change that makes the game even more similar to its competitors. From what I’ve heard, they made most “rare” items not just BoE but BoP, which is extremely harsh. No self-respecting 40+ character would use anything but rares, so item trade has been effectively eliminated at the high-end. Wow.
Vanguard finally gets a useful LFG system with LFM functionality and the ability to specify which content you want to do. Players have been begging for a better LFG tool since beta 2 and I find it inexcusable that it took them until 8 months after release to implement something that is a basic neccessity for a grouping-centered game.
Rest Experience… oh, man. The last thing Vanguard needs is players reaching level 50 even faster. There is virtually nothing to do at 50 except some badly designed and frustrating grind/collect shit from the generic content assemby line. I’m not sure what to make of this. Not only does it sound like yet another “me too” feature but I never saw the leveling curve in VG as much of a problem. Yes, it was slower than in EQ2 and certainly WoW but that’s not why about 4/5 subscribers have quit the game. This new feature doesn’t help anything.
The second major change to items is the introduction of item level requirements. The Equipment Expertise system was canned and items now have a fixed minumum level like in WoW, supposedly because EE was too confusing for new players. Yeah, right. Like Vanguard has “new players”. It’s a fucking shame. EE was novel and it worked. Replacing it with static level requirements simply snuffs another element of choice and uniqueness out of the game. With Vanguard’s item system being in such a pathetic shape, one wonders if they don’t have anything better to do than changing item mechanics that work perfectly well.
Crash fixes and optimizations… a reoccuring item in many Vanguard patch notes but these supposed fixes never seemed to work. From what I’ve heard, hitching is still bad and crashes are still frequent.
There’s more stuff in the full patch notes, some minor features and tons of bug fixes and small changes but that’s it, basically. Not what I expected. Where’s the new and fixed 40+ content? Where is the raid content? Where are the neccessary changes to the frustrating crafting system and its punitive and unfun mechanics? Is there yet a point to Diplomacy? Why didn’t they adress the most glaring character balancing issues? This “game update” certainly isn’t the step forward that Vanguard needs. Questionable changes, worthless features, a few fixes and maybe one or two genuine improvements? Screw it.
At least they finally fixed some of the issues with the rogue class that have been around since beta. Rogues still can’t sneak past mobs even one level higher than them but at least AoE damage, racial abilities and damage shields don’t break Stalk anymore. A very slight damage increase of rogue abilities across the board and some tinkering with cooldown timers. A new ability and a stun that actually is worth using now. Blackjack is now a lull instead of a short mez.
That’s all nice and good but it doesn’t address the problem of rogues being one of the three or so classes that can’t solo worth a damn, having to run screaming like little girls from mobs that virtually all other classes can chain-solo without risk. And fixing the rogue’s broken Vital Strike duration from 12 seconds to 4 seconds is a huge nerf to the class’s group DPS and it’s not like rogues had much to write home about when it comes to usefulness in groups.
If I hadn’t cancelled my subscription weeks ago, I would have done it now. I don’t see the devs addressing any of the issues that made people quit in droves.