First things first: character creation

It’s a great feeling to uncork an MMO. There’s a bit of anticipation. You start the client, you wait for it to patch, sip some coffee or that fancy Earl Grey tea you brought all the way from Paris. And then you hit the character creation screen. A place that’s both terrifying (so many options!) and exciting (woohoo, a totally fresh new character!).

Vanguard dumps a whole pile of races and classes on you, everything from plain humanoids, typical southerners (darker skin, slimmer, smaller build), dwarves (with braided or multi-ponytailed beards) and all shades of elves to the usual fantasy staples of wolf-people and cat-people. There’s also goblins and other green-skinned folk, lesser giants and strange hybrid races. All in all, not much out of the ordinary, but there’s good variety here to make sure you can live out your altitis. Check the website for a full race and class list.

Creation Screens

Here’s a nekkid proto-character before going through all the creation steps (christ, put some clothes on those women):

I found the male models look much worse than the female ones, so I picked a plain, ponytailed little Kojani necromancer. I have no idea if that race is a good fit for spellcasters, but screw the norms.

So here’s what that looks like. Say hello to Ockene, ponytailed short necro on an island somewhere:

All in all I’m quite happy with the race and class selection, there’s a wide gamut of things to choose from, even if it may all funnel into the magic triangle of tank, healing and DPS once you’ve gained some levels and learned your role. The male models look a bit crap, but if we all play girls we can perhaps offset that.

Race For Cash

There is a difference in selection for paying vs. F2P players: Many races and classes can only be played up to level 20, unless you buy them for Station Cash or upgrade to a subscription. This might seem less-than-exciting, but it’s a much better deal than you get with SOE’s other games: EverQuest blocks all the more interesting classes from you, leaving you with plain melees and plain DPS casters to choose from. EverQuest II restricts your equipment, so even if you find some decent gear, you cannot wear it unless you pay.

Vanguard’s way seems more balanced: Play any race or class combination up to level 20, then decide if you like it and either unlock it for a one-time price or subscribe to the game. I hope this is something SOE learned from feedback on EQ1 and EQ2’s F2P models. If so, good job! 🙂

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