F2P games are a great source of drama for MMO players. Loathed by some, loved by others, it seems no company can ever get it right.
So I clicked the in-game store symbol (the fat money bag in the lower right corner of the screen — money for whom?) and covered my eyes, not knowing whether to expect a balanced selection or a crude array of overpowering items. When I dared look at the screen again through a crack between my fingers, this is what I saw:
Hey, not so bad. A search function would really be nice, but since there aren’t that many items available right now, it was easy to click through all the sections manually.
Things to note: By far most items are convenience-only and have no stats. This is a good model in my opinion, the same one that was followed by Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons and Dragons Online and has earned those games great respect even from the item shop haters.
There was an outcry when Lord of the Rings Online started selling items that have stats (as opposed to cosmetic items), but fortunately, Vanguard is already past that: Some of the bundles on sale include a full set of armor suitable for level 21, 31, 41 or 51. I have no clue how powerful the items are in relation to what you’d find in-game at those levels, but I’ll assume they’re very good. Note that the sequence ends at 51 so far. Max level is 55, so you can’t buy your end-game gear in the store. This seems like a good policy to me.
I only glanced over the cosmetic items, because I believe the meat of the store is these three things: Mounts, XP potions and storage upgrades. You can buy a bag with 60 slots (vs. the ones with 12 or so slots I’ve found in-game so far). There are even pimped bags that give you a permanent XP or speed boost — nice touch.
The mounts are reasonably expensive, around US$ 7 if you’re willing to put up with the less beautiful models. On the other hand, mounts and XP potions serve one purpose: Letting you play faster. The time I’d save with the added runspeed might easily be worth the price of a hot dog (in Switzerland, a hot dog goes for around US$ 5 – 7). I haven’t confessed that I’m a casual player, and so might be in the entirely wrong game with Vanguard, but for casual players, time saved is money earned. Or something.
So I guess the next step is that I earn SOE some money. Here, now gimme those XP pots.