A long way home

As I’m finishing up quests from my quest log, I noticed some level 12 quests involving the Ksavari near Qa Riverbank/Neamsog Bunker. You might remember that from my earlier exploits.

I’ve been spending a good amount of time on one of Kojan’s largest islands, and meanwhile I think I’m used to the way things look there and how the quest areas are laid out. It still doesn’t feel like home, though, even though my character is Kojani. I blame the Isle of Dawn for this, the newbie area you can choose to go through.

With my halfling alt, I skipped the Isle of Dawn and noticed how much flavor and identity the racial starting zones add. If there’s one recommendation I can give, it’s to skip Isle of Dawn if you have any experience with MMOs of this kind (EverQuest, EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, any of the PvE-focused holy-trinity games). You will miss some crafting tutorials that you could have had on Isle of Dawn, but if atmosphere, backstory and setting mean anything to you, the racial starting zones are much more satisfying.

Otherwise you’ll end up like me, having a Kojani to whom this Qalian (or is that Qaliathari?) desert/river/bunker setup feels like home:

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Ah, I’m finally back.

Getting my ass whooped by a level 12 boss

After nearly hitting level 20 recently, I thought I’d head back to this GAtaro island to finish some quests I picked up at level 14. I don’t know, I just like to have a clean quest log from time to time. Here’s where I went:

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These Gataro seem to live on an island with their own little tower and cave system. How they carved that out of the stone with those little arms, who knows. Anyhow, there seem to be no Gataro inside, only around the island. Including this level 12 or 13 Gataro Hero called Andruzius:

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He killed me that time, with a DoT that does some 200+ damage per tick (I think), and since I only have about 900 health, that kills me quickly. I was pissed and went to the other side of the island to practice my katas:

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And then this happened:

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Stupid fishface.

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Also, I dinged 20 and can now use the blue rift stations that lead to tougher areas. Awesome! But since I’m still not done with Tomb of Lord Tsang yet, that won’t be happening for some more levels.

Jin’Ka Forest was a success

Here’s a picture of Cytheri and me killing way too many mobs in way too short a time, since we got ambushed by a whole group of invisible wolf-like beings while already fighting two other mobs:

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All those stalkers were on us! Due to our sheer superhuman abilities, nobody died. And I’m now almost level 20 and (if I understood the quest guy correctly) can unlock Tomb of Lord Tsang. Dungeon, here we come!

Finalizing some Ulvari quests, and altoholism

I thought I’d be done with the Ulvari quests, but then they sent me on this:

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And after that, some more, at yet another crystal and yet another floaty thing. I get the idea: The Ulvari are breaking through from some other dimension or whatever, and it would be good if some “brave adventurers” went and killed a lot of them. But this is all I’ve been doing for the last three days of playing Vanguard, and so I hope it’s understandable that I’m not too thrilled to go on yet more of these quests.

So for a change of pace, I started a bard!

Look at the beautiful halfling bard starting area:

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Awesome, no? From there, my new little bard had to go to the local academy to pick up some starter quests:

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And off I went to kill things in a graveyard:

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I can’t say anything about the bard class yet, only level 3, but it seems SOE/Sigil did manage to create unique mechanics for the bard. You see, you have to compose the songs, they consist of several elements that dictate how much energy/mana/whatever the song uses, how effective it is and what effects it has in the first place. You can name your songs yourself and store combinations in a songbook. Lovely!

I’m looking forward to switching to Laniah the halfling bard when I get bored of Ockene.

Blasting our way through Ra’Jin Outpost

Wow, what an unexpectedly fantastic mini-raid of some kind. I logged in quickly on Friday because Guard Na Cho (ahem) had sent me back to the southern camp that’s full of casters once more, to get one single drop from three different kinds of casters and return that to him, so I could go on part two of his quest chain. So far, this is nice: I don’t mind going back to places I’ve already visited if it doesn’t happen more than once or twice, and the place is interesting enough as my necro gets to chase casters around with reanimated copies of themselves — who could say no?

When I got to the quest area, a guy called Luminaire was already there:

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He was at the same stage of the quest, and needed just one last dude from this area. Of course we grouped. I greatly enjoy these open-world things in Vanguard, you walk up to a place, there are already a bunch of people there doing the exact same thing you want to do, and usually the result is that you all group up and breeze through the area or, if it’s very tough, share some deaths and frustrating experiences. This gives the game a completely different feel compared to games that are mainly about soloing. The only other MMO I know that gets close to this is Dungeons and Dragons Online, and of course old EverQuest was the same way.

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Here’s us next to the quest giver, who is floating, has glowing eyes and seems to be sprouting some exploding broccoli from his skull now that he hears the news that his quests are done. Odd. The next leg of the journey took us to that weird glowy bit in the center of a nearby crater, where huge floating eyes try to… err… eyelid-nibble you to death. Watch:

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That’s one eyeball wing you see above me. It’s huge!

We went back and he sent us to the Ra’Jin Outpost, the place I spoke of previously, so we took our train of ten thousands Ulvari and ran there:

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Once there, we were tasked with systematically killing Brothers of the Sun, and in finding them, I guess we killed all the cousins and distant relations too:

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This is an outdoor zone with many houses, some have burnt down, some are still perfectly preserved, built around another crater with a red glowy thing. And sometimes, quest NPCs walk right through the middle and give you additional quests there, like this dead guy:

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Nice! He might walk straight into the middle of a frantic fight, it feels quite ├╝ber (and a little weird) to be taking quests from an NPC while punching things in the face.

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We found some gold items, which were an upgrade for me, and since I’ve become a gold member, I can actually use them. SOE’s new strategy seems to be to give all of the game away for free, give additional bonuses if you sign up for gold, and restrict some high-powered items. I don’t know if the situation is okay, or if it’s as bad as in EverQuest II, where I heard rumors that non-paying members might just as well not play the game because they’ll be undergeared.

I don’t know how the restrictions work out for Vanguard so far because my character isn’t anywhere in the game, but I’ll keep an eye on it.

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Check out how Luminaire’s foot performs a high-speed orthodontic procedure on that guy’s face! We actually needed to go into that house to search for the Brothers of the Sun. This is seamless in Vanguard, you can open the doors to most places you see and actually go inside, where the fighting continues:

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We killed the barkeep and went up one floor:

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All those doors actually open, and you can be disturbing people in their prayers and mess up their altars:

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This was followed by a trek all around the outdoor area to a sort of barracks, where another brother waited:

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This screenshot’s just here to show the mood of the burnt-down buildings. No brothers nearby:

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And finally:

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Note the dead man on the floor, killed in his own bedroom. Whatever the Ra’Jin are running there, it feels legitimate enough and like a mix between a dungeon and a sort of NPC village. Very nicely done! I know these types of outdoor zones from games like Lord of the Rings Online, only there, the quest usually consists of “go to the center of the enemy area, kill one mob, return.”

In this Vanguard quest instead, going there actually uncovered more quests that we could do on-site, and the entire quest chain was tied not only to the quest hub nearby but to its own little storyline with over a dozen named mobs to kill. It’s like a raid! Now recall that this quest is somewhere around level 17 – 19, a deeply newbie experience, and yet it feels like you’ve accomplished something and you’ve been places. I’m still awed by what might lie ahead, because all of this action took place in one tiny corner of one tiny island of one huge archipelago of Vanguard’s game world. Again, the world-building is simply phenomenal.

Here’s a robe we found, it’s a gold item:

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Can’t say I like the print, but hey, I’m a necromancer. It should at least hide those annoying carnage stains.