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 über (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.

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