Vanguard: Saga of Heroes
Reviewed: 03/24/2007

MMORPGs, love them or hate them, are here to stay. One of the newest additions to the genre, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, created by Sigil Games Online and published by Sony Online Entertainment, is a standard, high-fantasy, elf-and-wizard affair that is attempting to enforce and expand on genre touchstones. Many of the developers at Sigil worked on the original EverQuest, and Vanguard feels like a spiritual successor; more so than EverQuest II feels like an actual successor.

Currently, Vanguard boasts a beefy 19 playable races and 15 unique playable classes, with two new classes, Inquisitor and Berserker, in the works for the future. Upon creating their characters, players can choose races as varied as lesser giants and gnomes, to dark elves and furry-friendly feline humanoids. There are three main continents, with a plethora of climates, that contain many environments and oceans that can be explored.

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The most furry “friendly” game since Furcadia!

While exploring Vanguard, players can choose one of three spheres of gameplay: Adventuring, Crafting, and Diplomacy. Adventuring is the most common MMO style of play and players won’t find many changes to the “tried-and-true” method of gameplay, here. Players will receive and complete quests, form groups and camp spawn-points, or enter and clear out various dungeons. Casual players beware; Vanguard has a very steep leveling curve. At the time of writing, having logged over 150 hours of playtime, this reviewer is only level 24 out of 50.

The next sphere, crafting, is by far one of the better experiences I’ve had in an MMO. Crafting doesn’t feel like a tacked on afterthought like it does in some MMOs, and actually has a strong impact on the world economy. Players will be able to craft items as small as backpacks and earrings, to big-ticket items such as ships and player or guild housing. Many of the larger or more unique items require that multiple crafters from different areas of expertise work together until the item has been made.

The final sphere of advancement is Diplomacy. Diplomacy is a new concept in MMOs, and in Vanguard it can create real, if only temporary, impacts in the world at large. The changes may be as simple as getting two people to talk together again, as big as causing groups of soldiers stop protecting a city, or give large and sweeping bonuses to any and all players in the vicinity. One addictive part of diplomacy is that players advance through a series of customizable card game battles with NPCs.

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Yes, I cried when viewing this landscape.

The graphics in Vanguard are a thing of wonder. Players can turn the distance view up to insane levels, and the level of detail in the terrain and buildings is simply awe-inspiring. But all of this beauty comes at a cost; players hoping to play Vanguard will need healthy system specs along with a vector and pixel shader 2.0 compatible graphics card.

Vanguard seems slightly unfinished and as though it was rushed to completion, but the SOE and Sigil team have done, to date, a great job at creating new content and squashing bugs as they appear, and also promise that the game will continue to improve in the upcoming months. There is already a bevy of content available for players of all ages, so many MMO players will not have boredom seep in while they’re grinding to level 50. Come on, how many MMOs out there turn you into a vampire when bitten by one?

Vanguard has a lot of potential, but the hardcore nature of the game, and some of its unfinished qualities, will keep away all but the most dedicated players for a while. Casual players beware, masochistic, hardcore MMO players enjoy!

-Michael Wayland

Score Breakdown
Very Good
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Good
Story Average
Graphics Great
Sound/Music Very Good
Replay Value Great
The Verdict: 7