This is part of the Blaugust series!
Ah, yes. Vanguard. This was a game that I learned about just before it launched, and bought into the launch day hype.
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I was drawn by the idea of a game with deep crafting (I really wanted to build a boat!), flying mounts, a neat mount system, an old-skool feel, and just that new-MMO smell. I remember really enjoying my time in game, especially the first few weeks, when there were tons of people milling around the starting cities, and lots of excited chat to listen to while I was learning to craft.
I remember the crafting system was engaging, challenging and quite different. I believe you actually earned bonuses if you were grouped with other crafters and gatherers (?) It’s been a while, so I might be wrong on that.
I remember spending a lot of time and effort running across the vast lands to earn my first mount – a slow brown horse of some kind. It wasn’t magical, but darnit, it was my slow brown horse! Then, of course, I remember diplomacy. Once I discovered diplomacy, this became the thing that sucked me in for hours. I’d never seen a system like this in game (haven’t since), and I loved it!
However, the launch was very rocky. I remember tons of bugs, especially with chunking lands and just various optimized issues. The bugs never really bothered me as I had hopes things would improve over time. I also never really got involved with a guild or group of people in this game, just soloing around and enjoying the experience.
This is another time when I don’t remember how long I played and why I left. I think I might have stuck around a few months and I doubt I got above level 20 in this game.
I recall one year, a while after I quit the game, SOE offered one of their welcome back free weeks for Vanguard. This was during Christmas holidays, so I decided to try it again. There was some flying reindeer mount gifted during that time, and I spent hours just flying around on it and exploring the world. I don’t think I re-subbed, but that’s a good memory I have of the game.
Eventually, Vanguard went F2P in August of 2012. I returned to the game only to find that my account had one or two of the characters I rolled, but not the most important one, which got lost in the shuffle. Maybe if my main character had made it through the transition, I might have spent more time with the game at F2P.
I rolled a new character to see what changed, but the game was running so poorly under the pressure of so many people trying it on day one F2P, that I didn’t get very far before I logged off due to bad performance and outdated graphics.
I left the game installed on my machine, thinking to come back to it one day. I was too late, as eventually Vanguard shut down in July of last year. Looking at where SOE went from there, I guess I understand the choice, but it was still rather sad to see.
The original box game came with 2 installation discs, a neat paper fold-out map and little inserts for Vanguard Players and a 10-day free trial for a friend.