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Saga of Heroes - Game Preview

The One Minute Preview

hero saga vanguardVanguard: Saga of Heroes will hopefully usher in a new generation of massively multiplayer online (MMO) games. Built using the Unreal 3 engine, Vanguard has a humongous and seamless world where players can traverse its contents without having to put up with load screens. Furthermore, its diverse classes and means of gaining experience (which transcends the normal "kill for experience" grind), will give players plenty to look forward to in their adventures. Created by Brad McQuaid and Jeff Butler, the creative minds behind EverQuest, Vanguard may push MMO games into an entirely new direction.

Preview : Vanguard: Saga of Heroes

The world of Telon has been swept by a tide of undead minions, threatening to wipe out all life from the land. Old foes put aside their differences and join forces to face this common threat, and new heroes rise up in Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. As the latest project by Brad McQuaid and Jeff Butler, some of the people behind EverQuest, this game has some big expectations to live up to. Using a modified version of the Unreal 3 engine, Vanguard will help usher in the next generation of multiplayer online games.

Races include Humans, Halflings, High Elves, Lesser Giants and a wolf-like race known as the Vulmane. Each one specializes in up to fifteen different classes. However, the sheer scope and size of Vanguard will be enough to impress most players. Developer Sigil is working to make a completely seamless environment. Instead of going to different sectors or zones, players will travel across continents without having to put up with load screens. Furthermore, the game lacks fake, painted backgrounds. As Sigil explains, if players see it they'll most likely be able to get to it by walking, flying or sailing. This includes magical islands floating in the sky. Means of travel can be arranged through purchasing mounts, such as basic horses at level 10 and gradually move up to more sophisticated travel like unicorns and ultimately, flying mounts. Players may also take to the high seas by buying or crafting vessels, although it takes a very long time to sail across Vanguard's vast oceans. Ship-to-ship battles and oceanic threats should eventually be included into the gameplay. Vanguard will rely heavily on its size, since travel by any means (at least in early phases) will be generally slow, and teleportation will be rare.

Although the gameplay will be balanced between solo and team play, players will find great advantages to having fellow adventurers at their side. Options include the ability to designate players who will take damage on another player's behalf, sort of like allowing them to use their bodies to block sword strikes. That way, low hit-point characters stand a greater chance of survival instead of always being the first to be wiped out. Another feature allows gamers to chain attacks together into "combos," which will also contribute toward team play in meaningful ways. In addition, players may be able to design combos to compliment each other's abilities.

The surprising gameplay aspect comes from a lack of adventure zones, so players will be forced to sit and camp, sometimes for hours, waiting for rare creatures to spawn and hoping to be the first to jump on it. Sigil believes that having nothing to do while camping, not the monster spawning, is the most troubling. In response, Vanguard will be implementing a three-tier system that creates different venues for gaining experience. Instead of the run-of-mill "kill everything in sight" grind, players will gain experience through Diplomacy, which will work much like a mini-game card game. There will be cards for aggressive tactics, smooth talking and bits of wisdom that all influence the way conversations work and generates dynamic dialogue with NPC's (non-player characters). At launch, Sigil hopes to have about 300 Diplomatic cards available. Diplomats will have powerful influences on how cities work, and will rely mainly on politics and cooperation with other classes for success. They can work to provide bonuses for the city's crafters and adventurers. Need some papers forged? Get some players together and hunt for that monster that will drop the wax needed for an official-looking seal. There will even be a PvP (player vs. player) element to Diplomacy, where players will work against each other to make a city work the best in their favor, altogether adding a whole new flavor to games besides, hunt, kill, loot and repeat.


Vanguard faces some very tough competition against the seemingly unstoppable World of Warcraft, but its innovative design and giant scope may pull the game ahead and lead players into the next generation of MMO games

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