Tonight, my better half and I will begin the Isle of Dawn trial for Vanguard (technically, I started last night because I couldn’t wait to play with the character creator). I have tried the game two times before, once before the Isle of Dawn and once since. I didn’t stick with it not because I was terribly unhappy with the game, but because both times I sensed I was in over my head, a themepark visitor gaping in a sandbox world, uneasy with the lack of direction given and the level of skill required otherwise. I always knew that if I had the right tools at hand I would be back, though, because I am intrigued by this world, having passed up Everquest the First (and Ultima Online, and Asheron’s Call, etc.) when it emerged on the scene.
I think the hardest part about this trial is going to be deciding what to play. Vanguard’s classes are not as straightforward as I’m used to, and even though I’ve been gaming for years, I still haven’t hammered out exactly what my chosen class is. There are a lot of things that worked when I was playing a text-based game that don’t work in 3d, and things that worked in Guild Wars where you always have a balanced team of NPCs that don’t work when you’re only playing with one other person.
In StrangeMUD I played a Cleric who remorted as a Paladin, then specced as Crusader. This gave me pets, heals, good armor, some combat ability, and plenty of utility spells and buffs. So when I started Guild Wars, I started a Warrior/Monk, only to find that my Monking was best relegated to a hard res instead of healing myself or others on a regular basis. My main turned out to be, of all things, an Elementalist, since always having a(n NPC) healer along means one can forget about one’s mortality.
Since then, no real pattern has emerged; in LOTRO I started a Minstrel and decided I hated it the first time I had to heal in a group (no health bars to watch when healing in a MUD!), tried a Guardian and found I couldn’t draw aggro to save anyone’s life (I’m not sure there even is a taunt in Guild Wars), learned I haven’t the patience for a Burglar, and settled on a Hunter that can fire and forget. In Warhammer I tried and soon discarded a Sorceress, fell in love with a Shadow Warrior and got by with a Magus.
I know certain things about my playstyle, but I’m not certain they scream out for a particular type of class. As the Hunter suggests, I don’t like complicated skillsets; point me to the thing and I’ll kill it. I played my Shadow Warrior in Assault stance, knowing I don’t like to be squishy if forced into close battle and I can’t manage kiting, but I prefer to avoid melee if possible. My Magus was so-so in durability and I liked the ranged aspect, but managing my pet and its placement was more of a pain than anything else. I don’t do strategy and so I’m lousy with crowd control; I’d rather make the pull and deal with it or run in with guns blazing, so I really like to have heals at my disposal… but in a group battle I’d rather watch the action than health bars, so those outcomes are never good.
My better half is all about casters, so he is likely to go with a Sorcerer or Druid, which tells me I should probably go for a Cleric since I hear it’s a very “forgiving” class and I really need that. But I so dislike melee and healing in a group! If I hadn’t heard that Blood Mages are tricky to play I would go for that, but I have, so I won’t. I’ve swung back on this issue for most of the week, reading forums and Silky Venom for any tidbits of value that could tip my inclination one way or the other, and I’m no closer to a final decision now than I was when we first started thinking of giving this a try.
Leveling multiple alts until I love/hate one or the other isn’t really an option in a two-week trial, so our first impressions of gameplay will really make or break this one. Decision-making is hard! This is why I don’t play sandbox games alone.