The humans of Square Enix’s Nosgoth are a grim sort. You’ve got one that fires bullets steeped in the blood of its enemies, another that shoots vials of acid… you get the picture. Noble heroes they ain’t.
The latest addition to the mix is the vanguard, formerly knows as the shield bearer, who, according to his lengthy biography, is one of a number of former galley slaves and their former masters who uses crude weapons – “thrown hand-axes and butchers’ tools” – to achieve their gory goals. And that goal is, like all other humans, the elimination of their vampire oppressors.
I got a chance to play both as and against the vanguard along with some other journos and the Nosgoth team in a private match on Monday, ahead of its going live in the game on Tuesday. [UPDATE: Square Enix has informed us that the vanguard’s debut has been pushed back.] We ran it on the Flashpoint map, a capture-and-defend map you might not be familiar with if, like me, you’re still a low-ranked player. (Ignore those parts of the video where I beat on the control point, I totally knew what I was doing…)
As you’ll recall, in Nosgoth, the humans use ranged attacks while the vampires deal damage in close quarters with melee attacks. While the vanguard can throw his weapon, it’s a fairly slow-moving projectile that flies in an arc. He’s definitely not a long-range class like his human counterparts.
>But the vanguard makes up for this by being an excellent close-quarters fighter. His shield is both an effective defensive and offensive weapon. His shield bash ability temporarily stuns a vampire, and by holding the right mouse button, he can raise his shield to protect himself and take decreased damage from frontal attacks. His base ability set is rounded out with a shout that heals allies and increases their movement speed.
As you can see in the gameplay video I captured, the vanguard is very durable when he’s got his shield up, even able to go toe-to-toe with the punishing attacks of my tyrant. It was my first time playing the class, but from seeing other, more experienced, players go at it, I got the idea that if you could find a rhythm between blocking your opponent’s attacks and countering with your own, the class could really shine. I rarely managed that when playing as a vanguard myself, except for one instance when I saw a reaver getting ready to pounce and raised my shield just as he lunged. He bounced off harmlessly and I finished the kill. Sure, I died a second later, but it was still so very satisfying.
One other thing I learned while playing as the vanguard is not to “chase” vampires. You might be tempted to do so, to bring your strong close-quarters game to bear, but they’ve still got better movement capabilities and you don’t want to get drawn out too far from your teammates. Toss a few axes at them and wait for them to return – they always come back…