Tag: Lord of the Rings Online

Backpacker: from Duillond to Bree

Lord of the Rings Online has almost never been my main game, but since it was released, it has always been my “comfort game”- the game i’d return to, if other games weren’t as good as i thought or something else came up. I really like Lord of the Rings for many different reasons- the atmosphere, the landscape-design, middle-earth (of course) and the very relaxing gameplay. Unfortunately, the last one can make it tedious to play in long stretches, as well. Lord of the Rings Online- at least in the way i play it- is mostly about the questing and i do get tired of the questgrind quite quickly.

When i started to play the game in 2007 or early 2008, i created an Elf-Loremaster and wasn’t very patient when it came to seeing the Shire and Bree for the first time. I made the trip as early as possible- by foot. The world of Lotro is a great one- at least in the early levels- there’ll be villages, roads, all kinds of things to explore and see. And it is large! When Lotro released, large game worlds were the standard- if you’d compare it to the size of newer worlds and what we are used to by now, Lotro’s Middle Earth becomes huge.

Map of Ered Luin
Map of Ered Luin

Nowadays, we can ride on our own mounts. So i did, to recapture that old experience i’ve only made once and see how long it would take me- the answer? 18 Minutes, on a horse, with some ore-gathering strewn in between. This is, by the way, the road from the first questing area (for dwarves and elves) to the second. I can’t remember how it used to be- if we had to walk this distance, which, by foot, would take more than 30 minutes. But i think we had to.

Ered Luin

As an elf, you’ll start in Ered Luin. It’s a small starting area, by comparison, because it is divided in two starting experiences for levels 1 to 15, unlike the Shire, where only Hobbits begin and the Bree-Lands, where the 1-15 experience for humans takes place in only a fraction of the whole map.

Celondim
Celondim

I’ve never played a Dwarf in Lotro, so i can’t comment on their starting experience- for the elves, the story revolves mostly around the threat of war between dwarves and elves. There’s an “elf prince” that got kidnapped and the elves suspect the “good dwarves” of commiting the crime. In the course of the storyline, we’ll find out (i really don’t think a spoiler warning is needed here) that they didn’t do it, but another family of dwarves. We’ll then work together in defeating the threat of peace in Ered Luin.

Duillond by night
Duillond by night

The rest of the elf storyline (read: the normal quests) is mostly about ruins, some missing persons, two brothers who can’t decide and/or persuade each other whether to stay or leave Middle Earth and things like that. It all gives the sense of a race that had its best days in the past- they’re practically living in it and almost every quest- at least those that i remember- has a connection to the past. Only the true filler quests (too many wolves, please kill 10 of them) don’t.

Kheledul
Kheledul

As notable locations, there are the towns of Celondim, where you begin your journey, Duillond, a refuge whose design i never really understood (many bridges- its layout is simple, really, but the steps/bridges always annoy me), a few ruins, Kheledul, a dwarf-port that’s been taken by the evil dwarves, a Vineyard, overrun by goblins, Thrasi’s lodge- a cabin with a few quests the dwarf-town of Gondamon, where the Prologue ends and Rath Teraig.

There’s more, of course, but that were the places i visited before turning to level 15 and riding for Bree.

Memory Lane

Unfortunately, you can’t reach Bree from the Ered Luin without a portal. Most of Lotro’s world is open, not zoned, but at some points, there are only portals to get you from one area to the next. For the release version of Lotro this is the only portal i can think of (besides housing zones).

The other side of the portal
The other side of the portal

You’ll then continue through the Shire. The Shire is one of the places where you can really see how much passion Turbine put into it- the realization of the Shire is all it needs to be. From the Hobbits, the landscape to the general atmosphere and the music/sound everything fits. The quests, as well, but that’s not the topic for today.

Hobbiton
Hobbiton

In the Shire, there are a few villages- and i think every one of them has its own Inn. I’d like to visit them another time. The Lotro Shire not only fits my imagination of the Shire from the books, but also my ideal for an MMORPG zone in general- villages, fields, woods, many, many signs of civilization.

Crossing the Brandywine
Crossing the Brandywine

The Bree-Lands are equally good, by the way, with the namesake town as the highlight. Bree is, in my opinion, one of (if not the) best designed cities in MMORPGs. It isn’t “economic”, many times you’ll have to travel annoying distances between, for instance, the auction house, the bank and the crafting house, but it is a great town- and again, it is very atmospheric- it seems like a town, that one.

Sunrise over Bree
Sunrise over Bree

And then, of course, you’ll reach the Prancing Pony and the trip is over.

Reaching the Prancing Pony
Reaching the Prancing Pony

So much more

All this, you get to see with level 15. And writing this, i could think of so many things to see, explore and write about- the Inns of the Shire, the Villages of the Shire and the Bree-Lands, other interesting places, the quests in the Shire and why it fits into this region. Bree alone could fill a posting like this one, the exploration deeds in these zones and so on.

For explorers and lore fanatics, Lotro has a lot to offer. I’m taking it slow on this one, because i don’t want to fall into the trap of not-reading the quest text again, but i had a lot of fun in these first 15 levels.

Overpowered

Yesterday i didn’t play. Well, this is a lie, because from 22:30 to 23:00 i couldn’t stand to refresh the Massively site, the Twitters and other stuff anymore, so i went and did something. More on that later.

Massively Overpowered

Massively overpowered - home of the Massively team
Great to have you(r) back!

When i got back, there it was: the former Massively crew took its golden yacht, sailed into the sunset and became Massively Overpowered. Here’s how to find them:

Website: Massively Overpowered

Twitter: www.twitter.com/MassivelyOP

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/massivelyop

Twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/massivelyoverpowered

The homepage is not up yet, but we’re promised a mailing list soon(tm). Then there was talk about a kickstarter, we’ll see about that.

What we know so far

It seems the whole team is on board, when looking at the Twitter accounts. Mike and MJ will do the streams, and we know Justin and Bree will do the podcast. Let me just say that yesterday, the tables turned- i was finished with griefing and sadness and excited to know what’s coming next.

So basically, i spent my evening on Massively. I had a good laugh when i saw what their last stream was. That was very fitting- as was this comment. I let the stream open to listen, read the chat, but i didn’t see much of the game MJ was playing.

They were also friendly enough to link my two posts on the topic of the shutdown (Thank you!) and i went to read one of them again- oh well, i have to say, i’m not very satisfied with my language. I need to put in more effort to communicate more clearly. I’m afraid this post will be scribbling, again, so sorry for that.

What’s to come

First off, let me just say that i love the name. Massively Overpowered is great, because it makes use of the former page’s name while adding something that takes the attention away from that at the same time. I also like their logo and the fact that they don’t wait for a few days to “unveil” it.

They’ll need our help, though. There was talk about kickstarter, but maybe it was used as a general expression and Patreon is what we’ll get. I don’t know (yet), and i don’t really care. I will be a supporter either way, the difference will be in the amount of money i’ll give. I don’t want to overstretch it, i too have a budget, after all, but i think i’ll begin with a larger amount and settle to something that’s appropriate. The team from Blizzard Watch made it, as of this writing, they’re just north of 9000$/month- let’s give the Massively crew the same support.

The wishlist

I know it’s early, but of course i had a thought or two on how the new site could be even better than the old one, at least from my perspective. First of all, news are great and i’ve come to understand that many visitors seem to be looking for that, but i’d like to see more weight being put into the blogging/opinion/community part- experiences in game are interesting to me, as is opinion, and i liked, for instance, their “General Chat” column where they’d link to blog contents they found interesting.

Bring back Dungeon Tours! It was such a great idea from MJ, to show off dungeons in different games and play with the community. It wasn’t good to see it go, and i think it’s relatively easy to set it up again.

The excitement

And here’s my biggest wish: the authors should make more money than they earned being AOL employees. They’re taking a risk and it should pay off.  I’m hoping for a win-win: we, the readers, might be getting even better content and community, they, the creators, get more money.

I’m really looking forward to see what they come up with, i’m sure it will be great and i’m really confident it will be even better than AOLs Massively. Starting something new is exciting, so i wish Massively Overpowered all the best!

As i said, i was so excited to get the news that i had to launch a game to relax a little bit. So here’s what i did.

Minstrel boost

Lotro's elf starting area
Lotro’s elf starting area

So what did i do in the 30 minutes while waiting for the big news to come? I logged into Lotro and did something i was thinking about for quite some time- i took a minstrel on Landroval through the Intro/Tutorial zone and bought a Gift of the Valar from the store. As it happens, it’s discounted these days. Still pretty expensive if you have to spend money, but i’m a lifetime subscriber who hasn’t played in the last two years or so, so i had plenty of Turbine Points to spend.

It isn’t so much cheating, though. I already have a minstrel of level 50 on Belegaer, the german RP server and always wanted to have my main character on Landroval, since the community is more active there. But why play the same class again, to level 50? So i took a shortcut, and now i have the Beorning in the starting area and the minstrel in front of the entrance to Moria. I need to get through there, i want to see the world beyond! So if you have any suggestions on how to get through Moria very fast, let me know, please. I’m sure the design is very good, but it’s just not for me, these caves.

There and back again: Combe

So this Lord of the Rings Online project i thought about? It’s kind of in motion. This week, our son isn’t an easy sleeper; i think it has something to do with his going to the kindergarten now. Although it’s just 2 hours a day right now, at night he’s busy digesting everything he took in there. So i couldn’t play pretty much at all this week. Yesterday he slept at 10 pm and i found myself wanting to relax a bit before going to bed. But what can you do with a session of 45-60 minutes? Final Fantasy XIV was out, as was Everquest 2 and The Elder Scrolls. Guild Wars 2 would have worked, maybe, but it’s been quite some time for me and i’d need a longer session to get reaquainted to the game. So i went, loaded Lotro up, logged in with my Beorning-Beorning and continued my travels in Middle Earth.

Combe

Middle Earth is beautiful. You can say what you like about those avatars and their animation, but the world is beautifully crafted. I didn’t do a lot- what really happened was that i gathered all the quests in Combe, went to get a crafting profession, worked with the materials i got and quested right up to Filbert’s uncle, who’s standing in the Chetwood, missing his handkerchief.

Combe - the Inn and training hall
Combe – the Inn and training hall

I did all of that before, to be sure. And sometimes i would roll an alt with the intention of reading all quest text “this time”. But i have to confess that i’m so used to skipping quest text and seeing questing basically a grind that there always came a time when i fell into the old habit of just accepting all the quests, follow the marker and deliver. If you do it this way, you’re playing Lord of the Rings Online wrong, of course. But i also have to say that it doesn’t help if you go into a village and have 8 open quest rings floating around. The Secret World does a better job of giving story-related weight to its quests and i think it has a lot to do with the fact that you can’t just pick up a billion of them at once.

Combe - the crafting hall
Combe – the crafting hall

At least yesterday, it worked. I read every quest text i gathered up, knowing for the first time what i was doing there. Woodworkers need to get rid of wolves to go and lumber in safety, to get Archet rebuilt. A mother is looking for her son who wanted to find his fortune in Combe and found the Blackwolds instead. Then there’s a man whose father was a robber and got hanged, looking for treasure. An old man, his farm stolen by the Blackwolds, wants the chain of his seemingly dead dog. A lumberjack is missing his notebook- you’ll need that to find the tree the robber was hanged on- he lost it when fleeing the Chetwood to get away from some Blackwolds.

Lumberjacks near Combe
Lumberjacks near Combe

And then, of course, there is a hobbit who’s uncle went into the wood to give the Blackwolds a piece of his mind, only to have his handkerchief stolen. And probably others i forgot. All in all, you could say that Combe’s in a bad situation right now, with the Blackwolds so close, making the Chetwood unsave. Of course, this will all seem harmless the further you get into the game, but to be honest, i like these “small problems”- helping a village rebuild is so much more satisfying than saving the world. I really don’t know why that is, maybe because it seems so normal.

Combe lake
Combe lake

I happen to enjoy the first zones into the worlds we visit more than the later zones- you’ll have villages, small towns, townspeople with their “small problems”. You have a beautiful scenery, an inn to visit and all that. Later on, there’ll be Lava. Or in Lotro’s case, the next two zones will feature an Inn, a burning town and an old ruin as capitals of the zones. And don’t even get me started on the zones after that. Of course, they’ll have their own beauty, and their own storyline, but i always miss these green zones with signs of humanity sprinkled across in later zones- and funny enough, most games have this “problem”. I don’t know if it gets better when you leave Moria in Lotro, though. I heard Rohan has a nice scenery.

I need a plan

Yesterday i chatted with a guildmate in Elder Scrolls Online. Since i know her to like Final Fantasy XIV a lot, we talked about that game in passing. She mentioned some uncertainty on her part in regards to buying Heavensward- because she hasn’t got time. Pew, who knew that time could be a problem, right? That was when i told her about stuff i’d like to get done at some point this year- i mentioned that yesterday when i tried to estimate at what time stuff releases this year. My guess is that when we’re talking about expansions, Final Fantasy XIV will be next.

Please don't remind me of all the ways you're awesome!
Please don’t remind me of all the ways you’re awesome!

So, to recount the games and my plans, as well as provide an overview for myself, let’s see what’s on my table and what goals i want to achieve as well as how much time i’ve got.

  • Final Fantasy XIV – get at least one adventuring class to 50 before the release of Heavensward – this will be a tough one.
  • The Repopulation – it turns out my old gaming community plans to start a chapter there, and rather sooner than later at that. Not much to do, here, just finish up the tutorial this or next week, after that it’ll be dabbling.
  • Guild Wars 2 – get my Ranger and my Elementalist to 80 before the expansion- shouldn’t be too tough.
  • Everquest 2 – my goal in Norrath is quite simple: just some steady progress and maybe be at the level cap in time for the expected expansion.
  • Lord of the Rings Online – smell the roses, see the world. My guess is i’m somewhat time-pressed here because i really don’t think the game will be around longer than 2017.
  • Elder Scrolls Online – smell the roses, see the world, craft. No pressure here.

So counting that and adding the project i have in my guild, which takes away one night every week, we have 6 games i need to juggle somehow. The easy way, of course, would be to just play what i like when i like to play it. But i’m pretty sure i won’t meet my “hard goals” this way, so i’m going to set up a schedule, you know, like Syp. I’ll mix it up a bit but will keep his “anything goes” – evening just to have it there. Also, since weeks just don’t have enough days, Lotro and Repopulation will have to wait for their turn on Anything-goes-evenings.

Yes, i like that one, too
Yes, i like that one, too

Final Fantasy XIV will have to get two evenings, and even then i’m not entirely sure if it will work out in the end. But for now, let’s stick with that. EQ2 gets one evening for now, since it’s also the current game in the guild project. The guild project gets another one. I think one evening for GW2 will be enough right now to get to level 80, at least with my Elementalist who already is around level 60. Elder Scrolls Online gets one evening, too, because, right now, i pay a sub for that.

So let’s see…

Monday: Final Fantasy XIV

Tuesday: Guild project / Everquest 2

Wednesday: Guild Wars 2

Thursday: Elder Scrolls Online

Friday: Guild project / Everquest 2

Saturday: Anything goes

Sunday: Final Fantasy XIV

Although i have to say that i don’t know yet what i’ll do if i don’t play some night, which will happen, of course, since gaming is not my only hobby and i’m not in the mood for it every day. Either i’ll just stick with the days or i’ll move them around (while keeping saturday for anything)- right now, i prefer the latter.

Is this good?

No, it isn’t. If you call me names, i’m perfectly fine with it. I really tried to be Mmonogamist, but it doesn’t work out for me right now. Every time i decide to play just one or two games, it just makes me miss the other ones more. It’s hard to describe, the best example i have is when i tried to quit smoking- i could go whole workdays of 8 to 10 hours without a cigarette easily, but my penultimate try to get rid of it lasted only about 4 hours- time i mainly spent thinking “i will never smoke again” and panicking at the thought. Meanwhile, i succeeded, but it’s quite similar here- when i try to play only FF14, for instance, suddenly i remember how game x is better in this-or-that feature.

Lord of the Rings - Archet

If i had to come up with reasons, i’d say there are mainly three to name: no game is a perfect fit for me yet, as are the guilds i joined in these games- although i do like them. The third reason is that while no game is a perfect fit, i do like most of the mentioned MMOs for something. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, but i like them. And, to be honest, i’d rather like too many MMOs than being grumpy about all of them while still thinking i’m the “real” type of MMO player who strangely doesn’t like any MMO on the market.

The Beornings’ starting area

Well, well, well, Lord of the Rings Online. A game i liked very much- and still do, to some extent, despite there being changes i didn’t like much. I’m not talking about f2p here, but for instance how the old wood changed between 2008 and now. It used to be creepy and difficult. It isn’t, anymore. Still, Lotro has a world that’s really nice to explore, as well as great quest writing.

So i wanted to take some screenshots of the game and started up a new character. Might as well try the new class, the Beorning, since it somehow appeals to me (i always like playing hybrid characters that can do good damage while also being able to heal a little bit) and is the new shiny in the game. Also, i agree with those who say the character models look much better than those of the other races. I’m still dreading Moria and really want to make it as short a stay as possible, but for now, i went back in, this time even really reading quest text.

The other starting areas should be like the Beornings’

The starting area of the beornings looks gorgeous. Since i never went through Moria, i also never really got to see how the game looks nowadays, and i have to say, it really looks great.

Starting a beorning

 

It’s almost a pity that it’s over so quickly, but then again, after going through Archet for 100 times it’s good to see a starting area that focuses on the important things: story, a little bit immersion, getting a first feel of the class and admiring the landscape. This is by far the smallest starting area in the game, and all you really do is talk to some people, kill eight flies and some goblins, then talk some more and you’re done. All in all, maybe 15 minutes, if that. You get to level 2 by playing it and then get boosted to level 5 and sent to Archet (the real Archet, though).

Beornings starting area

 

After 7 years of mainly playing through Archet i think that this is a good way to go- teach the advanced basics- story and class gameplay- and send the player off. I’d like the other starting areas to be as quick (mind you, Archet is shorter than it used to be), although of course i know that this wouldn’t suit a player who’s new to the game.

Starter islands

Generally, i don’t like starter islands or zones. Everybody loves Age of Conan’s Tortage- i don’t like it. The same goes for Archet and the starting zones of Elves/Dwarves, the Isle of Dawn in Vanguard and others. World of Warcraft drops you right into the world and i think this is the way it should be done. All i really want when playing these zones is to leave them as fast as possible. So the Beornings’ starting area was a nice change of pace in this old game.

Tourism

While those who like the game know it, i think Lotro is really a great experience if you take your time while levelling. In this game, you shouldn’t hurry to reach the next level – although i wouldn’t use the XP stopper, either, and i wouldn’t do “grey” quests, but it’s really not a game to “skip quest text” and “reach the endgame”. I’d really like to see the newer landscapes, especially after seeing this starting area. It’s just Moria. Gandalf didn’t want to go through it, and i don’t want to, either. But we’ll see about that.