When the news broke that Lotro and DDO wouldn’t be operated by Turbine, and in extent, Warner Bros, anymore, I felt a sudden urge to return to Lord of the Rings Online. Mind you, this isn’t really a new thing for me- in fact, from its release to around 2012, Lotro was the MMO I’d return to when another new release wasn’t holding my attention for one reason or another. (more…)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
And then, of course, you’ll reach the Prancing Pony and the trip is over.
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.
I’m late on the whole Blaugust thing, so i think that ship has sailed, although i might be looking into how it works and maybe join the ranks because participating might be fun. I’ve been away for the last three weeks, at a place where i couldn’t read my mail, use Twitter in a meaningful way and read/write WordPress blogs. No, i haven’t been to the moon, only china. I’ve been following the news, though, mainly through Massively Overpowered and i’ve read some of the non-Wordpress blogs.
Anyways, three weeks gone from any MMO gaming opportunity does change one’s point of view. Interestingly, the games i’ve missed aren’t Final Fantasy XIV or Star Wars: the old republic but open world games like Lord of the Rings Online and World of Warcraft as well as full-featured themeparks like Everquest 2. Of course, all three of these games also featured heavily in the news- EQ2 with its TLE servers, Lotro with the coming server merges and WoW with the expansion news- so that might also be at work here. With WoW, i can honestly say that i wanted to play even before news of the expansion broke. I still do want to play, but the subscription is keeping me at bay for now. What i might do, though, is to level the classes i’m most interested in to 20- that would probably be the Shaman, Druid, Priest, Monk and maybe Paladin.
Still, with all this longing for the mentioned games, i still don’t want to leave SWTOR and FF14 behind. While i don’t have very pressing goals in FF14 for now- the expansion has launched and i’m way behind the curve again, i do want to level one character- possibly the Jedi Sage- in SWTOR to 60 before the expansion hits in october.
And then, there has been news, as well. Bad news.
Funcom is looking for a merger/acquisition. Now, we all can take a guess what that will mean for the future of Funcom’s games. Personally, i’m hoping for the best, which would mean no jobs lost, all games remain intact and get the same kind- or even better- attention in the future. But i wouldn’t bet loads of money on that outcome. So, while i really don’t know what the outcome will be, i’m kind of bracing myself for shutdown. And that would be bad on so many levels. Especially The Secret World is a great game, i’ve come to respect Funcom for what they do. I’ve also found it quite sad, really, Funcom is one of these companies providing us with games from the genre we love. I think it’s time to ask ourselves some uncomfortable questions- concerning business models, for instance. Or maybe not- maybe they’d be in an even worse state if their games would still follow the sub model. What i’ve found really disheartening, though, is that- again- there’ve been comments welcoming these news, thinking that it would be well-deserved and things like that.
So, TSW needs to go back into my rotation. It might not- and let’s just hope that won’t be the case- be around much longer. The same goes for Lotro, really. We don’t know when it’ll end, but i think the best guesses would lean towards a 2017 closure…maybe. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, either.
Coincidentally, those are the only two games i ever bought a lifetime sub for. At least for Lotro, i got my money’s worth. For years it had been my “return-to” MMORPG and i loved it- Lotro is one of the most relaxing MMORPGs out there. It’s also very atmospheric and the landscapes still look stunning. I’ve never made it through Moria, though. With TSW, it’s even worse. While i feel i got a good deal there, as well, neither my /played time nor my progress could serve as proof for that.
So when i thought about ways to shrink that roster down to my usual three, i realized that it isn’t really possible. I want to experience FF14, SWTOR, TSW, Lotro, EQ2, maybe WoW and/or even more games when i feel like it. I also want to make some progress in all of them. And there’ll be releases this year, as well. Wildstar f2p, Blade and Soul, the Repopulation.
For now, the most pressing concern is to reach level 60 with my Jedi Sage before the SWTOR expansion hits. With 12XP, i think it’s very possible, even for me, if i concentrate on the story mode and leave other things like crafting, the strongholds etc. out for the time being.
Lotro is for fun, but i’d really like to progress through Moria to see what lies on the other side. It’s also the game i’ve been playing since our return home on tuesday.
For now, i’m done with forcing myself into a schedule/a roster of MMOs, and i’ll simply do and play what is fun to me. “Of course”, you’ll say, because that’s the way one should do it- but there’s still the knowledge that i don’t really play that much- reaching significant progress in all these games with my available time might be quite difficult. I’ll try it that way, anyway.
When the closure of Tabula Rasa was announced, i was quite sad- i really, really liked the game and miss it to this day. Then, i decided that i wouldn’t continue to play it as i’d lose my characters/the game anyway. Nowadays, i often wish i would have decided the other way round- to try and experience as much as possible. With the news coming from Funcom and a refound love for Lotro, i’m not really in the mood to limit myself right now.
So may is gone and with it goes the first month of my “Project Trinity”, where i choose three MMOs to play in a given month. For may, there have been varying results. Let’s take a look at the MMOs i played:
- Star Wars: the old republic – 14 hours
- Age of Conan – 2 hours
- Final Fantasy XIV – 2 hours
- Trove – 2 hours
All in all, i played about 24 hours in the whole month, which is a very low number, even for me. Reasons are the mentioned strike in the nursery/kindergarten, but also that when i limit myself to three MMOs and find me not wanting to play any of the three, i simply don’t play.
Trove is in there because of Ironweakness– he made me curious and so, one evening when i was looking for something casual (and also something to replace ESO in my trinity), i launched Trove.
As you can see, there’s not much to feed this blog on in this month. There are topics, of course- Wildstar’s free-to-play move, for instance. Lately, i’ve also (re-)found the urge to play many, many different MMOs. There’s Lotro, The Secret World, Guild Wars 1 & 2, Rift and now even Wildstar- all of them are possible successors for Elder Scrolls Online, which i’m also hesitant to drop.
There’s a reason for this, as well- for one, it’s nothing unusual that in times when you can’t play as much as you’d like to, the games you miss become much more desirable. I’ve also stumbled in continuing to play FF14 as well as SWTOR in a significant amount- with FF14, i usually need to put a little effort in first (as in: play x hours), before it becomes sticky. With SWTOR, following the 12XP put a dent in enjoyment.
For june, the third spot will go to The Secret World. I was tempted to leave SWTOR out this month, because i feel current play times don’t really justify two subscriptions. But SWTOR just felt so fitting to me in these last weeks that i don’t want to let it lapse. I might opt out of the 12XP, though.
Good news on the strike, as well: nurseries/kindergartens will open again on monday, after four weeks. I can’t imagine how parents with less flexibility coped with that, it was difficult even for us; and i’m quite flexible.
All that gives me hope to be able to put out some of the more “column-like” posts this month; i really want to do some of those. All three games on my list are capable of filling those in, and i’m excited to get some more time in MMORPGs this month. Let’s hope it works out.
I have a break-out-condition, though. If there’s news about either Lotro’s “episodic content” or on the release date of Guild Wars 2’s expansion, i might switch things around before the month is up. But my guess is that won’t be necessary.
I play MMORPGs almost exclusively- there used to be only one, World of Warcraft, although i didn’t linger there for as long as most players do- i played for about 6 months before questing in Stranglethorn Valley and the Un’Goro crater put an end to a fun progression and made it a grind. Since then, i’ve gained maxlevel only once, in Rift, and that was because i had great fun in a great group- i think i did play only dungeons from the mid-thirties to level 50. Everything else i played, i got stuck in the early mid-levels. Let’s say level 30 usually is when i hit a wall. Curiously, i’m not alone in this, as Ironweakness has a post up to announce a series on his blog about levelling from “One to X”.
That post made me think about reasons for my not being able to do something like that, as much as i’d want. There are some.
Something else beckons
I like most mainstream MMOs that are out there. Often, when i return to a game, i wonder why i left/didn’t continue/don’t put more deliberation in that particular game. It really doesn’t matter which game it is we’re talking about- i cycle through Lotro, The Secret World, Final Fantasy XIV, SWTOR, Elder Scrolls Online, Guild Wars 2, Marvel Heroes, maybe even EQ2 and World of Warcraft (not really) all the time. It’s offers and updates that are calling me.
Just to take the more recent events- i’d like to play FF14 and Guild Wars 2 for their respective expansions. I wanted to get into SWTOR for their housing system, always want to continue Lotro for its story and world, The Secret World for the New player experience and so on. But while i am on game x, there’s always something happening in game y. I really wish i’d be there, at the level cap, to witness all new content. If i were to make an effort to play “One to X” in each of these games successively, i’d be in a happy place.
It gets cumbersome
The early levels of many MMOs are quite fun. Even when you are a time-challenged casual player like myself, you’ll be able to make some progress- even if it’s just “finishing one quest” in MMOs where one quest really matters, like in ESO or TSW. In Guild Wars 2, even in the higher levels, i manage to get a level out of most play sessions while mostly just taking a look around.
But sometimes, it’s just getting very cumbersome to make any progress in the games. So much so that i’ll need a whole play session just to figure out where i left, what my goals were and how to play my class. Quests and other ingame goals take you to places all over the virtual worlds, the inventory is cluttered and i don’t even know what is useful and what isn’t. Mobs take ages to get down and so on. Life in the midlevels is busywork.
The most recent example in my personal experience would be Final Fantasy XIV, where i simply wanted to get the main story quest up to the level my character is. It took me about two months and still i didn’t reach that goal. Of course i did other stuff- i made progress in crafting, different combat classes as well as gathering. Unfortunately, this all didn’t really feel like progress because i was merely catching up on all positions- trying to get the gathering and crafting jobs as well as the main storyline up to par with my combat class level- and it took ages.
I don’t believe in worlds- even virtual ones, that are devoid of any humanity. Often, you’ll have the starting zones and they’re happy places- there are villages, woods, beautiful sights all around. All this vanishes when you hit the early midlevels. Think about Lord of the Rings Online- you start either in the shire, bree-land or Ered Luin – all beautiful places, with villages and signs of humanity all around. Then you’ll continue to the Lonely Lands- ok, they’re named fittingly, but all you get there is an inn. The North Downs aren’t much better- from the second area up until Moria you’ll only get ruins, cabins and other small places. There’s Rivendell, of course, but not much of cities in other ways. And then…comes Moria, the epitome of boredom in zone design (in my opinion; it’s designed in a very good way, but these are still basically caves).
And later on, there will be desert/lava zones. Nobody wants to see something like that. Of course, i can see why dangers must present themselves and an all-green happy-place world might be equally boring, but i still can’t understand why people build great cities in the early game and live in tents from level 20 onwards.
So i was thinking- how could i do something like Ironweakness and Syp, who also plays a bajillion MMORPGs but somehow manages to be at (or almost at) the top of the content curve in all of them? Of course, one way to do it would be to not play 30 MMORPGs at the same time and instead reduce to a number i could handle- namely, one at a time. This won’t work, of course, because diversity is the spice of life, after all.
“Going buy-to-play”, as i’ve mentioned in my previous post, would be another way to reduce the amount of concurrent MMOs as well as lifting some pressure off me. There would be three games available- Elder Scrolls Online, Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World. They would offer a diverse diet as well as some depth in their gameplay. All i’d really cut out would be Final Fantasy 14, SWTOR and the newly-returned-to EVE. And Lotro. But frankly, i doubt i’ll ever make it through Moria.
So i don’t know, this is still a topic. It’s a funny thing- this blog was created because i wanted to document my finding of a new MMORPG home- i guess it worked in that way. Unfortunately, when i started it i was of the opinion that i’d found it by now.
In the short time since i started blogging regularly, big things happened. First of all, i didn’t expect to be connecting quite so fast as it happened now. Even when i restarted writing more regularly in the end of 2014, after the news broke that Massively would shut down, i doubled down on that. My goal right now is to publish something every day, although i have to confess that this might not be the best of ideas- see yesterday’s post for reasons why. While i liked the topic and stand by the argument, i had to hurry somewhat and the post developed from one topic to the other. And now it’s quite a mess, but that’s ok.
I started following more blogs via WordPress and Twitter gave me new blogs to see, as well. Furthermore, i wasn’t alone in this line of thinking- Ironweakness’ Blog exists because of the impending shutdown (and, reading it, one has to wonder why he didn’t start earlier). Right now my following of blogs is a mess- some of them are only in the WordPress reader i don’t use, some of them are only on Twitter and despite the fact that this is an MMO-exclusive account the stream runs by very fast. And then there’s Feedly, where i do read and i’m slowly migrating everyone over there.
So, the social connecting thing works in this regard. I’ll also have to thank many of the “real bloggers” for that. You really visit my blog from time to time, comment, like, write posts answering some of the posts i made or even link to me. This is a great experience, and i’d really like to thank you for being such an inclusive breed of gamers!
Playing and Writing
Of course, these connections make me want to write even more. But then there’s another thing: i found that my writing and gaming feed each other. Sometimes i’d think about a topic for a post and realize that i should go and play something, focussing the attention during the session on the topic i want to write about. And sometimes it’s the other way round- i play something and a topic opens up.
As someone who is, sometimes literally, playing a different game each day, this connection between writing and playing has given me a focus i didn’t achieve before. Yes, i’d resolve myself to play “just this one” MMO for some time, but it never lasts- and why should it? When you don’t have strong social ties in a game and are playing solo, mostly, why should you be “faithful” to one or two games? There are reasons, of course. Social ties, for instance, grow while staying in one game- it’s more difficult if you switch every other week.
But now? I want to write about things- and i want to experience things in the games. I also found out that i look at games differently- even when not thinking about making something a topic, i feel like i experience these games more intense. Right now, inspired also by comments here and some blog posts in other places, there are a few quite focussed projects i’d like to take on. We’ll see how it goes, because time is still limited.
Lord of the Rings
As i’ve mentioned, i fear a little bit for Lotro. I’m not overly optimistic that it’ll last longer than 2017. I might be wrong here, and i do hope i am, but when the gates close on this one, we’ll lose access to the best realized Middle Earth in MMOs and maybe games in general. I don’t like that to happen. I planned to visit Vanguard when i had a “bad feeling” about it in the beginning of last year only to sadly be right and have the world yanked from us. When you don’t have lots of time to play, a project like “visiting the world” can take months, even years. So when i begin this now, there might be a chance that i’ll get to see the Middle Earth of Lotro before it shuts down.
My plan here is quite like something a tourist guide writer would do- see the places, know some things about them (i’m not going to graduate in Middleearthology) and present them here.
Final Fantasy XIV
This is a game where a second, third or fourth look on crafting and economy is going to be interesting. I’ve read several times now that there’s kind of a barrier in the mid-30-levels, and i’m quite interested to see how it goes. I’ve experienced similar things, mostly in Lotro, where i always seemed to be stuck in the mid-30s.
So it’s going to be crafting/economy for Final Fantasy XIV, but also general gameplay experience. I guess i’ll continue to cover this for all the games i play, but if the last two weeks are any indication, it seems as though FF14 is my favourite game, for now. And it should be – it is good, after all, and i’d like to be ready for Heavensward without hurrying along.
Not much focus here. I also stopped playing it outside of my guild group, because my guild group character progresses much faster than my other character and i’ll transfer her over to Antonia Bayle when the guild project is over. But there’s something about EQ2 that’s really great- and from time to time, you’ll read about how it has so many features, how it is almost a sandbox in themepark’s clothing- i’d like to flesh that out a bit and look at the different features.
This has been a topic here for quite some time- how to connect to other players- what can we, as players, do to make our gameplay experience more social? What can developers do? I’d like to take a look into that and also want to make my personal gameplay experience more social. You’d like to do that, as well? Goody, just head on over to Group up and give me a /tell.
So this is it- in the two months since i restarted blogging here i found that writing enhances gameplay experience, and you’ll get to know/talk to/discuss with great, like minded people…or not so like-minded. Doesn’t matter as long as discussion is civil.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last week i had the problem that there were too many blog posts i saved for later- not so much this week, although i’m pretty sure i missed some interesting write-ups.
In “The Elder Scrolls Online ditching mandatory subscriptions” Wilhelm Arcturus offers his opinion and provides his readers with a list of other blog posts on the topic. Thanks for including mine, twice, although i didn’t really have much to say on the matter.
“Lotro: you’ll never see Mordor” by Syncaine, mostly because i disagree- i’m pretty sure we’ll see Mordor- or at least an end to the story very close to Mordor (i don’t think it is a fact that we would see it- if i remember correctly, the two Hobbits and Gollum were the only ones in Mordor), but i do agree that Lotro is not an MMO we’ll be able to play ten years from now.
“Keep your eye on Crowfall” by Keen. Crowfall caught my eye as well, with Raph Koster on the team and some interesting talk about crafting and economy. Also, i like the artstyle. But there’s not really much to talk about just yet.
“Project Zomboid and surviving in style” by Jewel provides a great overview of the game and lends a helping hand to those who are new to it. Since i’m kind-of-interested in the game, i saved it not only for “reading later”, but also as a resource should i buy it some day.
That’s about it for this week, although i’m pretty sure i missed something- i’m not yet used to saving up posts to use here because they’re good and i don’t save posts i could read in their entirety when i saw them. But i guess we’ll get there…
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
So Lotro has a producer’s letter sharing their plans for the first half of this year. I really don’t have much more to say about that than Wilhelm Arcturus and Roger Edwards already shared and would add my voice in saying that this producer’s letter seems, well, uninspired and not promising. It’s not exactly what it announces, which seem to be changes one would expect to happen to that game. Bug fixes, easier server transfers/closure of low-population servers, legendary items going to 100 and stuff like that seem to be logical additions to the game, and the same goes for growing the world Lotro takes place in and the addition of more small group content.
The surprising elements, for me, are the possibility of adding a new PvMP map and the “episodic content” stuff. I don’t know if there really is a big PvMP population in Lotro- i know there are some people who really care, but i was always under the impression that the PvP in Lotro is not exactly its strong point.
The episodic content seems interesting enough that i’d almost liked to see it. Story is one of Lotro’s strong parts, i think, and the world is another one. But still, there’s that huge dwarven cave in my way- i really can’t see myself playing my minstrel through Moria- maybe another, more solo-friendly class with a much lower time-to-kill, but i guess we’ll never know.
Or will we? I don’t know, but the producer’s letter really leaves me with these impressions:
- earnings don’t seem to go that well (or they’d sell/plan an expansion like they did in 2013)
- it’s the second year (maybe) coming without an expansion- but while last year’s updates were quite huge the “vision” for the first half of 2015 seems to be….humble
- i get the feeling we are hurrying towards Mordor now
All in all, i don’t think Lotro will be with us much longer. I’m not saying it’s closing down, mind you, but to me, that letter doesn’t sound too confident. DDO’s producer’s letter seems more ambitious in comparison, so i don’t think this is a Turbine-was-hit-with-massive-layoffs-thing, but specific to Lotro.
So i guess i’ll close like the other two: if you like the game, live in the moment and play the game now.