LOTRO: Why I won’t be rebuilding Hytbold

hytboldAs a newly minted level 85 in Lord of the Rings Online, I feel as if I’m on top of the food chain again.  It’s nice to be at the level cap and capable of finishing up the solo content without worries of XP.  I still have a chunk of the Sutcrofts to do as well as several chapters of the epic storyline, but I think I can knock those out without too much trouble.

There is one thing I won’t be doing, and that is the rebuilding of Hytbold.  This may come as a strange statement, as Hytbold is a specially designed endgame activity that caters directly to the soloer/casual player who wants an alternative to dungeon running in order to get high-quality gear.  But after spending a week doing it, I realize that the rewards (for me) are not worth the effort and the inevitable weariness that participating will entail.

Let’s back up a second.  For the uninitiated, Hytbold is a burned-out town in Rohan that you’re sent to help when you hit level 85.  Because all of Middle-earth rests on your shoulders and everyone else is too lazy to help, it’s up to you to single-handedly rebuild the town from charred ruins to its former glory.

The way you do this is through an elaborate series of daily quests, of which you can do five a day.  Different towns in Rohan offer these dailies, and depending on where you do them, you’ll also get reputation for various factions.  Being able to buy the raid-quality armor from Hytbold requires maxing out all of the factions and fully rebuilding the town (more or less), which takes about a month and a half of dedicated work.

It’s a grind, but not an impossible one.  I did the dailies for a week, and I could get five done in about 20-30 minutes.  Many of the quests take place in “public instances” (meaning other people can and do pop in there) and you can sometimes get two quests done in a single instance.  And there’s a decent variety of quests, including some fishing ones.  In short, Turbine has taken the concept of the daily quest and expanded it, given it an overarching goal, and provided a lot of variety.

And yet, it’s dailies.  That’s what I can’t get past.  Listen, I’ve done the daily grind in the past, and I’ve witnessed first-hand how it can slowly, surely suck one’s enjoyment away from the game.  I can take a week or so of repeated activities before it’s seen as a tiresome chore and not new, not exciting, and not fulfilling.  You can dangle all the rewards you like in an effort to keep me going through the same hoops, but it doesn’t change that it’s busy work.

So I sat back after a week of Hytbold dailies and decided that, for me, my time is too precious to go around with dailies for 44 days just for armor that I’ll be replacing with the next expansion and some admittedly nifty housing decorations.  I’d much rather finish up Rohan and engage in skirmishes of my own choosing.

I’m on the fence whether or not Hytbold was a good use of Turbine’s resources.  Undoubtedly, it’s kept a lot of folk busy and helped to extend the bang-for-the-buck content ratio that we’ve gotten in the expansion.  It’ll also probably be bypassed entirely come the next expansion.

I like the idea of rebuilding/building something in the game, but we’re not really doing the work of rebuilding the town by hand.  Pay enough quest tokens and the town magically is restored; no crafting or hammering necessary.

It’ll be interesting to see if Turbine will pull out the Hytbold model in future content releases.  I’d also be interested in hearing from the LOTRO players out there who are in Rohan — is Hytbold something you want to do/are doing/have done?  Was it worth it?

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24 thoughts on “LOTRO: Why I won’t be rebuilding Hytbold

  1. I did most of Hytbold on my first character. Just enough to get my armour, and then I pretty much stopped playing freepside in favour of my Creeps, although that’s not related to it.

    As far as my feelings on the whole mechanic, I do think it’s nice for soloers to have something to do at level cap, it’s something the past expansions didn’t even bother with. Overall I think it’s an okay system. I would’ve preferred it to let you take as long OR as short a time to finish it as you wanted to though. Yeah, that would bring the usual, “There’s nothing to do!” comments from people who powered through the whole thing, but that’s their choice. Being able to buy armour for your other characters before they even hit Rohan is especially *awesome*, and the best part of the system hands down, for me.

  2. You don’t have to fully rebuild Hytbold to get your gear if you’re only working on one character. Depending on the class and gear set you’re aiming for, it should only take about 10 days to get one set of gear. Rebuilding the entire town is really only necessary if you want access to barter vendors for other classes to gear up alts.

    There is an excellent guide on the forums that explains exactly what you need to upgrade for which pieces of gear (and with update 10, set bonuses on gear are moving to 2 and 4 pieces rather than 3 and 5, so you would need to grind even less for a specific skill effect). http://forums.lotro.com/showthread.php?482751-Hytbold-A-Guide-to-Rebuilding-and-Armour

    Personally, I really enjoyed rebuilding all of Hytbold. It was interesting to watch the changes to the town over time. Each day after purchasing what upgrades I could afford, it was fun to ride around town and see just what my hard work had accomplished. I also enjoyed the quest instance at the end of the rebuilding. It really tied the Rohan story together pretty well, I thought.

    That being said, I only completed the town on one of my 85s. The other character just did enough to get a set of gear and be done with it.

  3. It’s funny, Lotro claims that Hytbold was really popular, but they omit one really important aspect: it was *the* only endgame thing to do until December apart from years old skirmishes.

    Whilst it was somewhat satisfying to see the town being rebuilt (it looks quite nice at the end), I really disliked Hytbold. I got bored with it quickly and also began to resent needing to log in every day to get it done. Once I hit level cap, my time spent in Lotro decreased quite rapidly as frankly there was nothing to do for people like me who like group content and had no interest in leveling an alt (Lotro’s linear questing post RoI has made that difficult for me).

    Too many games seem to be going with this daily route. Personally, I’m getting tired of time gating. I very much prefer skill gating!

  4. Whether you like it or not, Turbine loves it and considering their recent history of expansions and content this is the perfect way for them to keep people busy while they wait for instances to be released. I fully expect to see Hybold 2.0 in the next expansion.

    For me, it would have been MUCH better if the costs for the Kindred updates were the same as the Ally ones as that would have reduced the grind significantly and made it not feel quite so daunting.

  5. I rebuilt it twice, first on my minstrel and then on my hunter, and I haven’t done any dailies since then. I doubt that I’ll do it on any other characters.

    I’m leveling my scholar now, and I’ll get the armor for her when the time comes, and I might try a few dailies today after Update 10 is live to see how the fate/power changes affect things, but Hytbolt is not something I see myself spending much time on in the future.

  6. Oh, I forgot to mention – I was doing the Hytbolt dailies at the same time as the Yule fest was going on, and I ran the festival quests every day to try to get one of my characters the Yule war-steed cosmetic set. That was the least enjoyable time I’ve ever had in the game. You’re right, dailies do drain the fun out very quickly. I stopped playing completely for a while after that.

  7. I agree about the grind but this is part of most MMOs. im in no hurry, everytime i got bored i stopped for a couple of days. i wanted to see the whole story and without pushing to get it done in 44 days it was quite entertaining.
    personally i think its a good idea as soloplayers are mostly left out (which is fine by me as its multiplayer game) and they will have something to do after hitting max level.

    so its also a matter how much you force yourself to do it everyday. (festivals, as mentioned above are something different, you have a set time frame)

    i’ve dont this with a lot of games and most of the times it regretted it, last time was starcraft 2. i just wanted to beat the game and i could really enjoy the story that way. after that experience i decided to stop hurrying in games and set my own speed.

  8. > Being able to buy the raid-quality armor from Hytbold requires maxing out all of the factions and fully rebuilding the town (more or less), which takes about a month and a half of dedicated work.

    Er… no it doesn’t. You can get your armor in under two weeks of dailies, if you just plan. Surely that’s not so terrible. The only benefit to rebuilding the whole town is it unlocks the ability to buy armor for other characters/classes on your account.

  9. Hytbold has worked out nicely for me, as I am apparently (and thoroughly) in the casual category of player it is tailored to. Even if we don’t have time for something more enjoyable, my wife and I can log in/out fairly quickly and feel like we’re working towards a larger goal. I agree with Doc, though, that the Kindred quests should be 5 and not 10 tokens. That’s when it started to feel unnecessarily grindy. I do, however, feel like I’m accomplishing something and getting good gear in an approachable, easy way.

    Part of the appeal, also, is nostalgia; the rebuilding reminds me of one of my favorite games of all time, Skies of Arcadia. In that you get to build your pirate base from scratch. /shrug

    -Derek

  10. By the way, I also agree with your statement about gear replacement, which is typically why I don’t bother with the stuff — who wants to be in a virtual rat race?

    The only times I’ve had the top-notch endgame gear was when I had a regular group to play through the instances with. At that point the gear becomes secondary to having a good time with friends.

  11. The other carrot out there for finishing Hytbold is the wrapping up of the storyline and the murder mystery. Not huge, but since the storylines are the main thing I’ve enjoying in LOTRO, it was enough to keep me plugging away.

  12. The end instance and ending in general was really anticlimatic though. :/ When I finished it, I couldn’t help but feel “That was it?”.

  13. The Hytbold dailies are far less grindy than the festivals. They aren’t as bad in part because there are so many of them that you can choose from, and which change daily. Sure, more book quest content would be preferable (some of us find umpteen dungeons to be uninteresting, to say the least – we prefer Tolkien to DDO)

  14. I was one of the few people who hated it, as well. I think I could have found it tolerable over the long haul if they hadn’t doubled the token requirement for the kindred level quests. The instant I realized that I was going to be paying double for the rest of the quests, I began to resent and despise the whole thing. If they’d kept it at 5 I would have thought it was grindy and annoying, but still playable.

    I did complete it on my main, but I will not even be touching it on any of my alts. No way. Hate the whole thing. And really, the least they could have done was give us something – anything good – for having completed Thane. A set of warsteed gear or a faction mount or a cosmetic set of clothing or some special housing item. NOTHING. A couple of titles I will never use. Whoopty doo.

    If Turbine is planning on continuing with this type of thing, then they better do the following:

    1] Keep the cost of grinding consistent rather than upping the cost just when you’re getting sick of the content and not sure you can bear doing it anymore.

    2] Stick to quests that actually fit within the lore of the game. The Beacon, Resupplying the Line and other pointless activities like that were jarringly immersion spoiling because the activities required to complete them were so absurd and implausible. I loved the quests that felt immersive, such as playing tag in Harwick with the little kids, but not the stupid stuff like jumping puzzles.

    3] Give a really awesome reward for completing it. Like, come on. Most people will take months to complete it and get what? A title? Man, I was so burned when I saw that was it. Give us some reward!

  15. By the way, don’t know what happened there but my name is Mave, not “string of letters and numbers.” LOL

  16. I am not sure if I will finish rebuilding Hytbold or not. I don’t really enjoy daily tasks in an MMO. I hop on and do whatever feels interesting. However, on my captain, I wanted the DPS set. I got it with a very casual effort. You don’t have to rebuild the whole town to get the gear. Will I progress further, not really sure. But they put the barrier of entry to the gear a lot lower than you seem to imply. Honestly, I think I will be more gated by reputation requirements than tokens.

  17. I’m pretty much an exclusive soloer, so I like the idea of a way I can get decent gear without forced grouping. As lothirieth mentioned, it’s time-gating, which I have not been that keen on in other games, but the prior alternative was group-size-gating, and given a choice between those two, I’ll take time.

    If they ever implement skill-gating in the form of challenging solo quests to get high-level gear? Sign me up.

  18. @Grant sadly I doubt we’ll ever see challenging solo content in LOTRO, it just doesn’t fit with the direction the game is going. Unless you consider doing group content solo ;)

  19. I have found the way to deal with Hytbold is not to do it every day, but 2-3 times a week usually. Sure I complete the entire thing alot slower, but I am also finding it not being so much a drag on my gameplay.

  20. The ingame info about hytbold is pretty sparse and thanks to a bug I wasnt sent the breadcrumb quest for it at 84. Maybe thats why I felt I was blundering through the process to begin with, until I found the player written guide on the forums at least.

    A lot of the dailies are just rubbish in design and implemetation. The beacon was an obvious example of an idea taken from elsewhere, namely GW2’s jumping puzzles, but thanks to the poor performance of the game it was a hellish mess of rubberbanding and guesswork as to where the jump would take you.

    Completion gives you two titles and little else. But at least we werent given any of those damned banners that infest the warband boxes.

    The theory of hytbold isnt bad but the way it was done could be a lot better.

  21. For me, the problem with Hytbold was that there really wasn’t a big enough carrot on the end of the stick. The rewards you get from building the entire town are rather sparse. Even once you’re done, the town feels incomplete and less than useful. For example, there’s no bank in Hytbold. Sure, you can craft there, but if you need to pull crafting mats out of your vault you’ll end up going elsewhere. And elsewhere usually has all the same crafting stations, so why bother heading back? It contains some nice set pieces, but that’s about it. As an end-game utility it’s just not useful. As for the armour sets, those aren’t raid-level armours. Hytbold armour is made for running 6-man dungeons. You can run raids in it, yes, but there’s some downsides to it. Like the number of points in durability and even the Toughness of the armour. For proper raid armour, you’ll need to spend your skirmish currency.

    To my mind, Hytbold represents a shift in the direction of the game. It’s now Lord of the Grind Online as nearly every activity in the game now requires massive amounts of grind for small reward. Virtues were always a huge grind. Now add to that Hytbold and even the Festivals. The Yule Festival, for example, requires that you complete 200 Winterhome quests in a two week period if you want to achieve the most desirable rewards (which is all cosmetic fluff). That’s more quests than has come in any paid expansion for this game. That is insane.

  22. Aside from Epics 1 and 3, Hytbold was the one ending I enjoyed more than most any other. I enjoyed seeing the town grow, doing the relatively simple quests and making observable progress during my short play windows, and following the story to its end. It didn’t feel even slightly like a grind; it was just the opposite… a relaxing focused plan of conquest. It was over and built before I realized it. I hope they have more solo and small group friendly “end-game” activities in the future.

    The one downside was that the flow of quest chains in Hytbold was a spiderweb. Without the player-written guide, navigating the chain would have been difficult.

  23. Honestly, I don’t mind it. I like a lot of the content for Hytbold. I like not knowing what quests I will get. It’s about your outlook on the game. I love running through RoR expansion. I love just going around killing off warbrands with friends/kin or meeting random people wanting the same end.

    If you think of Hytbold as a grind, then it is going to stink. I think of it as a plus to doing the end-game instances. I’m all for having new instances to run, especially the idea of public instances. Honestly, my burg and hunter haven’t even changed from level 75 gear yet. I don’t need new gear to run around RoR. Sure I want to raid with my kin, so I raid. I may not be in the best gear, but it won’t take long to get it running these instances.

    Raiding and instances should be fun. I run them with close friends. The loot is a nice reward, but the real reward is being with my kin and having fun.

  24. The Hytbold dailies are the worst end game I’ve ever seen in an MMORPG. The end game in LOTRO has been fairly decent until RoI. There is no enjoyment to this grind whatsoever, it’s just to make casuals feel like they can accomplish something. Well, guess what, I’m a casual (2-3 days a week 1-3 hours) and I hate it! Anything is better than this.

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