As 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?