I saw someone kvetch on Twitter yesterday that just partway through the Helm’s Deep expansion they’ve already replaced all of their hard-earned Hytbold armor through questing. It’s that same old story, where countless hours of raiding or grinding to attain the best of the best gear is rendered obsolete within hours of a vertical expansion dropping.
It’s kind of why I’ve just never gotten into LOTRO’s dungeon scene at all. I’m down with quick dungeon runs in other MMOs, but LOTRO? It’s hardly happened for me. In my five or so years playing the game, I might have done 10 dungeon runs total. There’s just so little incentive to do it, since whatever gear I’m getting from quests is more than adequate to get me through subsequent zones and the personal story. Dungeon runs and raiding seems to me to be its own thing, a gear treadmill just to run more dungeons, but not with any greater purpose.
I just kind of don’t think about gear at all in that game any more. Since the quests do an adequate job gradually upgrading my stats, it feels a little like a nanny who dresses me without me being a part of the process. And since I’m not really choosing anything, I’m not going out of my way to get any specific gear, and the statistical bumps are pretty small, I just vanish it from my mind.
Pretty much the only thing that interests me, gear-wise, is a cool-looking armor model. I will check to see if a drop has a look that I haven’t collected yet, and if so that will be a good day for me. Some developers are starting to get a clue as to the power of cosmetic gear as rewards, although this attitude hasn’t completely swept through the MMO industry yet. Let’s put it this way: Almost always, I will expend more effort to get something that looks cool than adds more points to my points box. Almost always, I will be more pleased when a quest or a drop gives me something nifty-looking to wear.
There’s actually very little in the way of loot in LOTRO that is of interest to me at all. On a given day’s outing, I’ll probably pick up 50% pure vendor trash, 30% crafting mats, 10% useless legendary items, and 10% assorted potions and gear drops. That game’s always been kind of strange with loot, but now that it just automatically wings it into my bags, I don’t concern myself with it much at all. Just another few gold for the pot when I get back to a vendor.
I wouldn’t mind if Turbine would start to think a little about the gear and loot incentives in the game. I’d love it if pure cosmetic or housing items dropped (getting a taxidermy pelt is pretty much the only thing I’ve seen in that regard), or if there would be some new system that would utilize new loot drops.