Fast track on the epic story express
Let’s start out the week by talking about Lord of the Rings Online here at Bio Break, because there is certainly a lot to discuss. It’s been a welcoming period of reunion to be playing this game once more, especially amid all of the excitement and increased community activity. I won’t say that it’s quite like the glory days of, oh, 2011 or so, but between Standing Stone talking up the game, the Tolkien Prof’s popular lecture series, and the 2017 plan that’s taking shape, I’m seeing LOTRO come up a lot more than it did in most of 2016.
First things first: Me. Me me me. As you may recall, I’m currently attempting to level up my Lore-master through the epic story and mostly ignoring side quests. I’ve had a few nights where I hit a wall where some Warg Pen grinding was needed to gain a level and access the next chapter, but even when that happens, it’s not too bad. Two or three runs, and I’m back in business. It’s at least helped me to catch up on podcasts.
When I returned to my LM, I was nearing the end of the Riders of Rohan content and the start of Helm’s Deep at level… 81, I want to say? Maybe even back more than that, I forget. But now I’m 91 and moving forward nicely. Since there was a period of time where the level cap was at 95, the epic maintains that level for a couple of books, allowing my character some time to make up the distance in level disparity. I need all of the steam I can get before going into Gondor!
The bad part of this journey was hitting the spot of Helm’s Deep where you pretty much have to do all five epic battles in a row. The years have not changed my opinion of this system, which features long, tedious instances that can’t be sped through (since they’re reactive) but can be failed. And I did fail a couple of them: the dike, because I had to tab out for a minute to handle something; the Deepening Wall three times because it is a horrible epic battle that personally hates you; and the Hornburg, which bugged out after 30 minutes of winning gameplay. I tried to do all of these within two nights, just to have them done with so that they wouldn’t be weighing on me. At least they’re done, and I’m going to ignore the fact that I still have two ahead.
Coming in 2017 to a Shire near you!
The past week or two we’ve learned a lot about what’s coming up this year, although I expect that information to be fleshed out in the upcoming producer’s letter. Here are some of my highlights:
Housing hook improvements: It’s not the housing revamp that we’ve been asking for or the system needs, but hey… it’s something. And it’s kind of a nice something, the ability to manipulate objects in a hook area more than before. Reminds me a lot of how SWTOR handles its hook system. I’d still like to see a LOT more hooks and more flexible hook assignments before getting too excited about working with the housing system.
High Elves as a playable race: I wish you could see my face. My face is one of stoic amusement, because I don’t have to tell you all what I think of LOTRO adding yet more Elves to the game (or any MMO dealing in Elves). It would have been more interesting for me to see the devs add another class or open up the game to more race/class options, but hey, it’s a pretty major addition for a game that’s only added two new classes and one new race/class in the 10 years since launch so far. Race-wise, the team didn’t have a lot of options on the table — just maybe other types of Dwarves, other types of Hobbits, other types of Man, etc. It’s a solid selling point for the Mordor expansion. Speaking of which…
The Mordor alignment system: In the interview I did last week, the team hinted at some sort of allegiance system for the big showdown with Mordor where you’ll be able to pledge and work with one of the racial factions. My first thought was happiness that the game will be working Hobbits back into the storyline, somehow. I’m very much reserving judgment to see the full explanation of it, because it’s not like I’m overeager for a grindy, ineffectual system. But something engaging with good rewards? Sure.
Black Gate, ho! We’ve got one big update between now and the Mordor expansion, and that will take us up to (and perhaps through?) the Black Gate. It’s got potential to be exciting as a prologue to Mordor, and I can’t wait to see what the team pulls out for it.
Avatar improvements: Very nice to hear full confirmation that this is being worked on and is coming. Can’t wait to see a better-looking model with hair that isn’t chiseled from polygonal stone. Also, glad that players will have the option to retain the older model look if desired. Looking at what the devs did with the Beornings, I am eager to see what can be done with the older models indeed.