The boon of boosts
This past week was one of my most productive yet in my 2017 return to Lord of the Rings Online. Right now I’m probably spending about 90% of my gaming time on this title, just because it’s really what I want to be playing at any given moment. Plus, I feel very driven to catch up — and I’m starting to see real progress in that regard.
I’ve already finished up with all of the Rohan landscape story quest arcs, netting my character several more trait points, and have moved on to do the four central Gondor arcs (two out of four completed of those so far). Even better, thanks to quests that are finally awarding XP and a weekend XP boost across the servers, I’ve shot up from level 98 to 104 — and I’m not even to Osgiliath yet.
Hitting 100 was a great boon for me, as that meant I could equip my two first age legendary items and get them imbued. I had saved up so many different crystals and scrolls and runes for those that it was actually a relief to get to use them all on weapons I won’t be replacing.
Challenging content? Perish the thought!
It was an adjustment when I finally started getting into content that was more on-level than I had been playing over the past few weeks. I’d gone from one-shotting mobs in the early parts of Rohan to actually having to watch my aggro in mid-Gondor. I’m still able to take down most anything thanks to my pets (and my “oh crap” button of Sic ‘Em), and I have four heals at my disposal just in case things get dicey. But still, questing has slowed down a tiny bit due to the slightly longer combat sequences.
Let’s just say that at this point, I’m really, really glad I didn’t elect to go through with my plan to grind out virtues. I don’t think I could’ve stood doing it here.
I am trying my hardest to put out of mind some of the big chunks of content that I’ve yet to get through, such as Osgiliath and Minas Tirith. Both are really impressive set pieces — and both are quite annoying to navigate, especially if you’re like me and don’t like sprawling and constricting urban landscapes.
Back in late 2015, I remember going through a phase where I was seeking out what many of us bloggers were calling a “home” MMO. This was supposed to be a game in which you spent most of your time, got the most invested, and made the most connections. I was seeking one out because I felt untethered and detached from games at the time, bouncing around like a crazy person. In 2016, I spent four months trying in earnest to make FFXIV my home (didn’t work) and subsequently started to settle back into World of Warcraft.
But it was really this recent return to Lord of the Rings Online that reminded me that I have had an online home that’s been here for me since 2007. Even though I was away for the better part of a year and a half, it was all waiting for me when I got back: the feels, the world, the great people, the sense of adventure… the whole package, really. This is where I feel the most comfortable, draping the game around me like a well-worn, nice fitting outfit.
I’m truly excited that there’s a lot to look forward to this year, and that excitement is driving a lot of my continued enthusiasm to log in and get stuff done in preparation.
Speaking of homes, the recent Update 19.3 finally brought my attention back to a feature that I had long abandoned in this game: housing. We all know that LOTRO player housing was subpar even when it first came on the market and hasn’t aged well since then. But this past weekend I got to experience two features that went a long way to making this content a lot more interesting to me than it was in the past.
The first was a purchase of one of the new premium homes. I originally thought that these homes were well priced out of my league, but then someone told me that the smaller basic Gondorian houses were only like 145 mithril coins, and since I had 300 left, I figured why not. It was a purchase well worth making, since even this basic house is far larger than the deluxe houses I was used to and brimming with hooks. The layout was great (although lacking windows on the ground floor, which made it feel more confined than it should be) and the fact that I can also have a regular house on the same account is a plus. Did I mention the two-tiered yard? Or the close location to a host of vendors and services right on the sea shore there?
The second was the big change in 19.3, which allows us to move housing decor on the full axis and well outside of the normal range. It’s still nowhere near full free-form placement, but it’s way, waaaaay better than it used to be. You can do more natural groupings of decor and arrange the rooms to look better. I was just happy to put a fireplace caddycorner in the library instead of flat against one wall.
I used up most of the decor I had on my Lore-master (which turned out to be quite a lot — I guess I was busy back in the day!) but my house still has a lot of empty hooks and needs some more love. I’m going to pay attention to the festivals this year and start looking around for other vendors (reputation?) to fill things out more. Anyway, I probably spent two or three hours working on my house and it was so much fun, which is not something I’ve ever been able to say about housing in this game before.