I have to say, this whole progression server thing with Lord of the Rings Online didn’t give us a lot of time to prepare for it. Standing Stone Games announced it out of nowhere, delivered a very low-key dev livestream about it, and then told us that the server was going to go live
two weeks after the reveal in November. That’s a little worrying and makes me think that (a) SSG isn’t going to test this server at all before turning on the switch, and (b) SSG didn’t really want to hear or react to any community feedback on the server’s particular ruleset.
I mean, I’m really excited about it. I think there’s a lot potential for a new type of community activity for this 11-year-old MMO, and I hope it goes off smoothly. But this is how SSG operates these days: Very little advance warning, little advance communication, and pretty much no reaction to community input. A “our way or the highway” approach. Zoom.
In any case, this all didn’t leave me with a lot of time to prepare, so I scrambled fast to figure out plans. Choosing a race and class turned out to be an agonizing experience, because this wasn’t merely picking some for-fun alt to dink around with. If I was going to be serious about leveling up a new character through the entire game on this server, it had to be a setup that I was going to enjoy and be invested in for the long haul.
I would play whatever class this guy is. He’s easily the most awesome bad guy LOTRO has whipped up to date.
I went back to the drawing board and paged through all of the classes, making lists of pros and cons and playstyles. I watched videos and read recommendation threads. I chatted with kinship people. There were a surprising number of possible candidates that I was considering, including a Captain, Minstrel, Champion, Hunter, Beorning, and Burglar. The Captain was my safety, since I knew I liked the class and had done it before, but that also was a huge negative in that I’d already sunk hundreds of hours into that class.
Beorning was interesting but ultimately not a strong contender. There’s a lot to like about the Burglar, but its lack of long-range DPS and those shrill knife sounds killed it for me. Champion and Hunter both offered high DPS (AOE vs. single-target) and rather simplistic playstyles. But in the end, the Minstrel idea prevailed.
While it does have a big negative with only being able to wear light armor, the Minstrel’s long-range attacks (which include AOEs to boot), self-healing, theme, stuns, and potential group desirability won out. Plus, I loved the idea of slinging a lute over my Hobbit’s back.
Aside from picking a class and making a list of virtues to do, the other big preparation task was to get my Lore-master through Update 23. This was a tall order, but by Friday of last week, I had finished up Dale and Update 22 and started to make headway on the new zones. Reaching level 120 helped a lot, and I simply blocked off larger gaming sessions to do LOTRO and nothing but. I really wanted to get to the end of this so that I could switch over to the progression server alt and not worry about finishing up content until the next update dropped.
By the way, really great story stuff and scenery in Dale and Erebor. I love the idea of returning to the Dwarves after so much Man (and Elf) stuff, and I actually laughed when I encountered my first and second female Dwarf in the game. There were certainly a lot of questlines thrown my way, but I doggedly untangled them and went through each one at a time. Seeing Bilbo’s old fellowship and visiting Thorin’s tomb were highlights, as was the seemingly timely narrative of Easterling refugees trying to come into Dale.
One thing that I’m resolved to do better on the progression server is actually follow up with reputation vendors. I tend to forget these even exist and have probably missed out on a ton of cosmetics, decor, and other items while my wallet got fat with lots of currency. I noticed this when I went to the Dale vendor and went on a post-zone spending spree. Got a few gear upgrades and some fun decor, and I was slapping myself on the head and thinking, “Why haven’t I been doing this regularly?” I might have to go back on that character and see what I have missed.
Other than all that, the only thing left for preparations is to find a kinship. I’m waiting to see if Lonely Mountain Band will be creating a chapter on that server. If not, I guess I’ll need to go shoppin’.