LOTRO: The first step into a legendary server

It has been a long, long time since I’ve been this absurdly excited about Lord of the Rings Online. I know that for some people, there’s no appeal or sense in the idea of a legendary server, but it’s something I’ve been wanting for years and a perfect excuse to roll up a new alt and experience the game all over with a whole bunch of people on a fresh shard.

I even (sort of) took the day off of work. Well, I moved my day off around. Don’t judge me.

The initial rush to get in was met with a horrendous queue that never counted down, requiring us to continually reload the launcher to see if we’d moved in line. About 30 minutes or so after the server went live, I got in and made my new Hobbit Minstrel, Syp, on Anor.

As fleeting as all this may be, it was a heady experience to see literal crowds of people flocking into the tutorial zone. I already knew that I wasn’t going to be one of those players who were trying to rush through all of this and get to level 50 as fast as possible — LOTRO is, in my eyes, a game that is more enjoyable when you take it at a relaxed pace.

So for probably the first ten minutes I arranged inventory, set up UI, and got my bearings. Then came the typical Archet experience that I’ve done dozens of times over the years.

But it wasn’t all exactly the same as it would be on, say, Landroval. For one thing, the experience modifier was set to reduce our XP gain by 40%. So far, it’s been a great adjustment, neither too slow nor as blindingly fast as it was before. They’ll probably reduce this in future updates to allow players to catch up to the crowd, but I think it’s well chosen.

For another thing, mobs were hitting harder and throwing bleeds at us like crazy. This became a point of contention and debate in the community, with some loving the added challenge and others resenting being killed by a level 3 boar. I’ll admit that I met my end a few times due to these, but they weren’t that overpowering.

And then SSG surprised all of us by restoring tiny bits of classic content in the tutorial, including a couple of quests. Once again, I was killing the Marsh-fly Queen and feeling mighty about my place in the world.

Past the tutorial was a Whole Lotta Questing in the Shire. I cranked up the sound and enjoyed the ambiance and music as I puttered around doing silly Hobbit things. I knew that there was a mountain of things to do for a new character on a new server, like get virtues, unlock stable masters, set up outfits, unlock deeds, save up money, buy a house, level up, grind out LP, and so on. But one thing at a time, and the Shire offered a good start to most all of this.

I did spend a few LP that I’d been saving on the store, getting my riding skill, a second milestone, 50 mithril coins for emergency travel, and the first milestone cooldown reduction. Right now I’m saving up LP for that second cooldown reduction so that I can use a milestone every five minutes if need be.

Of course I ran mail, bees, eggs, and — yes — pies. It’s a weird rite of passage in this game for every new character to do the pie run, and I spent an hour traversing the Shire on foot while delivering spoiled pies that could have just gone into the trash.

Even though I had carefully thought out the decision to roll a Minstrel, I’ll admit that I had panicked second thoughts by the weekend. I was worried I was pouring time and effort into a class I wouldn’t ultimately like, and I kept side-eyeing the Captain as a reliable backup. Should I jump over and restart now? Should I stick it out?

Ultimately, the fact that I had divested time and LP into the Minstrel kept me from going all alt crazy. It also helped that some kinmates encouraged me that the Minnie gets really good in her 20s. And hey, yelling people to death is kind of fun. Besides, I always have regretted never having a Hobbit main.

Yes, I did play as a chicken. Why do you ask?

It was also great fun listening to the community gush over this server and romp around like children at recess. It all does feel new and fresh, and there’s this energy that you get from being in lowbie zones with tons of people around that you can’t get on the other servers right now.

I am mentally steeling myself for future areas that I know I hate, but at least I know that no matter how fast the crowd moves, they all have to stop at level 50 before the four months are up. I’m hoping to get in some group content and even try my hand at healing, if time permits.

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