Double-dating Lord of the Rings Online

I don’t recall ever being this torn while logging into Lord of the Rings Online. I’m not talking about whether I want to play or not, but rather which SERVER I want to enjoy at any given time. The near-simultaneous release of Update 24 and Siege of Mirkwood has resulted in a tug-o-war for my attention and affection. The weird thing is that I feel equally interested in both, which is kind of cool.

I mean, over in Update 24 live server land, it’s all about brand-new content in a really pretty zone I’ve never seen before. I’m not rushing this (I rarely rush) but am taking my time meeting the Beornings, doing tasks for Radagast, joshing around with the giant eagles, and watching dogs stand up on their hind legs to serve dinner.

It’s a weird zone, let’s just say that. Lots of Hobbit influences, obviously, and that book wasn’t nearly as “grounded” as Lord of the Rings. I don’t mind, to be honest.

In addition to the zone itself, the Black Book of Mordor added two new books, so on we go with the ambiguity of what this “black book” is and why some Jason Vorhees-wannabe is chasing after it. He’s probably the most effective villain this game has had in some time, and I was kind of shocked when Gandalf blasted off his mask to reveal this scarred, zombie-like visage underneath.

So yeah, good times on the live server. It’s kind of disappointing that I don’t have any character advancement left to do right now on my Lore-master, so pretty much all questing is being done strictly for the experience and whatever gear upgrades the devs want to throw my way.

You’d think that in contrast to the sun-drenched lands of Anduin, Mirkwood would be anathema to me, but that’s just not the case. I’ve always loved this zone and feel far more free questing through it than I did in Moria. And there is plenty of advancement to be had, as I march toward level 65 and work on getting my first agers up to spec. There are a few talent points I’m saving up for, but it’s going to be a long while before I see them due to the slower pace of this server.

And speaking of slow, more than a few of us were complaining the first few days of the expansion unlock that one quest in particular caused a nasty bottleneck. We absolutely had to find and kill seven of these warg riders to advance to the next phase (and the larger zone itself), but the spawn rate seemed really off and players kept roaming everywhere just trying to find one. I eventually took to patrolling the same stretch of road for an hour or so after I noticed that about two spawn points happened around there.

The other factor that helps balance out my interest in the legendary server is that I’m having way more fun fighting as a Minstrel than a Lore-master. Weird for me to admit that, but it is the case. The instant powerful shout/light attacks make for an enjoyable rotation, and I love rounding up groups of mobs and then popping off four AoE spells in rapid succession. Plus, as long as I’m paying attention, I can never die.

So I guess this’ll be my summer in LOTRO: Anduin and Mirkwood/Enedwaith. That’s not a bad fate to be had, and we still have an expansion to go for later this year.

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