Posted in Lord of the Rings Online

Is LOTRO’s Before the Shadow worth a buy?

Standing Stone Games is once again returning to the well of mini-expansions to make its rent this year. Next month, it’s pushing live Before the Shadow, and I’ve seen a lot of LOTRO players debating whether or not to buy it.

Unlike past expansions and even mini-expansions, Before the Shadow isn’t adding on to the end game — and thereby continuing long-running character journeys. Rather, SSG is gambling that new and veteran players will want to pay for an alternate beginner experience. And I think it is a bit of a gamble, to be honest.

As many before me have noted, it’s not like it takes you forever to get from 1 to 30 in this game. I mean, you could do it in a weekend pretty easily. There are three starter zones and multiple other leveling avenues from there — and that isn’t even factoring in repeatable missions. So this isn’t a “need” kind of situation. SSG is hoping that it can sell it on “want” instead.

And there is some attraction down that road. Opening up a brand-new, modern pair of leveling zones to take brand-new characters on a condensed journey through the first 32 levels. It certainly does sound like the definition of “streamlining,” replacing the tutorial zone and all zone questing content up through North Downs/Lone-lands. Plus, it’ll include a new start to the epic books that’ll merge back onto the main path at some point.

So the attraction here is primarily for players who have an alting problem and have seen all of the lowbie areas of LOTRO so many times it’s beyond stale. Here you go: You can unlock a new path for all future characters and enjoy hanging out with Boromir for a while.

I’m not so sure about this being a big appeal to new players, seeing as how they’ll need to buy it before experiencing it. Usually, new players will enjoy free stuff for a good long while. If SSG was throwing this in as free content, then it’d be a different situation, but that’s not the case.

Yes, I’ll be buying it. $18 isn’t that much to shell out for a couple of meaty zones, and I’m looking forward to touring around in them with a new Hobbit Lore-master come November. But I am a little concerned that SSG won’t see as large of a financial response from a playerbase that’s not seeing this as a must-have.

One thought on “Is LOTRO’s Before the Shadow worth a buy?

  1. I haven’t given SSG, or Turbine before them, a cent since I bought the original game but I’m quite likely to buy this. Given that I have never even made it to the original level cap, there’s never been much point in my buying anything that adds content beyond it. Conversely, I do like early-game content in most mmorpgs. It’s quite unusual for any mmorpg developer to try to sell me new starter-level content for an existing game and I think it’s to be encouraged. I’d actually be a lot more likely to buy that sort of expansion for games I thought i was done with than anything that added on to the top end.

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