[LOTRO] How not to check out new content

So there has been a new patch into LOTRO with new instances, a new raid, and a new part of the epic book and since I have a lifetime sub, I thought I would go check it out.

Of course, you can’t really check out the new bits of epic book quest until you’ve caught up with the part that you probably should have finished earlier. So this is where our heroine started her journey, trying to remember where she’d last left off.

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While picking up my old quests and exploring/ getting lost in bits of Enedwaith that I had forgotten even existed I found a random stone that was glowy and clicked on it! Ping! A new deed popped up.

What this picture above means is that there are other mysterious glowy stones to find and if you can find all of them then your character will get a new title. “Calm before the Storm” is actually a pretty cool title I think, and this is a good example of how LOTRO deeds aren’t quite the same as collection quests but can sometimes have a lot in common.

As an explorer type of player, I love this stuff. It’s more interesting than just, “I see a shiny, I pick up a shiny, I put it in the right collection” which you get in Rift and EQ2 but you are still encouraged to go explore and find stuff. (Note: who am I kidding, there are probably player-generated maps online with all the mysterious stones marked on them but I’m going to pretend that isn’t true.)

Whilst still on the catching up phase of my questing, I failed the cardinal rule of things that you should do when you check out new content!

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Yup, this was the hole I later fell down and died, even though burglars actually got a new ability this patch to Safe Fall. (Colours look weird because it was dark and underground so I’ve turned up the contrast for the screenie.) So when you log in after a new patch – check whether your trainers have any new skills to teach you!!!

One thing about LOTRO as a game, and the questing in general is that it genuinely does run at a different pace to games like WoW or Rift which have been more optimised to stop players getting bored. In LOTRO, it is entirely possible that you will be sent to the other side of the zone to find a remote dwarf fortress with a hidden entrance – and it may take you over an hour to find it. Some quests are quick, some are not. After a while, I find that I adjust and quite enjoy the slower “scenic route” but it really isn’t a game for all tastes.

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And then, when you are least expecting it, they remind you that you’re in the LOTRO world with links to the main storyline and foreshadowings about where your character and companions may be heading in future.

One of the high points to me of Enedwaith is a solo section where you are able to sit in on a council of the neutral tribe of Dunlendings who you have been assisting. An envoy from Saruman has arrived to try to recruit them to his faction. You are there to represent the Dunadain (because the rest of the Grey Company is busy losing its collective bows or something). It’s a very well written scene, and will be a delight to LOTRO fans. The Dunlendings decide to stay neutral, but make it clear that they prefer your deeds to Saruman’s honeyed words.

And with that, I’m finally just about caught up to the new stuff. Arb has already tried out one of the instances and was raiding last night and her initial feedback has been pretty positive. I’m looking forwards to finding out for myself!

Thoughts on LOTRO FTP

So, I’ve finally started to pay attention to LotRO again seriously since the European game went free-to-play and we actually have some new content to muck about with. Not only new content in terms of land-mass and quests, but also newly-scaled instances, new barter items to grind and a little class revamp for those of the Captain persuasion (which is me, naturally).

New specs – no problem. I can see the benefits of having some more viable speclines available to me, even if I still don’t like many of the individual traits it’s been interesting to toy around with them.

New quests – Enedwaith is pretty. I like the varied land, the quest hubs, the flow of the story. The epic book wasn’t too bad, shame it didn’t have any group content in – even if it had been done skirmish-style, like the Mirkwood book. I miss some grouping in epic books – often it helps make them feel more… epic. I am, however, taking the questing quite slowly and progressing at a much slower pace than I’m used to. I’m kind of enjoying that, despite feeling slow compared to my more ‘hardcore’ buddies. There’s a LOT of repeatable quests for barter items and reputation also. If you’ve not done the quests the first time, you don’t get to do the repeatables (fairly obvious), but I should, eventually, get some more of those done. I probably do a few more than many, but nothing like the hardcore playstyle I used to favour. Sometimes I feel bad about this, like I’ve fallen off some wagon. Other times, I remember I’m just doing other things instead.

Newly-scaling instances. Fun, distracting, a bit like skirmishes when they first came in, but with better reward structures. Have so far done Ost Elendil, two of the Barrows instances, and a couple of runs in Helegrod. I’d possibly have done more, but I’ve had a busy couple of weeks.

So I was reading about the November update, where Loremasters do very nicely (one day, Captains will receive some proper love from devs, honest!), and where class consumables get introduced (the summary linked to from mmorsel is the best out there). First thought – seriously, NOTHING for tailors again? Second thought – we can craft them or buy them from the store? Third thought – some of these look pretty essential for raiding performance, others not so much. Now, right now the better versions of all the consumables are crafted. That’s good. But the next tier down can be bought…

…so far, I think Turbine’s implementation of free-to-play has shown a great deal of thought. We can buy stuff and I’m sure they’re making a lot more money than they were, but nothing yet that I feel I have to buy. Although I was told this week by a fellow raider than anyone not buying stat tomes is an idiot. Colour me idiotic then, because I managed to raid with my ‘rubbish’ stats last week and truthfully since f2p came in and people bought stat tomes, we’ve done worse generally! I probably will spend my points on stat tomes eventually, and I do resent them more than anything in the store – but hey, there has to be some blatant money-making in there. Class consumables makes me want to watch the store more closely and I wonder how long before Turbine pushes the limits. Will we ever be expected to spend actual money to keep up enough to raid? Will that be a neat excuse for me to drop raiding? I only have a rubbish craft (ie. tailoring), and I find it difficult to get people to craft stuff for me. I make money and I end up spending it on tokens, scrolls, potions and I guess I’ll do the same for consumables in the future. But if I didn’t raid, I wouldn’t have to do any of that!

Tempting!

[LOTRO] A walk in Enedwaith, with farmyard animals

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So the long awaited F2P update arrived in LOTRO EU last week, and with it the new high level zone and epic book story associated with Enedwaith (a new zone to the south of Eregion).

Welcome to anyone who is trying the game for the first time. Have fun, it’s a beautifully wrought world.

This is the first new content that EU players have had in the game for over a year, so even aside from the new F2P crew, it’s not surprising that the servers have been buzzing.

One player on my kinship forum was quite dismissive of the whole affair. He said he had been playing the Cataclysm beta and doubted that Turbine would come anywhere near to Blizzard’s storytelling ability. But having played through some of the new book, I wonder if he’d actually tried it at all before coming to that conclusion.

The storyline is this: The Grey Company – all the remaining rangers of the north – are riding south to meet up with Aragorn, their leader, in Rohan. As brave adventurers who have worked with the rangers in the past, you have been invited to join their ride. And Arwen has also entrusted you with a special gift for her beloved. (Because let’s face it, by this time you are beloved with every single free people faction in Middle Earth … pretty much.)It’s a dangerous journey through the wilds. Go!

What I love about Turbine’s storytelling is that they do a much better job than Blizzard in giving you a nice variety of things to do, gameplay wise. I think the recent cultist plots and elemental invasions in WoW prove this quite nicely – they’re fun in themselves but very reminiscent of other quests or events.

Whereas in this new book, in short order I was playing through some scenes in Aragorn’s history through the eyes of several different rangers, exploring a mazelike dungeon — with extra achievement for finding lots of extra out of the way spots that weren’t required for the main plot (a fun little sop for the explorers, I thought), sneaking around another cave to snatch a key from a sleeping jailor without waking him up, and fighting off waves of wolves to keep an NPC alive.

They’ve done a particularly nice job on the solo quest instances – always a strength of the game – with good use of outdoors locations as well as indoors ones.

I do find LOTRO to be a much slower paced game than WoW, which is something to bear in mind when you are playing. If you are not in a hurry, it’s extremely chilled out.

And then there are the farmyard animals

I present to you, the wildlife of Enedwaith.

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Yes, I am fighting an evil goat at night in that last picture.