Don’t get me wrong, I actually really enjoy mounted combat and like the way it was implemented.  I was holding out hope that we would see the system grow and evolve over time as an integral system to the game, like Skirmishes and Legendary Items.  However, according to Aaron “Rowan” Campbell that might be quite a stretch for what they have planned for the system.

In an interview released by the folks over at LOTRO Reporter:

they get a preview of two of the three man instances.  If you don’t want spoilers on the instances themselves you can watch the first little bit and then the Q&A session starts at around the 48 minute mark.

The first question revolves around Mounted Combat instances and Aaron’s answer is:

“It is something we’re thinking about, but is not in our current plans”

So there you have it, mounted combat instances will happen around the same time we see a new PvMP map.  Now while you may suggest that this just means near-term, Aaron also states later on that they have very detailed and lengthy plans for the game’s future development.  I realize that this is fine for many of you, but it really puts a bit of a sour note on the whole Rohan expansion for me.  When looking at the expansion now, you really can’t consider MC (Mounted Combat) to be a new system, it is purely a side game to keep people occupied and have them learn something else.  These mounts really won’t grow with us, nor will they be integral to our character progression at all, unlike systems introduced in other expansions.

Not to mention the shear lunacy of the cosmetic pricing of the war-steeds, coupled with the high cost of the expansion, and one could argue that this was Turbine looking for another way to earn money without having to solve some of the more complicated problems.  They probably realize that cosmetics are a huge revenue stream for them, so why not put in a new kind of horse and charge people per character to do any customization on it.  And unlike their other cosmetics which can be stored in an account wardrobe, everything we do to our horses must be done for every character.  I think many people would have been quite content with mounts 3.0 that allowed you to obtain account bound (or store in a wardrobe) cosmetics that you could wear around on mounts that would behave like the existing horses.

One of the main reasons I’m frustrated by this is that I just don’t feel LOTRO is evolving as it ages.  Sure we get little things here and there, but there’s not much of an actual progression.  The only progression we have is the story (which I do enjoy) with everything else seemingly becoming more grind-tastic.  If you look at this expansion as we know it now, all it really brought was more story and landscape, with some underlying mechanical changes.  The way we actually play the game and what our characters can do hasn’t changed at all.  I was really hoping that Mounted Combat would be that new mechanic that allowed you to really customize how your character played and have that actually matter.  The reason why I tied this systems to Instances is that Instances are the only reason they’d need to make changes to the system to make it less of a DPS race.  If you don’t have instances, there’s no reason to worry about things like agro and healing.  Like I’ve said before, even the raid war-band can be solo’d and that along with this announcement show me that they have no intention of improving the system beyond what it is now.  I was looking for Mounted Combat to provide a broader gameplay experience like other systems that have been implemented since launch.  While you may argue about the utility of it, you can actually do a significant amount of tweaking using the Legendary Item and Skirmish systems to customize how your character plays.  And while it is technically true that you don’t need to skirmish to play the game, it is a pretty significant portion of the end-game content.

Sadly it looks like I’ll add one more horse to my ever growing stable of horses I’ll rarely ride.