Section for all things LOTRO related…
I’ve been a bit quiet posting lately, and that’s mainly due to a lack of actual gaming. I’ve been playing some FM13, but during the off-season of real football, my interest has waned a bit. I’ve also struggled getting into the other games I’ve been playing, namely LOTRO, TSW, and RIft. But my recent excitement about Camelot Unchained got me thinking about what I’m looking for in a game, and that then prompted my jump.
Back to Camelot Unchained, the Kickstarter has been funded and there’s a ton of stuff going on so far. There have been a number of updates, including new animations and art-work, but what really got me going was the opening of the Founder’s Forums. I haven’t been too active over there, but two things really got me thinking. First off, there are (naturally) a ton of former DAOC players there and it really got me reminiscing about that game and the fun I had there. I remember spending hours on end in PvP that not only meant something but had somewhat painful ramifications for death, nothing permanent, just travel time. Then of course all the talk about what was and wasn’t going to be in the game and how various systems would work got me thinking about what I actually wanted to do in a game.
So this started me looking at what I wasn’t enjoying about the games I’m currently playing, and I came up with two major things:
- I want PvP that not only means something but has ramifications that bring on that adrenaline rush that I just can’t get in a battleground.
- I’m kinda over questing and doing things like reputation grinds or dailies.
The combination of those two thoughts, drove me to a pretty clear and simple answer – I’ve re-subscribed to Eve Online. Now, I’m not saying I won’t go back to the other games, but I have lifetimes in both LOTRO and TSW, and Rift is going F2P and thanks to Raptr I now have their latest expansion pack as well. So I can jump back to any of them with little cost impacts, heck I’ll even have enough VIP points in LOTRO for the next expansion whenever it comes out.
I ended up subbing for 3 months to try it out, and after figuring out which of my characters was better off, I started the process of allocating earned points from retired skills since I had originally played back when they had the “learning” skills. I poked around at some guides for noobs, and then stumbled upon the whole “certificates” section of the character panel which has really helped guide me through what skills to train next.
My initial gameplan has two areas of focus at least while skills are relatively quick to attain – PvP and mining. I’m only going to work on mining such that I can get the requisite individual ore processing skills, then I’ll switch and solely focus on PvP as mining will just be a side diversion for me. I was lucky enough to get a couple of free ships, I guess since I’ve had an account for over 6 years, and I sold one for a nice chunk of ISK (nice chunk for a newbie that is) and the other works perfectly as a cheap mining vessel. I finished the military agent quest line, and now I’m working on upgrading my questing acquired Rifter initially as a solo/ratting build just so I can remember how combat works and get a handle on that aspect.
Once I get my arms around all that, its off to find a Corp and start working probably on a tackling build, but I have to admit I’m intrigued by both the Covert and EW aspects of the game.
So far, I’m having a blast romping around in space and am really impressed by how smooth and fun this game has been. It was a bit daunting at first, but there’s lots of ways (without even talking to anyone) to get a handle on what’s going on. We shall see where all this takes me, but for now I think my home will be out in space.
For me Update 11 has been a bit of a mixed bag. There are a number of cool little things they’ve put into the game and of course the new epic story line, but I can’t help but be overly frustrated by the lack of quality and revision control that Turbine continues to show with its launches. There’s also the slightly shadier aspect that I’m not sure I like or dislike, and that’s the continual push to have players log in every day.
Let’s start with the good parts, I’ve already talked about the zone and it really doesn’t disappoint from a visual perspective. The whole footprints in the snow things is pretty darn cool! I like the new housing tweaks, especially being able to pay for 20 weeks up front, in case you know you’re going to be gone (or forget) and that 5 weeks just isn’t long enough. Foreclosure doesn’t impact me at all, but I think its a good middle ground way to get out of the corner they backed themselves into. While the launcher has had issues, I do like the fact that it FINALLY respects your default browser when clicking links from within it. I’m also quite happy with the way the epic line (not that I’ve done that much) mixes in your story with session plays to allow you to flesh out the rest of the story and allow us to check in on other areas. The LOTRO story is quite geographically diverse, and this tech is a great way to show what’s going on without forcing us all other the map. They also added in new craftable items for those who have maxed out not only their crafting skills, but their guild reputation. I’m quite happy these don’t require any other reputation (like Wildermore) as it allows for folks with lower level crafting alts to still make usable items for people at the end game. These items are a touch better then the Hytbold items, and offer quite a bit of flexibility with their multi-output options, so they’re definitely worth a look. One other thing that I haven’t checked out, but was mentioned in the LOTRO Reporter interview was mounted fishing, and while you may or may not like the idea, the technology and concept behind it is quite intriguing and points to further growth and flexibility of the game engine, which is always a good thing.
Somewhere in the middle between the good and the bad is this whole new alerts panel thing, I’m actually ok with it, but that’s mainly because, thanks to the folks over on the LOTRO Google+ channel, I found out that you can individually scale the size of the alerts panel in your UI settings. Without making it really small like I have, I think the cartoonish nature of the button would really bug me, but since it is now super tiny (yet still findable to click) it is one of those “out of sight, out of mind” updates. They did add in some warbands and some other stuff for mounted combat, which while I agree is a good thing, but I still don’t think enough was done to make it anything more then a fringe side-game. However, I have yet to see or read if any of the new warbands are challenging, or if they’re as much of a pushover as the others.
While there’s a number of pretty cool things in this update, sadly there’s also a LOT wrong with this update. I’m still quite puzzled how this whole patcher thing wasn’t caught, but it still isn’t completely fixed – perhaps relying on the ancient .net 1.1 for so long and making such a drastic jump was just too much to pull off successfully. There’s also the potential that there’s some nastiness that they had to code in to make the dreaded Pando Media Booster work with 1.1 that’s not playing well with whatever version of .net they’re using now. Whatever the issue is, the fact that is has taken this long (3 days to patch) and it still isn’t resolved isn’t a good thing for Turbine. The next big issue with this update are the broken quests which block you from proceeding in the story, there are now 2 that I know of with one being fixed. Please make sure you check out this post such that you don’t get stuck in a position where you can’t advance further. While I really appreciate and enjoy all the tricks and things they can do with phasing now, it seems like they forgot to put the proper checks in place to make sure that you can’t accidentally phase out someone you need for quest turn-ins. Also, the music system is now broken, and this is troubling for two reasons:
- timing is close to WeatherStock which is one of LOTRO’s biggest events that is noticed and picked up by media outlets outside of the gaming world
- this happened when there were no updates to the system, meaning they don’t have a good system of regression testing to make sure that what worked in previous builds still works in current builds.
Finally, this update has once again brought us back to the time (Isengard did this too) where we no longer get virtue rewards for deed advancement or completion. I really wish Turbine would just pick to something and be consistent about it, but all of the flipping back and forth on this in conjunction with the increase in available ranks just doesn’t sit well with me. It is starting to seem like they are purposefully leaving options out of the game in order to drive folks to the store. And let me be clear, I don’t have a problem with them having traits available in the store (I have bought them) but when you don’t include them in entire regions when they are in others (they’re in Rohan and the Great River, but not Isengard or Wildermore), it appears shady to me as if they don’t want too many options for players in game.
The other aspect that rubs me the wrong way is this shift to not only reward players for logging in every day but in some ways penalizing them for not. Penalizing may be a strong word, but there are certain very clear advantages to logging in every day now that just weren’t the case prior to Update 11. And I’m not just referring to the Hobbit Presents, which are just another addition along the same lines as festivals in that there are just certain things that are on a daily timer. The big shift that I’m refereeing to is the new “VIP Perk” that is the change to rested experience. Prior to update 11 you could “store” up to 20% of a level per day up to a cap of an entire level’s worth as rested experience, but now with Update 11 that cap is at 33%, but it can be refreshed daily and applies to all experience not just monster kills. So this is really only a perk if you’re able to actively QUEST on a daily basis on whatever character you want to work on. I’d suggest if you really want to take full advantage of this “perk” make sure to try and get in some good quest time on your alts, perhaps run a skirmish or two on them to get not only monster kills but quest xp.
Overall, I still think this was a pretty decent update for LOTRO but the bugs and lack of regression testing could pose some huge problems when they do their class overhauls with all these instance options and technologies as something is bound to break, and who knows when Turbine will not only catch it but be able to fix it.
The patch notes are live for folks to check out as the servers should be up soon-ish. I’m not going to post them in full, but a few highlights:
<Update> Don’t forget there’s a new batch of top tier guild craftables as I mentioned previously <Update>
- I’ll be curious to see how the new Mounted Combat works, as well as what new mechanics are there in Wildermore like Aaron has mentioned. I like the concept of mounted combat, but more attention needs to be paid to the content for it to be anything more then a gimmic.
- We’re getting Hobbit Presents, so more incentive to log in a do stuff daily – or so Turbine hopes.
- A little more incentive to pay your rent – foreclosures after 6 months, so if you’re looking for a house, there should be some new openings coming.
- Turbine is really pushing Mithril Coins, and I expect them to almost completely replace Turbine Points for purchases.
- Yet another Legendary Item reset – so don’t forget to spend your points!
- I like the rested XP now applies to all gained and not just monster kills, but I’m not sure I quite understand all the potential impacts and/or limits there.
- Sorry Captains, but “Defeat Event Cooldown” reducing bonuses will no longer stack
- All sorts of class tweaks
- Another new barter coin – Warband Barter Tokens which can be used for the legendary pocket item upgrades
What else jumped out for folks?
Also, if you haven’t already, you might want to check out the 2 recent dev diaries on Mounted Combat and the Epic Story as these actually do go a little deeper then some of the other diaries out there.
Of course this is all subject to change, but there are some pretty cool aspects to Update 11 that I wanted to share with folks. I also will have a couple of suggestions for folks towards the end. Don’t get me wrong, Update 11 isn’t perfect and it won’t keep end-game folks busy until the Helm’s Deep expansion, but this update is better then what I was expecting. And I haven’t even done any of the Epic line, which always have good stories tied to them.
Visually, the area is quite stunning and unlike the other winter zones in the game – which is quite nice. Turbine always impresses me with how they’re able to keep creating different and unique zones. Adding to the beauty of the area, Turbine has stepped it up with their armor designs in this update. The end-game sets with Rohan were honestly pretty disappointing as the Hytbold sets were incredibly un-inspired. As some examples, check out some of the gear below:
Now as you can tell from these shots, we have all sorts of new tiers:
- new guild obtainable craftables
- requires mastery of the eastenment tier (double anvil)
- More reputation to obtain
- although this time tasks do boost reputation
- More barter items to gather, including another set of dailies
- some have likened the progression to Limlight Gorge
I also wanted to share a completely non-real item as I just thought it looked cool and I thought might be interesting to see if they actually use it anywhere.
I would be curious to see if they decide to do something like the weapon glow already in game for armor or shields.
In addition to all the cool looks of these sets, there are actually some interesting things going on with stats in this update. The guild crafted items all have 5 variants to choose from to give you lots of flexibility. I’m not sure about everything, but at least the Tailor, Metalsmith, and Jeweler items all have 5 options, which is pretty impressive. Granted, you won’t have set bonuses, but for many classes those bonuses aren’t that useful so here’s another series of pieces you can mix and match. Here’s an example of one of these pieces compared with the Hytbold piece.
This kinda makes my head spin a bit from a min/maxing perspective as there are now ALL SORTS of options to play with. As another example, here are the stats for the pretty eye-popped barterable bauble items available in the new zone.
So there’s some pretty cool stuff coming with Update 11, but it would really be nice if they find a way to squeeze in some sort of other update prior to the expansion. If they could do something like last year and add a couple instances and/or skirmishes I think that would go a long way. However, I have a feeling that the reputation grind is all we’re going to have to keep us busy until the expansion hits.
As for those looking for things to do, I’d suggest working on your crafting as the new goodies may require some work. First off, they all require mastery of the Eastenment tier (double anvil) where as the previous build recipes just required access to the tier, not mastery. Also, they do require the large guild items (the weekly cooldown ones) so it might be a good idea to stock up on those. Another option for you is that you can now trade up symbols such that small symbols can be turned into medium ones, and those can further be upgraded to large ones. I haven’t looked at the tasks yet, but it is possible there could be a re-use of item drops – but I’d honestly be surprised if they didn’t introduce new items.
While not a total cure-all for what’s going on with LOTRO, I really think Update 11 is a significantly good update that if more updates (and more often) were of this quality, LOTRO might be in a better state.
It was delayed a couple of times, but I have to admit I’m pretty please overall with the folks chosen for the council. I certainly don’t know everyone (I do know and respect both Silverlode representatives) but in all the places I’ve read (including the unofficial forums) there are very few criticisms of the folks chosen. Granted, it could be that people can’t make the connection between the character names and the forum names, but I still think the lack of push-back from the community is a good first step.
For those wanting to get more involved with the council, there are a couple of ways. My only suggestion would be to be understanding of the fact that the council members are bound by an NDA and as such may not be able to tell you anything, however some have already come out in various ways and made themselves available. They probably are also getting a few other requests coming into them, so it would probably be best to be patient and not take their lack of a response personally.
- If you’re on the same server, you could always hit them up with a polite tell or in-game mail
- there are some forum threads, one on raiders specifically, that you can either chime in on or DM individuals
- some of them are on twitter and have been using the #lotrocouncil hashtag
- I also expect there will be more official ways to get involved as they get spun up
Finally, this is a new thing Turbine is trying out and for me they’ve at least carried out the initial aspect very well. Now comes the tough part, what the council is allowed to do, is able to do as a community, and what, plus how frequently, they’re allowed to tell the rest of us what’s going on.
As for me personally, yes I did apply but looking back at it I’m happy I wasn’t chosen as I do have a means to interact with the team and the community. I have been part of betas and have impacted the development process, and will continue to attempt to do so. This is an avenue for another batch of folks to get involved and see what they can do. Of course, I probably will apply next time but I think we’ll all have a much better idea of what’s going on by that time.
I am skeptically optimistic about this whole thing, but today’s announcement does make me feel better about the potential of the Council.