Posts tagged Isengard

LOTRO Helm’s Deep Pre-Order Debacle

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I don’t really like making my first post in a long while a rant, but I just couldn’t help it.  There are so many things I feel are wrong with this announcement that I needed to write about it.  I have been expecting this news pretty much any day since the middle of June, so I can’t be terribly surprised it came yesterday.  I’m also not surprised by what was actually in the announcement, but I was really hoping that Turbine would change its model from previous expansions.

Sure, Isengard was their best expansion ever, and one that I snatched up the legendary pack for immediately.  However, we’ve never heard a peep about how Rohan did and one can only guess that it didn’t do all that well.  I know from my own highly scientific polling, most people were either not getting the pack or using their Turbine points for it, like I did.  What Turbine failed to do with that pre-order was include items that people really cared about and wanted.  After 6 years, I think players are getting tired of titles (does anyone still care what title they show?) and have more cosmetic items then they know what to do with.  Combine that with the fact that we can only show off one horse at any given time, it makes it hard to really need all these extra things.

With Helm’s Deep, I was really hoping they’d include some other sort of item in the pre-order packs.  To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what that would be – but I feel they should have tried something to switch things up from a model that clearly isn’t working.  One highly controversial item that would’ve tempted me is the rumored XP item that has been leaked.  I personally would love a way to bring a couple of my alts up to level cap but the prospect of leveling them is more then daunting and not something I have any intention of doing.  That to me would be the perfect “convenience” item, paying real world money to shorten my time in game.  And while they may not have learned anything about previous pre-orders bonus items, there’s more later about a trick they did pick up on

Next up would be the pricing, I again was hoping for something more along the lines of the Mirkwood model.  Not necessarily as confusing, but the base pack around $20 with a fluff option for another $20.  Instead what we got was a base of $40, a few more cosmetics for $60, and a horrifically overpriced Hobbit themed add-on for $40.  That hobbit pack includes:

  • 3 Star Lit Crystals which is 1195 TPs in the store
  • Scroll of Delving which is 195 TP
  • Relic Removal scroll which is 195 TP
  • and a Premium Relic pack which is 2000 TP (updated for all characters this is 3495)

So that totals 3585 TP, which is roughly $35 and if you’re in the US toss in an extra $13 for the movie ticket and it’s a pack valued at around $48.  It does appear that these items will still apply for your level 95 LIs, but no answer from a dev to the forum questions on this explicitly.  Even though the community has answered that store versions currently are not level bound, I would like a blue-name clarification that it will be that way with Helm’s Deep as well.  Clearly, if you’re not in the US this pack is not a good deal, and even in the US if you get a sale and/or a double point weekend (or stipend) it is probably better for you to pass on this.  After a twitter comment, if you play multiple characters, the relic pack is actually 3495 TP for all characters, so this does become a $63 value which is a better deal.

We still don’t know all that much about the expansion, even with the flurry of press articles.  If you actually think about those articles – what additional information came out that you didn’t know prior to the article?  At least with this expansion we don’t have to worry about the price and/or inclusion of an Instance Cluster since there is none.  However, at this time we still have zero information about the availability of using Turbine points to pay for the expansion, something we learned very quickly with the Rohan launch, later that day even.  This part doesn’t make sense to me since Sapience said they held off on the announcement to figure out a way to make the Hobbit pack international – so they had all this ready a good time ago and had to know this question would come immediately.  And after thinking about it a bit more, the fact that they’re floating the story that they didn’t announce the pre-order based purely on a freebie tie-in for a portion of the community is also a tad insulting.  If they really wanted to announce it, they would have (like they’ve done before) and make changes or inclusions along the lines.  But based on these prices and the fact that I’m sure there are many lifers like me with a healthy stash of TP, I highly expect the TP price for this expansion to be very high.

Getting back to Turbine learning their lessons, they did have an ace up their sleeve that they didn’t roll out until specifically called out on it, and this of course is that the Epic Story line which has been available for Free for a long time now (not quite since F2P launch) will only be available to those who purchase the expansion.  Here is Sapience’s initial response to the question as well as his follow up justification for the change.  <Update> Significantly after the fact, a slightly better explanation has come from MadeOfLions.  <Update> Initially I jumped to the greedy thought, but I’ve now come to realize what really bugs me isn’t that they’re being greedy (I still think they are) but that they’re not being honest or consistent in why they’re making the change.  If they had admitted it was a business decision to make the change, I would have been totally fine with it.  However, they are claiming that because Big Battles are such an integral part of the story, they need to charge for both of them.  Never mind that Helm’s Deep isn’t that big of a part of the books that LOTRO is based on (unlike the movies) as posted elsewhere but Turbine previously has included new technologies for free since they are so integral to the Epic Story line.  Legendary Items, many skirmishes, and Mounted Combat were all new technologies that significantly changed the game but since they were tightly integrated into the Epic Story line they were included for free.  No matter what real reason you think is driving this decision, the public answer clearly doesn’t make sense or justify what they’re doing.

The final piece of this announcement that truly boggles my mind is the date, November 18th.  If we look at past expansions, Rise of Isengard had almost 5 months of closed beta testing, without an instance cluster, before its launch, Riders of Rohan had 3 months but still pushed that launch a month and split up its instance cluster into 2 pieces to be launched significantly later.  This expansion will only have 2 months of closed beta testing, which is incredibly short considering that they’re introducing a “new” instance and rewards system as well as a complete and total revamp of EVERY class.  They haven’t updated every class at the same time since Moria, and not since Mirkwood have they actually succeeded in rolling out any kind of instance cluster at launch time, let along one that’s using “new” technology.  History shows us that both of these are both things that Turbine historically has trouble with so you’d like to think they’d want to make sure they did it properly.  I look at this in two ways, one cynical and the other incredibly pessimistically.  The truth is probably neither of them, but we’ll never know that.  From the cynical side, this is done to ride the wave of the Hobbit build-up to the second movie and get in before the holiday season kicks off in full gear, and was a date set by WB long ago.  Even if it launches at that time, I expect numerous patches and various things to be quickly closed off due to bugs and/or exploits.  As for the pessimistic view, this game is turning into an easy daily facebook style game, where difficulty has no place, so they don’t have to worry about class interactions or Big Battle difficulty at all.  They can just make sure classes work on their own and make the battles super easy and they’re done and ready for launch.

Riders of Rohan was the first expansion I didn’t pre-order on the day it was announced, and in fact I waited and bought it with Turbine Points.  Initially I wasn’t even planning on buying the Helm’s Deep expansion at all, even with Turbine Points, but now I’m not so sure since they made the epic chance.  Part of me thinks this is a clean time to part ways, but after almost 7 years in this world that is a hard thing to do.  Depending on how they handle things going forward I may cave and buy it with Turbine Points, but this announcement has really shown me how little Turbine understands the community.  The Player’s Council certainly has their work cut out for them.

 

Turbine with an Interesting News Day

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I’ve been waiting a little bit to absorb and digest the releases yesterday as there are certain things that just don’t make sense to me.  We saw 3 main pieces of news that I wanted to go a little deeper into.

After a delay hit last week, Update 11 finally makes its way over to Bullroarer for public testing.  I will admit that I’ve only popped on the server for a little bit, so this isn’t any sort of thorough review of the update.  For the most part, we knew much of what is in this update but I wanted to touch on a couple of things.  I was a bit underwhelmed by the changes to mounted combat, as Rowan made it out to be a pretty significant change to the mechanics as well as giving the mount trees more options.  At first glance, it really just seemed like the removed many of the basic traits and rolled them into the base mount.  While I appreciate the change, I was hoping for more of an evolution.  But, I will reserve full judgment until I play with it more and see the new content in case they added something spiffy there.  I am (as always) happy to see new zones and am VERY curious to see where the story continues, and visually it appears that the new zone doesn’t disappoint.  I did check out the new Hobbit Presents, and I really don’t have any personal issues with it – but at least now we should be able to get confirmation regarding non-VIPs and gold boxes.  On my first roll I did win 50 Mithril Tokens, so I used those up for research purposes.  The main thing that jumped out to me is that the gear in there maxes out at level 80, but there are Teal and Orange drops.  Below are some shots of what’s possible to get, notice the orange item is not that far off from my Hytbold gear. In addition to this use of coins, there are new ways to spend them, which is all well and good but I’m just not entirely sure the rationale behind the change.  We shall see how much of this build stays the way it currently exists and how many BR builds we get before live, but for the most part I’m liking the Update for what it is.

Hobbit Presents OptionsHobbit Presents OptionsHobbit Presents Options

The announcement that shouldn’t have shocked anyone was the “official” announcement of the Helm’s Deep expansion.  My biggest issue with this is that there’s NOTHING new in the announcement that we didn’t already hear last year from Rowan or earlier this year from Kate Paiz.  Why make such a big deal about a “huge” announcement around the anniversary that you’ve already made?  This announcement is almost identical to the ones for Isengard and Rohan, (Isengard Release & Rohan Release) but those were both a few months earlier in the calendar year.  I was thinking possibly they might announce pre-orders and beta, but for each of those last 2 expansions (Isengard and Rohan) those announcements didn’t come until July – so this would certainly be early for that.  I’m not sure what else I would have wanted to know, but this announcement just didn’t excite me much at all.  Getting to the few details they did announce, I’ve mentioned before that I”m not a big fan of level cap increases so I’m not excited that they included one, but it probably is best with all the class revamp stuff going on.  Probably the most confusing part of the announcement is the mention of Helm’s Deep content available starting at level 10!  I’m not sure how this will actually work, but it smacks of a money grab that just wants to give everyone a reason to get the expansion and not just those at level cap.  However, I can see this happening in a number of ways, but here’s my speculation.  For those who’ve been around for a while, you may remember Book 14 of Epic Volume 1 (thanks to twitter for helping jog my memory) had a server wide quest turn-in gate on finishing the rest of the book.  Essentially once enough people did enough of a certain group of quests you were able to tip the scales of the battle enough to un-lock the rest of the story.  I’m reading into what’s in the release in that Turbine is doing something similar here with this expansion.  Notice, no where in the release do we see the mention of instances, raid, skirmishes, etc. which I do NOT expect to be part of the expansion just like they haven’t been for the past 2 expansions.  However, this server wide un-lock, could provide a neat tie-in to better “explain” the time gap between the content.  They’ll know when the instance cluster should be ready, so they can just adjust the math such that it isn’t possible to unlock the content until it is ready.  This would provide a way in which everyone could participate in some way without tossing level 10 players way out into Rohan.  Another possibility would be to include session plays in some form, but I’m just not sure how they’d introduce those for folks that early on in the story.

The piece of news that’s probably getting the least amount of publicity is the changes coming to the forums.  They’ve been hinting and talking about the change, even going so far as to tell people to export any blogs, but we’re now getting details of what’s coming.  Long story short, everything not on the forums is going away.  This includes My.lotro blogs, character data, programmatic access to the item and character databases, PvMP and skirmish leaderboards, the Lorebook, and probably a few other things that I’m forgetting.  Everyone realizes that the whole system has issues, but this seems like a pretty drastic step.  Sapience does reveal that the merging of NA and EU systems has caused a huge assortment of problems so it seems like this is a necessary evil.  However, the more concerning part about the announcement is there’s no mention of any sort of upside for players, or any mention of doing something to address players concern over security.

One thing that these 3 announcements all have in common is a very confusing PR strategy that Turbine has embraced.  Why roll out the bad news together with the two pieces of good positive stuff?  Why wait all this time to “officially” announce the expansion?  Why nothing addressing huge security holes that have already been compromised once as part of this forum apocalypse?  I think many of the issues the community has stems directly from this lack of quality communication.  I don’t know what specifically has changed, but I don’t remember them coming this frequently.  Hopefully the Player Council can shake something loose, but only time will tell.

 

LOTRO Update 9.1 Patch Notes

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I didn’t even realize a patch was incoming until I saw the notice that the servers were coming down.  Nothing too exciting here, mainly bug fixes and tweaks to the instance loot.  Check out the full notes here and here were the top things I picked out:

  • Fixed the armor values for the level 85 Dol Guldur sets
  • Fixed the invisible travel mounts and Hytbold NPCs
  • Festival quests will be removed from your log once the festival ends
  • Mainly an increase overall in the drops of the uber equipment in the new instance spaces and scaling instances
  • To reduce the effectiveness of BG farming, Tiers 1&2 for the Twins and Durchest no longer contain symbols in their loot table.  However, the challenge mode chests remain unchanged for all bosses.
  • Mirkwood vendors have all now switched over to skirmish rewards instead of the Mirkwood barter items.

Lots of little things here and I’m not surprised at all they nerfed the BG loot tables, I’ll be curious what this does to raiding groups to see if they continue on their current frequency or drop off as the rewards are no longer there.

 

Welcome Changes to the Riders of Rohan Pre-Orders

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Twitter was on fire this afternoon as Turbine reversed their position and made 2 very significant changes to the Pre-order packs for the upcoming Riders of Rohan Expansion.

  • The 3 packs will all include Turbine Points
    • 1,000 for both the Base and Heroic Editions
    • 2,000 for the Legendary Edition
  • All 3 will include the Instance Cluster coming after the pack

Both of these changes pretty much align this expansion with the Isengard expansion packs and while I know many aren’t 100% happy about the packs they’ve made serious changes to their stance.

Personally, I applaud Turbine on a few fronts:

  • They’re not only talking to the community but obviously they’re listening as well
  • They’re open to admit they made a mistake and want to correct it
  • I personally think this shows that not only are they trying to push the envelope but they also are willing to admit if they’ve gone too far

While I hold no grudges against Turbine for trying to make money, I think the communication and willingness to adapt are VERY encouraging signs.

While I don’t have it yet, I think these changes pretty much put me firmly in the Legendary Edition pre-order camp…

 

My Take on the LOTRO Riders of Rohan Expansion Details

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After the news hit last night, I took some time to not only think things over a little bit but also do a little research before flying off the handle.  Before I get into the my thoughts (or rant) on it lets at least hit on what we know.  And yes, this will be a bit of a long post, but I’ll preface it with a statement that I’m more disappointed, not upset, about the packs themselves.  The frustration isn’t with the game, Turbine, or the Expansion, purely the pre-order packs.

Riders of Rohan will launch on September 5th, 2012 which means Beta for it should kick off very soon (if it hasn’t already) and I’m guessing the Farmers Event will be the only update between now and then sadly.  Personally, based on recent history, I’m incredibly worried about this date – but we’ll get to that later Smile

As for the actual expansion, here’s what we know, there will be 3 options for purchase:

  • Base Edition – $39.99
    • Steed and Title
    • Level 20 Statted Cloak
    • Rohirrim Landscape Soldier Appearance
  • Heroic Edition – $49.99
    • Base Edition Plus
    • Hauberk
    • Level 20 Stated Cloak
    • Evendim, Moria, and Lothlorien Quest Packs
    • XP Token
  • Legendary Edition – $69.99
    • Steed and Title
    • Rohirrim Landscape Soldier Appearance
    • Armour of the Eastemnet (full set, not just chest piece)
    • Level 75 Statted Cloak
    • 6th Inventory Bag
    • Crystal of Remembrance (1 per character, adds Legacy to Legendary Item)
    • Exclusive Rohan Content – additional skill
    • XP Token

There’s also some good info in the Pre-Order FAQ (scroll to the bottom and hit the button)

  • War-steeds and the region will be free since that’s part of the Epic Story
  • You can ride your war-steed anywhere you can mount now, you just won’t be able to fight while mounted outside of the special Rohan regions
  • War-steeds remind me of Skirmish Soldiers, and you can only have one

In addition to the details, there’s also two new videos that were released as well – one that’s a “cinematic” trailer that I quite liked and another teaser showing some in-game footage.  I’ll have to admit, the in-game footage didn’t really excite me all that much as it just doesn’t live up to the verbiage of battling roving war-bands.

As of now, PLEASE correct me if I’m wrong but that’s all we know.  We have zero information about any skill/class updates (other then what we can imagine with 10 levels), instances or raids, system updates, crafting changes, or anything else along those lines.  And based on Turbine’s recent update/expansion history I’m rather concerned whether we’re getting any of these at launch or they’ll come post-launch.

Let’s first talk about the different pack options and the price.  Just from price alone, these are quite high.  The Isengard top expansion pack was only $49.99 and included mainly cosmetics, quests packs, but also ~$10 in Turbine Points!  Compare that to the Rohan pack which is $20 more without any Turbine Points and includes one of the key advertising points for not only the Expansion but Update 7 as well!  For me the real issue with this announcement is that the only way to get 3 VERY real in-game advantages is to pay an extra $20, or wait for them to come to the store which I guarantee will happen.

The 6th inventory bag is pure rubbish and should’ve been in all thee pre-order options, but Turbine is again making a huge push for a feature that will only be available for real-world money (I’m looking at you Barter Wallet).  Personally, the extra bag isn’t worth it as I’ve been dealing with the lack of space for long enough now that it doesn’t really bother me, but it would have been nice to have.  Also, this does follow what they’ve done for all other storage options but I still can’t imagine how upset folks will get with this one if they were at all upset by previous updates.

As for the Crystal, I’m sad to say this confirms to me that we’re not getting any sort of update to the Legendary Item system any time soon.  This is the second band-aid they’ve chosen to apply instead of a revamp.  Now don’t get me wrong, I actually like the system and don’t think it needs a revamp.  However, what really bothers me is that here’s an item that will be a potentially significant advantage that will be a single use item, and then will be available in the store.  Maybe it will be available via the skirmish system at some point like the upgrade scrolls, but I’ll be honest and say I’m doubtful based on how the Star-lit crystals have been handled.

Finally, although we don’t know the details, the bonus mounted skill definitely sounds like an advantage to me and will only be available via the pre-order or after the fact in the store.  This to me smacks against any non-lifetime VIP players as this expansion provides them no bonuses and I am finding it incredibly hard to justify subscribing to this game.  I think the only options are lifetime (if you got it) or Premium and just buy whatever packs you need.

Coming back to my concern on this expansion, we’ve had a number of rushed updates lately that have missed the mark in many ways.  Not to mention an incomplete previous expansion, I’m just struggling to see how this expansion will be any different.  Couple all that with a huge new system (Mounted Combat) where our first glimpse into just shows one on one fighting.  I have a feeling that just like Isengard, we will get VERY little information on what’s actually in the Expansion (instances and such) until very close to launch and then they’ll have to do an Update to roll them back in.  Either that will happen, or Mounted Combat will go over about as well as the highly touted Landscape Soldier system.  But who knows, maybe this will be the Expansion that is well done and I’ll be VERY excited if that happens and will be the first to admit I was wrong.  Ok, someone on twitter might be me to it – but I’ll be in full agreement.

Now, that I’ve ranted a bit there is another side of these 3 items.  How much of a difference will they really make?

  • I’ve already said the 6th bag doesn’t really matter to me
    • there are tons of in-game available storage options to mitigate this
    • it also follows what they did with shared storage, the wardrobe, and the barter wallet which I support
  • The extra legacy would be nice – but unless they change them in some cases I’m hard pressed to find another I’d want
    • and seriously, how much does one extra legacy help?
    • Also, we know very little about this – it could be random or it could be just a minor legacy
  • Who knows what the mounted skill will be – it might just be some emote!

I guess what I’m coming around to is that even though I’m not super excited about these packs, I personally don’t know enough to really decide if it is something I want or even something I care if other people have.  Which is why I took a while to get this post up, as initially I was upset about them but after thinking about it a bit I’ve come to better terms with them.  Granted, that’s just my opinion and I know many are quite fired up about it Smile

As for the pack itself, I’m holding off on buying anything for a while as I don’t think we have enough information to make an informed decision.  I’m mainly just disappointed that this is the first expansion I haven’t purchased the top edition immediately when it was announced.  Not only that, but I’m seriously considering just waiting and using my stockpile of TP for the pieces of it that I care about.  Don’t get me wrong though, I’m still excited for the Expansion itself and the game going forward, but these packs missed the mark for me.

 
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