Saturday, May 16, 2009

The endgame of LoTRO

I recently went through a period of burnout with LoTRO. I backed off of it for a few weeks, logging mainly for kinship events. I am happy to report that the as of this weekend the burnout apparently has worn off, and I'm in a clam like state of contentment leveling alts again. The break also allowed me to gain a fresh perspective on LoTRO.

To my tastes, it's still the best PvE MMO by a pretty wide margin for any number of reasons. The tales you participate in are well thought out and evoke the tone of Tolkien's work very nicely. The graphics are amazing, especially considering the system I'm running it on (yes, it's a toaster). The crafting system is really well thought out, at least 1-50. It strikes a nice balance between utility and depth, and the addition of crafting guilds has only improved it. I also love the flexibility of many of the class designs. Nearly every class has at least two roles that they can perform well in. Even the Hunter (arguably the most myopic class, and the best single target DPS in the game) has unparalleled travel utility and can function as a crowd control specialist if traited properly.

Unfortunately, it is now also glaringly obvious to me that Turbine seemingly doesn't care about one of the core strengths of pre-MoM LoTRO: it supported many routes to gearing up in the endgame. You could get gear through crafting, PvP, or six man content that was almost as good as gear from the Rift. And in terms of performance, you could handle any content that someone decked out in raid gear could handle. Once you spent time gearing up doing whatever you enjoyed, how well you knew your class counted for far more that what gear you had on. That just isn't true any more.

Let's leave aside the issue that you have to have a full set of radiance gear to do the watcher raid (and thus have access to one of the primary sources of first age weapons). The gear that you can get doing six man instances utterly outclasses the gear you can get doing anything else. I have the full three piece sets from coin drops (I only currently have one piece of radiance gear), and even that makes the best gear I could craft look completely stupid. Even worse off is the fan of PvP. The PvP gear is arguably the hardest gear set in the game to get, and by a wide margin. Yet it's also the worst set of level 60 gear you can get in terms of stats. Only crafted "epics" give it a run for the money (i.e., in terms of sucking).

We have exactly one path to high end gear right now, six mans. Presumably, with book 8, we will have two paths: 6 man content and raiding. If the raid gear is worse than the radiance sets, nerdrage on the LoTRO forums would reach to the heavens. I doubt anyone at Turbine is that insane. However, that will still do nothing to address crafting and PvP. We have gone from a game that rewarded at least four different play styles roughly equally, to one that may eventually support two playstyles. That is a major contraction.

What irks me the most is that the only "fix" that's needed is for the stats on the crafted and PvP gear to be revisited. Replace all of the stat points on crafted gear that are wasted on funky resistances with power and morale buffs. In other words, make the 58 crafted gear analogous to the old 48 gear. And up the stats on the PvP gear by 10% or so across the board. Let someone that enjoys crafting or PvP at least earn gear that is as good as the coin drop gear. A simple (in terms of developer hours) change that would make so many players happy. Yet Turbine seemingly has no intention of doing so.


  1. I've never been much of an "end-game" player. I'm primarily interested in exploration, both the game world and my characters skills, so once I hit max level and have been everywhere, there's not much more to keep me playing.

  2. I'm right there with you. WoW went from being pretty fun to utterly biting within a month of my hitting the cap, for example. Honestly, few MMOs indeed have ever kept me entertained for more than a month or two.

    That was one thing that really pleasantly surprised me about LoTRO. I still had a lot left to do once I hit the cap that I actually thought was fun. Post cap I maxed out my crafting, maxed out the virtues I cared about, dabbled in raiding and PvP, and maxed out my rep in Foreschel so I could make some really cool looking armor sets.

    I think if I had to summarize my frustration with the current LoTRO end game, it's that there isn't anything left to do that I think is very fun. Which is perhaps a bit of an unfair criticism, since prior to LoTRO: SoA the only MMO I ever had fun in post cap was DAoC (and that is obviously a very different style than typical "raid or die" endgame of most MMOs).

  3. I miss SoA...used to be Rift and Hele-viable by using a variety of equipment. My old hunter used a mix of teal crafted crits, Aurochs and Rift armor, and he was about as good as anyone on the server.

    Turb really screwed things up by trying to jam us all into the same single set of armor. Alts are absolute hell to gear up anymore.

    A few months back, we did the Forges 5 times before the tank had to log. Of course, I was the only one who didn't win the plat coin... not my idea of fun.

    -the former Degwarg of Windfola...

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