Monday, February 14, 2011

Times they are a LoTRO

I caught wind of this last week via Kill Ten Rats, but things have been so hectic I haven't had much of a chance to post about it. The next patch to LoTRO is bringing some enormous changes. Pretty much everything that annoys me about the current game is getting a pass, and some things I thought were fine are also getting improved. In no particular order, things that caught my eye in these patch notes, and my reactions:

1. Creeps are starting butcher in the moors. In the current game creeps start off pretty weak in the 'moors, barely able to do the starter quests they are given. If you dump a few thousand destiny into one, you can get them up to adequate with some quick upgrades. You can even eventually get them up to the power level of a 65 freep, though the time it takes to do so is staggering; literally something like five or six times as long as it would take to get a normal character to level 65 starting at one.

The original idea was that the greater ease with which you can start a creep would balance this out, and there would generally always be a lot more creeps than freeps on the moors. However in practice this hasn't panned out too well, most players that start a creep lose interest pretty quickly due to how defenseless they begin. This has only been exacerbated by the fact that free players can't start creeps. Something obviously needs to be done.

2. The PvP gear you can earn on the moors is getting upgraded. One of my major gripes about LoTRO from Moria on has been that there is absolutely no reason for freeps to engage in PvP save just for giggles. The gear you can earn out there has crappy stats compared both crafted and dropped gear, making it sub par even for PvP, and it has zero radiance...making it completely useless for other end game activities.

Worse, this change [with the launch of Moria] took us away from the SoA era endgame where crafting, raiding, 5 mans, and PvP were all equally viable methods of getting geared up for endgame activities (i.e., they all yielded gear that was roughly on par). I much prefer an endgame where I can dabble in different activities to one where I am forced to grind on one set of content to make progress. I'm really glad to see the SOA era philosophy make a comeback.

3. The radiance system is getting pulled. All I can say is "Thank goodness, about time." I've disliked radiance since it was introduced, mainly for the reasons directly above. [Edit] Apparently I am not the only one. From the the most recent LoTRO dev diary:

"You, the players, hated Radiance. In fact, there has never been such a polarizing and definitively poorly received implementation as Radiance." - Allan ‘Orion’ Maki

4. Major class changes. Minstrels, Burglars, and Hunters are getting major updates. The only changes I'm really qualified to critique are the changes to Hunters, and these all look great to me. Some have complained that the changes to the Bow Master line will decrease our ability to DPS tank. First off, I often get aggro in a long fight even in my "low threat" stance and have to back off, so I don't think this is really true. I admit, potential hunter snap aggro will go down. However, that brings me to another point: hunters aren't tanks. There are already at least four classes in the game (Wardens, Champions, Captains, and Guardians...five if you count Burglars) that are much better designed for tanking than Hunters. Hunter DPS tanking was mainly a side effect of one of our main stances getting nerfed with unreasonable threat generation in the Moria era.

I'm sure hunters will still be able to pull a mob off of a healer in a big dust up, if need be.... and the guys playing classes actually designed to tank are otherwise engaged. Having to back off of my DPS or end up tanking for an entire instance with utterly meager defense was never really a decision I cherished.

4. Changes to the Legendary Item system. Three big ones here. First off, gems and relics will go poof when you deconstruct a weapon. However, the total number gem and runestone tiers is being reduced to 6, so it will be a heck of a lot easier to max them out. Most importantly, you will now be able to transfer abilities from one weapon to another. So there will be no reason to waste all those shiny slot-ables until you have exactly the weapon you want. I am very psyched about this, it sounds like a huge improvement.

5. Book 2 will now be soloable. Yay! I've been stuck about half way through it for well over a year.

A lot of other changes are coming down the pipe, it's well worth reading the notes. Finally, lest this become yet another wall of text post without any pictures, let me leave you with a few pics of the new zone added for the temporary Winter events:

Turbine says: I see the meager holiday offerings of your MMO, and raise you a whole freaking zone!

First view of the new town.

That looks fun!

Though still dressed like an axe murderer from Halloween events, I was unable to resist joining in.

I have no idea what you do here, but I liked that they named it Cluckland.

This area is set up for snowball fights, but I have yet to see anyone there. Neat looking regardless.

In addition to these random sights, there is a fairly long series of quests and activities to engage in in the town proper. A play where you can throw fruit or flower petals depending on whether players do well, or even participate yourself, is one of the high points. It really is well done, and I heartily recommend checking it out while it is still available to anyone active in LoTRO.


  1. I saw those patch notes from the test realm. It's amazing how much they packed in there. I guess F2P is doing well for them.

  2. Not my most timely post. I've been sitting on this one for a good week. I don't have excuses as good as yours (good lord man!), just been busy at work.

    And yeah, the scope is pretty impressive. It seems as if the development resources going into LoTRO are really starting to ramp up.

  3. It certainly doesn't look like there is much to complain about.

    Rather than ramble, I'd say I pretty much agree with your assessment.

    The timing is pretty darned good as I've just brought my WoW toon up to 85. Perhaps I'll get some more use of of that lifetime LotRO sub yet :-)

  4. Whenever this goes live, I'm certainly going to at least get Book II done. I may also get serious about the LI grind again. I got a bow that was "Good enough" and called it a day back when I was playing a lot. Seems I should be able to do better now.

  5. I haven't checked into LOTRO in a while, but I did have a chance before I stopped to take a look at the Winter town zone. It was beautiful, like straight out of a holiday post card.

    Also in regards to this post, I wanna say I approve of the addition of pics! :D

  6. Ahh, yeah, that's a good way to put it. Like a holiday card you can walk around in :-) Also has a bit of Dickens to it.