Saturday, September 5, 2009

What I'm Working On: Allarond (56 Human Champion, LOTRO)

Continuing my Labor Day weekend series of "My characters: let me show you them", Allarond is mid-way though level 56, and a bit over halfway through the Moria portion of the Mines of Moria expansion.

In general, the content has remained very good. There are four major quest hubs that I haven't been able to explore yet, and these could very well be enough to get me to level 60 before I even hit Lothlorien. I'm making some progress on crafting, though that system is not that much less irritating than it was back when I decided to blow it off in 2007. More exciting is that I'm nearing the rep level that will let me claim the low-end Moria-capable goat mount.

I'm still on the fence about whether to bother with a Runekeeper alt - Turbine has revamped some of the game's lowbie areas recently, but I'm still way behind on kill grinding deeds for my main, and I'm not eager to start over from scratch. I guess it will be a mood question whenever I get around to it.

The breaking LOTRO news this weekend was that Turbine is launching a mini-expansion later this year with an increased level cap. It makes absolutely no sense for me to rush on through to level 60 now, waste content by completing quests that won't award exp because I'm at the cap, get frustrated at the grindy nature of Turbine's endgame, and leave the game in an angry, dissatisfied state (as I did in 2007) when there's an expansion coming so soon. So, I'm going to be putting off the rest of Moria until the expansion gets closer.

As Yeebo points out, there are some reasons to be skeptical of this new project - it will be very interesting to see whether this model means that Turbine will now be charging for the content that previously went in its no-additional-fee patches. Still, in principle the timing works out pretty well for me. If I pick up LOTRO again in late October, with the mini-expansion arriving in November, that's probably time to make it through Mirkwood before EQ2's expansion in February, which would, in turn, probably last me through until the pre-Cataclysm world events start up in WoW. After having paid so little for the current expansion cycle to begin with, I might be willing to forgive a little bit of an extra money-grab if Turbine actually delivers on more Moria-quality content.


mbp said...

There may well be enough quests in Moria to get you to 60 but it is worth sticking your head outside to the borders of Lorien for even a short while in the high 50's.

One thing is that there are some very good rewards to be got by doing soloable quests that you can get from the very first camp as you exit Moria. I got a great offhand weapon and heavy shield. Although a champ doesn't use a shield much it is nice to have a good one in your bags for the odd occasion when you are asked to tank. It also allows you to play around with fervour and ardour modes.

Another reason is that the high standard of solo play continues. Soloing those quests is challenging but enjoyable.

The final reason is simply for the contrast. After spending so long in the dark recesses of Moria it is quite breathtaking to step out into the sunshine of Lorien.

Longasc said...

I am level 39,98% (should become 40 by looking hard at a mob today) at the moment and I think LOTRO has a midgame problem. North Downs and Lone-Lands are areas where people quit after ~30, I read many people who quit there. Syp from Biobreak stopped there afaik, and Dust Monk's coworkers from Ensemble Studios also quit around this time.

I am too lazy to re-write this, but this is what I tweeted about the issue:

My #LOTRO thesis: Tons of players at max level 60, many from 1-late 30's. (1)

Something scares people away then ~ level 30+. North Downs and Lone Lands are subscription killers #LOTRO (2)

The revamp of some areas was good, and Evendim is a very cool level 30+ area. #LOTRO (3)

Still the huge majority of lengthy kill deeds and acquiring traits is set in the levels till 40! #LOTRO (4)

At level 40, players play Book 4, of 15 books (8 books were initial release). Max level is 50, later 60. #LOTRO (5)

An disproportionate amount of story is saved for late, a lot of traiting and killing placed in the mid-level range #LOTRO (6)

The early books have more quests that require LARGE groups, later books have many solo and small groups quests. #LOTRO (7)

So basically, the grind and loathing are placed in earlier levels and the story is saved for late. #LOTRO (8)

If anyone wonders WHEN and WHY #LOTRO newcomers might get scared away, this is my opinion why it happens (9)

Famous last words: The early areas need some love, or people will never see Moria or the Mirkwood #LOTRO @Turbine

Yeebo said...

Thanks for the bump Green. I personally don't have a goat, but my understanding is that they are very easy to get knocked off of and not of much use save as a novelty item. I hate to be a killjoy, but the general consensus is that guard rep (for new legendary traits) is a better investment than miners. That said, I have a dwarf champ coming up that will get that goat if it kills him (horses are for fairies).

@Longsack: you are absolutely right, ND and LL are sub killers. I put off going lifer for months after launch because those zones made me doubt that the game would have long term appeal for me. It was some time after those zones that the game "clicked" for me and I went lifer. Fortunately, those are the next zones due for a revamp according to the dev blogs. The intention is to make them less frustrating, and to offer two completely separate 20to late 30s quest tracks.

Yeebo said...

@Longasc: the misspelling of your name in my previous post was not intentional. My apologies.

Green Armadillo said...

@MBP: We'll see how I feel. I'm not bored of the Mines yet, but perhaps my opinion will change.

@Long: I don't know if you played at LOTRO's launch, but Turbine basically polished the heck out of the intro levels and ran out of time for just about everything else.

After adding Evendim in the first patch, they decided that they had to fix the level 40+ game, which was even WORSE than ND+LL+Trollshaws at launch. They spent the rest of year 1 doubling the size of the Misty mountains, gutting and overhauling Angmar, and adding an entire new zone (Foroschel, probably spelling that wrong) with a parallel 40-50 track. In Moria, they even went and added an extra 48-51 track in Eregion. It's good that they're finally spending some time on the late 20's and 30's, perhaps I won't need to be so afraid of rolling an alt when they're done.

@Yeebo: Thank YOU for saving me the time of writing up the Volume 1 versus Volume 2 content patch comparison, which people wouldn't have taken seriously coming from me because I don't play the game full-time. ;)

Personally, I have no intention of spending enough time grinding rep to get to the legendary trait. It has a nasty drawback - constant health drain - and requires maxxed rep. By contrast, the entry level goat is located at "friend" standing, which I have almost reached. Better to have a cosmetic novelty reward than no reward at all due to lack of interest in finishing the rep grind.