Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Minor Victory of the Additional Horse, and the Ancestor of the Skirmish

Allarond's adventures in Lothlorien, trying to wrap up the last of the pre-Mirkwood content, left him with the majority of the rep and tokens required to get the rep reward mount. Unfortunately, with the game set in the Middle Earth, the exotic mount in question is another horse. That said, max rep horses come with 50% more health than the default mounts, so that upgrade alone was worth the 3-4 hours worth of daily quests it took to finish the grind.

The Moria Crafting Instance
As an aside, this journey took me into Moria's so-called crafting instances, which appear to be primitive prototypes for the modern skirmish system. Players zone into a solo instance with a fixed map but randomly generated foes, where they can earn tokens for a successful 10-20 minute clear. (The instances are referred to as crafting instances because they happen to contain large numbers of crafting material nodes to harvest, not because there is any actual crafting to do inside them.) Overall, players can expect crafting materials, reputation (and reputation items), and perhaps some legendary item exp for the brief, repeatable encounters.

My guess, having elected to skip Moria era repeatable content in its entirety, is that these instances proved highly popular with the playerbase. That popularity seems to have inspired the evolution of the feature into the current skirmish. Turbine proceeded to make this the major feature of the new expansion, complete with a more robust feature set (more maps, greater variety of random foes), scaleable group options, custom NPC soldiers, and a wider variety of rewards.

How long can random content last?
In some ways, my biggest complaint about LOTRO has generally been that there isn't enough LOTRO to go around. As Zubon observes, that crunch will be especially noticeable for the next few months, as Turbine chose to increase the level cap even though they would only have a single 6-man dungeon for level 65 players and a single relevant 12-man raid (which the login splash screen absurdly refers to as the most challenging 12-man raid EVER) ready to go.

With skirmishes, Turbine appears to be hoping that players will accept randomly generated content in place of the human-designed instances that Turbine apparently cannot supply in any reasonable quantity. Will it work? Time will tell, but the apparently popularity of this type of repeatable content in the game suggests that Turbine may have put all their eggs in this particular basket because they feel that it has the best chance of being accepted by players. So far, so good, but the expansion is young.


Longasc said...

I don't mind travelling to the crafting instances, for some reason. It connects them to the world in a way and they are there where they are.

But the solo-instances of Dolven View, now they are annoying - you have to go to Dolven View to do them. The same applies to the Beleriand weapon damage upgrade instance, "Midnight Raid".

I guess the difference is that the crafting instances feel like "real" instances whereas the other ones mentioned are already more skirmish-like instances that "beam" you somewhere.

GevIon said...

I'm starting a new blog at:

Thallian said...

Actually, Zubon made a very interesting post earlier, as did Ravious on kill ten rats, about how due to the radiance system the previous lvl 60 raid is NOT obsolete. They also mentioned how the dread level kind of effectively "lowers" your levels to 60. You still have to run it first to get the radiance you need to do the new raid. So in actuality there are two raids, plus several ladder dungeons in Moria and the watcher and turtle run for radiance, that are still "relevant" gear wise. Am I ever going to get that much gear and catch up? I dunno. They did improve the system by making it so everyone gets some coins on each successful run so if you keep running instances you will now get your gear, so I guess its less of a lottery win now.