Thursday, April 14, 2011

LOTRO Legendary Customizeables Re-re-revised

Back in 2008, Turbine said a lot of good things about the forthcoming Legendary Item system.  The items were described as "mobile quest hubs" that would grow and stay with your character, much like the signature weapons carried by the Fellowship of The Ring.  What we got instead was a random item generator expressly designed to churn players through an indefinite number of disposable "legendary" items in the hopes of one day obtaining the perfect setup.  The game's most recent patch has finally replaced that system with a mostly time-based item customization system. 

Legacies Before And After
Allarond's rune is now fully customized with maximum bonuses to Ardour stance for soloing.

Since the LI system revamp in the Mirkwood expansion, your new item would start with 2-3 "major" legacies - upgradeable stats that generally improve DPS.  As you gained item exp, the item would get 3 additional legacies, which would typically be "minor" legacies that do more quality of life improvements (e.g. decreased cooldown on a Champion's sprint).  There was a chance that you would instead get an additional major legacy, but this didn't matter that much because the odds of having four random major legacies actually be useful weren't that great.   

With the changes, items will always start with 3 major legacies, and continue to have a random chance of obtaining an additional major legacy in place of a minor during the early levels.  Now, however, you can salvage the legacy of your choice from an item that has reached at least level 30 (relatively quick) and use it to replace a legacy of the same class (major replaces major, minor replaces minor) on a different item. 

You now definitely want an item that has a fourth major legacy, and you're slightly better off if the item comes with at least some of the legacies you want, since replacement legacies start at a low quality tier that will limit your ability to upgrade your weapon (until you grind more tqo upgrade the legacy quality).  That said, everyone can now have items with four major and two minor legacies of their choice given a relatively finite amount of grind time. 

Relics, Currencies, and Scrolls

The other big change to the system is a revamp of the relics used to fill the slots on your items.  You still obtain these relics by destroying priceless "legendary" items you have leveled, but there are now more stat choices available spread across fewer tiers, and there is a currency associated with the system that can be used to counteract the random number generator. 

Before the change, obtaining a specific tier 6 relic meant combining an exponentially increasing number of lower tier relics until you got lucky.  Now, you get a "shard" currency for breaking stuff (legendary items down into relics, and relics down into just shards) which can be used to pay to exchange your relic for the one you want.  The same system can be used to obtain most of the hard-to-get item scrolls (which have also been added into the cash shop, gogo free to play), and even new legendary items to level. 

(Speaking of the shop, the ability to unlock a seventh and eighth slot for additional items is cash store exclusive.  The formula for dividing item exp amongst your items awards more total exp for having more items equipped, so these additional slots ultimately mean faster acquisition of relics and shards.) 

A change in perspective

There was always an odd contrast between the ideals behind LOTRO Legendaries - in Middle Earth, a sword that glows and does +1 damage to orcs is a heirloom to be named and handed down for generations - and the disposable nature of gear in an MMO. Much like Moria's other major new mechanic, the hated Radiance system, the implementation fell far short of Turbine's aspirations.  When Narsil was broken, they saved the broken pieces for hundreds of years until there was a worthy heir of Elendil who deserved the reforged blade.  You don't replace that sort of thing with the first random quest drop you see. 

Under the circumstances, changing the system from a mostly random time sink to a mostly time-based time sink is an improvement.  While this does mean that weapons can now have cookie cutter builds, which would have been highly improbable under the old system, I don't quite know of anything exactly like this in other games.

That said, I can't help but look back and what might have been and feel that what we got here may not have been a fair trade for what we once were promised. 


Yeebo said...

It's still nothing like a mobile quest hub. Yes, there are alternate repeatable side quests that are really only useful if you are grinding up legendaries... but that's not at all what I envisioned. Until you get a decent high level base weapon, you also certainly aren't going to be using just one that grows with you. But really, still, a massive improvement over the old system.

One funny thing. At the very end of the volume II there is a brief nod to how different the system turned out compared to what they intended.


In the very last chapter of volume II, you meet up with the dwarf that originally gave you your very first legendary. He expresses disappointment that you have replaced it.

Longasc said...

You wrote an excellent summary of the Legendary Item system already over a year ago, if I recall correctly. So I will focus on commenting the changes and not the entire still flawed system.

The new system is better, but it is an improvement to a system that per se still sucks. The grind to get the wanted "relics" to slot into your weapon got reduced. You can now also pick your legacies and replace them from those of other weapons, there are some restrictions but that's it, basically.

The new grind is getting scrolls of empowerment to improve the "tier" of your legacy. Because the legacy you replaced with a scroll will be TIER 2 only, unless it is a +stat legacy, they start at tier 4.

So go hunt the Gwiber and do your Enedwaith dailies, for 35 gold and 70 silver tokens you get a scroll of empowerment. Or go skirmishing.

Another aspect of the system is the "scroll of removal" to keep your relics. I bet MANY players kept the old "Emerald of the Verdant Glen" and some other relics that are occasionally still better than the new relics.

As much as I would like to praise the improvements, the system is still not good AND basically they mostly improved the "SHOPIFICATION" of the system and added relics, relic removal scroll, fused relics etc. to the store.

I wonder why legendary weapons are still among the most plain in the game?
Why not let us customize the LOOKS of our gear in the cash shop for real money or a lot of gold or other currency ingame?

All legendary weapons of a certain age and level look the same. And the glowing damage type effects are very crude and don't look good at all.
My level 20 alt has a two-handed sword that is much more detailed than any 3rd/2nd/1st age legendary weapon, and it does not look like a cheap glowing toy.

We could keep our legendary weapon with our favorite looks/design forever if they would get the idea to let us acquire "new level X base stats" for our weapon. We would still have to raid/barter for legacies, relics and the "1st Age lvl 70 base DPS upgrade" or something like that.

Indy said...

I have always been intrigued by the concept of legendary items, that grew in power with the character instead of being constantly replaced. Needless to say, the original implementation in no way lived up to that idea, and was, if not a major reason I didn't play LOTRO then, at least a major disincentive.

I started playing when they announced a conversion to F2P, and that they would revamp the LI system. Maybe this new system isn't ideal, perhaps I'll wind up griping about some aspect down the road... but for now, with a character a bubble away from 45, I'm *excited* to get my hands on a legendary! Someday I hope to get a First Age weapon, that I can say came out of Gondolin...

Ferrel said...

I'm glad to hear they're at least working on the legendary system. That was one of my biggest disappointments in LotRO. It is like you've pointed out a few times: there was nothing "legendary" about these items. They were just a disposable commodity that you purchased in quantity and threw away.

Mike ... said...

"When Narsil was broken, they saved the broken pieces for hundreds of years until there was a worthy heir of Elendil who deserved the reforged blade."

3,018 years to be exact. The Third Age dates from the fall of Sauron when Narsil was broken. Narsil is then reforged by the elves of Rivendell in the year 3018 of the Third Age.