I’ve not had much to say since returning from PAX, in part because my real-life social activities took a heavy upswing, in part because a health panic over one of our cats had us running for the emergency care clinic on more than one evening (he’s on the mend, many medications later), and lastly because I’ve been digesting the latest change to my gaming schedule.
I’ve been playing LOTRO.
I’ve gone back and forth on LOTRO for years now, from beta testing to purchasing a lifetime subscription, through many un- and re-installations. It was, in fact, the first MMO that Mr. Randomessa and I played together when we were dating. As a huge fan of the series brought in by the movies (blasphemy, I know, but I assure you I’ve read the book since, and The Hobbit, too), LOTRO has always seemed like precisely the kind of MMO I ought to enjoy. In reality, I’ve struggled to progress and find my niche among the classes and races on offer, no matter how many I tried; I’ve butted heads with the MMO-trinity design and slower-paced large world travel; I’ve sensed that the game has immense charm, but failed to be hooked long enough to delve deeply and explore it.
In fact, in my impressions of LOTRO in the past, coming to it as a Guild Wars player, I can’t help but see parallels between my impressions and those from some players of other MMOs who come to Guild Wars. Namely, there has been an issue of playing the new game as if it were the old game. I have played too many classes as though they were my Elementalist, and found them wanting…. as Elementalists.
Somehow, this time something seems to have flipped a switch. Since I picked up a voucher for a free mount at PAX, I re-downloaded the game just to redeem it and give my characters a little gift. Suddenly, running around in the world again and trying out a bit of combat, class roles “clicked” for me. I tanked with my Guardian instead of just flailing around hitting skills on cooldown. I figured out the optimal ballad tiering rotation for my Minstrel ballads. I tried out a Warden, became a tiny Hobbit hurricane packing a spear, and immediately understood why everyone loves that class. I rolled a new Captain (the class I always dreamed I’d love), named my Herald ‘Rosco’ and fell in love with on-defeat skills. I played for hours past my bedtime, and Mr. Randomessa, compelled by my enthusiasm, even dusted off his Lore-Master and we’re running around Northern Bree decimating everything in sight.
The change in my approach and reaction to the game is like night and day, and for the first time I can see myself sticking with it, wanting to progress past my perpetual roadblock somewhere on the eastern end of the Lone Lands. The now-old news that Monster Play will be opened up to non-subscribers with the arrival of Rise of Isengard has Mr. Randomessa’s interest piqued as well. We haven’t put down any money yet – and having yet to reach level 20 with our new characters, buying new content or perks hasn’t been an issue – but if this continues we won’t have a problem throwing Turbine some cash for content. My past mixed feelings aside, I’ve always felt that Turbine has been one of the most masterful handlers of the F2P MMO transition on the market, and we’d love to show them some love if we make it to the gates of Moria and beyond.
Of course, that will take some time… we’re in no rush to reach level cap with us just starting to settling in to our roles and the world around us. Again, but with more feeling!