Archive for the ‘LOTRO’ Category

Last week, Mr. Randomessa’s excitement got the better of him and he, too, re-subscribed to Star Trek Online to join me in boldly getting ahead of the free-to-play launch.
Of course, then Cryptic opened up access to anyone who had previously held a subscription as of January 5th. D’oh! It would just be our luck.

Since then, my husband has gained a rank on his Klingon and he and I have quested together Fed-side, and even done a couple of the PvE scheduled events together Klingon-side. I have been going to bed earlier the past few nights, so my own gameplay has been spotty, but the wonderful thing is – no worries; I just match his rank when we group and all is well!

He is also very enamored of the Duty Officer system and is taking it extremely seriously. Tipa has referred to Doff management as Facebook-style “cow clicking,” and I have never played a FB game so I can’t comment on how close that comes to the mark, but at any rate, it’s helped me set a new criteria for what I’m looking for in any future MMOs I play. In fact, one of my only existing concerns about Guild Wars 2 is that all of the minigames I’ve heard about so far involve competitive gameplay of some sort (bar brawl, keg rugby, shooting gallery) and what I really want is something with a non-combat focus and in which I do not need to compete against other players, but can still advance my character. I don’t need it to be all of the time. Just some of the time.

More and more I’ve been thinking about the MMO features I prefer and how they affect my enjoyment of the games I play, such as how greatly world travel and level-gating has impacted my husband’s and my enjoyment in LOTRO. These are old issues, familiar enough to MMO players that we have our cute slogans and practices, our static groups and our spousal leveling contracts, but something about wanting to enjoy my time in Tolkein’s universe and feeling thwarted instead of welcome every time I tried to share my gameplay with someone outside of a PUG made me snap, and I have decided I just won’t put up with these kinds of things anymore, no matter how intriguing the subject matter or setting of an upcoming game. I think this is what made it so easy for me to pass on the launch of SW:TOR after one beta weekend, my other reservations notwithstanding.

If I were to have a New Year’s Resolution this year (I haven’t made any), it would be: I will not participate in another spousal leveling contract.

There was an excellent forum post put up at MMORPG.com recently, called The Tao of Arenanet, that explains Guild Wars 2’s features in light of ArenaNet’s design philosophy and thus attempts to show why GW2 is not merely a collection of features that may or may not be represented to some degree in other MMOs such that they are interchangeable. I have been arguing this in a more or less incoherent fashion, here and in forum and blog comments, for the past two years, but this post says it so much more eloquently that I now tip my hat and say, “QFT.”


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“Oh, well I felt like playing LOTRO tonight, but I noticed you were doing something else, so I’ll just roll an alt since we agreed not to level our mains without one another.”

“Oh, I noticed you’ve been having fun on your alt – what is that? A [healer]? Well, I just rolled up a [tank] while you were doing something else so that your [healer] has someone to run around with later.”

“Oh, I noticed you were playing your alt and I logged on to join you, but my inventory’s full of crafting goodies and the superior [implement]’s leagues away from you; I’ll catch up with you when I’m done.”

“Oh, I noticed you were online crafting and I’m leagues away from the superior [implement], so I logged off and killed some time doing something else; let me know when you’re done.”

And this is how given a game we have fun playing together, set in a world we adore, with a price tag we can’t refuse, we have two level 35s, two level 28s, and two level 26s between us, we forgot to log in to pay our housing upkeep last month, I’m playing Champions Online, and Mr. Randomessa is playing Skyrim.

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Shockingly, Mr. Randomessa and I are still playing Lord of the Rings Online, which I think makes it the longest straight stint over which we have played one MMO since we pre-ordered Warhammer Online. We are, in fact, playing LOTRO so much that I am not sure our playstyle can be considered “casual” any longer; at least, not by my previous definition. I feel badly that we haven’t taken the time to check out the F2P launches of City of Heroes or Fallen Earth, but LOTRO is taking up all of our gaming time these days.

While it is true that we have not been racing to endgame (we only dinged level 33 this weekend), we have been amassing several hours of playtime across multiple alts and crafting professions. We have each purchased deluxe houses in the Falathorn homesteads – that’s how we know we’re serious! – and have begun decorating in earnest. Two of our alts, a Hunter for him and Rune Keeper for me, even duo together on odd days. And all this without PvP! Although I suspect that some of the more vicious bidding wars Mr. Randomessa has gotten into on the Auction House for crafting materials are serving as a form of PvP “high” for him….

In a refrain I have heard elsewhere by Minstrels, the class changes in Rise of Isengard have breathed new life into a class I had struggled with since around level 25. My Minstrel is now level 39, having gained three levels last week, and I have been enjoying tackling the Epic Story quests solo, in addition to skirmishing. I feel more sturdy and powerful than ever, and am seeking out new challenges to test the limits of my damage-dealing capabilities. Having unlocked more than the initial two free skirmishes, I was surprised to find that several of the later skirmishes were much easier than the early ones. I had much more fun and success running Attack at Dawn, Thievery and Mischief, or Stand at Amon Sul than I ever managed solo with Siege of Gondoman or Trouble in Tuckburough, which has made skirmishing a more fun and rewarding experience across all my characters.

Of course, with the tiny army that is our Captain and Loremaster combination, we’re still doing well with Tier 3 skirmish challenges, which I lay at the feet of Mr. Randomessa’s newly-acquired Lynx pet; enemies simply melt away before his stealthy kitty swipe. We’re also doing well with the Hunter/Rune Keeper pair; I was interested in trying the Rune Keeper for some time already, but upon learning more about its skills and realizing that in the healing attunement it’s essentially a Prot Monk, I was sold. With LOTRO’s slower-paced combat, this actually feels like something I might be able to do (and enjoy doing), and so far I’m liking healing with my RK more than I ever did on my Minstrel.

Sadly banished to the bench is my adorable Hobbit Warden, who, although invincible and mighty, just wasn’t a playstyle I really enjoyed at level 17. She’s resting comfortably at Michel Delving, cooking up a storm for the rest of the team with occasional overnight stays in Esteldin to craft jeweled goods and runestones as well. In the meantime, we will need to make some decisions as to what quest pack(s) Mr. Randomessa should buy to add variety to our alts’ leveling paths. Hopefully, one or two will round out the content he already has through the Isengard expansion; thanks to my VIP status, I have already earned enough TP to purchase the rest of the content should we still be playing at level 50, 60 or beyond.

To close, one more complaint from the premium member: no permanent swift travel unlocks in the LOTRO Store, Turbine? Really?

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Despite the fact that premium member Mr. Randomessa shelled out for the Legendary pre-order of the Rise of Isengard package, as far as our characters are concerned, Isengard is that place far-off where some wizard sits and does … stuff. We are only level 26 and so still working our way through Volume 1, Book II, and so we’re hanging out with a different wizard these days.

Gotta catch 'em all

At our level we’re also trying to delve into skirmishes, a feature towards which I have had deeply hostile feelings given past experience with my Minstrel (subject to change post RoI class revision). It turns out that not only is skirmishing in a duo more fun than doing it solo (which I suspected), but being a Lore Master and Captain we are virtually invincible (which I didn’t count on). I taunt, he stuns, I heal, he cures disease, I Last Stand, he feeds me power. Moreso than in any other MMO we’ve tried, the classes of our choosing are complementary in a really exceptional way. We’re practically a small fellowship of our own.

We’re taking our time leveling, in part because we’re trying to keep our crafting levels current wherever we are. This is where LOTRO chafes a bit, because in contrast to Rift, where for mere minutes of work we were making items that were valuable or even higher level than we could use or wear, we can’t break down our work for materials in LOTRO and I’ve complained elsewhere about the amount of materials it takes to master each tier. Still, we’re muddling through somehow; it helps to have a partner to grind with, especially one who doesn’t seem to mind combing through ruins filled with half-Orcs in order to break open Antique Vases and see what’s inside. Especially when said partner then makes you delicious, power-granting potions and extra crafting crit-chance scrolls.

The fact that premium players are still locked off from playing any other Monster Play characters but the Reaver means that Mr. Randomessa still can’t access his Defiler, and is cause for much sadness. The 795 Turbine Points to unlock the class would near clean out his 1000TP from the RoI pre-order, which he’d wanted to hang on to for skirmishes and perhaps a quest area on sale; personally I think that MP character price is quite high. It may be that my husband will have to satisfy his PvP jollies in another game on the side, which is a real shame.

Still, we’re enjoying ourselves otherwise, which just goes to show that sometimes you have to let the wine age a bit before you can appreciate it. Or something like that, anyway.

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I feel like I’ve become a pod person.

I’m grinding for deeds and enjoying it. I’m mining ore I don’t even need, in order to craft hundreds of ingots I then send to my husband so he can make me weapons. I’m leading him to abandoned ruins and running interference while he examines broken urns in order to craft up battle scrolls for us to decimate virtually everyone in combat… which we do, handily.

Today, I took Mr. Randomessa to Bag End, and then off to meet Tom Bombadil. I think he was pleased. Oh, and the following wasn’t a new experience for me, but it was a nice cap to the evening.

Too bad there's no "bunny ears" emote (or is there...?)


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