Riders of Rohan – Higher Prices, Fewer Incentives

The expansion season must be upon us.  We have Rift and Lord of the Rings Online announcing details of their Fall expansions.  For Rift, Storm Legion is their first expansion, and first expansions can set a critical precedent.  And then there is the LOTRO expansion, Riders of Rohan.  Woo hoo, further into Middle-earth!

For Lord of the Rings Online though, precedents have been set, broken, revised, and somewhat standardized over its three expansions.  And I own all three, Mines of Moria, Siege of Mirkwood, and the Rise of Isengard.  In fact, I pre-ordered them all, in part because I am still enthusiastic about the game five years in, but also because each pre-order offered me a few bennies to sweeten the deal.  Mounts, titles, cloaks, and other trinkets.

And it is a damn good thing that they did, because due to my haphazard “Hey, let’s go play with friends on yet another server” approach to the game, I have exactly one character who has made it passed the original 2007 level cap and into Moria.  And he is still only level 52!

So I have nearly 20 characters spread across four servers most of whom sit in the level band from the late 20s to the early 40s that essentially represents the “mid game” of the game at launch.

Clearly, when it comes to actual content, none of those purchases has been of much use to me.

And so it is with a critical eye that I examine the pre-order benefits one get with the Riders of Rohan expansion.

As has now become the standard for LOTRO, there are three flavors of the expansion.   And they are certainly pushing the good, better, best comparison.  They are laid out as Basic, Heroic, Legendary, and colored Bronze, Silver, Gold, as well as being displayed as small, medium, large, just to play on any size phobia you might have.

It is like Sesame Street

But, to put the true meaning of Christmas right out there, they are the $40, $50, and $70 versions of the expansion.

Each offers its own level of additions to the game, which I have copied straight from the press release:

  • Base Edition $39.99 – Includes the full Riders of Rohan Expansion plus:
    • The Steed of the Eastemnet – An exclusive Rohirrim Mount
    • Friend of the Mark — An exclusive in-game Rohirrim title
    • Pre-Purchase Bonuses:
      • Rohan Elite Guard Statted Cloak — A box of four level 20 statted cloaks that allows you to choose a power bonus for your hero type
      • Rohirrim Soldier on Landscape Appearance — Upon reaching level 20, you can customize your Soldier on Landscape with a Rohirrim Appearance
  • Heroic Edition $49.99 – Includes the full Riders of Rohan Expansion plus:
    • The Steed of the Eastemnet – An exclusive Rohirrim Mount
    • Hauberk of the Eastemnet — An exclusive Rohirrim cosmetic chest piece
    • Friend of the Mark — An exclusive in-game Rohirrim title
    • Evendim, Moria, and Lothlórien Quest Packs — Over 650 quests, 10 fellowship instances, and two raids
    • Pre-Purchase Bonuses:
      • Rohan Elite Guard Statted Cloak — A box of four level 20 statted cloaks that allows you to choose a power bonus for your hero type
      • The Outriders Token — A 25% XP Boost for all characters on your account that will last up to level 75
      • Rohirrim Soldier on Landscape Appearance — Upon reaching level 20, you can customize your Soldier on Landscape with a Rohirrim Appearance
  • Legendary Edition – $69.99 – Includes the full Riders of Rohan Expansion plus:
    • The Steed of the Eastemnet – An exclusive Rohirrim Mount available immediately with matching War-steed appearance available when Riders of Rohan launches
    • Armor of the Eastemnet — An exclusive full set of Rohirrim cosmetic armour
    • Friend of the Mark — An exclusive in-game Rohirrim title
    • 6th Inventory Bag – An inventory bag that grants 15 additional storage slots
    • Crystal of Remembrance – Adds one additional legacy to your legendary weapon
    • Exclusive Rohan Content — Discover the lineage of the great War-steeds and earn a mounted combat deed that grants an exclusive skill for your War-steed
    • Pre-Purchase Bonuses:
      • Rohan Elite Guard Statted Cloak — A box of four level 75 statted cloaks that allows you to choose a power bonus for your hero type
      • The Outriders Token — A 25% XP Boost for all characters on your account that will last up to level 75
      • Rohirrim Soldier on Landscape Appearance — Upon reaching level 20, you can customize your Soldier on Landscape with a Rohirrim Appearance

So there it is.

Back with the Isengard expansion pre-orders, I was actually tempted by the top tier because it gave you three in-game mounts, three sets of cloaks/armor to match your mounts,  1,000 Turbine points, and was only $50.  Yes, with Isengard the price range was $30, $40, and $50.  Turbine felt the need to crank up the pricing a notch, something I am not alone in noting.  But even then, I went with the base expansion.  That gave me enough, a new mount, a nice outfit, the XP boost item, and a special pre-order title.

This time around, there really isn’t much to tempt me at all.  Sure, another “I pre-ordered the expansion” title is nice, though that isn’t even a pre-order bonus.  The title comes with the expansion no matter what.  Level 20 statted cloaks… unless the stats are over powered… are not much of a draw to somebody whose characters are mostly beyond level 30.  And the level 75 versions in the legendary set I cannot currently use.

And even the Outriders Token isn’t much use.  I have the 25% XP boost pocket item from Isengard still, which is good up to level 65.  Since none of my characters are threatening to pass level 65 any time soon, I am in no dire need of an upgrade.  And, if things come to pass as they did in Isengard, that stone will be in the Turbine Points store, so if I really feel the need I can buy it for any character that happens to get that far along.

No, the only thing on the whole list above that looks both interesting and immediately useful is the 6th bag slot that comes with the legendary edition and, presumably, is good for all characters, current and future, on an account.

Tubrine has already said that they will be offering up the 6th bag slot in the Turbine Points store when the expansion goes live in September and that it will cost 995 points, which is anywhere from $9-14 depending on how you buy your Turbine Points.

Another 15 slot bag sounds ideal for a pack rat like me.  I already have my shared bank slots maxed out as well as the bank slots on my key characters.  And, in theory, if I just had to have it on all of my characters on all of the servers on which they live, $70 would be a deal.

But I do not need that.  In fact, my latest surge into Middle-earth, on the Silverlode server with the Nazgun, I have been sticking to one character and have done no crafting.  Crafting is where I get tied around the axel and start making alts to make use of all the materials and recipes I pick up.  With Manteca, my dwarf rune keeper, I have been harvesting, but then just selling at the auction house or vendoring all of the crafting stuff.  Mostly vendoring, the auction house in LOTRO remains pretty weak relative to other MMOs.

But Manteca, at level 39, is my most wealthy character in LOTRO by a long shot.

Thus, at most, I need one bag upgrade, unless the instance group jumps to LOTRO again.  That seems unlikely.

995 Turbine Points, no matter how I buy them, will cost less than $70.  And since I am a lifetime subscriber, and thus get 500 Turbine Points a month as long as I log in, I will likely have accumulated enough points to buy bags for a couple of extra characters along the way by the time the expansion goes live.

So the Riders of Rohan expansion looks interesting.  I would like to see new lands and try out mounted combat.

In the fields of Rohan

But my lack of focus on a single character over the years and my off-and-on play style with the game has left me far behind the curve.  LOTRO is another MMO that has slowly moved away from me.  And without a tangible incentive, there really is no reason for me to pre-order the expansion.  It seems likely that is content I will never reach.

Oh Yeah… Isengard…

I got home last night and went to log into LOTRO and there was a big patch… which I suppose was only a surprise to me.

With all this talk of Star Wars: The Old Republic’s launch date and Diablo III being pushed out to 2012 it sort of slipped by me that the Rise of Isengard expansion was upon us already.

Now Available

Most of what the expansion means to me has already been available to me.  My highest level character is only in Moria and when I have been playing, I have been grouped up with a mid-30s characters going through Evendim.  I am still playing in pre-Moria content.  But we’re happy doing that for the moment.

So the expansion means mostly an experience boost item, a nifty mount, a nice cosmetic outfit.

Nomu dressed for the expansion

Sure, there are some changes that apply to me.  Some stat consolidation, which is probably a good thing, since I hadn’t bothered to figure out what some of the proliferation of stats meant in the first place. (And with devs making up new stats and then getting rid of them.  We had a bunch of that in WoW and EQ2 as I recall.)

Fortunately, Jaquoette at Kitty Kitty Boom Boom has nicely summarized the release notes so even I can figure out what is going on.  Thank you so much for that!

Anyway, I patched up and the game seems to be running fine for me.  But I am a bit behind the curve… which can be good.

We will see this coming weekend, if the group gets together, how any of the changes really impact us.  I thought there was something in one of the class updates about minstrels losing medium armor or some such.  Garfinkel might be a little more exposed.

But it will be a while before we see the Isengard or the pinnacle or Orthanc.

The First Rule of Isengard Beta Club…

Is to stop making Fight Club references.  Oh, and you do not talk about Isengard beta club.

At all!

Turbine is starting up the beta for the next LOTRO expansion, The Rise of Isengard.

There is no application, so do not bother looking for one.

The whole thing will be by invitation only.

If you get an invite in you email in box, lucky you.

Just don’t tell anybody!

Meanwhile, my hunter is level 47.

I might make it to Moria before Isengard launches!

Will This Help Me To Moria?

Turbine has announced the next expansion, Rise of Isengard. which should arrive on September 27th of this year.  This will bring out new zones and raise the level cap to 75 from the current 65.

However, my highest level character is only 44.  I haven’t seen any of the key content of the first expansion, Mines of Moria, slacker that I am.

There is, perhaps a glimmer of hope.

As with past LOTRO expansions, there are some pre-order incentives to consider.

There are, in fact, three tiers of pre-order, base, heroic, and legendary.   The differences between them is mostly about access to a variety of cosmetic items (including horses), the opening of some content that I already have with my lifetime subscription, and some additional Turbine points.

But all of the packages include one key item, Derudh’s Stone.

I’m not sure who Derudh is, but his stone grants a 25% boos to experience gain when equipped.  And it is a pocket item, perhaps the best slot in the LOTRO equipment hierarchy. (Giving one the answer to the eternal question, “What has it got in its pocketses?”)

It is actually very nice that this is an item as opposed to a potion with a timer, as EQ2 tends to hand out, or a general cut in the experience curve with each expansion, the WoW way of things (though that tactic has been used by EQ2, LOTRO, and others as well).  When you want your experience boost, you can equip it.  If you feel the need to slow down, you can just take it out of your pocket and put it back in your bag.

Like most such items, you get the stone on every character, including characters you make going forward.  It appears in your bags when you log a character in or create one anew.

I went through some of my characters, just to see who got what, being of a suspicious mind.  I was surprised to see that almost all of my many characters on Firefoot already had an item in their pocket.  My mind must be slipping.  Back at launch, such items were somewhat rare.  I would bet that if I logged on to Winfola and checked characters made at launch, few would have anything at all in their pocketses.

As for which pre-order I chose, I went heroic.  And I did it specifically to get the green versions of the special cosmetic gear and horse.

Green Clad Mount

The pre-order process is not without wrinkles, the first being the order system seeming to insist that you create a new account (the term it uses!) when you know you already have one.  But it really just wants an email address to which to send the activation code.  You might want to check out the pre-order FAQ put together by A Casual Stroll to Mordor if you find yourself at a loss.

Will a pre-order item from the third LOTRO expansion help me get to the FIRST expansion?

We shall see.

What do you think of this sort of experience boost item?

Would you rather have something more temporary like a potion with a timer, or something more sweeping, like a general cut in the experience curve with the launch of an expansion?