The call of Moria is clear. The route there is a different matter.
After getting back into Lord of the Rings Online with Gaff, where he had to reactivate three accounts while I got to play my lifetime “get into Middle-earth free” card, he got his revenge by mandating a server change.
While we had successfully retaken Weathertop on Windfola, we really did not have anybody else with whom to play on the server.
Sure, Gaff brings three accounts to the table, but that just means he is going to out run me in levels because he plays more.
So we are now Nimrods, right? I was told that was the term for people who play on the server.
Gaff jumped in, took off, and is already at level with the rest of the main characters in “Podcasters of Bree” kinship. (I got in because I have appeared on podcasts with most of the members of the kinship, while Gaff was covered under the “bring three accounts, get in free” clause in the kinship charter.)
I, on the other hand, was more than a bit dubious about starting over again from scratch.
Starting off in a game like this can be fun, a voyage of discovery and all that, but once you have gotten a few levels, a mount, some trade skills, and have figured out how your character works, throwing off all infrastructure, cash, and whatnot seems like a big jump.
Still, having friends with whom to play is a big draw, so back to square one I went.
On Windofola I had a guardian, a hunter, and a champion, all level 25 or above. This time I decided to go with a captain.
And so Tistann of Rohan was created. In probably a bad move, I attempted to make him look as much like me (clean shaven version) as I could, although there was no slider for “dark bags under eyes,” so he looks a little more fresh faced than I ever do.
Actually, Tistann’s standard bearer looks a bit more like me at the moment, as I have a full “winter beard” right now.
Things have not gone too badly with my restart.
Turbine toned down the difficulty of the starting area a bit. Some things that were aggro before are now neutral, making the first dozen quests more about learning how to do quests than learning how to kill a dozen spiders to get to a quest objective.
And once into the “real” world, I was able to do well enough. I still remember the basics about a lot of the early quests, but not all of the detail. So I usually know where to go (which is often the hardest part in these games) but I don’t always remember what is awaiting me, so the outcome of the quest is usually something of a surprise.
Turbine also appears to have softened the initial leveling curve a bit. At least it seems that way to me, but it is a totally subjective feeling. I just seem to be moving along at a faster rate than before.
I went from rolling up the character to level 8 in one evening. Then I let him sit for a week, came back and went to level 13 in another evening. And now I seem to be able to knock out a level in a sitting without too much strain, so he sits at level 17 today.
That still puts me a good ten levels behind the pack and the leveling curve is starting to get a little more steep, so I am going to have to work at it if I want to catch up. As long as I can avoid the inevitable alts for a while, I might make it.
But all in all, I am enjoying being back in LOTRO. Turbine has smoothed down a lot of the rough edges. And while the basic game is generic fantasy MMORPG (quests, experience, levels, skills, buttons, and such) it does have a very mellow feel to it and having a series of quests that are part of a larger narrative is still very cool. I was worried from day one about how they would handle that, but it is done very well.
And I must admit that I love that the cut scenes for the narrative are done in the game engine with models you see in game. While the quality isn’t outstanding because of the limitations of the engine, it does feel like you are seeing things happening elsewhere in the game, giving everything a more unified feel.
Still miles to go before Moria, but I am on my way.