Our Summer run through Lord of the Rings Online has actually been quite successful so far, given a pretty specific definition for success.
For me, success is advancing in the game to a point where I am seeing things I haven’t been through before. I am almost there. Basically, I have to get into Moria and go a few quests in and I will be beyond my past peak in the game, which came about two years back.
All of which would have been a lot easier if I did not end up on a new server every single time I went back to play the game.
Ah well. I am on the cusp. I have been through much of Eregion, having made the leap from Evendim at 40 and muscled through a combo of the Misty Mountains and Forochel a few levels early. That high quality halberd, amongst other equipment, you can buy when you have sufficient faction with the Wardens of Annuminas helped a lot, though it still won’t make the slowest elf in creation move any faster.
I have been to the door of Moria, in the little zone that contains the quest line to get in. It is the beginning of the Book II quest chain, so there is no skipping chapters, everything must be done in order.
The chain includes quite a few “lift and carry” quests for the dwarves who, following behind the fellowship of the ring, are trying to reopen the doors to Moria that have been mysteriously blocked. I wonder how that happened?
So you spend some time in the mini-zone picking up sticks or stones… which could at least break my bones if correctly wielded… delivering packed lunches, and solving the ubiquitous “Orcs stole my homework… and map… and supply list…” issues that seem to crop up in these sorts of game.
You do eventually get stuck into things… you know, you get to kill something… and reach a climax, though it might not be what you expect if you have never been there before.
After which there is a diversion back to Hollin to pick up your epic weapon. I went with the halberd, as I always think of it as the true weapon of a captain, though I might splutter a bit if asked to explain why.
DPS-wise, it was a bit of a step down from what I had been swinging. I have an alt… of course I do, and more than one… who I has been working on the weapon smith craft and who has kept me well supplied with sharp objects as I have moved along. You do not need to worry about armor if you kill the bad guy quick enough. Though now that I have hit the epic weapon stage, I do wonder what I will do with him.
But the epic weapon grows as you feed it the blood of your victims… erm… as it gains experience. Which it does through killing things. I am actually on the chapter in the Book II quest line where I have to level up my epic weapon 10 levels, at which point it has to go through a reforging or some such, and then I can move along to the actual story again.
So that is where I stand.
As for the cash shop intrusions into the game… I have been able to ignore them for the most part when required. I do buy things now and again. And it helps that, as a lifetime subscriber, I get a monthly 500 Turbine point stipend, which after a long stretch of not playing, added up to small fortune. So I have expanded my shared storage a few times to accommodate the passing of an ever larger array of crafting materials between alts. I am going to have to either make a scholar or stop collecting all that crap soon. I bought a stack of boosts for crafting experience, the ones that boost you by 50% over 10 minutes, to help make that stretch to the next tier every so often. And I bought probably the most useful item in the store for my main, who harvests.
Basically it means I do not have to swap tools to change between mining and chopping wood.
Also, I must admit, I did buy a pile of Mithril Coins. Their utility in getting to next travel point in the horse network proved too much to resist. And, I have spent a coin now and again at the end of the night to get to back to a quest giver to go to bed.
And once you do it, it becomes easier to do it the next time. Grumble, grumble, hurf durf, damn free to play conveniences have corrupted me again! *shakes fist*
I also am fine opening up the present every day, though that whole mechanism does feel like they are spreading things a bit thick on the cash shop front. You can have limitless presents, if you are prepared to pay for them! (At which point, they aren’t really presents, right? And what business model do we tend to associate with the phrase “the first one is free?”)
Still, if I end up with an equipment upgrade, it isn’t like I throw it away. I do refuse to play the lockbox game though. Yet another wrinkle in the whole free to play scheme of things. Hand out locked boxes, but sell the keys. We hates it, and the work that went to create it. My primary complaint about free to play remains that the game becomes focused on getting you to make that next purchase rather than keeping you subscribed. But it is a mixed bag and there are good points as well.
Other than that, it has been a reasonable revisiting of Middle-earth so far. There is still much I like about the game, not the least of which is the sense of being in Middle-earth when you are out and about, away from the quest hubs, when you have turned off the general chat channels, and you come across some odd ruin or bandit camp or other feature that the game doesn’t even require you to see, but is just there because it helps set the tone and atmosphere for the occasional adventurer that stumbles across it.
There is still good in the world.