Moving Forward to Mordor

As I mentioned last week, the Mordor expansion for Lord of the Rings Online is coming and may be here as early as the end of the month.

Mordor, we’re simply walking in!

I even got a note from Skronk saying that he an Enaldie might be up for a return to Middle-earth, which would give us just enough of a group to do instances.

Of course, there are some issues to overcome.  We haven’t played as a group in LOTRO since late 2011. We’ve done Rift, World of Tanks, Need for Speed: World, Neverwinter, and a couple more runs in World of Warcraft since then.

A metaphor for our group, featuring our group

Our kinship, Murder for Shire, was on the Firefoot server, which is now gone.  I moved the guild to Landroval, which was one of the few choices back when they did the server merge.  That seemed like a good place to start, though we could also use the kinship we formed on the Windfola server back at launch.  Somebody just has to move that guild to another server, since you can no longer access the old servers any more.

Six characters still on Windfola

The characters on other servers might not be required.  The group of three we had on Firefoot, guardian, minstrel, and rune keeper seems pretty viable in the classic tank, healing, DPS format.  At least once we figure out how to play them.  A lot has changed since 2011.

That, however, is all trivia, things we could wrap up with a bit of practice and maybe a Google search or two about the whole spec/talent tree thing LOTRO has going now.

The key question is: How do we get to Mordor?

Obligatory Boromir meme

The thing is, a decade into this war, we’re still standing around in Evendim fighting tomb robbers and pondering whether to head into the Misty Mountains or Forochel next.  So we have a decision to make.  What path will we take to Mordor?

Simply Walk

First on the list is to simply play through to Mordor.  That route means we see the whole epic story line through to the end.

Pros:

We won’t miss a bit of the story!  Complete play through!

Cons:

Where do I start?

We’re in our low 40s and Mordor is level 105 I think.  That is a good sixty levels to go in a game that has softened up the level curve some, but not so much that we could make it there, as a group, this year.

Doing this also requires all of the expansions, which I believe only I own, so there would be a cost.  And while Moria is an excellent zone and worth seeing, after that things are bit less certain.  I found Mirkwood tedious and formulaic without much to recommend it.

And, honestly, our past history is working against us.  We are, as I repeat, a decade into this game and only have a group of level 40 characters to work with.  We’re not the fellowship of the ring, we’re Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, and Trillian mucking about in cocktail party for a bit then buggering off for something else.

Blessing of the Valar

Second option on the list is to use the current boost available from the LOTRO Store, the Blessing of the Valar.  This boost gets you to level 95 and puts you on the road to Gondor.

Pros:

Gears us up, gets us all to the same level, puts a bit of cash in our pocket, puts us into content none of us has seen, gives us a run through the direct build-up before Mordor, and keeps us the hell out of Mirkwood.

Cons:

At 5,995 Turbine Points, the Blessing of the Valar is a bit pricey, plus there are still expansions to purchase I bet, though I couldn’t tell you which ones.  We could cut that price down a bit as the Blessing of the Valar Upgrade, which requires you to be level 50, drops deal to 2,995 Turbine Points.

Seems like a bit of a waster when the Mordor expansion comes with a level 105 boost.

Also leaves us with ten levels to get through in Gondor, the quality of which I cannot speak to.

Scenes Missing

Go directly to Mordor, do not pass Gondor, do not collect 200 farthings.  The expansion comes with a booster to get you straight there, why not use it?

Pros:

No mucking about, march straight into the black lands ready to stick your sword into the heart of the foe.  We’ll be all caught up, geared up, and playing with the critical mass of the player base that has otherwise been hanging around the black gate wondering when the next bit would show up.

No need to buy anything besides the Mordor expansion.

The content available seems to be sizable, with five zones and another ten levels.

Seems to be the plan best matched to the historical record of our efforts in Middle-earth.

Cons:

Kind of like reading Fellowship of the Ring to just past Weathertop, putting it down, then picking up Return of the King and starting in again just after Shelob’s lair… or maybe even after the battle before the black gate.  I’m not sure where during the timeline of the story we actually enter Mordor.  Are we just the clean up crew, set to mop up the remaining orc holdouts?

Certainly key plot points would be skipped.  But it isn’t like we haven’t read the books I suppose.

Forward to Mordor

I suppose the ideal path would be something like what Star Wars: The Old Republic did, where they gave you an experience boost so you could just do your personal story without side quests to advance.  Something like that for the epic quest line would be ideal.  However, that does not appear to be in the offing.

So that is what we are looking at.  It will be just the three of us I imagine.  Neither Bung nor Earl were much for Middle-earth, and Earl is still banging away in the Broken Isles.  He is dedicated to WoW in a way that a tourist like me never is.

The other choice is which edition of the expansion to buy, though that isn’t a tough choice at all.  Sure, I’d like everything included in the Ultimate Sucker’s Bundle, but $130 is just too much for that.  If that were the $80 package I might be convinced, but as it stands I don’t care about making a high elf character and the title is cool, but not that cool.

People have been upset about the Mordor expansion pricing, to the point that it has Syp arguing for free access to elves.  But the only way to send a message is to not buy something if you think it is over priced.  I’ll take the $40 expansion and be on my way.

Of course, all of this means EverQuest II and the Fallen Gate server will drop by the wayside as I jump games after a month yet again.

7 thoughts on “Moving Forward to Mordor

  1. Krumm

    I cant seem to get myself out of the shire….such a wondrous place to stand around and marvel at….one of these days I must attempt to see wants on the other side of that Bree….and I am not even a hobbit.

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  2. Telwyn

    Didn’t Syp do an experiment some time ago where he leveled just by doing the epic storyline? I imagine he used some XP boosters to achieve the same thing as SWTOR’s accelerated leveling though.

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  3. Ravanel Griffon

    A 3rd option could be to use the Aria of the Valar that you get with the pre-order Mordor expansion and create a new instant level 105 character. You can even recreate the looks of your old characters and RP that it’s them, if that’s what you want.

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  4. Ravanel Griffon

    @Telwyn: apart from XP boosts, there are also pocket items that give 25% additional XP when equipped. You can get one that works up until level 99 from the Store; alternatively, many players have access to similar items that go up until slightly lower levels from previous expansion pre-order deals. If I were to level only through the storyline, that’s definitely something to consider. That and handing in the max amount of tasks daily, that also helps a ton.

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  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Ravanel Griffon – Yes, that would be the third option I listed in the post, under the heading “Scenes Missing.”

    @Telwyn – I have a 25% level booster in the pocket slot on most of my characters. From my observations, you would need a lot bigger boost than that to be able to do just the epic story line. In SWTOR the boost was essentially 1200% to level up just doing the personal story.

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  6. Pasduil

    We don’t have a lot of details on what the Aria will do exactly, but my guess is that all it will do is boost you to 105, give you some 105 gear, and set some flags that might need to be set to allow you to play 105-level content. (Flags allowing you to use Legendary weapons, ride a War-steed, travel to post-Pelennor-battle Minas Tirith etc.) This is the kind of the thing the other Valar items do.

    So you can probably still run through any story you like (e.g. Epic Books), but you’d be doing them overlevel. Personally I find that quite enjoyable, you get to see the story, with minimal grinding

    Gondor is 100-105, so that part of the story wouldn’t be too much overlevel.

    Btw, no reason why you can’t create a new alt to boost to 105, and carry on playing your current char wherever it was.

    If you want to get to grips with your newly acquired skills, you can always run some Skirmishes at whatever level you find comfortable. I always like Skirms as a lab to experiment with skills and builds whenever I need to, e.g. after Turbine changed everything with Helm’s Deep.

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  7. Pendan

    With the VIP bonus XP (similar to rested exp) if you only do a few quests turn ins a day they are doubled for experience. It is possible then to stick to just the epic story to level up.

    One of the problems I had while slow leveling with the VIP bonus was the quest did not tell you how much exp you would get for completing them when picked up. Some days I would just do 2 quest turn ins and my bonus would be used up and other times would be 6 or more. About half my progress from 65 to current 102 was from holiday events like winterfest when I would do a few quests every day with the VIP bonus.

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