Last week I posted about Lossless Scaling as a possible work around to SSG’s ongoing plan of just ignoring that the Lord of the Rings Online UI remains stuck in 2007… though, given its relationship to past Turbine titles, I might extend that back to 2002 and Asheron’s Call 2. So it is time for a bit of an update on how that is going and the game in general here in 2023.
Lossless Scaling works pretty well. I played every day for the last week for at least an hour and found it to be a decent work around. It has its quirks. As I mentioned, there is the whole cursor loss thing (which, according to a comment on my post, can be solved by hitting Alt+Enter twice) and it does occasionally decide to stop scaling because some background operation kicks in, reducing me to the smaller windowed mode.
It is not a perfect solution. A lot of text, like the quest helper below the mini-map, remains too tiny for me to read without picking up my reading glasses and leaning into the screen. That isn’t a huge issue early in the game, where I remember so many of the quests, but should I succeed in my goal and make it to and past Mirkwood, it will be an issue.
Overall Lossless Scaling is just a bandage. It is a nice and effective bandage, but it is still covering a wound in the game that may prove more debilitating, if not fatal, as time marches on.
Meanwhile, OneLauncher, which is faster and lighter than the official launcher, still won’t patch the game for me. I haven’t quite figured that out, but when patch day hits I have to go to the old launcher and let it do its ponderous thing.
As for my brawler in Middle-earth, he has been moving right along.
I got him out of The Shire pretty quickly because, and I am being honest with you here, I am not a big fan of the quests there.
Yes, I love the place and that I can go visit Bag End and the Party Tree and Michel Delving and more places from the books. But I am not a fan of fetch and carry quests, even cute ones involving the various inns spread out over the landscape or the ones about pies. I’m here to defeat Sauron, not deal with your hobbit bs!
Fortunately, the changes to the leveling curve over the years meant that I got through The Shire pretty quickly. My only goal was to stick to the epic book storyline quests and whatever other things I could do pretty easily along the way.
I was pretty quickly across the Brandywine… though maybe a bit too quickly. I was nervous about taking on quests too far above my level. But I shouldn’t have been. Under level 20 my hobbit brawler basically punched his problems away. He kept getting new combat skills, but I found that the first four he acquired were good enough to punch on through any conflict. I should probably go back and learn his skills at some point, but for now I have mettle building punch 1 and punch 2 and finisher 1 and 2.
I don’t even know what the skills are called… though that is, in part, because the text is so small and the iconography is still in the same crappy, uninformative style it was back in the day. (See this post from 2009 about skill icons.) Seriously, they should be twice as big on the bar, in .svg or some other vector format so they scale well, with a much subdued background color (every brawler combat skill is on a bright blood red background that overwhelms the actual graphic, hindering visual identification), and of something that makes a lick of goddam sense relative the actual skill.
I lump this into UI updates that the game needs along with support for higher resolutions.
Anyway, my little hobbit punch buggy managed to punch his way through the old forest, around the barrow downs, and into the great barrow without much effort.
As you can see, I have also been trying to live up to my plan to keep the celebration pig in tow during my adventure. I forget sometimes, but when I hit some key point I usually remember to get him on scene.
One disappointment is that the pig goes away when you mount up. However, this is somewhat mitigated by the fact that riding the mounts between stable masters does not hide your pet. So the pig races behind you, fountains in full bloom.
Anyway, I made it into my 20s, and got what I think is the last title for going undefeated.
Of course I am the “undying” here. Nobody dies. Nobody has health. You have a morale bar and when you run out of morale you merely retreat. Do you even play the game… game?
Anyway, on wrapping up the great barrow it was off to Bree to get the next destination in the story line… which, is the Lone Lands of course, one of my favorite places. Getting into Bree on Landroval can be a bit taxing on your GPU if you’re trying to get to the Prancing Pony because bands are literally lined up around the place at peak hours.
Anyway, you get in to talk to Strider, but he’s gone… so the he and the hobbits have left town so Barliman sends you to speak to Gandalf, who completes the current quest chain. But for some reason Gandalf has two paths forward. One gets you around to Weathertop in the Lone Lands. And the other one teleports your ass to Rivendell for reasons I still can’t quite grasp.
I know, they threw in some lore related quests to get you into the spirit of things and make you feel like you’re part of the story. Somebody decided that players wouldn’t stick with the game if they didn’t meet Elrond, Boromir, and Legolas at that very juncture. But then you’re kind of stuck in the Trollshaws, which you are not high enough level to deal with, so you need to thumb a ride back to Bree to get on with the actual main storyline.
So I did that and got back to the Lone Lands. I once wrote here that one of the reasons I like the Lone Lands is that I’ve played through the quests so many times that I know them by heart, so for a brief juncture I feel like the hero of something, not an out-of-towner trying to read the map to figure out where this spider or that half-orc live.
Then there are my old favorites, like Pengail, the most aggressive escort quest NPC ever.
If you have been reading my work for a while, I reference Pengail now and then because he and Sarah Oakheart are literally legends in the pantheon of escort quest NPCs.
And then there is Candaith, the ranger, who starts you off in the whole zone, if you have followed Gandalf’s path and haven’t just gone directly to the Forsaken Inn, which I tend to do. For a ranger though he spends a lot of time just sitting around in his camp waiting for you to finish up the heavy lifting. And even once he commits to going with you up Weathertop, he finds a dodge at the very summit of the quest.
I remember this fight at the summit of Weathertop being pretty tough back in the day. Something requiring a fellowship to be sure. And even after they made a solo version, it wasn’t a walk over back in the day.
This time, however, I just punched my way through it. Minions of darkness, hill troll, whatever, the punch-punch time sent them packing.
Then it was onward through the Lone Lands to Ost Guruth, where Radagast the Brown was waiting to carry on the tale. He always looks slightly off his rocker to me… probably intentionally.
And that is how far I have made it, playing a bit each evening. Some day I am going to open up my guy’s talent tree and apply those skill points he keeps collecting. Have to find it first though. Damn UI with such tiny print.