Late Night Post, Which Way To Rivendell Again?

I got a lot of good feedback after writing about some of my issues with leveling. Even though I have further thoughts on the subject, some of which is probably going to be published on another site in the near future, I decided to be a good boy and give Lord of the Rings Online another chance.

Mr Smirky

Redthir the Rune Keeper, or "Mr Smirky" as I prefer to call him. Such a lovely hat, Mr Smirky!

I can’t get over the fact that I used to be a huge Tolkien fan and I’ve hardly explored Turbine’s version of Middle Earth yet. It’s silly, but the small child in me is always filled with such fuzzy geeky feelings when I run through Bree, or see the rolling hills of the Shire. My biggest problems with LotRO are, and will probably always be, the character models. They don’t do Middle Earth justice in any way or form, so here’s hoping they have to launch the game in some part of the world where alternative models will be needed.

Or something, I don’t care, I just want an Elf female that doesn’t look like she’s kicking her own buttocks when she runs.

I keep nomading from game to game, World of Warcraft showed its true face pretty fast and the bright idea that I was going to try my hand at raiding again flamed for a brief second (or day) and then fizzled out completely. I will treat it like a dungeon parade, doing an instance or two when I feel like it. Until Cataclysm, there really isn’t much else to do – I will just have come to terms with the fact that I will never get to kill Arthas.

I am sad to say it, but sometimes I feel that Blizzard are losing a bit of their touch. They re-invented the MMO, they made end-game raiding the norm, they’ve shown over and over again that they are at the kings of the genre. They do sweeping changes to the core of their game, changing and mutating it over time. But what some of us raised our eyebrows at when Wrath of the Lich King changed the raiding game completely from the hardcore days during The Burning Crusade, keeps mutating. That…”thing” that I can’t put my finger on, keeps growing and twisting.

Not always in that good, innovative way. Over the next couple of months, we will see what the gating of ICC means for the raiding guilds and what the LFD-tool will mean for the larger community. Then Cataclysm will land on top of the situation (said in the most neutral way possible) that Blizzard have created. I’m a bit confused on how the game will develop from here, how open world content will be made interesting again. Exciting times!

But until then, I will once again try to find my way to Rivendell and Moria. It’s taken me quite a long time, and I’m not sure I’m going to make it this time either. But it would be a boyish dream coming true if I do!

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  1. Stargrace says:

    Ah, a dream that I keep trying to get to as well! So far I haven’t made it there yet, but one of these days!

  2. Shawn says:

    I had recently left LOTRO for a brief stint in Fallen Earth. Now that I am back and have tried out the skirmishes (albeit solo thus far) I am really enjoying every minuet. err make that hour err hours. Oh never mind this conversation makes me wanna grind more skirmish marks.

  3. Spinks says:

    Even though I do genuinely like LOTRO, the actual game doesn’t have that more-ish aspect that WoW does for me. But one thing is for sure, their world is stunning.

    Definitely worth a run round Moria, it’s absolutely breathtaking. I thought, “If I was a dwarf, I’d be so proud that my ancestors built THIS,” and you can’t ask more than that.

  4. Docholiday says:

    The char models are a bit on the stiff side, but I’m usually paying more attention to the battle and my group that I don’t notice my movements nearly as much.

    But I 100% echo Spinks comments, there are some amazing moments in LOTRO that keep me happy and getting more then my money’s worth out of my lifetime subscription. Rivendell was one of the first, Lorien was another, but it took me a LONG time to pick my jaw off the floor when I first stepped into Moria.

    Turbine has missed the mark in certain areas, but there are LOTS that they’ve hit spot on!

  5. Longasc says:

    You are right about the stiff animations. Female models suffer especially from this, and as I did not like to play a dwarf or hobbit I became a human male – their animations are relatively good in comparison.

    I also still believe that starting out as a male human champion puts you in the most appealing starter zone and the class felt very right to me. You can collect lots of fancy heavy armors early on, as you can make tons of money from the early ores like copper and tin easily.

    Your hat is indeed silly, waaah! I also believe Runekeepers make the game a bit too easy, stuff dies too quickly – the same applies to hunters. Champions have at least to way till stuff gets in close for a few whacks.

    … and this leads me to WoW: The major issue is, stuff dies too quickly by now. Tobold recently divided average dps through hit points of average world mobs, and he came to some 2 seconds life expectancy.

    Blizzard’s major mistake was making the whole early game easier and more accessible. WHY? Nobody needed to kill Hogger all alone or the Mogrosh Ogres (they were once elite etc.). The same applies to lower level dungeons, they were usually run by a high level player anyways and were already nerfed several times, like the Sunken Temple people usually visit only once or twice anyways for quests.

    I was waiting full of genuine excitement for WOTLK and quit the game right after one month in WOTLK. What happened?

    Patch 3.x, right before WOTLK release, had two major effects: Most/all classes got buffed considerably AND all mobs in Outland got nerfed to have 30% less health and give more XP. I don’t know the exact numbers anymore, but mob groups got thinned out and made less powerful.

    But why?
    So that Death Knoobs have an easier time of powering through Outland? They were very imba at release and would not have needed this extra nerf on top of that. They are to blame for the “rush to the cap, then dungeons” mentality, too. Outland was a very nicely balanced area. Gear strength and mob strength were matching each other, this was no longer the case after this patch.

    There was a genuine flaw in Blizzard’s early DK experience: They did not want DKs to enter Northrend right away. So they had an early 58-60 Plague Lands tutorial, but who cares about them anyway, they went straight to the Dark Portal to Outland.

    IMO, it does not make sense that DK’s populate Outland at all. This was probably only intended that people have to buy TBC, too. They should have started out right at level 70 in Northrend, this is where they belong much more than to Outland.

    WOTLK almost offered no gear upgrades for any somewhat badge geared player for quite some time. The dungeons could be ripped apart by any somewhat decent group. The only one which was a bit trouble was the mirror match in Ahn’Kahet, as our healing Druid often did not get down his mirror image in time.

    CC was dead – AoE nuking rocked, and my Warlock had to use AoE spells to keep up with Paladin and DK tanks. Despite WOTLK being the most stunning WoW environment I had seen so far it quickly became stale.

    It became too quickly the usual routine, and I was already at max faction with the Kirin Tor without me really noticing it. The early WOTLK dungeons were by far easier than the old TBC dungeons, they might have been better with pre-patch 3.0 skills and abilities, who knows.

    So what will Cataclysm be? Revamped stats and abilities will basically be the next gear/char reset. Mobs will take longer to kill than 2 seconds. They were already easy to kill before people had Naxx and Ulduar loot, the situation becomes ridiculous and the disconnect between world and dungeons even worse as gear constantly got even better.

    It is a bit silly to tell people who still enjoy WoW that you think it has become worse, they usually ask you why – and this “thing” you called it is hard to explain. I just tried to what it might be. I don’t think that the new focus on “raiding for everyone” in WOTLK made the game better, rather the opposite.

    Right now I am in the Mirkwood in LOTRO. The Mirkwood endgame is less diverse than the Moria one, in fact it is a desaster. One of the 3 man dungeons gets farmed for emblems, skirmishes get farmed for legacy upgrade scrolls (skirmishes are a great idea, but in the end they are so genertic that they are not exciting at all, I would rather do another dungeon run in WoW) and the other two are left to rot. The only 6 man dungeon is a bit harder, nice, but already gets farmed for the very very rare 2nd age weapon token drop. Then you have a set of a daily crafting (kill 25 spiders) and two “Malledhrim Star” quests that become a daily routine.

    Oh great. I will be back in LOTRO once they release the next book update, I have already done the older book quests because the endgame is a longish grind for little gain. The very moment something new comes out they will tone it down considerably, as usual. At the moment it is just a hamster wheel to keep people playing. Which is a bit sad, as the Mirkwood is really a well done area.

    I wish they would find a way to make random skirmishes taking place at random places in the Mirkwood, right now the scenarios are very static. Or maybe something like public world quests, a bit in the spirit of the STO fleet actions. The best action I had in Mirkwood so far was the early “beachhead” experience, everything burning, Orcs everywhere.

    Take your time to read this when you have a free evening… ;)

  6. Ethic says:

    I finally reached Moria the other day and it is glorious. Another milestone in LOTRO for me. I love reaching places I have only read about before. Even though it’s not *really* Moria, it’s as close to reality as one can probably get.

    P.S. I hate the Elf models. Hobbit females FTW!

  7. Blue Kae says:

    LotRO gets my vote for the ugliest hat models and the most beautiful world. I’m not a fan of either the man/female elf animations, the rest are okay. Even after two years of play, I still love the hunter combat animations and sound effects (hearing the bow creak when I fire an arrow).

    • Yeebo says:

      You nailed it. Best environments in all of MMO space (only one or tow games get close), worst hats and helmets to ever grace a game…be it MMO, RPG, or the Atari 2600.

  8. Oddly enough I just commented on Spinks blog about how much I disliked the LotRO character models too :) The landscapes and scenery in the game look amazing but I never managed to bond with the characters. They just look kinda… funky…

  9. Yeebo says:

    I find the ire directed at the character models and animations by many commentators a bit overblown. I have played literally something like 40 or 50 of these games over the years, and the models in LoTRO are somewhere around “above average” for an MMO in my experience.

    The dolls they hang things on don’t have a lot of polys given the realistic style of the GFX. They also have an annoying tendency to paint textures on the dolls instead of actually creating 3D armor and clothing. They also also rarely bump map textures.

    Despite all that, the character models remain above average for a modern MMO. There are maybe half dozen MMOs with obviously better models than LoTRO. I have been playing these games since EQ. I also play a lot of FTP MMOs. Believe me, in all of MMO space the models in LoTRO are high end of average at worst.

    The problem is that the environments in LoTRO are nearly the best in all of MMO space (there are really only three serious contenders that are still up from what I have seen). Having average character models set against such good looking world is jarring.

    • Yeebo says:

      I feel compelled to correct one point. Looking back, I doubt I’ve played more than 30 MMOs, and less than that if you count the ones I lasted over two or three hours in. Apologies for the hyperbole.

    • Petter says:

      Personal preference, I guess. There are certainly worse character models out there, and it seems like you’ve had a much bigger share of them than I have. :D But there’s something about the ones in LotRO that just doesn’t sit right with me – proportions, build, running animations… I’m kinda with Ethic above, I probably have the easiest time with the hobbit females, but I get stuck on the lore-aspect when I try to play them…

      And Internet-hyperbole is excused. ;)

    • Blue Kae says:

      If I had to guess, I imagine most people who complain about the models are mostly talking about the running/walking animations. They don’t really bother me for any of the races except the elves, male and female. Good points about the worlds making the characters look worse though.

      It is a good thing Turbine has the options to turn off hats and has provided cosmetic costume slots, or I would never be able to enjoy playing my hunter. Light and heavy armor is usually pretty interesting looking, but medium armor is generally pretty blah.

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