Back in Middle Earth – for now
About a week ago I decided to have a look again at Lord of the Rings Online. This was a game that I pre-ordered and got the founder’s 6 month option for, but stopped playing after 2 months.
What destroyed the game for me then was too much grind elements (resource grind, kill grind), uninspiring quests (too many kill X boars type of quests) and camping/spawn competition for the mobs/resources necessary for that grind.
I did however really like the setting and the mood elements that was part of the environment. While I do have read J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels (and not just Lord of the Rings), I cannot say that I am a Tolkien fan or even a fantasy fan – I read a lot of fantasy in pre-teens and teens, but that stopped later. With the exception of Terry Pratchett the number of fantasy books I have read in the past 20-25 years can probably be counted on my fingers. So I cannot say that the setting fitting with J.R.R. Toolkien’s work has a big impact for my enjoyment of the game. Nice, but not much more than that.
I decided to jump in the game with one of the new classes introduced with the Mines of Moria expansion – the nuker/healer combo of the Rune-keeper and the need to balance each side properly sounded quite interesting to try out.
Rune-keepers are persons that fight with words (the pen is mightier than the sword); however their effects are quite mage-like compared to other fantasy games. Only dwarves and elves could be Rune-keepers and since I won’t play an elf it had to be dwarf.
The Rune-keeper has an extra user interface element, an attunement bar in the middle of the screen. This reflects the current state of the attunement, if it is more towards damage or towards healing. The more one is attuned in either direction, the more effective the skills for that side are. Some skills may have prerequisites on the attunement and thus can only be used during some circumstances. If one is not in a fight the attunement goes back to the stady-state in the middle. There are also some skills to move the attunement towards the stady-state also.
While most of the skills in the beginning have been oriented towards damage dealing, there has also been some healing skills combining those have certainly been useful. While easy/regular mobs can be dealt with through the damage path without too much effort, some tougher mobs required some more thought in how to use the skills. In particular I liked the level 15 class quest at Weathertop, which more or less forced some good use of both types of attunement to complete the quest.
The outfit for my dwarf will not win any fashion rewards and with the attunement bar in the middle of the screen (do not know yet of any way to remove/move it), pictures are not going to be that great, as can be seen above. The environment really looks good though.
While I did see some changes compared to 1 1/2 year ago, most of the content in the beginning seemed pretty much the same as I remembered it, including the grindy parts. I have not had any issues with competing for resources though, which made it more bearable. The environment is a plus though. I am still in early teen levels though. I did notice that the female brigands in Bree-land did not express the same level of satisfaction with the fights as they used to. Many human mobs are Keanu Reeves wannabes, which makes it slightly creepy. This is probably an issue with many games, but somehow I think it is more noticeable in Lord of the Rings Online.
Not sure how much I will play the game going forward. I really like some parts – the setting in general and the main story lines are nice, but I do not like the grindy elements. The Rune-keeper feels like a nice class so far and I do want to continue to try him out.