Sunday, 20 June 2010

PolyMMOgamy: LotRO

Post soundtrack: “Feelin’ Good” by Nina Simone

My ears perked up when I heard about the f2p changes coming for Lord of the Rings Online (hereafter LotRO), and I decided to give it a try in that special way I have.  Namely, I bought a copy and started paying for it.

A busy hobbit, earning her subscription.

I know, I know, I could have picked it up for free if I’d only waited…  But this way I’ll have access to all the content come launch day – and get a stipend of turbine points on top of that, for the subscription paid until f2p launch.  And, I get to play it now.  (To top it all off, I was able to pick up the Mines of Moria collectors edition for only slightly more than purchasing the digital edition, and I loves me my boxes)

What about the game itself?  It’s actually pretty fun (and on the whole, less dependent on outside help while you level than Warhammer was).  There are some differences in mechanics that I’m still getting my head around (such as the tiered levelling system for crafting, and the way you choose a pre-set vocation (essentially a trio of professions) instead of WoW’s à la carte selection, and don’t get me started on the lack of bag space), but on the whole it’s proving familiar enough that the transition has been pretty easy.

For the time-being I’m focussing on my first character, Opalinna, a hobbit hunter (who hit level 30 this evening, incidentally).  As far as professions go she is an Explorer, which means she has access to Forester (harvesting and processing animal hides and logs into leather and planks respectively), Prospecting (mining and smelting) and Tailoring (crafting light and medium armour).

Travelling, old-school.

Hunters in LotRO are primarily ranged damage-dealers, but without the support of pets that we’ve come to know and love in WoW – incidentally, there are two pet classes, the Lore-master (who has a pet bear or raven) and Captain (who has a buff-bot in the form of a herald, like an adult version of the squire you get from the Argent Tournament in WoW), but I haven’t had experience with either one at this stage.  It’s a pretty simple class to play, but very satisfying when you can kill your target before it gets to you.

I’m also still dabbling in both Wizard101 and DDO.  With the expectation that with LotRO to distract me enough that I wouldn’t spend enough time playing Wizard101 to justify a subscription (an accurate forecast, it turns out), I put the money into crowns instead.  At least this way what I pay for, I keep.

I also bought some turbine points for DDO, and have bought my first Adventure Pack for the game, The Sharn Syndicate.  It’s only a short series of dungeons, but entertaining (especially the one where you get conned into taking the fall for a bank robbery).  I’m playing a dual-class Barbarian/Rogue, and the combination of stealth and backstab-with-great-axe is quite… visceral.  It’s handy to be able to hire an npc (usually a cleric, for me) to help out in some tougher instances – I guess my antisocial nature is shining through.

The Shire, home to the hobbits, being quietly pastoral for your enjoyment.

Last but not least, WoW.  I’m barely bothering to log on to do transmutes and post cut gems (and crafted ICC cloth gear) on the AH.  My enthusiasm for the game is at an all-time low, and the Ruby Sanctum isn’t even making a ripple.  I doubt I’ll be picking up another game-time card before the Cataclysm pre-launch event at this rate. 

WoW is in an odd space for me; I tend to solo-play my MMOs (although I’ve joined a guild for LotRO), but I’m finding WoW is something that I get a lot more pleasure out of when I’m in a guild of people I know (and, ideally, like).  But I just don’t have the energy to put into finding a guild that has that just-right vibe to it, possibly because I’ve run out of ‘new’ things to do in the game at the moment, and it’s easier to just fade away (at least until something new is introduced – and a new raid doesn’t count, when I’m not raiding).

I did briefly considering trying to put some cosmetic gear sets together – about the only thing I was able to think of that caught my interest.  (The rogue T7.5 set is actually pretty appealing, especially when teamed up with the Shattered Sun Offensive tabard.  And for priests, you really can’t go past the T5 set from SSC/TK.)  The downside, of course, is that as these only drop from raid content, which means they can’t be solo-farmed.  Well, four items of the T7 can also be purchased with (lots!) of down-ranked emblems of triumph, but it’s all too easy to get sick to death of re-running random heroics.

Sadly, never meant to be...

So where does that leave me?  Pretty much in the same space I’ve been for the last couple of months: playing less and less WoW, and more and more of everything else.  Fortunately there’s no shortage of not-WoW to keep me amused.