So yeah, we ended up back in Middle Earth. Nearly a full year after our last time there – which lasted only a month. Lotro was not my favorite to be honest, though my chosen character class, the Hunter, fits my playstyle quite well.
Last time in Middle Earth, I loved the storyline that really helped progress you from area to area smoothly. I really enjoyed crafting, though I ended up not doing farming/cooking, which is my usual favorite in MMO’s. My mother in law once asked a farming related question, which I answered with my usual charm, adding only “but I’m not really a farmer, I just play one in a game.” My mother in law, well aware of my gaming habits, actually chuckled a little at that one. I think I skipped it in Lotro because I never did find the starting elf farmlands, and I was playing an elf. Apparently elves don’t farm.
Anyway, I eventually out crafted myself and then realized I would have to wait several levels to catch up, which put a dent in my enthusiasm as well.
Mostly though I loved all the lore, titles, and traits one could acquire. I have a tendency to wander, not only in my blog posting (and you thought I didn’t know that about myself) but also in games exploring. And Lotro tends to encourage and reward that. But ME is not my favorite venue, and though I honor Tolkien as one of the progenitors of fantasy, its kinda like watching Casablanca – on the one hand, its neat to see the seeds that others have drawn on over the years, and on the other hand, you cringe to see the primitive routes of imagination and you automatically superimpose the cheeziness of future failures onto the original.
And unfortunately, the economy is shot to hell and back, like most mmo’s after the first year or so. Perhaps my biggest gripe is also the most insignificant in the game, but most irritating from a developmental standpoint: housing.
All the adverts and early indications say that houses are available from level 15 onward. Given how long it takes to get mounts in most games, it seemed like a dream come true that I might have a place of my own. But its one of the worst cases of false advertising I’ve seen. At level 15, there is absolutely no chance of being able to pay for even a simple house, unless perhaps you’ve been doing nothing but playing the insane market, but even then, its freakish because the cost of your abilities, paid out every other level, usually outstrips what you can make via quests and grinding. So in some sense you are forced to craft just to survive and break even and squirrel a little away – in hopes that one day you might be able to afford that cozy little home.
But I give Turbine props for listening to feedback and revamping the new player experience in the last update. Making it easier for new players to catch up and enjoy themselves is very important. When I logged in after the last update and saw the the XP curve had been made a little shallower, and that overnight I had gained 3 levels. Outside of DAOC, that was the best gift I’ve been given by a developer, as a player, to help enjoy the game more. It answered a question I put to a fellow player when he was wide eyed in excitement at the last EQ2 update, telling me all about what good stuff there was in it. He had a level 70+, and I was working on a level 30 at the time. “That’s great,” I said, “but what of that helps me?”
Even with that though, I’ve had a hard time maintaining my interest. In part because those fun solo storyline quests are now requiring a full group to complete, and those are scarce as hen’s teeth in the game. And for the simple fact that I did something rash and completely unlike me. I spontaneously downloaded a game trial. For a game I never thought I would enjoy and thus never tried.
Yes, I’ve been playing EVE. Be scared, be very scared. My “carebear” days just might be over!