Archive for lotro

The End Is Nigh! (at least for 2012)

Posted in Diary, Guild Wars 2, lotro, Mass Effect with tags , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2012 by Corleth

So, as 2012 moves into its final hours, I thought I’d cast my casual gamer’s eye over what I’ve played during the year.

At the start of the year, I was spending most of my gaming time in Star Wars: The Old Republic. My bounty hunter was brought to level 25 during January but the monthly subscription was not something I was willing to pay on an ongoing basis, so by end of the month, I was looking for pastures new.

SWTOR - Bounty Hunter

SWTOR – Bounty Hunter

During February and March, I went back to LoTRO, bringing two alts though the Rise of Isenguard content, and engaging in the new Draigoch raid with my kin, together with some of the 3-man instances as well as ‘The Foundry’ 6-man. About the time that the Great River (Update 6) was released in early March, however, I began to suffer a serious bout of LoTRO burn out. Three toons brought through to level 75 turned out to be more than enough and The Great River offered only limited interest, together with a further reputation grind with little tangible reward. My attention wandered…

So it was that on the advice of a friend, I stumbled across the Mass Effect series. My first long period away from MMOs since the latter half of 2007 ensued. I played my way through Mass Effect 1, 2 and 3, twice over; once with a male Commander Shepard and once with a female. I can’t recommend the ME series highly enough, and I’ll have a huge soft spot for these games for many years to come. The ending to ME3 was the only sour spot…one that was sweetened only slightly by the free DLC that Bioware brought out during the summer. The ME series tells a super story, and it’s a story where the ending is, well, not what I’d have liked, even with the amended ending that comes with the DLC.

Mass Effect 3 - The Finale

Mass Effect 3 – The Finale

After Mass Effect came a gaming-lull which I filled with a semi-enthusiastic return to LoTRO, this time as a free-to-play player as opposed to a VIP (subscription player).

The LoTRO event of the year, the launch of Update 8, The Riders of Rohan (ROR) expansion never really titillated me, but I eventually took the plunge and pre-ordered the ‘basic edition’ two days before its release in mid-October. Surprisingly, at least to me, I have in the main enjoyed what RoR has had to offer and am still playing LoTRO a few days a week on the back of its content and updates. Mounted combat, open tapping and auto-looting have all been greatly appreciated. That said Turbine, or ‘Turbgind’ as I now call them, are still insisting on bringing out highly-grindy content, as evidenced by the unnecessarily long ‘rebuild Hytbolt’ requirements (40-odd days?? Why??!), together with the grind required to pick up the very handsome war steed cosmetic set within this year’s Yule festival. Others concur, I think!

LOTRO - Mounted Combat

LOTRO – Mounted Combat

For many, the visibility of the LoTRO store is now destroying their ‘immersion’ and in this vein Jacquotte recently wrote a post that indicated why she wouldn’t be blogging about LoTRO for the foreseeable future. For my part, game world immersion is not a priority and I have no issue with LoTRO’s multiplicity of store links – I just ignore them. As I see it, world immersion is obviously important if you’re actually looking to not just associate with your toons, but also to role-play them. I’m not interested in role-playing and whilst association with my characters has to be achieved to hold my attention, I don’t need to believe in their virtual worlds while playing. My kids build Lego models and play with them on their bedroom floor. I build MMO characters in game-worlds more graphically spectacular than any bedroom floor, so my imagination has less work to do than that of my kids’…but what my imagination does manage is generally enough to keep me absorbed, unless I’m asked to do the same tasks over and over and over and over and…you get the idea?

So, enough of LoTRO. At this point it’s worth mentioning that I did consider a return to SWTOR’s now free-to-play environment, but numerous reports of the overly restrictive nature of the SWTOR free-to-play model have simply put me off even being bothered re-installing the game. Unless things change dramatically there, I won’t be going back, not even to take a small peek.

Guild Wars 2 has made up the majority of my gaming diet for the last few months of the year. I bought this title on the back of some excellent feedback from fellow kin-mates, and have totally fallen for ArenaNet’s gem. I’ve now brought an elementalist to the level 80 cap, and remain only a run though the final dungeon of Arah away from completing her personal story. Unlike Syp, I’ve no real interest in going for 100% world completion on a single character, but I do share the same contentment with the current end-game exotic gear such that I see no reason to chase ‘ascended’ or ‘legendary’ versions. This means I’m now enjoying the delights of my new level 10 necromancer as I move to my first GW2 alt.

GW2 - Elementalist

GW2 – Elementalist

As an aside, whist I dabbled in the GW2 Wintersday events, and have my very own ‘Plush Griffon’ mini-pet, similar to LoTRO’s Yule festival offering, I think it’s too grindy. Most of the rewards are therefore off my radar.

My only surprise with regard to GW2 is how many of those that initially extolled the virtues of this game, have since disappeared – moving back to LoTRO, or on to pastures new. Admittedly I was a latecomer to the game but I feel that my engagement with this fine, fine MMO will last a good deal longer than a few more months. 2013 will tell a lot anyway.

A quick mention to some titles in which I’ve invested at least a little of my time, but not mentioned above:

  • I really enjoyed Orcs Must Die which I picked up for almost nothing on Steam. A bargain and one that my 9 year old son still appreciates too!
  • My dislike for Portal and Portal 2 is still strong. Despite several attempts to ‘get into’ these games, recommended to me, they just keep leaving me cold.
  • Left For Dead 2, for me, doesn’t have the grip of LFD1. A fun game in its own right, I just prefer the original.
  • My latest ‘a bit on the side’ game is The Walking Dead, which is something a little bit different…if my current love affair with GW2 begins to wane, I’ve no doubt I’ll enjoy digging further into its story.

So, what do I see in my gaming crystal ball for the forthcoming year?

  • Well, more GW2, that’s for sure.
  • LoTRO on a casual basis.
  • Finishing up ‘The Walking Dead’.
  • Possibly dipping my toe into ‘The Secret World’.

Beyond that…anything else will be a nice surprise! I wish everyone a healthy and happy 2013.

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80s and 85s – But what next?

Posted in Diary, Guild Wars 2, lotro with tags , , , on December 17, 2012 by Corleth

As I type this, my LoTRO installation is patching to ‘Update 9’. There’s a fair bit in this update, but the most anticipated will surely be the new 3-man which are officially a part of the RoR expansion. These instances may well hold my interest over the Christmas period but I doubt the new Yule Festival will – the latter sounds like a rather big grind and that is something I’m not willing to take on, at the moment.

In-game, my loremaster has hit level 85 about three weeks ago, and I’ve done very little since. Some Hytbolt grinding has seen me get the Hytbolt armor pieces that I wanted – I’m currently running with the head and shoulders from the Hytbolt set combined with the chest, legs, gloves and shoulders from the Draigoch set. The reason for this mix is down to the complete lack of fate on the Hytbolt set for LMs – and I like to run with a good wedge of fate for improved critting.

Anyhow, I’m now at the stage where I have very little motivation or enthusiasm for grinding out the rest of the Hytbolt tokens required to finish the rebuild…I’m reckoning another 20-odd days will be required to see the job done but for….what? I could easily start moving another of my level 75s through the RoR expansion, but I don’t have a lot of enthusiasm for that either. So the new 3-man instances are really all I’m looking at inside LoTRO, at the moment.

On the other hand my recent time in GW2 has been fun and challenging. My elementalist hit level 80 about ten days ago and I’m finding the end game areas a tough ask. I’ve been dying a lot whilst moving though the ‘Straights of Devastation’ and working on my personal story out of Fort Trinity. That said, when I hit 80, I was running around in gear that was, in the main, only of ‘fine’ quality (i.e. the blue stuff!) and most of it was level 70 or below. So, my main issue has been trying to upgrade to rare or better gear, at or around the 80 mark. Gradually, it’s coming together and I’m finding that I’m a little less ‘glass’ and a bit more ‘cannon’.

Guess Where...

Guess Where…

Being used to the LoTRO environment where most of the level-cap solo content is fairly innocuous, GW2 has been a bit of a shock. That said the challenge has been, and continues to be, welcome. Add to that the size of the world (I’m currently at 43% complete) and I can see myself leveling at least one other toon through to 80 in due course, as I’ve no intention of going for world completion on one single character – at least at the moment.

Flying High in GW2

Flying High in GW2

So, going forward, my immediate GW2 aims are a full set of rare (‘yellow’) gear, and completion of my personal story. Then maybe launch into a second toon. Plenty to do!

I need a dollar, dollar…or even some more gold…

Posted in Diary, Guild Wars 2, lotro with tags , , , , , on November 14, 2012 by Corleth

Since the RoR expansion came out in LoTRO, I’ve found my level of ‘Ennui’ with LoTRO somewhat diminished, so the amount of time that I’ve spent in GW2 has decreased accordingly.

That said, I have been tipping away on my elementalist, and over last weekend I brought her up to the dizzying heights (well, maybe not quite dizzying!) of level 57. Most of my fellow guild members are running around with level 80 toons at this stage, and are busily engaged in World vs. World stuff…whatever that may be… 😉

Personal Story - Initiate of the Order of Whispers

Personal Story – Initiate of the Order of Whispers

Me, I’ve been more than happy just pottering along on my lonesome, jumping into events as they occur, attending to my personal story-line and, errrrrrm, trying to make a few shillings. GW2 is without doubt a hard place to turn a coin. At level 40, a new training manual becomes available from your profession trainer, but the cost is 1 gold – I was just short of level 50 before I could afford mine. That little expenditure wiped me out, and I’m still trying to rebuild my bank balance. When you have no cash, trying to keep armor  weapons and other accoutrements up-to-date is tough going. So much so that I don’t bother. This probably means a few more deaths than necessary, which in turn means more repair bills, which means…yup …less cash. Bummer.

Meandering through GW2

Meandering through GW2

It’s doesn’t take a doctorate in MMO design to see that GW2 is trying to ‘encourage’ us punters to cough up real world money in order to supplement our in-game finances. Fair play to ‘em for trying, I say. So far I’m a holdin’ out and, as I’m strictly casual with GW2, I think I’ll be holding out for quite some time to come!

To end on a positive note, I completed my first GW2 dungeon last night – a ‘story run’ through the Ascalonian Catacombs. Dungeons (or instances if you prefer) in LoTRO, especially end-game dungeons are ‘full meals’, some are three-course, some five-course, some well-cooked, others not so much…but always plenty of meat. From my first visit to a GW2 dungeon, I’d have to say the content is more akin to a buffet. Very tasty, well laid out, but fast and not too much thought required. All good fun!

More 'acoutrements' required?!

More ‘acoutrements’ required?!

Byrgenstow Map

Posted in Deeds, lotro with tags , , , , , , on November 4, 2012 by Corleth

There is a deed and several quests in the Byrgenstow cave system:

  • Deed – Chambers of Byrgenstow.
  • Quest – Chieftain of the Dead (kill Henmaru).

Here’s a couple of maps of the Byrgenstow cave system that I knocked up for myself – hope some may find them useful…

Byrgenstow Map - Level 1

Byrgenstow Map – Level 1

Byrgenstow Map - Level 2

Byrgenstow Map – Level 2

If anyone spots any mistakes, or has the names of other quests in here handy, please post a comment!

Shhhhhhhhh! Whisper It Quietly!

Posted in Diary, lotro with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2012 by Corleth

Such is my level of enjoyment, when playing my elementalist in Guild Wars 2, that I simply had to choose one of my squishy spell-casters in LoTRO, in order to begin my journey through Rohan in a semi-familiar vein. In the end, I chose my loremaster, and even then I nearly gave up before I really got going. In some ways, I think I was looking for a reason to not play RoR at all, just so I could stick with GW2. Anyhow, I gave it a go, and this is how it’s gone…

The continuation of LoTRO’s epic quest line, introduced with ‘Update 8’, picks up in Lothlorien, in less than exciting fashion. It’s a typical LoTRO style opening, where you have to run from A to B, back to A, on to C, back to B, etc, blah, blah, in order to complete a quest that could have been handled in less than half the time if the designer(s) had thought about from the player’s perspective. Anyhow, I stuck it out and, eventually, found my way into Rohan proper. And then, shock horror, the fun started.

Update 8 - Continues the LoTRO epic quest line in Rohan.

Update 8 – Continues the LoTRO epic quest line in Rohan.

So, at this point, it’s worth getting a single fact out there…whisper it quietly, but *I’m actually enjoying Rohan*. The music is fantastic for a start, and I simply adore the auto-looting; open tapping is a nice extra too. Most of all though, I’m loving mounted combat. Heck, I hadn’t even thought about mounted combat until the expansion was actually downloading and many folks are comparing it to “trying to control Bambi-on-ice”, but I have to say I feel quite at home, to the point that I now feel naked when engaging enemies on foot. Whoever would have thought?! I’m currently using a light war steed with my now level 81 LM, and it seems to fit my mounted combat style well. Fast. Manoeuvrable. The job.

There’s a fair amount of comment out there with regard to the cost of the cosmetics for the war steeds, but I have no real interest in their cosmetic look so I can’t say I’m breaking sweat, one way or the other. That said, if you are into your cosmetics, the prices do indeed look exceptionally steep! I genuinely feel sorry for the likes of Hymne who have had a metaphorical bear-skin rug pulled from under themby Turbine’s pricing policy.

Falls of Rauros

Falls of Rauros

Elsewhere in RoR, now I’m a genuine free-to-play ‘Premium’ player, I’ve been unpleasantly surprised by some of the items that Turbine wants me to cough up Turbine Points (TP) for. A good example would be access to new guild crafting tier – Eastemnet. I’m thinking that once all of my crafters have maxed out their Eastemnet tier, I might subscribe again for a single month, just to avoid having to pay the 300 or so TP on 7 separate toons (Weaponsmith, Armoursmith, Woodworker, Scholar, Cook, Tailor and Jeweller).

The other ‘nasty’ that seems to have caught many folks, me included, is that the sixth bag (as and when Turbine get it working, allegedly in release 8.1) can only be bought once you’ve bought the fourth and fifth bags. Most VIP players, past or present, have access to bags one though five on their toons, but, critically, they still have to buy bags four and five before bag six becomes available to them in the ‘Store’. That’s worth a BIG ‘Meh’ from my perspective.

LoTRO - still very pretty

LoTRO – still very pretty

In general though, RoR has a real epic feel to it, and in terms of game-play, I reckon that it blasts the last two expansions – Mirkwood and Isenguard – out of the water. Not since Moria was released, has LoTRO made such a big jump forward. Graphically speaking, I’m not seeing anything too radically different in the landscape, but the demands of mounted combat are certainly pushing my two-year-old graphics card to its limits (nasty laggy stuff happening from time to time), so I’m now thinking that an upgrade is going to be necessary in the not-too-distant future. Time to start writing my list to Santa…

RoR Launch Day

Posted in Diary, lotro with tags , , , on October 15, 2012 by Corleth

The screen capture below was taken of my kin’s website just under two years ago, on 2nd November 2010. At the time, the then Codemasters servers were down for the patching of the Siege of Mirkwood expansion.

Mirkwood Patch Day - 2nd November 2010

Mirkwood Patch Day – 2nd November 2010

 

With ’15 Members online’, the interest back then was markedly more intense than it is today for the much larger and more ambitious ‘Riders of Rohan’ expansion. Two years ago, those 15 (and more) were all excitedly checking for updates on our LoTRO server status, waiting to see who could get online first. Today, for RoR (aka Update 8), the number on the kin’s website at any one time can more-or-less be counted on one hand. To me, this is not a reflection on the size of the guild, which if anything has grown, but more a reflection on the amount of – and intensity of – interest in RoR.

Many of the long time LoTRO players are now active in MMO pastures new, and whilst many will undoubtedly play RoR, the degree of excitement is, in general, much diluted. Newer MMOs such as SWTOR, GW2 and TSW are all helping us get new thrills elsewhere.

At time of writing, I haven’t managed to download/patch RoR yet, but it will need to change LoTRO fairly radically for my level of enthusiasm to be rekindled to that which I had for the game back in November 2010. That said, LoTRO is still a fine game and still probably the most picturesque MMO of the pack so I am looking forward to exploring Rohan.

Cute, Turbine, Cute…

Posted in Diary, lotro with tags , , , , on September 14, 2012 by Corleth

Turbine are cute. No, not ‘cute‘ as in ‘attractive’ – ‘cute’ as in ‘clever’. They don’t want you to prepare for going free-to-play. That would be bad form!

Bad form, old boy, fad form!

Bad form, old boy, bad form!

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve decided to let my LoTRO subscription lapse; I no longer can justify paying a subscription for a game that I know I’m only going to play sporadically, going forward. I’m going free-to-play, in other words.

However, that doesn’t mean I want to block myself from playing content in the earlier zones, so my plan, once my subscription lapses in a couple of weeks time is:

  • to pick up the digital version of ‘the Mithril edition’ for €15, which will give me the quest packs for the Trollshaws, Eregion, Moria, and Lothlorien – plus 2000 Turbine Points (TP).
  • to also pre-order the basic ‘Riders of Rohan’ expansion which itself comes with another 1000TP.
LOTRO mithril edition

LOTRO mithril edition

I already have access to Mirkwood and Dunland [having purchased the related expansions at the time of their respective releases]. This will leave me missing the Lonelands, Northdowns, Evendim, Forochel, Angmar, Misty Mountains, Enedwaith and the Great River. Going forward, any of these that I find I require can be paid for using some of the above mentioned 3000TP.

However, this week sees all existing quest packs on sale, at 25% off, in the LoTRO store…yet I can’t buy any of them because my VIP subscription doesn’t expire for another two weeks!! Does anyone think that Turbine would be good enough to cancel my VIP subscription 7 to 10 days early so that I can purchase some quest packs on the cheap?!

I thought not…

GW2 is wins again!

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