Lord of the Rings Online: O Captain, My Captain

I loaded Lord of the Rings Online back onto my computer (where it replaced Vanguard and Guild Wars; my disk space is such that if a new game goes on, an old game has to come off). I’m not sure how I felt about the game. I’d not left it on the best of terms; after a bit of excitement, LotRO had settled into a series of horrid grinds. Kill N of X. Run to some far off place, and then run back.

When I logged in and selected my Captain, who was still in the Ranger town in the North Downs where I’d left her nearly two years ago, though, I was thinking just one thought:

I had no idea whatsoever how to play the game anymore. I figured I’d better start from scratch, so I made a Hobbit Warden named Ettie. That’s actually a kinda neat class, where you make various combos that are almost exactly like EQ2’s Heroic Opportunities, except you can do them alone. The newbie quests were the same they were two years ago, and they weren’t all that exciting then, so as soon as I got a handle on the game, I logged back on my Captain and took her back to the Lone Lands.

She’s 33 and the Lone Lands is a zone for characters in their teens, mostly, but it’s a good idea to get your bearings in a place you probably wouldn’t die.

I actually remembered a couple of the quests. They were hard to complete because all the places were so overcamped when I played. They are emptier now, and I quickly finished a long quest chain given by a Ranger who is lazing about in the woods near Weathertop.

His excuse for not fighting: Someone might see him.

No, really.

It’s okay if the forces of Evil Incarnate see ME, though.

When he sent me on the half hour run back to near Buckland, I figured I’d played enough for one night. I can’t take the post horses because my Captain is level 33, two levels from a horse, and that horse costs just about double the money she has now. Until the horse, money spent on expensive little jaunts across the Bree-lands is out of the question.

I have to show some orders to a Ranger there. And then, I have to (I imagine) run all the way back. So that’s an hour spent on a Fed Ex quest which consists entirely of me hitting autorun and watching something on Netflix, steering every so often.

Crappy quests have always been LotRO’s Achilles Heel with me. I’ve been told Elendim quests are a bit better. Once I think I can handle myself in a zone my level again, I’ll head there and see how things are.

I do hope it’s better. Otherwise I just look at games like LotRO, and then at games like Wizard 101, Dream of Mirror Online and Chronicles of Spellborn, and wonder why LotRO decided to go the route of grind and boredom when they could have written a fun game?

The kinship I was in was dissolved, I was informed. I got a ninja invite to another one as I ran out of Bree, but I think I can do without random invite guilds for now :P

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Tipa

Web developer for a Connecticut-based insurance company that's over 200 years old! Also a bicycler, a blogger, a kayaker, and a hunter of bridges.

17 thoughts on “Lord of the Rings Online: O Captain, My Captain”

  1. Hah, your captain looks about the same as mine. I think I got my captain to level 34 before I burned out on the grind. Having just rewatched the extended versions of Lord of the Rings, I’ve been very tempted to go back to that game.

  2. It’s funny, I just went back to playing some LOTRO this weekend as well. I’ve been playing my elven warden so far, and really like it, but I’m sure I’ll go back to my other characters soon as well.

  3. Hm… I see you and a number of other bloggers returning to Lotro Tipa and I am both excited and nervous at the same time. I think Lotro is great and I think the game has gone from strength to strength but I also know there is a lot of boring repetition in the game. You mentioned the preponderance of “kill ten goblins” but there are also a fair number of pointless travel quests and just wait until you decide to try and maximise your traits by killing umpteen thousand critters. Yet despite all this I think it is a great game with a terrific community. The lore is terrific, in particular the attention to detail. Although it is not really a raiding game it has loads of really good small group content. The epic quest line is particularly good both in terms of content and rewards but be prepared for a lot of that pointless travel I mentioned. The relatively mature community means that pugs are always an option, not as good of course as a kinship group but generally not a hair tearing out experience either.

    I guess the reason for my nervousness is that if the game really annoyed you before then it may well do so again and I am fearful of a new round of “I am quitting Lotro” blogs in a few weeks time. I do believe the quality of the game content has improved with each patch. Moria is a genuine triumph but there is a lot of very good stuff in Evendim, South Trollshaws, Forochel and Angmar too. I think you have to approach the game with an appropriately relaxed frame of mind. Take your time and enjoy the scenery. Also if you want to enjoy a lot of that small group content it might be worth looking out for a good size, casual friendly kinship. Although such a group won’t win prizes for raid firsts (not really the point of Lotro) having a large group of contacts makes it easy to get fellowships for book quests and other group content.

    In before Openedge’s anti-Lotro tirade ;)

  4. @mbp lol… plenty of people have said that LotRO really gets interesting in the NEXT zone, over the NEXT hill, and that the tedium of the least imaginative quests in MMO gaming is erased as you get swept up into the epic storyline. I’m kinda thinking that a MMO should strive to be interesting all the way through. That said, I have two major goals with this latest toe-dip into LotRO’s still, Watcher-guarded waters; see how far I can get into Book 4, and explore Evendim and perhaps the Trollshaws.

  5. Ok, as to the shire quests being boring, have you done the quests where you have to carry pies around the shire? Or the mail? All while dodging hungry and nosey hobbits? Or how about the onese where you turn into a chicken? No fighting here. I think these are quite creative and fun.

    That said, yes, there are a lot of kill 10 X or get 15 drops. I dunno, that just doesn’t bother me, I guess. The creative energy in the game is very tightly focused, I suspect because of budget considerations. There’s a lot of stuff, quests, ui, etc. that’s very me-too, least effort possible. And then there’s the stuff where they spent some effort.

    From what I know about you, Tipa, I think you would like the game much better if you had a regular crew to do things with.

  6. I’ve done all those Shire quests many times. They are fun once, after that they are a bother, and the third time they are tedious. I’d much rather just go off someplace and kill stuff, hopefully stuff like goblins and orcs and stuff, and worry a bit less about pie and mail. The Shire is a nice place while it lasts, but the rest of the game — and the other starter areas, I’ve tried them all — are not up to par.

    While I’d love a regular crew — who wouldn’t? — I like to solo, too. What I’d like best is having good solo content and then get together every couple of nights with friends and do the chapter based stuff. That’s more or less how it played when I was playing after launch — I had some friends who I’d do stuff with. But the SOLO stuff was just… numbing. I don’t think anything can save that.

    BUT! I WANT to be sold on the game again. I would not have installed it if I didn’t think there was good in the game that I could appreciate. I am going to try and tease it out. I am still on Founder’s pricing, so it’s no more expensive than Wizard 101 for me (I was afraid my Founder status would have been revoked, but nope, I still have it).

    If I can meet some folks and get working on the Book quests again, I’ll probably be swept right back in. That was where LotRO devs put some thought into the game.

  7. “tedium of the least imaginative quests in MMO gaming is erased as you get swept up into the epic storyline. I’m kinda thinking that a MMO should strive to be interesting all the way through.”

    On the other hand, play EQ2 while availing yourself of only the launch content, and your experience would be much the same. I tried EQ2 several times and wanted to shoot myself from all the running back and forth across Antonica & the Thundering Steppes for the first 30 levels. But the newer zones introduced in the expansions are much more interesting and have finally let me really enjoy EQ2. I was adventuring in Stormhold this weekend and couldn’t believe how horribly grindy and spawn-campy it was and it really reminded me of how much I disliked EQ2 at launch. But again, you don’t hit those kinds of quests in the newer expansion zones.

    In LOTRO I wouldn’t have approached a quest with that much travel time the way you did. Instead I would’ve just waited until I was in the area to complete the next step. Most of the “long travel” quests in LOTRO are just a breadcrumb to introduce you to adventuring zones you otherwise might not have realized you could go to. So for instance there’s a Trestlebridge to Ost Guruth quest which has you go from Trestlebridge in the North Downs all the way to Ost Guruth in the Lone Lands, and if you know about both these places you’d think “WTF??”. But if you didn’t know Ost Guruth was out there…well here’s a way to know where you can go next if you’re adventuring in Trestlebridge. Another example is called something like “Oatmeal Problems” that sends for from the Lone Lands to Evendim. Since Evendim was a content update, if you have the boxed version of LOTRO Evendim isn’t even on the map. So how do you find it? By quests like these.

    That, at least, has been my understanding of why they are there. I generally take them and forget about them until such time as I’m ready to travel to the next area to start questing there.

    All that said, if you didn’t like LOTRO the first time you tried it, there probably isn’t enough different to draw you in now (since Moria pretty much starts at 50). Hopefully at some point they’ll do an expansion that offers new low level content, a la Echoes of Faydwar or (even more so) Ruins of Kunark (the expansion that finally drew me in to EQ2).

  8. I am very much in the same situation with LOTRO. I left the game before not that long after release, completely fed up with the quest grind after getting a captain to 23 and a lore-master to 25.
    Now I started a Rune-keeper and am currently at 21. While I do like the Rune-keeper class itself and some of the early quests and the Epic quest line has been ok, there seem to be so much filler/grind activities that I am struggling with why I should continue playing.

    Too many grind type quests, many of the deeds are grind type activities, crafting requires a lot of grind-type activities also if the result should be able to be useful for your character it seems. The landscape is beautiful, but that in itself is far from enough to keep the interest.

    The game may be absolutely amazing in later levels and I guess the book content may potentially be more frequent. But how long are one supposed to go on to get to that part?

    The best moments so far in the game has for me being some impromptu moments either helping some other character, or getting some help when I have been in trouble. Regardless of the actual game content and mechanics, the community has been very nice so far I think, which is a strength.

  9. One of the worst things about LOTRO is the mid-level game. If you solo you have to bounce between Lonelands, North Downs, and Oatbarton (south Evendim). However, once you hit 35 or so it seems like the content is never ending, and you are wondering whether to move on for better rewards or experience the remaining content where you are.

    Players have been suggesting changes for the mid-level game for a long time, and wishing for new 20-35 region or a faster mid-level experience gain. I hate to say power through it, but what comes later is very much worth it. Forochel, Eregion, and Angmar are fantastic.

  10. What? Delivering pies and mail all over The Shire wasn’t exciting? Avoiding nosey and hungry Hobbits didn’t get the ol’ heart a-pumpin’?

    Those were prime, Grade A MMO quests right there.

    Jason (resident drunken idiot of Channel Massive)

  11. @Jason they were cute the first time. One of the problems of quest-based leveling is that quests rarely are worth repeating, and you’d like either new quests or just a less tedious way to level. Grinding mobs for xp is less tedious than carrying those pies around.

  12. I guess I’ll put in my two bits just for fun.

    Make sure you at least try the mid-level dungeons out twice each. That way you have a fairly good chance of having a good experience on which to judge them, and additionally you’ll get exp and quests done in them that will help you if leveling is your goal. All in all though I like to lose myself in the story or group play. Have you done book 2? book 3?

    Oh, and if you just want to go some place and kill stuff the shire is the Wrong place(tm) to quest. Go to Ered Luin and do either the dwarf or elf arcs (dwarf is prolly better if you like snow and hungry animals, elf has more goblins) ooor go to Bree-land and fight bandits and spiders for 12 levels. The shire quests are the fastest way to level, but also the boringest. (once you’ve done them before)

    Aand lastly. I like the lone-lands, though Candaith has lazy bumatosis if you ask me.

    Oh, and don’t try to solo the books, try and grab a couple friends and then try and do them. Its more fun to talk to people and not die and get things done.

  13. I’ve done books 1, 2 and 3, and am at Chapter 1 of Book 4. They were pretty fun; I have no problems with the epic quests, they were great and I didn’t solo them. I loved the dungeons; I loved that it took real teamwork to survive in them at the appropriate level.

    What killed it for me was all the stuff that wasn’t Book related…

    I did the elf arc with my level 21 elf champion, and I took my hobbit guardian (level 19) and leveled her in the Dwarf lands — she is perma-camped there now for smithing. Of all the arcs, I liked the Elf ones the best. Once I’d tried them all, I leveled subsequent characters in the Elf lands.

    Getting into raiding with EQ2 has cut into my LotRO time; I have been playing City of Villains more because its mission-based structure is ideal for a half hour here and there. This weekend, though, I want to devote to working on Book 4 on LotRO.

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