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A Return to Lord of the Rings Online; cobwebs are swept

I’ve recently made more of a return to Lord of the Rings Online and have been slowly but surely making my way up through the levels with Lhach, my elven guardian. He is now level 73.

It’s been strange coming back. Since I last played properly there have been a couple of expansions, Rise of Isengard (yes it has been that long) and Riders of Rohan which introduced mounted combat (you get your war steed at level 75; 2 more levels to go for Lhach) and raised the level cap to 85.

They’ve also re-worked the legendary weapon system, changed some of the stat mechanics and names and tweaked a few skills and traits. All of which has left me a little bewildered. It’s not unusual for such changes to be made but normally they’re announced and explained in numerous patch notes, FAQs and developer interviews. Having been away from the game to a greater extent, has meant I’ve missed all of that. I play Lhach as a bit of a min/maxer; I like to make sure that all his equipment maximises his skills. I’ve spent ages trying out different combinations to get the best values. Now I’m very aware that he’s not optimised. A couple of hours in his vault with notes to hand will have to take place at some point.

Cobwebs on patch notes

State of game in Berath’s head

It all goes to show how much you need to know to play the average MMO, much of which MMO players take for granted. We had a thread about it on my kinship forum. There were comments about the complexity of the legendary item system and working out how stats build and fit together however there was an interesting post from someone who had just managed to get her husband to play, and he is a total non-gamer, it was this post that started the discussion off. So far, in her words (thanks Jesriel):

- he can only either walk/run or steer, he always runs into walls and doesn’t get out again.
- to move, steer and fight at the same time is totally impossible
- to move, steer and fight with skills in a sensible order is outright miraculous (her words). And he has only 4 of them so far
- his camera does the weirdest things. Like showing his char directly from above or below, or zooming into 1st person view.
- he doesn’t use skills. Only the one on shortcut 1 occasionally, and the concept of skill cooldowns, focus and other dependencies is absolutely alien to him.
- when he’s lost, he has no idea how to use the map and the minimap and that they essentially show the same thing. Not with all the symbols and colourful circles and arrows and stuff.
- when he has the choice between different quest rewards, he chooses the one with the nicer name.

And he is a very bright guy with a background in physics and mathematics and is a senior program developer

It’s funny how easy it is to forget, how hard gaming can be to someone completely new to the experience.

Guardians in Mirkwood

Well I’m finding out more about how SoM will be changing the life of my guardian. In terms of skills, not much I’m afraid. The new level 62 skill, Brutual Charge, doesn’t exactly overwhelm me. It’s an upgraded Charge giving a burst 150%  speed plus 10% melee damage. Charge is a skill I rarely use. Can’t see much point to this one except perhaps on the Moors. However it seems tha tgenerally the new class skills aren’t particularly useful. I suppose it’s a way of making sure they don’t unbalance the game.

Melee invulnerability  is capped at 15% which I’m neutral about. It’s said that mobs are going to hit harder so not sure how the capping will effect this. However, this might encourage  more experimentation in  builds. Currently, I’ve stacked up all the melee invulnerability I can through items, runes and virtues. I’ve considered ranged invulnerability and tactical invulnerability but so far haven’t felt it worth doing because of the resulting reduction in melee invulnerability. With this capped, I might as well play about a bit more. It also makes it easier to swap in other virtues with different mitigations. I suppose, linked in with all this, is the increase in vitality bonus. We get 5 points of morale per vitality point instead of 3. And passive critical defence bonuses. This seems just straight out good.

We can no longer use a  shield in Overpower; or rather you can but it counts as disabled. This sort of makes sense. It ties in with the previous champ changes by making it harder for heavily armoured classes to also be high damage dealers…you takes your defending or you takes your attacking; not both. Coupled with this is the 5% increase in passive with heavy shields so you take even more of a hit if go you offensive.

We had been aware that LI legacies were going to be divided into two pools, the first containing legacies considered more useful. Of course the fear had been that the legacies Turbine considered useful would be strange and random to everyone else, but overall it looks as if it has been done pretty sensibly. Nothing has been completely confirmed but it looks like all my favourites are in pool A including whirling retaliation damage, whirling retaliation being one of my favourite skills because I think it looks good and leeches threat from those around you. Belts also have shield damage default legacy; another reason for disabling shields in overpower I reckon.

Overall, it  looks pretty good and I’m looking forward to playing my Guardian in Mirkwood and seeing how all the changes gel together. Interesting times!

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