Monday, 17 September 2012

Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria Part I

After having played LOTRO: Shadows of Angmar for almost a year, all of us lotro players waited impatiently for the first expansion: The Mines of Moria. We did not have to wait long because it was released in 2008 and it was an enormous expansion, the biggest still since then. But was it necessary? Did it have to be this big? Was it good? Was it bad? How was it received by us?

In this post I will stick to what the expansion brought to the game in technical aspects of game-play in order to keep it short. I will further review the content in the next post so both are easy reads for those who are interested.

MoM (Mines of Moria) Included not just a huge area map but also new classes, new skills, new levels. The level cap of the characters was raised from 50 to 60. That’s at least 5 new or improved skills for each class.
Two new classes were introduced to the game:

No its not the atomic table :)
1-Warden: Javelin and spear wielders. This class is considered to be a medium armor wearing tank or dps. I had given it a go for a short while. The class works on a gambit system which functions like this: By using specific skills in specific and various orders you reach certain gambit skills in each fight. The trouble is…you do not see those skills that you reach so you have to write them down and stick it on your screen to remember all those combinations which makes the class extremely alt unfriendly. If you play a warden you have to stick to it because you will never remember the combinations if you ever give it up. I suppose they were just taking their first steps into making the game highly alt unfriendly in creating this class. I hear from Warden players that it is a very powerful and stout class and very tough to beat if you take the trouble…but hey I am going to be honest here: I am not that smart to remember all those combinations when I play on one of my other mains. Besides…it’s a game. Why should I take the trouble?
Behold the power of thy brick! :)

2- Rune Keeper: Or Brick Holders as the lore fans condescendingly call them. I can’t argue with them because they do have a very valid point in this class's having nothing to do with the Lore. But my rune-keeper was fun to play with. It’s a light armour wearing healing or dps class. Great damage, great healing and a very nice system of play to boot. Does it fit the lore of Tolkien though? Bah no way. Still I cannot call a rune keeper a bad addition to the game.

A new legendary system was the other huge, game changing addition in MoM. One which looked so very interesting at first but started to get on my nerves as the level caps were increased and new features were added to them all done in the worst way possible. But we will get there. As for now let’s stick to how it was introduced in MoM.

The idea of a legendary weapon and item was class specific.  It sounds interesting doesn’t it? Well IT’S NOT. Because in theory it is a very nice addition but in practice it is not. We were also so excited and thought it such a great idea at first. The legendary weapon or item you attained had –and still has- legacies that improved each class. How though? By throwing a bunch of skill enhancements, some useful, some completely useless, into the weapon and adding points to those legacies as you levelled your weapon or your item together with your toon. They could be levelled up to 60, the first thirty levels (in every ten levels which means 3 times) revealing new legacies and the last 30 improving the legacies already on it. Each legacy has a tier too up to 6 so not only do you need the right legacies you also need to find those pretty legacies on high tiers too unless you want to go through with an awful lot of psychopathic and if I may add obsessive grinding. You could also add relics to it but in order to add better relics you had to also improve the relics by deconstructing high level legendary weapons on and on and on and the number of the weapons you had to deconstruct was something completely insane to get the really good relics to add. There were three kinds of legendaries: 3rd Age aka bad dps good legacies (since they are easy to come by, you beat the odds because of the quantity not quality), 2nd Age aka “nice dps but how the hell am I going to find the nice legacies I got on my 3rd age?” and 1st age aka “Did I do those stupid turtle runs to find these legacies?”

 So as we progressed and sought for heaven knows how long for the right legacies in right tiers on each weapon, on each item for each class that we owned, grind grind grind to get better relics for a weapon which will only be replaced by a new one whether or not you want to as you level up, we started to feel annoyed. It took me about 2 years to finally get to this point: “Sod your legendary weapons!”

Besides this legendary system threw weapon crafters completely off because you see even if you do craft them you do not know the legacies on it until you identify the item so you either sell them cheap unidentified or identify them in hopes of getting something good (which you rarely do) and if not vendor for a funny price. Are you kidding me? When I look back on the introduction of legendary weapons and items I can understand my first excitement over it. But now that I know better…it was the beginning of the end. Sooner or later this new system drove many friends of mine off the game. In due time the developers tried to better it but in their own twisted way of endless grinding yet again. That’s for another post though.

One really good thing they came up with was the new system class traits all categorized for specific roles that your class might play in a fellowship or a raid. Each class now had 3 categories of class traits. Let’s give an example here:

Take the Guardian: Main role tank and minor role solo low-ish-dps with overpower stance. Guardian received 3 main categories of traits:


1-The fighter of Shadow
2- The Defender of the Free
3- The Keen Blade

 Each of these categories supported a different aspect of the Guardian class. Say for example The Keen Blade supported the overpower stance for more dps during solo whereas the Defender of the Free boosted the agro grabbing skills hence making the Guard a true tank in a fellowship. Each category has got a number of traits you can equip on a character and the more you equip from one category the more bonus you get as a result. This was –and still is- a nice system. Credit where its due...

That wraps up the main technical aspects of MoM I think. In the next post I will try to review the content of the expansion. It will be a relatively positive post because lotro always releases nice contents, lovely and/or impressive landscapes, positively interesting stories, good designs as opposed to a destroyed game-play experience with every expansion coming out...So stay tuned for a more optimistic post on the content of MoM :)