Archive for April 13th, 2010

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Return To Middle-Earth

April 13, 2010

It was the right time. I had hit the level cap in Star Trek Online and Age of Conan, but I’m still not over the leveling bug.

So last night I went back to Lord of the Rings Online, and decided to start all over with a new character. According to Blue Kae, all the cool kids play on Landroval, so it was there I rolled my Hobbit Minstrel, Kiskadee. I know Hobbit females are generally named after flowers or gemstones, but I just wanted something a little different. Hence, my character is named for a tropical, passerine bird. I thought it was quite appropriate for my brave little Hobbit, since the vivacious Greater Kiskadee is known for its strength and ability to fight off much larger birds. But it’s a little ironic at the same time, as my character’s a minstrel but the kiskadee isn’t generally appreciated as a songbird.

But enough with the biology lesson, let’s get on to LOTRO. I’ve only been gone for about two months, but for some reason the game is more beautiful than I remember. First AoC and now LOTRO…when it comes to graphics, I’m totally being spoiled here (how am I ever going to go back to World of Warcraft?) Like, take the image below. It’s not overly impressive as screen captures go, but I must have stood there for like 10 minutes just staring at that sky. The sun was just setting, the clouds were lazily drifting by…and if you look really closely, you can just barely catch a glimpse of the rainbow arcing off to the right.

Details, details!

Kiskadee, the Hobbit Minstrel.

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The Big Ding

April 13, 2010

Something must be up this month, because I seem to be getting my characters to max level left and right. First it was Star Trek Online and now it’s Age of Conan.

Yep, after almost two months since my resub to the game, I finally reached level 80 with Kyela, my Priest of Mitra. I’m happy I made it, but I also have to say one thing. It sucks for me to have to admit this, but my journey from level 78-80 was THE WORST TIME I’VE HAD in AoC since coming back. It’s a little hard to believe, but it was like launch time all over again.

It’s made me realize that if there’s one more thing Funcom can do to improve AoC, it would have to be making the late parts of the game more solo-friendly. Don’t get me wrong, I like to group up as much as the next guy…if only there were other people to group up with! The reality is, however, AoC is still on the very cusp of making its comeback. It’s like I mentioned before in an earlier post: I have a hunch that the bulk of the in-game population is made up of two groups — the level capped veterans and the lowbies who are just starting out. I see evidence of this in the LFG channel. There’s a ton of activity in there for sure, but it’s mostly filled with calls for endgame raids like Kylliki or Vistrix and lower level instances like the Cistern or Main System. Folks like me who are stuck in the middle are left with a hard time finding others to do the group content at our level, since we’re drawing from a smaller pool of players. At level 78, I had more than a dozen group and dungeon quests in my journal, but no one to do them with. Since I had exhausted all the soloable quests by then, I had no choice but to grind out my last two levels.

It might be a lack of foresight on Funcom’s part but oh well, chalk it up to growing pains. The grind might have been unpleasant, but it was still bearable, made slightly better by the presence of daily quests and dungeons. Still, two levels equates to approximately 6.5 million experience points, and dailies or not, it was hell to grind. Also, nothing can beat the goodness of unique content, and to be honest, it’s the interesting quests and story lines that make this game so great. So while doing dailies may be acceptable, it’s nowhere near as rewarding. It’s possible that people playing now won’t find themselves in this predicament when they near the level cap though, because hopefully there will be more people playing then.

Still, the thing that REALLY made it excruciating was the lag. AoC got a pretty big patch a couple weeks ago, and it has really wreaked havoc with the game. Zones are littered with bugged mobs that just stand there and do nothing — they won’t attack you and you can’t attack them. Some players were also having issues with the group invite system. And the lag, the horrendous lag! I can deal with the grind, I can deal with bugged mobs and I can deal with glitchy interface features, but I can’t stand server lag that makes a game virtually unplayable. It was especially bad in the zone of Kheshatta tonight, so bad that I had to take my grind to the Common District in Old Tarantia instead, where at least I could fight the mobs without finding myself dead after a 1500 ms latency spike. Here’s hoping Funcom fixes these problems soon.

All in all, having a level 80 in this game is a good feeling. The final grind might have something to do with this, but for some reason, the big ding in AoC feels a lot more rewarding than getting max level in other MMOs I have played.