Archive for April 28th, 2010

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LOTRO — No Regrets

April 28, 2010

A sweet deal was offered on deals.woot the other day — the Lord of the Rings: Siege of Mirkwood Complete Digital Download with a free month of play for ten bucks! And so I did it, I went ahead and bought it. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse, even though my Minstrel is still a puny lowbie and it won’t be a while ’til I even reach the content offered in Mines of Moria let alone Siege of Mirkwood. But as far as MMORPGs go, it’s moments like these that don’t make me regret my re-sub to LOTRO one tiny bit.

To be honest, I was a little worried before this. The only reason I started playing LOTRO was because I saw the retail box on sale at EB Games for $4.89 (and that’s in Canadian dollars too!) last winter. I mean, damn, I’ve seen people buy cups of coffee that are more expensive. And with a free month in the bag as well, I figured it couldn’t hurt. So I played until Star Trek Online came around to suck up all my gaming time, leading to the cancellation of my LOTRO sub which, because of the circumstances, was a relatively guilt-free decision.

My re-sub to the game recently, however, brings the number of my concurrent MMO subscriptions up to 3, which is something I’ve never done before. I know my limits, and juggling games is NOT my forte. But I’ve been lucking out so far on good deals for this game, and I was heartened by the fact Turbine is known to throw out free content to their players on a regular basis (and I’m hoping this won’t change too much under the new Warner Bros. ownership). In any case, I feel like this is the least I’ve ever paid for an MMORPG with this much quality content. I’m not beating myself up for feeling like I didn’t log in enough this week, or scrambling to try to get the most bang for my buck. As far as I’m concerned, I already have.

What a great game. I’m still making my way through the Bree-lands right now, and am on the epic quest to meet Tom Bombadil. I have a feeling I’m about to express an unpopular opinion here, but I absolutely hated Tom Bombadil in the books and I was glad they skipped him in the movies. I’m sorry, but I don’t care how merry you are, anyone prancing up to me speaking in nonsensical songs will receive nothing but a swift kick to the ‘nads. But props to Turbine for managing to make his in-game persona actually likable, at least from what I can remember on my first time through this area on my Elf Champion. Maybe it’s the awesome music you hear in his house that did it for me.

Oh, Tom Bombadil...you scare me.

Creepy jolly forest-folk notwithstanding, I’m having fun in LOTRO so far. If anything, this is the first game that has ever made me play with the idea of getting a lifetime subscription. Last week marked the game’s 3rd anniversary, so it has proven it can stand the test of time.

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Offline Leveling — Not So Terrible

April 28, 2010

Following the news of Age of Conan’s new offline leveling system, I logged into the game to check it out for myself. Sure enough, a new feature window has appeared in the lower left hand corner of my character selection screen. The deal is 4 levels right up front, to allocate to any of my characters over level 30, with the promise of an additional level being added to my available level pool every four days.

My first instinct was to think, “Wow, what utter nonsense. Aren’t games meant to be played?”

However, I’ve since changed my mind. Yes, games are meant to be played. But games are meant to be fun, too. And doing something like grinding from level 78 to 80 was most definitely NOT fun. Considering the amount of experience required to level up at such a late stage, I can’t help but think how an offline leveling system would have really benefited me then.

I gave my alt one level just to test things out. Then I accidentally clicked again and gave myself another level. Ugh.

This isn’t just for lazy people, folks, and I’m speaking as an AoC player with a level-capped toon. There are plenty of scenarios I can come up with where this system might come in handy. To recap my own personal experience, I ran out of solo quests when I hit level 78 and couldn’t find other people to do the groups quests with. There were also times where I finished up all the available quests in a zone, but found myself still slightly too low for the next one. In both these cases, I was subjected to the dreaded grind — through the daily villa instances, the Wanted! and Old Tarantia quests, or just good old fashioned mob-killing. Sure, I sucked it up and did it, but to be honest, I could have really done without that. And what about people playing casually who have no time to keep up with their friends who level at a much faster rate? No one likes being left behind, and having the option to add a level here and there will at least give those people a chance to minimize that ever-widening level gap.

And of course, there’s the matter of leveling alts. Maybe there was a zone you absolutely hated, and the thought of going through it again for the third or fourth time makes you sick to your stomach. Well, no need to hurl, now you have the choice to skip it all together.

The key word there is “choice”. You don’t have to take advantage of offline leveling if you don’t want to. It just gives players another option, and options are great.

Can it be abused? Sure, I’m willing to bet there will be those who will misuse this system. It’s going to help people get to max level and endgame more quickly, no doubt about it. But hopefully, those using offline leveling won’t be relying on it as their sole means of getting to level 80 (not to mention it would be completely idiotic, since gaining levels from 30-80 using this system alone will take you approximately 200 days, which begs the question — why don’t you just get off your ass and play? Trust me, you’ll achieve your goal much quicker this way.)

Perhaps they could have implemented this system another way, like only make it available for people who have at least one high or max-ed level character on their account (much like the conditions behind gaining my level 50 Bear Shaman, or a level 55 Death Knight in World of Warcraft when the class was first implemented.) Nevertheless, I don’t see offline leveling as a terrible thing that would destroy the game. And if a new player is going to give him or herself levels this way and skip over content just because they can…well, then I’ll just shake my head and ask why they’re playing the game in the first place.

This system is only meant to be a helpful tool, not a free passport to endgame. The journey through AoC is a phenomenal and breathtaking experience, and is definitely worthwhile — not to mention the expansion will also be bringing in a lot of new and exciting content. If you want to miss all that, then all I can really say is, “It’s your loss.”