Listener Review — LOTRO: Mines of Moria

Julien (one of our long time listeners) has busted out a brief review of the upcoming Lord of Rings Online: Mines of Moria expansion.  Does he think it’s precioussssss?  Or does he think that it stinks like nasty hobbitsesss? Read more to find out!

***The following review does not necessarily reflect the views of Channel Massive or it’s affiliates.  If you wish to argue with Julien please send all hate mail to***

Well the NDA has finally lifted and I thought I’d give a Feature Review (not a Full Review since it is Beta and things are still changing).  So I will be talking about the New Zones, Legendary Items, Revamped PvMP, Trait Paths, and the Combat System…uh… nerf.

New Zones: The first new zone on the map is Eregion. In terms of the look, the area is a rolling plain of dry, yellow grass with holly trees just about everywhere you look (hence its nickname, Hollin). Ancient elven ruins dot the landscape, and I was very much reminded of the Southern Coast in Oblivion. In terms of quests, the area is mainly oriented towards small group and full group activities. A favorite was a quest where you save the ever famous, “Bill the Pony” from wolves. After completing a quest chain in Eregion (Book 1 of Volume 2), you are granted access to the big whammy of the expansion: Moria. All I can do is throw praise at the art and world design teams because it looks great. The scope is huge and depending on how deep you are the art style of the room changes dramatically. In Moria you will adventure in the deep recesses of the flooded waterworks, the flaming deeps, the ancient gardens of Durin, and many more breathtaking locations. Oh, and if you plan on jumping off a ravine, expect to fall… a long, long time.  Everything in Moria is big and it feels like an incredible real place, hell the mobs in the darker parts of Moria don’t have eyes, like many of the underwater species living in the trenches of the Pacific. In terms of things to do Moria has a variety of solo, small group, and group quests and instances. Moving on I haven’t been to Lorien so I can’t comment on that.

Legendary Items: This was one of the major new things Turbine was hyping, and like the other hyped up features of other games this year, it is slightly disappointing, though it has incredible potential. The premise of the system is to give you a weapon that you can level, and as it gains levels you can improve its “Legacies”, which are basically effects on the power cost/cooldowns/inductions/efficiency of your current skills, thus allowing you to truly customize your character. The problem with the implementation is that when you “Identify” the Legendary Item it is assigned Legacies from a table of random numbers. You could go through several Legendary Items before you found the Legacies to suit your play-style. Other than that it is an excellent system and on the bright side you can melt Legendary Weapons you don’t want or don’t need into runes to make your weapon more powerful. Weapons can eventually be named and you do begin to feel an attachment to your inanimate “pet”. Good luck finding the weapon you want, however.

Revamped MPvP:  MPvP over the past year has been hit or miss for many people and is now currently in a perpetual state of Raid v. Raid, with whoever has the greatest numbers dominating the map. So, though there is no new MPvP area, Turbine hired some ex-DAOC devs and has made the Ettenmoors 2.0. This new iteration has reduced the amount of infamy/renown earned in raids and increased it when in smaller groups. The ‘Moors have now been split into solo, group based, and raid content. Groups can work together to capture hot points and do several capture the flag based objectives to increase the defenders in each keep. Additionally, the hot points have been revamped. They no longer take or give buffs to players, but they do add defensive buffs to keeps and open the Delving of Fror for some PvP dungeon fun. Where previously only one side could enter this PvPvE battlefield, both sides can now enter simultaneously and battle in the depths of the Earth. Raid content has also upped the ante. Once all the keeps have been captured, each side can then attack the stronghold (Ost Ringdyr and Dar Gazag) of the opposing side to capture a relic. If this relic is captured and brought back to the appropriate stronghold then a world-wide buff will be conferred for the winning side. Extra XP gain and a damage increase for the Free Peoples and a damage increase and Infamy gain bonus to the Monster players. There are many more ins and outs to the new system, but it does give PvP on varying scales, though the experience will never be as hardcore as in WAR.

Trait Paths: Riding off the success of previous “Talent Trees” and “Career Mastery”, LOTRO is improving its Trait system by basically ripping WAR off and adding “Trait Paths”. Regardless of who created the system it works very well in the context of the game and gives every class a huge increase in versatility. Like in WAR there are 3 paths per class, and using traits of the same path will unlock skills and increase the power of certain aspects of your character (i.e dps, tanking, healing, pets, crowd control). There’s not much more I can say, it is well implemented and works well, but isn’t very innovative. But then what MMO really is these days?

Combat System: The combat system has been totally, um, “changed”. I’m not big on the number crunching but from what I’ve gleaned on beta forums all resistances to damage types across the board have been decreased. Block/Parry/Evade (BPE) have all been capped somewhere between 25-35% which will negatively affect classes reliant on BPE like Guardians and Burglars. In game I noticed that my hunter was much more “squishy” and apparently all the other classes that are medium/light armor have been similarly affected. Though there has been a DPS increase across the board. Basically it will take a lot of getting used to, but it was created to make up for the increase in the level cap and future increases. However, as you can guess, may Burgs and Guards are pissed about the changes, but if you’re just joining the game you wont notice anything because you never experienced the past combat system….

Conclusion: Well there’s a relatively short review of some of the features in Mines of “Mariah”. I haven’t covered the new classes, reputation, new mounts, etc. but that would require more time and I wanted to get this out prior to release. If you’re wondering whether or not to buy it, the whole package (both the original game and the expansion) will be released in the complete edition for 40$ USD.  It’s a steal in my opinion, but you may be wrapped up in Wrath of the Lich King when it hits stores.  In hindsight, I would say Turbine definitely did an excellent job on the expansion, but some features feel like they could have used a bit more development time or testing (quality v. quantity).

Useful Links: Rune Keeper Class Description, Warden Class Description, Captain Trait Paths, Warden Trait Paths, Guardian Trait Paths, Hunter Trait Paths, Burglar Trait Paths, Lore-Master Trait Paths, Rune-Keeper Trait Paths, Champion Trait Paths, Minstrel Trait Paths, Purchase Information, Mines of Moria Videos

4 Comments to Listener Review — LOTRO: Mines of Moria

  1. October 27, 2008 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    First things first.

    I would like to point out..

    I am an AVID LOTRO hater. I would rather play WAR with their funky year 2000 graphics than LOTRO.

    With that out of the way….

    Why make the game so much more “group” oriented. By changing combat, the need for grouping will be forced, and as such, in today’s market, I feel it will cause a wave of dislike…
    The game also constantly pumps up it’s “Casual” play style…yet by forcing players to work harder to win combat…it is a lose/lose there.

    Also, the fact ZERO changes have been made to models and animations for MoM when this has been a sore point for many players who left (besides boredom), is not a winning factor.

    And Turbine discussed major revamps to the UI…yet none has been shown to be helpful (still have seen “teeny” font used for skill descriptions and no 1to1 pixel mapping changes that made this game the hate of 1900+ resolutions…)

    The game was niche, and this expansion does nothing to sell it to those who felt it was niche…

    /devils advocate off

    Cheers, and nice detailed review…

  2. chrisriggio's Gravatar chrisriggio
    October 28, 2008 at 1:05 am | Permalink

    I tried LOTRO out for the first time a few months ago and really couldn’t get into it. The two things that killed it for me early on were the bland art direction and the choppy combat.

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