Book 7 Initial Thoughts

Monday, March 2, 2009

It is the day to take the highlights of the Book 7 patch notes one by one and offer my thoughts. I've already made special mention of the change to In Harms Way, but that is of particular interest to me as a captain.

Lothlorien Revealed

A complete Lothlorien zone with the requisite quests, instances, and reputation faction. I don't know how much of Lothlorien was in the Mines of Moria release since I haven't gotten out there yet, but it seems to me by reading these notes that it wasn't much. There's not much here that's worthy of a lot of comment except for the use of the reputation grind. The elves of Lothlorien will literally shoot at you if you try and enter their realm before gaining their trust. Presumably you will die if you don't run. I think this is an excellent way of dealing with Lothlorien being a somewhat forbidden place to go for much of Middle-Earth. Even the Fellowship met a roadblock here. If it were to completely follow the lore, nearly every player would never be granted admittance. However, that's not practical for a game. Players will want to go to Lothlorien. It's an iconic place in Middle-Earth and to deprive them of that simply to follow the lore to the letter would be a gameplay mistake, if not potentially damaging to the financial numbers. This sort of system isn't new to MMOs (WoW does this) but it's a completely appropriate design decision for this area of the world.

New Player Experience

The quests have been cleaned up and many added to the new player experience in Ered Luin, Archet, and the Shire. Honestly, I think this is one of their stronger places in terms of content so it somwhat surprises me to see they work on polishing this section of the game versus, say 25 - 35 content window, which is weak in my opinion. Still, I'm not complaining. It does pose an interesting question to me. Jaxom, my captain, has attempted to do every quest in the game. I have some of the early crafting quests left and ignored, but otherwise the major content from every zone has been done. Seeing added quests in the lower zone gives me a hole in my quest content but because Jaxom is level 60, it would be extremely trivial. And I could be disrupting lower level players by my presence and ability to clear swaths of mobs rapidly. I still think I'll head there with Jaxom to experience the content and add to his completed quest log.

Quest Guide

Adding a quest to your tracker will now put the quest locations on your radar. I'm not sure how specific these will be - zone of interest or exact pinpointing of the goal. I have mixed feelings about this.

On one hand, I love the challenge of reading and interpreting the quest text to figure out where I need to go for the quest. This feature will be used to circumvent the quest text even more than already done, diminishing the excellent writing done for this part of the content. Sure, we can still choose to read the text (which I do) but there's less incentive. And in all honesty, I feel like the quest text adds gameplay value in the form of story, which is a strong point of this game and one of the major draws. Well, for those that like story.

On the other hand I'm happy that this feature is in. There has been a few quests that I have been unable to figure out and had to ask my kinmates for assistance. On even fewer occasions I have actually looked up where I was supposed to go. When I did that, I felt bad that I had just cheated myself out of the challenge - and yet that challenge was becoming less fun and more annoying. And an annoying game is one that has failed. So, good feature in the end.

Twelve-Man Raid

Considering I haven't raided, I have very little to say here. Except any additional content is a good thing (pending it is executed with quality).

Crafting Instances

Okay, this is cool. I love the idea. I enjoy the solo item xp instances and adding this type of gameplay to the crafting system is a wonderful idea. This has the potential of making crafting mats more readily available, which in-turn will lower the price of said mats on the AH. As a buyer, that's good. As a seller, that's not so good. Will it lower the prices beyond selling viability? Not sure. Doubtful, but if it does the market will be in flux for a while as the supply and demand fluctuates. Add in that these instances will also give you Moria rep and item xp and you have a recipe for good content.

XP Curve Change

Basically, it'll be faster to level from 1-60 than it was before Book 7. Nearly everybody has praised this change. As a player who has already reached level 60 and rarely if ever plays an alt, it doesn't affect me that much. Still, I have a concern. I don't want to see this happen too often. Nor should the reduction factor be too large. If that happens, lower level content is more trivialized. And despite there being a big focus on end-game content, getting to level cap is as large and as important a part of the game as the level 60 content. WoW has gone down the road of blatently admitting and confirming through their patches that the content of most value is after you reach the level cap. I disagree with this completely. All content is valuable. Every level is valuable. And for the human psyche, the leveling up-game, particularly the first or second (maybe even third) time is a big part of the fun. I hope LOTRO does not take this too far and that the developers value the level cap content more than what has come before, especially as the level cap (presumably) increases with future expansions. Sure, it's important that players aren't daunted by the massive level climb that will eventually come, but it's a balancing act.

DPS and Mob Difficulty Rebalance

I'm not sure what I think about this. As a level 60 player who primarily plays solo, I haven't found too much trouble in combat. Still, I'm fairly careful about my play and could easily get overwhelmed if I wasn't aware of my surroundings or planning my progress forward. I cannot speak to the DPS issue either as I don't have a particularly high dps weapon at the moment. If I had a level 60 second age item, I supose my DPS would be pretty high. I have to defer to the dev's judgement here (actually, we all always have to do this - we play because we trust them). Like the In Harms Way change, we'll have to see how it works in testing and after release.


Okay, there's a lot of fuss about this on the forums. The way it works, there's very few situations that it will be useful. You only get 20% of your morale and power and you have the same death penalties as a retreat. Dread and itemwear. If you self-revive right after death than you're sure to die in short order again as the mobs reaggro. You retreat to recover from your death penalty. Rezzing right in the thick of things with the same penalty seems to me to be asking for an encore. I highly doubt all be using this feature very often. And like all features, we'll have to wait for testing and live to see how it truely affects the game.

Induction Time Reduced

Okay. Cool. I don't have very many skills requiring an induction timer (perhaps only my rez skill). It'll help me only in rare circumstances. For those that play hunters, loremasters, etc, even better. Not much to say here except... okay. Cool.

Stay tuned for more Book 7 thoughts as I tackle select items in the full notes.

White Dye

Cool. Most items don't look good in white, in my opinion. Oh well.

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