I went ahead and bought the Helm’s Deep expansion for Lord of the Rings Online. I’ve bought the premium edition of every other expansion they’ve released for the game that has become home to me after so many years, so felt compelled to do the same this time.
After playing it for over a week now (it only took me 2 days to cap from 85 to 95 on my hunter, but several more to finish the quests in the zones, and to max reputation with both new factions) I already find myself kind of bored… even though there were some positive changes to the game.
So, let’s look at, THE PROS AND CONS!
- Class revamps are (overall) well done. Talent trees are neater, and roles are easily defined.
- DPS! Everyone seems to do more damage when traited for it… esp my hunter. *PEWPEWPEW!*
- Rohan is still beautiful, and Edoras is amazing in detail.
- Epic characters are back in our story! (Hey Aragorn, how YOU doin’?)
- Housing storage now holds bound items!
- No more travel rations needed, ever!
- Traited ‘blue line’ my hunter can run really, REALLY fast (+31%) out of combat.
- Satisfying overall stories/lore for LOTR fans.
- New expansion, once again, feels rushed and unfinished. It just has a lot of bugs (including the “help menu” where you report bugs, not showing up)
- The crafting item (needed for all legendary/guild recipes) “Emerald Shard” has the worst drop rate I’ve ever seen on something so necessary. I’ve mined about 1,300 chunks of ore (several DAYS worth of work) without getting ANY of these. Similar drop rates for everyone else I’ve talked to. I finally broke down and bought one on the AH because I needed a new bow.
- Rep gated crafting is worse now, not better. There are no wound/poison/disease/fear removal pots available above lvl 90 at the regular healers who always sell them. Instead, you either have to get a scholar lvl capped and kindred rep with Helminglas to make your own, or spend WAY too much on tiny stacks of 5 at skirmish/rep vendors.
- The questing throughout the Westemnet was just more of the same stuff we saw in the Eastemnet… and Wildermore, Gap of Rohan, etc. I get that the story right now is really depressing, with Rohan getting PWNed by Saruman, but there seems to be zero imagination when it comes to new ways to tell these stories, and for us to interact with them. I ran through them all, reading EVERYTHING (because, hello, I love LOTR!) but was left feeling very unsatisfied as a GAMER.
- The cosmetics of quest items are all the same (and dull) like the last xpac.
- I was bored with the game in record time. This isn’t because of leveling too quickly — which I’ve heard people blame before — but rather due to lack of anything I really want to do at end-game. And, speaking of…
- There really is no “end-game” anymore. I’m an end-game player. I’m a RAIDER. I need my big, bad boss fights to keep me happy. And while there are definitely epic aspects to the “big battles” (which have replaced standard raids in Helm’s Deep) they aren’t really what I was wanting for my end-game play. And speaking of Big Battles…
- “Big Battles never should have completely replaced real raids. NEVER. They feel more like skirmishes (crossed with session play) than anything else. And while skirmishes can be fun once in a while, when there isn’t anything else to do, they certainly don’t qualify as “end-game” content.
As you can see, right now, ‘the cons’ greatly out weigh “the pros’ for LOTRO’s latest xpac. As always, I will try to remain optimistic for the future. I sincerely hope that the “Big Battle” system was designed merely to make Helm’s Deep a possibility for us, rather than a final replacement to real raids. I hope that the big spring update brings with it something that I want to spend my time doing, but for now — other than completing the epic, which will require a couple more Big Battles — I’m not sure I’ll be spending much time in Middle-earth.
My excitement with Final Fantasy XIV:ARR has finally waned, and I find myself back (home) playing Lord of the Rings Online. Coming back to an MMO just before an expansion is always a strange experience with most players acting bored and excited at the same time.
While I do feel a bit of the pre-expac moodiness, I’m mostly just picking up where I left off this summer with grinding and (attempting) raiding. I still have plenty of work to do building the Wildermore Survivor reputation that I ignored all summer, which I regret putting off if only because Wildermore is so frickin’ wintry and cold feeling.
I’m on a GOAT!
It would have been much nicer to play there this summer than now, when it is getting cold in real life. *dons gaming gloves*
While I am playing LOTRO again, and feeling oddly optimistic about the Helm’s Deep expansion, I still haven’t quite made an emotional? commitment to being Back (capital B) yet. I don’t really feel the same loyalty to the game that I used to, and find myself only doing things that I really want to do, instead of letting game completionism push me around. This is probably more healthy in the long run, but it also means that I have only mild game interest rather than ENTHUSIASM. So, my mind keeps wandering off trying to find something else to be obsessed with. Maybe I’ll find it, or maybe I’ll just keep working my deeds/crafting in LOTRO this next month until HD xpac is released.
For the moment, look for me in Middle-Earth. I’ll be the sullen elf still grinding away in Wildermore… wearing ear-muffs. ;-p
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is, as I’ve said before, a complex game. Some of the intricacies you will learn naturally as you play, and some things are just plain TRICKSY, and you will not know what is going on until someone explains it to you or you research it online.
I’m still not certain if I understand all the reasons (cross class abilities, jobs, and lack of trading items are ones that I get) but enough people have told me that rolling alts in FFXIV is “doing it wrong” that I have abandoned my Miqo’te thaumaturge, and am back to just playing on my lalafell. The idea that my lalafell will be my one and only in this game caused me some initial struggle. I create detailed back-stories (even if just in my own head) about my characters, so it was hard for me to wrap my brain around the idea that my sweet, little lalafell with the green hair could be anything other than a healer who hails from Gridania. After a lot of thought, I decided that in order to go on and be able to do everything — like be a black mage, too — I had to rework who she is to me. Once I was able to wrap my head around her being someone different than I had originally imagined, it was okay. And the timing couldn’t have been better since I’d just received my 30 day veteran rewards, including a bottle of Fantasia, which gives you a one time chance to change everything about your character aside from their name.
I kept Lilu almost as she was, aside from her hair color — which went from green to ginger — and her voice. (Somehow the lalafell voices seem a bit mixed up, like their cheer, angry, etc will not match their laughs… and I didn’t notice this when I made her.) I also took this rebirth opportunity to correct her name-day, which was driving me crazy. I had made her EARLY one morning (when the server was actually up) from saved appearance data, and forgot to choose a name day, so she was stuck with 1/1. Now she is right where she should be for a WHM whose patron is Nophica… 11/11.
So, it all ended up okay. And, honestly, if I was to only play one race ever in this game, I am glad that it is the lalafell. I mean, just look at this screenie of me and my SO together… AND TRY NOT TO DIE FROM OUR CUTENESS.
Ohka and Lilu!
Final Fantasy: A Realm Reborn has (to my own amazement) held my interest for more than a month now. While certain aspects have still proven to be very typical MMO, including some “kill ten rats” style questing, I haven’t been bothered by the MMO grind as much as I usually am. That said, I did have a sort of panic moment on my main toon — because of crafting burn-out. My main is a little lalafell healer, who is also pursuing ALL of the DoL and DoH classes. (I want to gather and craft ALL TEH THINGS!) Currently, I have everything up to at least level 20. That was such an immense time sink that all I can think now is, “Oh gawds, I have 30 more levels of this! AHHH!” I think I nearly traumatized myself with the boredom of only crafting for 2 weeks, and actually got tired of looking at my character. (Poor, sweet lalafell!) So I did what I told myself I was going to try and not do… and rolled an alt.
This was totally justified because:
1) I seriously can’t look at my lalafell right now without feeling midly distressed.
2) I like the RP/character development aspect of gaming enough that I don’t want my sweet, little white mage being a scary black mage, too.
3) I don’t have to justify my wanting an alt at all… ’cause I am all grown up and can do what I want to… and… and… stuff!
So.. this is my Keeper of the Moon Miqo’te, “Hel”… who is on her way to becoming a black mage. I love her as much as (but not more than!) my lalafell healer, and am very pleased with my decision to make another FFXIV toon.
With the help of some new friends (who are also day-time gamers, YAY) I got through all 3 starter dungeons and mini Ifrit yesterday. So, today Hel will be choosing her Grand Company, and then off to grind seals for her chocobo license!
Due to my main MMOs being broken, C and I DLed Star Wars: The Old Republic this weekend and decided to give it another try. Until this weekend, I had only played during beta. My experiences with the game at that time were that it was entertaining to a certain extent, but didn’t have enough “meat” nor end-game potential to be a main game for me with my preferred play-style. After only reaching level 12, I’m not sure if that still holds true, but here’s my take on my F2P experience this weekend.
SWTOR has the worst F2P model that I have ever played. You are hobbled in almost every way by not being subbed in this game. Everything from XP gain to run speed, to not being able to claim loot from quest completion is thrown in your face with a “IF YOU WERE SUBBED, YOU COULD DO THIS” notice. Want to play a Twi’lek? NO, YOU MAY NOT. Want to email your friend back and say thanks for the gear he sent you? NO, you can’t SEND mail as F2P, only receive it. Want to trade that medium armor drop to your group-mate? NO. Want to actually get loot from that Flashpoint? NO. Want the XP boost from your guild? NO. Want to display the legacy name they let you choose, or any of your titles? NO. And on and on and on it went.
The plan was to test the game again F2P to determine if it was something we wanted to get into, at which point, we would happily give them our money. I have no problem paying for the things that I enjoy. But with this bad of a F2P model, I’m not sure we were really even experiencing SWTOR. And, frankly, frustrating your potential new players seems a stupid way to gain customers. For me, the restrictions and blatant “rubbing it in your face” approach instantly created a feeling of mistrust. (If you’re going to manipulate me, please do it in a smart enough way that I don’t know you’re doing it. Thanks!) I understand not wanting to give away their product for free, but I think that EA needs to create a TRUE free trial — possibly similar to Rift’s former one — to gain new players rather than the gimped game experience they currently offer.
F2P aside, here’s the skinny: (Let’s mix it up and do ‘Cons’ first!)
- Character models are severely limited, outdated, and sometimes as ugly as The Secret World’s. (Yes, I went there. ;-p)
- The world (and other graphics) aren’t up to my standards, even for a game that is 2 years old.
- There is a store on top of a sub. (I already hate doing that dance with LOTRO)
- There are a LOT of bugs/issues that have persisted for almost 2 years now. (Amazingly scary.)
- The cut-scenes and “story” aspect can sometimes feel very, very drawn out.
- Sith stories (and personalities) seem to be entirely one-dimensional. “I AM SITH, SO I JUST WANT TO KILL EVERYONE.” They all seem like B-movie villains with inferiority complexes.
- My companion is ugly! ;_;
- The personal story and NPC interaction is really immersive… much like a single-player game.
- The combat is good…. and the animations are super fun! (ZAP!)
- You get to feel pretty epic/special right away.
- Social bonuses (and rolling on decisions) make grouping unique in a good way.
- The game-play actually makes me want to run with friends (like an MMO should) rather than solo.
- Voice acting and animation syncing during cut scenes is very good.
- The FORCE! ^_^
All in all, playing SWTOR again was a good experience and C and I had a lot of fun running together. One of the things I need to find out, though, is if the Mercy Gaming folks have an active Republic side, since C and I have both decided that we absolutely dislike being Sith. The options for most of their reactions to situations just don’t fit how I see my character(s) or play-style, and it’s really ruining my immersion. The lack of dimension, and immaturity is bewildering. ”Passion” encompasses more than just “murderous rage” and somehow this game hasn’t put that into the sith characters or story that we’ve seen so far.
I’m going to give it some more thought, consult with C, and talk to the Mercy crew… but am pretty sure that I would be willing to do a subbed trial… Republic side.
I’ll keep you posted!