Update 16 has finally arrived and it’s kept me distracted from PvMP since May the fourth. There hasn’t been an update in a long while that has got me excited as much as this one. Warning, minor spoilers ahead.
Onward to Osgiliath
It never really hit me that I was going to be able to see, from a distance, Minas Tirith, with this update. When I first heard about it on Andang’s preview video, along with the prospect of visiting Osgiliath, I was pumped and ready to dive back in to PVE. It also dawned on me that we are coming to the climax (or one of the climax’s in this saga) thus far in this 8 year old adventure. So I patched in early and answered the summon of Isildur’s heir and made my way to the outskirts of Pelargir.
Eastern Gondor is beautiful. While most of the design and architecture of the early towns and hubs I came across were similar to the last two Gondorian regions, settlements like Arnach in Lossarnarch and Bar Hurin in South Ithilien just blew my mind away. The mixture of landscape and how the environment grows and becomes part of the town is something fresh to look at for me at least.
As for the quests, I really enjoyed them this time around. I’ve always thought that Central Gondor was the low-point of PVE questing in Lotro over the last couple of years which had mediocre story lines that I as a player lost interest in very early on. In this update however, my interest peaked pretty quickly and I feel the reason for that is simply due to where we, the players, are right now in terms of the story. Immediately after setting out from Pelargir, I know of my purpose and what my mission is right from the word go. That pretty much set the tone and narrative for the quests. From town to town you see refugees who have fled the White City and meet NPC’s who speculate their fate if the war goes ill, and that sort of motivates you to press on to see how you can contribute to the war effort.
Overall, both regional quests and epic quests were well written and I’m looking forward to taking my other capped toons through the new update. The quest rewards for the epics are also very generous (thank you devs), and there’s even an awesome new emote, which I think role-players will enjoy. Another thing I was thrilled about was seeing a Mumakil! I didn’t need to think twice when I saw one in the wild – I just jumped straight in and attempted to take it down solo. I had to make amends after fleeing from one like a coward in an instance sometime earlier.
A week later after following the story closely, I arrived at Faramir’s camp, just outside Osgiliath. Kudos to devs once again, for doing a good job in bringing Osgiliath to life. Once the questing finally ended, it was time to explore the current end game. Update 16 comes shipped with three new instances which takes place within Osgiliath: Two three-mans and one six-man, complete with an outrageously difficult tier 2 challenge. More on that later. There are also plenty of dailies within the ruined city, offering region tokens for barter as well as reputation for the Rangers of Ithilien, the latest faction. Trust me, you’ll want to hit kindred with them as soon as possible, as the quartermaster has plenty of goodies waiting for you in the form of teal off-hand weapons, great new pets and of course, LI items and essence recipes.
New Instance Cluster
I’ll begin this section by thanking the developers for not introducing another Big Battle with this update. I and many others are thrilled to be getting classic instances again, and the prospect of progressing through a challenging dungeon was something I looked forward to while questing through the region. This past weekend I managed to run the first three-man instance, Sunken Labyrinth on Tier 1, with a couple of friends. The epilogue (at least that’s what I call it) to the epics involves a new instance quest chain that takes you through the new instance cluster. It’s similar to the ‘In Their Absence Chain’ from way back at level 65. Here’s a video of us going through the instance. And do excuse my heavy breathing – push to talk had slipped my mind. Keep an eye for the loot chest at the very end and take not of the loot. Rant incoming.
Pretty neat eh? I liked the feel of the culvert aka sewers throughout the instance. Very unique. The fight mechanics were also fun, and there is much for me to learn and gear up for in the tier two version, which will be brutal. Good stuff in terms of dungeon design.
Righto. Assuming you’ve just watched us down the final boss and loot the chest, you’ll have noticed the loot system. First of all, it’s roll and pass rule, and not personalized loot. What the heck, Turbine? I was all for the personalized loot system that they introduced in RoR. Everyone in the instance was guaranteed their own relics and bounties. And now we have to roll on them? And what’s with the crappy loot to boot? From reading world chat, the forums and kin chat, nothing of any worth ever dropped from the tier one versions of the new instances, even in the six-man. No crystals, no premium tomes, nothing. Just bounties and purple gear that becomes vendor trash straight away. What’s worse, the amount skirmish marks and medallions awarded per run is abysmal, considering the amount of time it takes to get through the instances. I get it, you’ve made it more challenging and have spent resources in building new instances to appease the dungeon crowd, knowing we’ll dive right in. You got that right. But you lot need to fix the loot and currencies awarded or players will only do them once for the deed and move on. And you wonder why we farm Sambrog.
Tier two is an entirely different beast, as mentioned earlier, due to the significant spike in difficulty. Are players running them? Yes. The tier two instances drop Morgul Crests, which are used to barter for the new five-socket armour, a definite upgrade over the Dol Amroth ones. Class specific armour with decent stat bonuses also drop from t2 chests. I for one am not looking forward to that grind, as you’ll need about 120 Morgul Crests to barter for the full set of socketed armour. What’s the problem you ask? Well you guessed it – You need to roll on Morgul Crests too. Depending on your RNG luck, you could run 50 t2s and not win a single roll. Good luck folks!
Final note on instances to devs – Great new content, fun dungeon romp, nice tie-in story, needs better loot and loot system.
Some forum posts that stresses this:
The Imbuement System
Alas, the much talked about imbuement system also went live this update, and it’s definitely a positive implementation in my book. Before I began my questing in Eastern Gondor, I dedicated a solid hour to imbue my LIs. It was easy for me in some ways due to the amount of preparation done prior to the update. I had six free LI slots that I often use to farm up IXP runes by deconstructing LI’s that had reached level 30 and above. The Captain legacies I already had on my Lis didn’t change all that much either, so that made the decision to imbue easier. I’ve also been hoarding Anfalas Empowerment scrolls, and they were used up pretty quickly, but I’m glad to say that I’m done messing with my LIs for the foreseeable future. I’m happy with it, especially the improvement it has made to the various aspects of the way I play my Captain, from DPS to healing.
It definitely feels as if I’ve gotten a new legendary weapon, and I love it.
I know, it’s not for everyone. I know it seems like a grind to most and it looks like pay to win to some. The way I see imbuement is that it’s a progression system, very much like virtues as they are today. Want higher virtues? Work for it. Want it right here and right now? Pay for it. I think it’s a fair system. And remember, your imbued weapon is coming with you until the end of the Third Age. And again, imbuement is done by choice, so don’t feel like you need to dive in and worry about tiering up if you don’t want to.
For those of you who are still coming to grips with the system, or unsure about legacy changes involving your class (I hear Guardians are hit pretty bad in terms of AOE threat), I strongly suggest holding off imbuement. Wait, research and make an informed decision before you start this process.
What’s on the Horizon?
A lot more PVE in my case, thanks to hitting rank 12 at the start of the month. I’ve been doing plenty of Big Battles solo (somewhere in my head I can hear Wiga, Obea and Veri going “I can’t believe he just wrote that”), stocking up on Stars of Merit to deck out my other alts with gold jewelries, while hoping to pick up some supreme essences and symbols. I may be running them a lot these days but I sure as heck still don’t fancy them.
What’s more exciting though, is that we are so, so close to Minas Tirith. I’m quite optimistic in that the next update will be equally as good as this – story driven and visually stunning. That also raises important questions. Are we getting an expansion this year? Will the level cap increase once more? How will the battle before the gates of Minas Tirith materialize in Lotro? Big Battle, Raid, session play or open world event?
As for the Moors, it’s an indefinite break but as soon as I’m happy with my Cappy’s gear and when I’m bored of farming PVE, I’ll be back out there. On that note, grats on rank 15 Hinellas!
Server migrations are also looming. I hear there will be closures, mergers and free transfers. I can’t validate these rumors yet but I sure hope the free transfers one is a reality. Would love to have my BVM kinnies back on Riddermark come to Landroval, and I can’t wait to be running the good stuff with you beastly lot.
Till the next post, enjoy the rest of the week!