I started LoTRO in late 2009, two and a half years after the game launched (in April 2007). I was faced from the very start with that particular phenomena in MMOs, the ‘catch-up’ mountain of levels.
If you play with friends or a guild in any MMO you have probably faced this. You join the party late, or maybe you don’t have as much free time as other people when a game launches (SWTOR!) so friends and guild-mates race ahead and you’re left in the dust with a whole lot more climbing to do. Reaching the original level 50 ‘end-game’ in LoTRO felt like a great milestone at the time, but soon of course I realised that I was still 20 levels behind the then-level cap (65). Since it’s been raised again to 75 and will shortly be raised again to 85. In the meantime I’ve managed to get up to the heady heights of level 55 as I meander through Moria.
I’m loving playing LoTRO again, but it does irk that guild mates are busy running dungeons that I’ve never even set foot near, and with the new cap increase coming with Rohan I just can’t see me catching up even by the end of the year. I guess it doesn’t matter so much, LoTRO is a great game for solo questing, crafting and community RP activities. But I strongly suspect I wouldn’t enjoy the game if I were to concentrate power-leveling to catch up. I play LoTRO for the elaborate storytelling and immersive locations.
The one very positive feature I’ve been enjoying in Moria are the selection of solo instances. Whether they are simply for rep-grinding or some extra XP and money, they’re a nice feature for providing some extra challenge as a break from general open world questing.
I’ll admit I was rather clueless going into the Ghost-Forge, but I resisted the urge to wiki the place as preparation. I know I’d have to face a load of general mobs and a ‘boss mob’ of some description. Generally my only solo experience of such has been the super-easy solo-ised version of fellowship instances for the volume one epic storyline. So it was with some actual excitement and trepidation that I encountered the end boss.
It was an ok fight but I’d been very careful with pulling all the additional mobs first, the boss and even one pair of the other ghost-things would have been game over very quickly. There are three more of these instances I haven’t even seen yet, and a pair of earlier ones I’ve already tried so plenty of choice.