LOTRO: Update 19, March of the King

So in the week I managed to spend a session in Lord of the Rings Online, sampling the new Update 19 content. I didn’t have that long to play so started off with some questing for the new book of the epic storyline.

New quest hub, teeming with players.

New quest hub, busy with players.

This story comes after the rather climactic and intense closure of Update 18, (the Battle of Pelennor Fields), so it’s several steps down in pace and tension. It’s also more free and open as well, a chance to get back to roaming the landscape and tackling the various tasks in a more fluid order.

Out under the stars

Out under the stars

Seeing harvesting nodes around me inevitably prompted me to review my Champion main character’s crafting – he has the explorer vocation (tailor, forester and prospector). In my last major stint with the game I did raise his gathering skills up to the highest available tier so he could gather the metal needed by a weaponsmith alt for the forging of better legendary weapons. But I haven’t had a strong reason to keep this character’s tailoring up to speed and he has languished two tiers below the current level. So I ended the session riding the long ride back East across familiar ground to begin his own epic task of gathering a large stock of Riddermark hides. I think for now, a good mix of epic story questing and crafting catchup will be fun.

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Do devs need to reinvent the (systems) wheel all the time?

Shintar writes about the recently announced wholesale changes to the endgame gearing system in Star Wars The Old Republic coming in the next expansion. I’ve never really engaged with the endgame in SWTOR so it will not affect me directly, but it did make me think about whether these large-scale revamps of MMORPG systems are actually justifiable or needed?

World of Warcraft’s developers at Blizzard have, I would argue, a bit of a reputation for wholesale change. Since the great talent pruning in the Mists of Pandaria expansion, each expansion of WoW has brought widespread revamps of class abilities. I’m not here talking about the incremental changes that all MMORPGs bring in from time to time, tweaking class power or adding or trimming a few abilities. I mean the large-scale revamps that reset the ability rotations for all classes or that change fundamentally how combat works. Regarding Legion’s big class upheaval – I cannot complain that all such change is bad. I actually enjoy playing Balance again after a four-year break, but overall a session does not go by where I do not think – at least once – “why did they have to remove that ability?” or “where are my buffs?”.

I’ve also read in the deluge of Final Fantasy 14 news coming out of the recent FFXIV Fan Fest event, that this MMO is going to be revising the battle system and skill system in the next expansion (Stormblood). If you consider these forthcoming changes in the context of the recoding of the entire game from version 1.0 to the relaunch with version 2.0 then the game has seen a lot of change in its relatively shorter lifespan.

Some MMOs seem to me to have had more additive change than wholesale revision – Rift and Everquest 2 have had new systems added but do not seem, from my limited viewpoint, to have had old systems removed or revamped to the same extent as the examples given above. I wonder whether all MMORPGs in reality change this much, from a system perspective, simply as part of the expansion and renewal of the game?

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, Rift, SWTOR, WoW | 2 Comments

WoW: thankful for the Moonkin


While running some World Quests last night in World of Warcraft I was reminded why I love the timeless art style of the game, and the whimsical yet characterful design and animations for our characters.


I have always found the Moonkin form to be utterly adorable: the way he waddles along, the way he sits or looks riding a mount. Here he’s pictured sharing an unusual moment of peace and friendship in Stormheim.


I’m am so happy that I’ve managed to get back into playing this character in this expansion; for a long time the annoying mechanics were a barrier to me enjoying the sheer joy of being a giant fluffy moon chicken in a rich fantasy world.

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LOTRO: new book next week?

I have a full gaming-plate at the moment, this Autumn has pretty full-on in terms of expansions and meaty game-updates. So I read with some surprise the article on Massively OP that LOTRO’s next update (Update 19), complete with epic quest chain, would be launching next week. The original date of the 17th (Monday) it seems is unlikely due to a landscape bug, but the devs still say sometime next week is the aimed launch window.

Waiting in a field for his marching orders!

Waiting in a field for his marching orders!

It seems my Champion main hasn’t had to wait so long after all for new content, I finally finished the current content exactly two months ago. Although Legion has had me very occupied since launch, I’m starting to branch out again – venturing back into old MMO favourites. A return to Middle Earth for some new epic questing would be very welcome as we settle into Autumn!

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Here there be spiders (as mounts)

I’m a bit of an arachnophobe, not terribly so but still I’m no friend of the eight legged freaks. Unfortunately for me they are a staple monster in most MMORPGs, and it seems increasingly a mount option as well. I’ll put the rest of the post under a “read more” line – if you’re arachnophobic you have been warned!

Continue reading

Posted in EQ2, Gaming, Neverwinter, WoW | 4 Comments

SWTOR: KOTET and other plans

I’ve been on a break from Star Wars the Old Republic for most of the summer: I played chapter 15 of the Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion and then unsubbed as I had other gaming priorities taking up my time. I had thought I would miss out on the final chapter, since chapters were only unlocked with an active subscription, and so left the game on the shelf expecting to pick it up as a prelude to the next expansion’s arrival in December.

It turns out I must have miscalculated on the expiry date versus the deadline for the unlock, as when I logged back in over the weekend to check out my Jedi Shadow I could click the purple play button and jump into chapter 16!


Penning a review of that chapter or the expansion overall will have to wait until I have time to really reflect on things more, but I am starting to think about when I might return to SWTOR again for more regular play.

I’m not immune to the excitement built up around the new trailer video for the Kights of the Eternal Throne expansion. Details are still being revealed, although Rav’s recent post has a good highlight of major points. As Rav notes in her post, the devs are planning to have player-selectable difficulty modes for story chapters. That’s a pretty neat feature, especially if the devs were to fix solo-only restrictions for levelling/questing content. It would be a real incentive to restart the old leveling trio if we could select a higher difficulty going into KOTFE or KOTET chapters to make it more of a challenge for a group.


There’s a chance I’ll be starting up a new leveling static in SWTOR with some family who’ve never played the game. That could ease me back into the game again in the intervening months and give me a chance to get my poor Smuggler levelling finally…

Posted in Gaming, SWTOR | 1 Comment

WoW: jewelcrafting mini-game weirdness

So I’ve accumulated three different items with a prismatic gem slot on my Druid main in World or Warcraft, and this finally prompted me to star work on my Mage’s jewelcrafting profession.

Time to learn some new recipes!

Time to learn some new recipes!

As part of an early quest you get to do a mini-game of sorts to cut the gemstone into a polished gem ready for use. It’s a kind of bizarre addition to a MMO that does not do mini-games for crafting.



I’m used to crafting mini-games mind, since Everquest 2 has them in spades and Final Fantasy 14 also boasts more interactive crafting than the “click and wait” standard of most games in the genre. What was weird about this mini-game was the lack of actual gameplay involved – it was just a lot of clicking and some rotating basically. I wonder whether some developer with a penchant for the jewelcrafting profession pushed this? Do any other professions have something similar in Legion?

Posted in EQ2, FFXIV, Gaming, WoW | 1 Comment