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More to Do Than a Troll Can Point a Shaking Hobbit At
In the afternoon of November 19th, a day after the lauch, one of my Kin mentioned that in every game they have ever played, they knew exactly what they were going to do when an expansion launched; now they had to decide which of fifteen things to do.
Obviously, there is Moria itself, but just getting in there requires traveling through the new area of Eregion… and it is awfully hard not to start questing away in there now that the level cap has gone up to 60. Of course, why quest with that old, top of the line crafted or raid loot weapon when you can head for Moria and start on your Legendary Weapons.
The new areas are thick with Deeds, which is good as the Trait System has been radically expanded and you might want to make some changes there. Specifically, each class now has 3 specialties to choose from, and the more Traits you slot from that path, the more it kicks in different additional benefits. There is also a whole whack of new Class Deeds and Legendary Traits to unlock.
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Other than the Main Road
If you already have your legendary weapon, or don’t feel like grabbing it yet, there is still an absurd amount of stuff to do. You could polish off Shadows of Angmar and finish Epic Volume 1 with the new Book 15. Heck, you can even roll yourself one of the new Classes; Warden and Rune-Keeper, and start from square one. I haven’t tried them myself yet, but they sound quite interesting, and people who have played them sound pretty excited.
Most noticeably you will spend some time taking advantage of inventory improvements. Any quest item that you don’t actually need to use for the quest (like a letter you need to right click to read) will go from your inventory to the quest log itself. You’ll still need an empty spot in your inventory to pick up the item, but it then zaps right to your log.
A “key-ring” system means that any keys that are permanent (as opposed to single use, e.g..: the Carn Dum ones as opposed to the Barad Guralan summoning ones) can be removed from inventory by right clicking. They will now appear as skills in your character window. Many inventory icons have been updated and are much easier to identify at a glance.
You’ll need the improved icons and extra space for crafting. A new 6th tier has been added to all of the crafting skills, and Crafting Guilds have been introduced. Like reputation factions, Crafting Guilds offer extra recipes and discounted supplies to their members. Note that, unlike with reputation, you can only be in one Crafting Guild at once.
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There is one screaming miss in the expansion; the map is still insufficient for three-dimensional dungeonering, and Moria is as deep as it wide. I was hoping for something really fancy here, like Metroid Prime and other games that have full three dimensional models of explored areas that you can rotate and zoom into and out of. If someone wants to talk about suspension of disbelief, how about replacing the map with a fancy chunk of crystal from Moria that implements the more high-tech features?
The other disappointment I ran into was that my first Legendary Weapon wasn’t really to my liking. At first I thought I would be stuck with it for a long time, but you actually get some options not too-too long down the road.
Finally, some love should have been shown to existing players looking to get a Collector’s Edition. Obviously the hard core fans that wanted it most are people who already play the game, so the same price for new and existing players on the CE was less than charming. A mail in rebate would have been nice. The fact it sold out before launch means, however, that they probably made the right decision in assuming most people aren’t as spiteful when shopping as me.
Taken altogether and in addition to the launch hiccups, these problems don’t even add up to a hill of beans in the face of Cahadras. The expansion does justice to Moria, and that is very high-praise. Factor in the tweaks and crafting content, and anyone that enjoys (or enjoyed) LOTRO: Shadows of Angmar will love the Mines of Moria expansion ($29.99 Digital Upgrade through your account at Turbine). People new to LOTRO, or even MMOs in general, that haven’t taken the plunge yet might want to have a look, with the whole game and expansion costing only 39.99 (the $79.99 Collectors Editions have been sold-out for a while), particularly if you have always wanted to see the grand-father of all dungeons up close.
Time to put on your orc-stomping boots, or remove all footwear if you’re bringing a Hobbit, because the grand-daddy of all dungeons is opening its doors.