Starting from Scratch
I was watching a LOTRO stream this week by Kaz Travio who is currently levelling a Dwarf Hunter on the EU server Laurelin. The Hunter class is both enjoyable and straightforward to play. It can satisfy your “pew pew” itch and doesn’t have a particularly steep learning curve. It’s porting and poison curing skills use to be invaluable. Overall, the Hunter is a great way for a new player to discover and explore the Lord of the Rings Online. This becomes very apparent in Kaz Travio’s stream. So, to cut a long story short, I decided to create a new Hunter myself and go tool around in Middle-earth.
Much to my surprise, instead of being the five-minute wonder that I thought it would be, I’ve been quite engaged with my new character. It’s been a long time since I’ve spent some time in the starter zones of LOTRO. Due to the streamlining of much of the content in recent years by the developers, you can quickly out level a region and are encouraged to forge ahead. However, I have not felt disposed towards doing that. I particularly want to refresh my memory on some of the quest story lines, plus there’s a good chance there’s some new content in there that wasn’t about when I last breezed through these zones in 2009. So it would appear that my new Dwarf Hunter Gryg, is going to be around a while. However, that presents me with another problem.
I am mainly starting from scratch for narrative reasons; I’m here for the story. What I don’t especially enjoy in the early stages of LOTRO, is the gear, virtue and skills point treadmill. With 105 levels ahead of me, there’s a great deal of disposability with regard to armour, weapons, and jewellery. You’ll not find much of this kind of gear on the auction house nowadays. The alternatives are running skirmishes to barter for equipment or simply crafting it myself. Neither of these options appeal to me. So, I’m considering a different approach. I can purchase from the LOTRO store, either the Gift or the Blessing of the Valar and instant level to 50 or 95. That way I can return to the start of the game, overpowered and geared to a suitable level to bypass any grind or in-game obstacle.
Now I’m sure my approach will not suit everyone, which is fine. Some players are happy to do everything over again. If this delights them, then that’s fine by me. I just don’t want to be burdened with the usual game mechanics that you experience on your first play through of content. I want to be able to focus on the stories the game offers and not have to worry about my ability to perform. Yet my instant levelling solution does come with a price tag. The Gift of the Valar cost approximately £30 and the Blessing of the Valar about £40, which are not exactly pocket change. There is the option to earn the LOTRO points in-game but the effort it would entail would negate the need to buy the aforementioned items. By the time I had amassed sufficient points, I’d be level 60 or so.
As of yet, I have not made a decision as to what I shall do. I also think that my personal “dilemma” actually touches on a bigger issue. I think many players would like to create new characters and have access to classes they have not played before. However, many people, like myself, are not enamoured with the prospect of replaying 105 levels and all the content that goes with it. So, I’d like a fair and equitable means to create a level cap alt (or as near as damn it). Now I realise that means bypassing a lot of content and so I’m happy to consider some way of supporting Standing Stone Games, if they can accommodate my needs.
For example, in Star Trek Online once you’ve gained maximum reputation with a faction, you can create a token that you can use on one of your alts, that reduces the reputation experience required by 50%. How about introducing s similar system in LOTRO, allowing a player to similarity fast path an alt? I want to play LOTRO and logically it is to Standing Stone Game’s advantage if I continue to do so. I hope now that the company is free of the shackles of Warner bros. they will now pursue a more creative business policy. One that finds a way of accommodating long time players, such as myself. In the meantime, I shall continue to my Dwarf Hunter but I suspect the moment an obstacle emerges, be it a gear check or an especially difficult quest, I’ll more than likely stop. Fun is surprisingly not universal and very subjective. Convenience is king.