LOTRO: Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire
Considering that the Mordor expansion for LOTRO was released on August 2nd last year, I’ve made precious little progress. I don’t like the zone for reasons I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, yet I now find myself in a position where I need to clear through its content, so I can move on to the new regions that have become available with Update 22 – Legacy of the Necromancer. So, I decided to see if I could just get away with just completing the central Epic Story and ignoring the secondary quest lines. However, I have once again ground to a halt due to what I consider to be excessive grind. Having entered the fortress of Durthang, I found that rather than offer any sort of meaningful tactical challenge, I was instead just confronted with a series of rooms which are all densely packed with mobs. Furthermore, as the Mordor is effectively a gear check due to the additional ten levels that Standing Stone Games have added to the MMO, all mobs in Mordor have been arbitrarily adjusted. As a result, they are demonstrably harder to kill than those in the Dagorlad Waste or North Ithilien.
Gear checks and difficulty adjustments are frequently necessary in the MMO genre and I have no problem in principle as to what SSG have done with Mordor. You can justify making the region more difficult just on lore alone. However, the developers have not upped the ante through a new mechanic or by grouping particular types of mobs together to offer a tactical challenge. It would appear that enemies have simply had their moral and defensive attributes “turned up”. The net result is that combat isn’t any more taxing in so far as planning and skill. It just takes longer to burn down an enemy. Therein lies the rub. All players have different tolerance levels and degrees of patience when it comes to combat, as it is such a fundamental aspect of the MMO genre. There is a fine and subjective line between what is challenging and what is tedious. Combat in Mordor doesn’t require a new strategy, it just requires time. A lot of time. And as regular readers know, I tend to view my gaming through the prism of an equation. Time and effort plus sundry other variables offset against the expected results. In a nutshell, Mordor is taking too long and thus negating any enjoyment.
I wrote a post about alternative ways of levelling recently but ultimately it solves one problem only to cause another. It is possible to hit the new level cap outside of Mordor, however such a strategy will leave you without any suitable new gear. I received a new pair of Gloves as a quest reward and although they are only uncommon quality, they have an 100% increase in armour value to those I had equipped. The stats are not to be sneezed at either. What this demonstrates is that SSG expect players to progress through Mordor to acquire more robust gear. If you then play through the endgame content, you’ll receive top tier items to further improve your build. Furthermore, Dale, Erebor and the other new areas in Update 22 are of a comparable difficulty to Mordor. Hence if you go directly to the new region without acquiring any new Mordor related gear, you’ll have seriously gimped yourself. Thus, it presents players struggling to catch up with an interesting dilemma. Do you gird your loins and “endure” the grind of Mordor, or go to new zone and slog through quests there in an underpowered state? It does seem a case of “out of the frying pan, into the fire”. However, there is also a third option. Go play something else, which is what I shall do while I considering a solution to this current problem.