LOTRO: Update 22.2
When I first started playing LOTRO in late 2008, I actually read the manual that came with my box copy, before I decided which class I was going to play. I chose the Lore-master as it sounded and interesting mixture of both ranged attacks and the use of pets. Being new to the MMO genre at the time, I didn’t realise that it was actually quite a complex class to play. Although I have dabbled with alts over the years I have stuck with this single character and until 2017, kept them relatively up to date with regard to content and respective skills. Mordor greatly dampened what enthusiasm for LOTRO and as a result I have fallen behind the curve. My gear is poor as I haven’t really progressed far into the lastest expansion. Combat has become a tedious grind, leaving me with a paradoxical situation. Poor gear makes progression slower, but bypassing Mordor leaves my character gimped. Bearing this in mind, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the Lore-master class changes that have come with Update 22.2 in the hope they will improve my situation. Sadly, I don’t think that today’s changes are the solution I’m looking for.
I am not a min-maxer per se and have never been a serious number cruncher when it comes to LOTRO. I broadly know what my skills do and have adopted a rotation that is common to many other LOTRO players who favour the Lore-master class. For me I define my combat effectiveness by the amount of time it takes to kill a single mob, along with how many skills I have to use or how many times I have to repeat my rotation. This may not be the most scientific method, but it works for me. I then temper combat effectiveness with another very subjective factor. Is the combat satisfying or is it a chore? Too often of late in LOTRO combat is the latter. For me, and possibly many other MMO players, there is a very personal tipping point between a credible and engaging fight and a dull, ponderous slog. For me it may be so many seconds, for another player it may be double or triple that time. What I do find with older MMOs is that combat does seem to take a lot longer, compared to modern titles. The Secret World suffered terribly from this problem and it still wasn’t adequately addressed for my liking, when the game was revised into Secret World Legends.
In LOTRO I predominantly follow the red skills line, looking to do maximum DPS. Therefore, the recent upgrade to Burning Embers (applying Gust of Wind to augment it into Searing Embers) is a “interesting” addition. However, the induction animation is a real nuisance and needs to be shortened. Lightning Strike has been tweaked and its cooldown has been shortened. I noticed I was hitting higher critical hits as a result. However, the initial heal from Water-lore has been removed so only the HoT component remains. Thus, you’ll only get the first heal after four seconds. Plus, Ring of Fire is currently broken which is a bit of an inconvenience as its use regularly features in my play style. However, I am concerned that by making the Lore-master’s single target DPS stronger, that our AoE has suffered. Also, the removal of the Wizards Fire component and its replacement with something that is essentially not commensurate, does strike me as an over simplification of gameplay.
After running several skirmishes today, I did conclude that my overall DPS had improved but that was only in specific circumstances. For the casual, PVE-centric player, who plays cautiously, pulling mobs individually or using crowd control to make fights sequential, then this update is an adequate improvement to the class. But for those who do like to group and contribute to a communal fight, then it there isn’t so much on offer. Lore-masters are not so able to deal DoTS and their AoE skills have been reduced. And irrespective of all of these changes, I still find that combat is too slow for my liking. It’s difficult to articulate without the use of numbers, but when fighting I expect at least one skill to do 15 to 20% damage to my opponent’s moral. It still feels too much like an uphill. But this is the conundrum of combat in gaming, especially the MMO genre. Trying to find that right balance that pleases the majority of players, or at least allowing them to augment their effectiveness by accessing the right sort of gear. I’m beginning to feel that the more LOTRO is updated, the gap between what you can achieve and what I currently have, is growing wider and wider. I don’t know if I ever will catch up.