According to the Metaboli Gamer Dictionary “an ALT is a secondary character that is less used by the player, as opposed to the principal character”. If you are a regular reader of my musing on LOTRO and other MMOs, then you’ll know that I tend to stick with just one character at a time. However at Easter I did break with this habit and rolled a new Hunter in LOTRO, primarily to play through the original content with fellow CMP podcast co-presenter Brian. Well Brian was plagued with connectivity issues so drifted away back to STO and more recently Guild Wars 2. I decided to stoically persevere with my alt, as I enjoyed the change in class. But like so many things related to gaming, it didn’t quite end up the way I thought it would.
Now the reason I have brought this matter up, is because I read an article this week by Justin Olivetti over at Massively, in which he expressed a lack of interest in rolling new alts at present. However he writes about what his game plan would be if he did start a fresh alt. Furthermore there are some very interesting comments on the post expressing different approaches or what the main problems are for some players to even consider starting again. I found a lot of the opinions expressed very relevant, because I found both great pleasure and extreme frustration in levelling my new Hunter, Wynton of Dale.
Levelling in itself is no longer that hard for the first thirty or so levels of LOTRO. The XP is so generous that you quickly out level regions and often abandon entire quest hubs as they offer no material gain. However, virtue traits and class deeds suffer as a result of this accelerated process. Then of course there is a duality of revisiting old content. The revamped areas such as Evendim are fun to experience, as they are quite different and improved. Yet there is also a lot of material that is tiresomely familiar and the odd quest that still seems disproportionately hard or exhibits an odd game mechanic that trips you up. However, the big crisis came when I reached level fifty and the new and improved Moria beckoned. At first it was enjoyable to play through the new streamlined environment. I must praise Turbine for the changes they have made. But at level 59 I had a rather depressing epiphany and for me it all changed.
I blame the Hall of Mirrors. It’s a dull and trying epic quest that has simply had the number of mobs reduced. The sequence of the mirrors is still the same. I got as far as the last level and simply had to break the last membrane and reach the boss, but I could not get the mirror sequence correct. My tolerance for such frustrations is low. I do not pay to be annoyed. A kin mate suggested that I consult a Wiki and that’s when it happened. I realised that I had a ton of further content ahead of me that would cause further irritation or that I simply wouldn’t enjoy. Sure there would be material that was fun, but it seemed out weighed by the bad. The idea of facing the Water Wheels instance in Moria or the whole of Mirkwood and the grind of Rise of Isengard was too much. I just did not want to invest my time into something that was not going to be more trying than enjoyable.
So I decided upon a radical solution to the problem. There was no suitable (by my yardstick) alternative path to level my Hunter, so rather than spend any more time on the alt, I simply removed all the valuables from the character and deleted it. It was an act of pure logical reasoning and not in any way an emotive act. In fact I’ll go so far as saying it felt damn good to do so.I can no longer be tempted to try again and reach a similar conclusion for a second time. It certainly was not a reflection on the Hunter class, which I really enjoyed playing. However, I wish that there was another means available to reach level cap, because I wanted this alt to achieve 75 and beyond. Yet there was no way for me to do so in a manner that was desirable to me. Again I return to my theory that it would be extremely beneficial for Turbine if they offered a paid levelling service.
As LOTRO adds another ten levels to the game I think it is time for a major rethink of the concept of alts. Playing different classes and having multiple characters is fun for the player and good for Turbine. It keeps the player engaged with the game. But forcing players to simply repeat that what they have done before seems a very blinkered approach. Surely Turbine can come up with some alternative means of allowing players to level. Some sort of new and inventive means other than grind familiar quests or skirmishes. If mounted combat proves to be as popular as everyone hopes, then it could be a major attraction for new LOTRO players. Yet at present there is no way for a new player to join a friend a level cap immediately. Simply put, Turbine are over looking a potential gap in the market and for business reasons this needs to be addressed. At a future date I would like to write an article about how easy it is to create a new alt and achieve what I want with it, rather than how I ended up deleting one.