LotRO Volume 1, Book 14 – The Sloggiest Journey

Another post rescued from my drafts…

Book 14 begins with Laerdan preparing for a journey south. He asked me to collect a bunch of gear for him that he left strewn around Eriador, because the hero’s journey always involves fetching stuff. It was a lengthy, boring scavenger hunt.

When I returned to Rivendell, Laerdan was gone. In a note, he said he sent me away so I wouldn’t interfere. I spent all that time collecting his gear for nothing. But I wasn’t bitter about it. Much.

He left his journal open to a section describing his imprisonment in Sammath Baul. Upon reading it, I felt myself having an out-of-body experience, in which I uh … ah, screw it, I can’t think of how to maintain a narrative voice. I played a “Scenario” in which I observed Laerdan during his imprisonment.

After my “vision” I returned to Elrond. There I experienced another “vision” showing that Laerdan had run to Eregion to re-forge the ring Narhuil and rescue his daughter Narmaleth. He was, of course, captured, and the ring fell into the hands of Amarthiel. (Because Narmaleth is Amarthiel.)

Before Amarthiel could fix the ring, she needed some dragon wings to fix the forge. Elrond sent me back to Forochel to find and kill the dragon Bregmor (apparently the only dragon available) before Amarthiel got to him. Forochel was as dismal as ever. The cave where the dragon lived was dismal and also full of some guys. Unfortunately, when I reached the end of the cave, Mordambor had beaten me to the dragon and killed it.

Poor dead dragon.

I returned to Elrond with the bad news that I’d failed to get the dragon wings. As punishment, he sent me to the ring-forge Mirobel in Eriador to confront Amarthiel and Mordrambor.

It was another slog through a big space full of bad guys, but I finally got to the dramatic conclusion. Amarthiel sicced Mordrambor on me, but I defeated him. Laerdan arrived and confronted Amarthiel (still in the body of Narmaleth, Laerdan’s daughter), but she killed him. Before I could fight Amarthiel, a surprise mystery guest appeared: Mordirith. Mordirith took the ring from Amarthiel and flew away, leaving her broken and defeated.

Thus endeth Book 14.

For most of this book, I was incredibly bored. The only parts I really enjoyed were a brief section of the first Scenario (the part where you kick all the sleeping guards), and the final confrontation with Mordrambor, Amarthiel, Laerdan, and Mordirith way at the end. The rest was an endless, joyless slog.

Speaking of Scenarios, I believe this is the first time I’ve seen one in LotRO. I like the concept, but when you have to do combat it ssssssuuuuucks. As soon as you put me into a POV character where I have a whole new set of abilities, I get pretty annoyed. I spent all this time learning my character’s abilities, and now I have all this new stuff!? It took sooooo long to fight through all the mobs in those Scenarios because I essentially auto-attacked through everything.

Which brings me to one reason why this was a dull book. My character is level 55 now and admittedly over-leveled for this content. But there was no challenge in it whatsoever. A couple of times I literally got up from my desk during a battle, re-filled my coffee cup, and came back to find I’d killed everyone. It’s hard to maintain any sense of excitement in those kinds of combat situations. It’s a foregone conclusion that you’re going to defeat the mobs.

After posting a bunch of these chapter summaries, it occurs to me that I could simply post a link to Lotro-wiki.com and save myself a lot of time in the future.

Conan Exiles, Part Two

For some weird reason I’m still playing Conan Exiles. Probably some misguided need to get my money’s worth out of it. Also it’s a fairly relaxing game world to be inside right now. I can safely ignore everything in the real world while I’m breaking rocks. (And that is a big chunk of what you do–everything requires tons of stone.)

However, I will continue to list everything that’s wrong with the game, hopefully to shame Funcom into feeling bad about releasing their game too early. Let this be a lesson to you game developers: I will say bad things about you if you release too early!

(I suppose it’s possible that some of these issues could be a result of playing it on my own LAN. I run my server on a secondary PC which probably isn’t up to the quality standards of an “official” server. Although it’s only a few years old so it shouldn’t be that bad. Besides the Exiles server only uses up about 5% of the CPU when it’s running so it’s not exactly taxing the PC.)

Not That Dangerous

Initially I thought it was a dangerous world, but after you gain a few levels and figure out that everything spawns in exactly the same place every time, you can easily find places where you are in no danger whatsoever. Unless you run out of food and water. Water is easy to get, but you do have to kill things to get food. However you can live forever by killing the dinky little imps which are easy enough that you can punch them to death.

I setup a camp on a beach by the south river next to an imp spawn point, and I don’t foresee a time when I’ll ever need to move. I may want to move at some point, but I don’t need to.

Even the sandstorms don’t seem to do anything except make a nifty graphical effect on the screen.

Since the world isn’t that dangerous, you can get to some neat vantage points.

Combat Still Atrocious

There are really serious issues with the combat. Perhaps it’s just that the Unreal engine is terrible at melee-style combat. ARK had plenty of combat issues too as I recall.

  • In melee, you never know if you’re close enough to hit something. The range on the stone sword is almost non-existent, so you have to get right up next to the mob to hit it. And due to server lag or client-side prediction or whatever, you never know if the mob is actually where it looks like it is on the screen. It’s a crap shoot. And of course during the time you’re figuring out if you’re close enough, the enemy mob or mobs are hitting and damaging you.
  • Lag spikes during combat sometimes, so as soon as you swing, the screen freezes, or seems to freeze. I guess it’s a really intense process to calculate whether you hit anything. Maybe that’s just a problem with my server. After it “un-freezes” you’re left completely disoriented about where you’re pointing.
  • If you double-click your mouse button, you’ll swing twice in a row. It’s weird. It stores up the mouse button clicks in a bizarre way. Most of the time you’ll swing one or two extra times after you think you’ve stopped swinging. (The pick will often swing one extra time, which doesn’t yield any rock, but still makes a “whack” sound and damages your pick.)
  • Animation lock is another random factor in combat. If you’re holding up a shield and the enemy breaks it (which always happens after an enemy hits your shield two or three times), you’ll get stunned for a few seconds. During that time you can’t attack and just have to sit there watching yourself get hit over and over again. Sometimes switching weapons will cause an animation lock too. I haven’t quite figured the exact nature of that yet.
  • Speaking of shields, they are useless. It takes too long to bring them up to block an attack. By the time you see that Hyena lunging at you and click the right button, the Hyena has hit you and moved on to its next attack before the shield even comes up into blocking position. Also, they break after two or three hits, as I said. I gave up on shields.
  • The bow has plenty of issues too. There’s no range finder or anything so beyond a certain distance it’s trial-and-error to get the firing angle right, which is annoying because you have to break up a whole lot of rocks to make arrows. Since you can’t hit anything at range, most of the time you’re going to be near melee range firing your bow, and of course every time a mob hits you, it stuns you a bit and knocks your aim off. Kiting is your friend with the bow. Also you can’t tell if you’re actually hitting a mob with your arrows or not, except by listening for a particular “thunk” sound, which isn’t very distinctive, and doesn’t always play anyway. Sometimes arrows won’t fire for some inexplicable reason, even though they’re in your inventory and equipped properly. I have to shuffle the arrows around in the inventory for a while and eventually the bow will start working again.

What To Do?

There really isn’t much to do in the game right now except level up and build things. And take screenshots.

Since you’re not in much danger, it begs the question of why you need to level up and build things, though. This is supposed to be a survival game, not a building game like Landmark. In ARK, you level up and build more advanced stuff so it’s easier to survive–you need to build a base because random wandering carnivorous dinosaurs will eat you if you don’t. There’s no danger like that in Exiles. The mobs don’t wander far from their spawn points and even if you do happen to get attacked inside your base (which can only happen if, for example, you drag a monster back home with you), as far as I can tell, the monsters don’t hurt your structures.

Thralls

The main reason I’ve kept playing is that I wanted to see the “thrall” system I kept hearing about. It takes a while before you can get a thrall, though. You have to be able to build a Furnace, a Tannery, and a Wheel of Pain.

The basic idea is that you find another exile (ie. humans), which are typically found around big campfires, smash them over the head repeatedly with a Truncheon until you knock them out, then drag them back to your Wheel of Pain with a rope. Put food into the Wheel of Pain and eventually the thralls will be “broken” (it takes a few game days for it to happen) and then you can “place” the thralls around your base just like any other furniture item.

Thralls guarding the beach.

So far I’ve only seen the melee fighting thralls. (There are also archers and crafters I believe.) They will fight any monsters who wander close by, very similar to ARK’s tamed dinosaurs, except these guys actually go back to their starting positions (something I fervently wished ARK’s dinosaurs would do). My thralls so far are only capable of killing imps, though, meaning they are very weak.

It’s an interesting idea, however, as with most things in Exiles, it looks like it’s at the “minimum viable product” stage of development. Thrall (and also enemy) AI is pretty terrible. There’s no way to equip the thralls with gear, or level them up. At least not that I can see. Maybe that comes later.

You could build up your own thrall city by plopping down thralls everywhere, but I don’t really see the point. I suppose you could take over an area that is teeming with monsters by putting thralls in the area to kill them. I’m guessing there are more powerful thralls available which could handle fighting bigger monsters.

Anyway the latest patch (05.02.2017) broke my ability to play the game (black screen on connection), so I guess I’m finished for a while.

FFXIV – Void Ark and Weeping City

First there was Void Ark. I watched a guide on YouTube but I didn’t understand much of it, so I just jumped in. (It’s easier to learn mechanics first-hand.) It turned out to be fairly straightforward to get carried through there. Just like the Labyrinth of the Ancients raid at 50, everyone is so over-leveled that you hardly even see the mechanics, and mostly all you have to do is follow along, avoid AOEs, and pick up the loot. I got most of the Bard 200 gear (except the belt) and moved on to the next tier.

(I also got a ton of gear for alt classes, too, but I’m running out of places to put gear. Seriously, Square Enix, can you look into this? You’re usually very good about quality-of-life improvements, but storage of alternate gear is still a blind spot.)

Incidentally, the Void Ark Bard gear looks silly. My character looked like a 1950s bell hop.

May I take your baggage?

When I passed item level 205, I entered the Weeping City. It’s a totally different story. MTQ’s guide is split into two parts, which should give you some idea of the complexity of the mechanics. I watched both parts … and retained maybe 1/10th of what I saw. Once again I just jumped in. I knew I was never going to learn it without first-hand experience. These are public raids–they’re usually designed so that only half the participants really need to be well-versed on the mechanics to get through it. (As opposed to the “real” raids, where every single person needs to be on the ball.)

I actually got through the first two bosses without dying, but not so much on the last two. I went and ran right off the edge of the Ozmos platform with the marker, knowing full well that it would happen, while still somehow thinking that an invisible wall would stop me because there are always invisible walls in FFXIV right?

Anyway after I got out of there the guides made a lot more sense. Still, there are some pretty intense mechanics in there. (The Triangle shape on Ozmos is the one I have the most trouble with. It’s so hard to see when you get hit with that Acceleration Bomb thing.)

Looks relaxing, right?

One thing I’ve learned after going through Weeping City around 10 times now: The community doesn’t seem to know this raid very well, even after all the time it’s been out (6 months?). There’s almost always one alliance that wipes at some point, and there’s almost always a complete raid wipe one or more times. (Frequently on Ozmos.)

Another thing I learned is that the Bard boots never drop in Weeping City.

Okay, they finally dropped last night. The Weeping City gear still doesn’t look as good as the Centurio gear.

My next milestone is item level 235 so I can get into Dun Scaith. But first I apparently need to find a High-capacity Tombstone so I can upgrade my weapon.

And no, I still haven’t done the Antitower to continue the Main Scenario yet. PUGing 4-man dungeons is way more intimidating than 24-man raids, or even 8-man raids. In a 4-man dungeon it’s impossible to hide from all your newbie mistakes.

FFXIV – 3.0 Main Scenario Complete

A while back I said I was playing ESO again.. welllll, I sort of lost interest. (I think it’s because I find the quests very depressing, and it also seems like everywhere you go and everything you do is basically the same as what you did before.) So it’s mostly FFXIV and an occasionally foray into LotRO for me these days.

I finished the Aetherial Research Facility. I got a nice group with a very “professional” tank, who explained the mechanics concisely and non-judgmentally. Indeed it turned out to be much easier than I feared, and kind of fun. It was another one with a lot of AoEs to dodge, which I like. It’s sort of like a puzzle game, trying to figure out where to run so that you don’t get caught by overlapping or moving AoEs. They’re usually predicable enough that you can plan ahead, but random enough that you still need to think on your feet.

There was another 8-man trial immediately after called The Singularity Reactor. I went into that one completely blind, reasoning that it would be similar to the 8-man trials at the end of previous stories, which were among the easiest in the game. It turned out to be at least easy enough for us to get through on the first try, even with three of us showing filmstrips over our heads and nobody explaining anything. At the time of this writing, in fact, I can’t remember a single thing about the fight, except the spoilery cut scene after it was over.

So that completed the Heavensward 3.0 Main Scenario, as far as I can tell. I think it was better than the 2.0 story. (I say that partly because I can’t even remember the 2.0 story.) Most of the characters had good arcs, at least until [redacted].

As you might expect, reaching level 60 in FFXIV is just the beginning, particularly when you get to the end in version 3.5 instead of 3.0. If it’s anything like level 50, I’m guessing there are now 5 updates worth of extended Main Scenario questlines to go through, each with a new dungeon and/or trial in it.

In addition to that, there is the somewhat arduous process of running around to find and unlock all the level 60 activities you can do after finishing the Main Scenario.

One of the first things I found was Rowena in Idyllshire, who led me to unlocking the Anima weapon quest. Yeah, I probably won’t be doing that. Not without a really long Netflix series to binge-watch, at least.

After that I unlocked a level 60 dungeon Neverreap, and two Extreme trials, none of which I qualify for yet.

I wanted to find the “Alexander” thing I keep hearing about, which I am guessing is the new Crystal Tower public raid thingy. Crystal Tower was a big help to my gear progress in the level 50 days. I didn’t quite know what to look for, but I stumbled onto it anyway when I looked into that gigantic robot hand that came out of the shield in the Dravanian Hinterlands. I thought it was just going to be another 8-man trial the way they kept talking about primals, but the Duty Finder clearly marks it as “Alexander – The Fist of the Father” even though the quest text never mentioned anything about Alexander, Fists, or Fathers. I still don’t know who or what Alexander is. It’s always seemed like a strange name for an instance. (I thought “Turns 1-9” were strange names, too.)

There’s no danger of accidentally wandering into any of these places unprepared, by the way, because my item level is way too low. At this writing I’m at 142, and I think I need to get to at least 145 before I can even start doing any of this level 60 stuff.

At one time that seemed like an impossibly high number, but now it’s a huge flashing newbie sign. I unlocked the Stone, Sea, Sky thing (which is an awesome game feature with yet another inexplicable FFXIV name) and marched haughtily into the practice tutorial boss, only to fail the DPS check miserably. Talk about humbling.

I decided I would run through the Great Gubal Library until I picked up a substantial portion of the Conservator’s gear set, which is item level 148. I kind of enjoy that dungeon and it would be nice to have a complete set of gear for a change. I’ve been wearing a hodgepodge for 10 levels now. Of course the first time through, there was another Bard in the group, and of course he got the only Bard drop there was. The second time through there was nothing but Ninja drops. So maybe it isn’t the greatest idea in the world.

P. S. Two more Gubal runs last night and nothing. It’s getting less fun, so bleh.

LotRO Volume 1, Book 13 – Snowpocalypse

I completed a second Book in LotRO over the snowy weekend.

Last time we rescued Laerdan and found half of that elusive ring Narchuil. After Laerdan stormed out of the council meeting, Elrond asked me to talk to him. Laerdan believed the rest of the ring could be found in the (presumably dead) hands of a captain whose ship sank somewhere in the north. He asked me to meet a dwarf friend of his in Forochel, because he wanted to stay and patch things up with the Elves. Typical. I always have to do the work.

Forochel is a horrible place and I would never want to live there. The icy tundra of Forochel looked disturbingly similar to my real life after the unexpectedly high volume of snow and record-breaking low temperatures we got over the weekend.

Laerdan’s dwarf friend was no help at all, and directed me to contact the locals, who I think of as Eskimos but actually have sort of Scandinavian accents, which I rendered in my reference video recording as more like a weird combination of Indian, Native American, and Irish. The Eskimo chieftan Yrjana (pronounced something like EAR-YAWN) required me to pass three tests before he would speak with me, which required a great deal of riding through the snow fields.

Chieftan Yrjana said he would love to help find Narchuil, but a spooky emmissary from Angmar also wanted it. The chieftain met with him, and it was none other than my old nemesis Mordrambor, last seen in Book 11 killing many people of Evendim as he escaped. Mordrambor tried to convince Chieftan Yrjana to work with him instead of me, but Yrjana refused. Mordrambor left in a huff, promising to kill everyone, yada yada.

To find the ring, Chieftan Yrjana sent me to a powerful seer woman named Saija, who lived in a cave in the middle of nowhere. She told the tale of Arvedui, the Gaunt King, who died upon the back of a “giant sea-monster,” which only now as I write this summary do I realize was a “ship” and not an actual monster. Saija surmised I might find knowledge of the ring at the shipwreck, and so I went there.

At the shipwreck, still frozen in the water, I found the shade of Arvedui, the Gaunt King, the last king of Arthedain. Arvedui told me he had once hidden and abandoned many things in the dwarf-mines to the south (where he became “gaunt”). He wanted me to go to the mines and find his Book of Heraldry and take it to a Ranger.

This led to a rather lengthy delve into the depths of the Dourhand-held dwarf-mines, where I wandered for an endless amount of time trying to find a stupid book for a dead guy.

At last, I found it and returned it to the Ranger, who declared he would return at once to Rivendell to tell Elrond and Aragorn of the fate of Arvedui of Arthedain. (For you see, Aragorn was still in Rivendell during those days, and apparently is a descendant of this Gaunt King Arvedui.)

The shade of Arvedui thanked me for my service and finally got to the reason I was there. He told me that there had been a second Elf-ship which had come searching for him, whose captain had not perished. (This was presumably the ship captain whom Laerdan had given the fragment of Narchuil.) He knew no more, but suggested I speak with the seer Saija about it, and so I returned to her cave.

Naturally, Saija would not tell me anything before I performed some mundane tasks for her. Once I completed those, she told me that the survivor of the second ship (“sea monster”) had been lost in an ice cave. If the ring Narchuil could be found anywhere, it would be there. Saija volunteered to guide me there.

Inside the ice cave, Mordrambor was one step ahead of us. “I will claim Narchuil as my own and deliver it to my *new* Master,” he said, revealing himself to be a traitor to the Big Bad Lady Amarthiel. In the end, I fought with Mordrambor, but in a surprise twist that still makes no sense whatsoever, Saija revealed herself to be none other than Amarthiel in disguise (again). “Thou wilt pay for thine insolence!” she shouted at Mordrambor, as the two of them disappeared in a ball of fire, leaving me alone in the cave, with the other fragment of the ring Narchuil. I returned it to Rivendell, where I learned that Laerdan plans to take it south to destroy it.

And that’s how Book 13 ended.

I have to say, this book was a massive pain to get through. I did not enjoy much of anything here. I got lost in Forochel trying to complete the Chieftan’s tasks, I got lost in the dwarf-mines trying to find that book of heraldry, which made me especially angry because I did not see how a book had anything to do with finding a ring. It was just one boring errand after another which seemed to take forever. (It actually took about 3 hours of game time.) The summary I wrote above makes it sound quite a bit more entertaining than it was.

Story-wise, I’m not at all clear why Saija/Amarthiel didn’t just take the dern ring herself. Why would she help *me* find it? That made no sense whatsoever. Or was it all a plot to test Mordrambor’s loyalty to her? Perhaps the reasons will become clear later.

I calculated that I had roughly 33 more books to go before I caught up with the story in LotRO, which at two per weekend, should take me well into Fall or Winter 2017.

FFXIV – The Level 58 Slump

I’m a little miffed that I’ve run out of level 58 quests in the Dravanian Hinterlands only about halfway to level 59. Alphinaud and [redacted] stopped talking to me about the Main Scenario almost immediately after I ascended to level 58 and entered Idyllshire, which is apparently the new Mor Dhona. They now want nothing to do with me until I get to level 59.

So I did every level 58 quest I could find around Idyllshire and the Hinterlands, mostly involving the gobbies’ loony adventures building their city government. After that, I followed two racist refugees from Uldah in their misadventures of gobbie mistrust. I thought for sure that somewhere in those quests I would unlock Saint Mocianne’s Arboretum, which is clearly marked as a dungeon on my map, but nope. That blue dungeon icon is still there, and I guess I’m supposed to pretend I can’t see the rather obvious entrance.

Now I’m sitting there in Idyllshire with half a level to go, wondering what to do. Did I miss something? The only thing I can think of to do is grind The Vault dungeon or Leveling dungeons until I get to 59, but I don’t particularly want to. I don’t remember ever being at a point in FFXIV before where I *had* to do dungeons to progress. I mean, maybe I had this problem when I originally hit 48 and 49, too, but I don’t remember it. For alt classes I would usually do FATEs around Camp Dragonhead from 40-50 (actually more like 35-50), but as far as I can tell there’s nothing like that in Heavensward.

Tonight, after I wrote the above at work, I re-discovered the Battle Levemetes and Clan Hunts in Foundation, but they are slow and not very efficient in terms of leveling. But it’s about all I could find that didn’t involve a Duty.

By the way I have not enjoyed the quests around the Hinterlands. Well, the quests themselves are fairly amusing, but there is a *lot* of running back and forth, which is really time-consuming when you can’t fly yet.

In terms of land mass, the Heavensward expansion reminds me a lot of the Storm Legion expansion in Rift, and not in a good way. They made the maps *gigantic* in comparison to the launch maps, presumably to impress people or in FFXIV’s case to make flying more important, but what you actually end up with are these huge maps that take forever to get across, which are mostly empty of content. I’d just as soon developers not make bigger maps unless they plan to fill them with more points of interest.

LotRO Volume 1, Book 12 – Rescuing Laerdan

Turns out this was the only screenshot I took.

As part of my continuing efforts to catch up in LotRO, I played through another Book in the Epic Story. In the last book, we were looking for a ring called Narchuil, which is pronounced quite differently from the way it looks, according to not-Ian McKellen Gandalf in the voiceovers. (It’s something like “Nar-wheel.”)

(Per usual for my LotRO posts, I will not be attempting to add the diacritics to all the weird Elvish words.)

In Book 12, we’re … still looking for a ring called Narchuil. But we’ve been distracted by looking for Laerdan, who I erroneously thought had died in the last book. Apparently he was taken captive instead, and for some reason the folks of Middle Earth believe he’s worth rescuing. Some misguided sense of ethics, I presume.

As always, The Enemy writes down his plans on paper and distributes them to all of his minions, so after killing a few bad guys in Evendim, I was able to find out that Laerdan was taken before someone named Ein in Barad Tironn for interrogation. While random extra Forchon courageously guarded the door, I dispatched Ein, but Laerdan was long gone, taken to Angmar.

My contact in Angmar, Gwathryn, told me that Laerdan was taken to Sammath Baul. After prying a gate key from the cold, dead hands of the massive brute Lozudurkh, I was able to enter the corpse-filled halls of Sammath Baul. I fought my way through hordes of Angmarim and defeated Morven, Laerdan’s captor. I took the badly injured Laerdan back to Elrond in Rivendell to recover.

With Laerdan rescued, Elrond directed me to return to the search for Narchuil. Laerdan revealed in his sleep that it lay in Barad Durgul, back in Angmar. My Angmar contact Gwathryn worried that the inactive gate ward stones protecting Barad Durgul might be a trap, so I once again sought out the secret orders that The Enemy distributed to all of his minions. After a somewhat tedious journey into the heart of Barad Durgul, I found the secret orders on the corpse of an Angmarim Gate-Keeper  who carelessly forget to tear them up. It turned out the watching stones were disabled for the personal convenience of the Lady Amarthiel, and no danger.

The inevitable assault on the halls of Barad Durgul ensued, one Hobbit laying waste to hordes of Angmarim Houndmasters and Bloodletters. After a somewhat anti-climatic final duel with Goeolgon, I found the corpse of Narucham, a comrade of Gwathryn, who I was to have met inside, but apparently he got impatient to go on ahead without me. I also found an ornate chest, from which I recovered half of the ring Narchuil.

Back in Rivendell, Elrond called a council. My very own council in Rivendell! It wasn’t quite as elaborate as the council, but there was a lot of talking, at least, and Gandalf was there even if he only spoke one line. Laerdan had awoken from his “dark dreams,” and explained that he broke the ring in half to try to help his spellbound daughter Narmeleth. He proceeded to go a bit mental and ran away, proclaiming that he would yet save Narmeleth with the help of “Aignel and Ningarch.”

Poor guy.

I didn’t connect as much with this story as the last one. Mostly this part of the story involved a lot of tedious slogging through trash mobs. Since it had been months since I last played, I didn’t remember many of the names and couldn’t quite piece together what was happening. Now that I’ve written up this summary (with the help of lotro-wiki.com), maybe I’ll be able to connect a bit better with Book 13, which will apparently take us to the frozen north, where the other half of Narchuil lies at the bottom of the ocean, or something like that.

Also, I have to mention that when I loaded up LotRO to play this Book, my Hunter skills had been reset. There’s nothing quite so disheartening as loading up an MMORPG you haven’t played in months, only to find that your skills have been reset.

FFXIV – Unexpectedly Hard Dungeon

Last night I only had time to play one game, so I decided to play some FFXIV again, as part of my as-yet unannounced goal of catching up with the Main Scenario before the expansion arrives. I was stuck at a point in the Main Scenario where the next quest requires level 58, but I was only at about 57.8. So I thought I would do a few quests to start getting a feel for my character again.

Then I remembered the Duty Finder, and especially the Leveling Dungeons Duty (which I still think of as the Low-Level Duty). I popped into a queue, thinking I would get into something like Sastasha or Haukke Manor or one of the other low-level dungeons and have a leisurely stroll to level 58.

Imagine my surprise when the queue popped five minutes later and it was The Aery, a level 55 dungeon!

I’ve done it before, more than once, months ago. But did I remember anything about it? Hell no! I spent the first few minutes trying to figure out how I managed to get into a dungeon that I’d never seen before. Then I realized that I had (almost) all of my abilities, so not only did I have to remember the dungeon, but I had to remember how to play the new-fangled Wanderer’s Minuet-style Bard.

It ended up fine, with no wipes and no deaths. As we got to the bosses I started to remember the mechanics, and managed to avoid at least some of the damage. The healer easily made up for any of my missteps there. By the end I sort-of had my rotations closer to where they should have been. But it was a lot more stressful than I expected, and by the end I was a nervous wreck. I got a neat tunic to go with the pants I got before, so that was cool. (They are too low level now though, but I could use them for glamours.)

I still didn’t get enough experience to hit level 58, so I finished a couple more quests and that put me over the top. Now I’m ready for another Bard quest and the next part of the Main Scenario.

Speaking of glamours, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but FFXIV seriously needs a more modern wardrobe system. Carrying around fifty thousand sets of gear to get the look you want is not cool. (Also not possible due to inventory restrictions.) Even World of Warcraft, which was previously the undisputed worst at customized wardrobes, got a transmog update! That pretty much leaves FFXIV as the worst wardrobe system, at least in terms of user interface. If we can’t get a wardrobe system, can we at least get a place to store unlimited sets of gear?

P.S. I’ve played a couple of ESO dungeons in the past week too. What a world of difference there is between a FFXIV dungeon and an ESO dungeon!