Standing Stone Games started taking orders for the Mordor expansion in LotRO, which is “expected” to release July 31. $40 for the no-frills version.* The moment is finally here. The moment I’ve been dreading for so long: The moment when everyone else will get to experience the MMORPG cultural event of the decade, while I sit on the sidelines, peering longingly through the cracks in the fence, trying to catch a glimpse of the prize at the end of the rainbow. Or some metaphor or another like that.
This is the exact thing that I’ve tried to prepare for for over a year now. How much progress did I make on that preparation, you ask? Well, I leveled my Hunter from about 48 to 55. So yay? I was just 50 levels short of my goal. (It felt like I played a long time to get those 7 levels, too.)
Last week, I used up 5995 of my ~7000 Points Formerly Known As Turbine to buy a level 95 boost for my Dwarf Runekeeper. I arrived in a camp I’ve never seen before with a bunch of new stuff in my inventory, each of which exploded into more stuff. I equipped a whole new set of armor which if I were to be generous looks about as awful as a set of cloth armor can possibly look. Frankly it looks like a set of white thermal underwear.
I quickly discovered that I could not equip the Advanced Riding trait thingy because I had not yet learned regular Riding. My dwarf was level 19 when I started, standing around the area of that horse farm near Bree, and I think the last time I played him years ago I had been looking around there to find a horse. (Actually I think I have a horse, I just can’t ride it.) So I sought to find my way back to that horse farm to learn Riding.
Through clever use of a Mithril Coin and an unfinished quest, I found my way back to Strider in The Prancy Pony. (Otherwise I would have had no clue how to leave the town I was in other than by picking a direction and walking. Getting around without Hunter teleports is a pain!) Then I was back in the same predicament I was in before: I had no idea where to find the Riding trait. So I logged off.
A few days later I logged back in and pulled up the LotRO Store and found the Riding trait I was looking for the easy way. And as it turned out, since I’m technically a free player at this point, I had to buy it. After getting the Riding trait I was finally able to use the Advanced Riding trait and the Combat Riding trait. I warped back to Level 95 Camp.
There are some big changes in LotRO life between level 50-something and level 95. I have a “war horse” now, which is apparently a special kind of horse that does more than just run fast. You get a whole new hotbar while you’re riding and I have no idea how it works or whether I should even try to learn it.
Thankfully I had gone through the Legendary Weapon trainers at level 50, so I had at least an inkling of a clue what to do with the unidentified Legendary Runestone I ended up with. Instead of getting actual weapons with the 95 boost, you get three random weapon pack thingys which let you select the kind of weapon you want. Of course, not having played RK in ages, I had no clue whatsoever what to pick. I chose a Lightning Rune because I think the skill tree I picked said something about Lightning affinity. I’ve no idea if that was right or not. I’m saving the other 2 weapon box thingys for later when I actually understand whether or not I want a legendary rune bag or a legendary bridle, and what kind I want.
Now I don’t have even the vaguest idea of what to do, where to go, or how to play this 95 RuneKeeper with hotbars filled with unknown abilities.
There weren’t even any quests to follow. [Update: I found a quest! It was, um, right in front of me the whole time.] (It’s even worse than when I got a free high-level Necromancer in EQ2.) I’m thinking my chances of leveling from 95 to 105 on this character before the end of the month are slim to none.
Of course-of course-the Mordor expansion comes with its own level boost. So I should have just waited before getting the 95 boost. Oh well. (I actually contemplated waiting for this exact reason. But in all my reading of all the posts expertly declaring what to expect from the coming Mordor expansion, nobody said to expect a level boost. Way to go, games journalists.)
I asked Twitter for some help on which class to play in LotRO as a solo player (besides Hunter), and it seemed like the two most prominent answers were Runekeeper and Minstrel. I have a Hobbit Minstel in the teen levels I think, so perhaps I’ll use that one for Mordor.
* I have no comment on the pricing uproar. I almost always get the cheap editions of games and expansions, and I have no interest in the High Elf, and no time to play one even if I did.
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