In my continuing quest to see all of LotRO before it (possibly) shuts down, my Hunter reached level 53 over the weekend. You wouldn’t think gaining a single level would be cause for celebration, but in LotRO it kind of is.
I don’t know if I’ve ever written this, but I feel like LotRO is one of the last of the "old school" generation of MMORPGs. By which I mean the generation of MMORPGs where the world is actually massive (ie. it takes a long time to run from one side to the other). (That, by the way, is what I’ve always thought the "massive" in MMORPG meant–not the number of players, but the size of the world.)
I don’t remember offhand when LotRO came out, but I think it was around 2007. I do remember that Warhammer Online came out in 2008, and I distinctly remember feeling like the world size in WAR was pretty small, and most every MMORPG that’s been released since then is the same. Rift, GW2, Aeon, TERA. None of those games felt particularly massive to me.
The other "old school" feature that still carries on in LotRO is, of course, the incredibly slow leveling curve. In a modern MMORPG, I seem to average gaining about one level per day toward the end of the leveling curve. (A "day" for me is an hour or two, if I’m lucky.) Even in one of the slower games like FFXIV. Yet in LotRO, days and days and days go by before I gain a single level. In Moria, whole zones come and go without any discernible movement of the XP bar. It can drive you crazy if you keep looking down there to see how much progress you’re making.
So you have one of two choices: You can absorb yourself in the story, admire the scenery (which still looks decent even today), and read all the NPC vinettes. Track down all the bits and pieces of quests that you’ve missed along the way. Listen to the music. Then, it’ll be a surprise when you gain a level, because you’ll be so immersed in the game that you won’t even realize you’re supposed to be gaining levels.
The other option is to watch Netflix while you play. Yeah, I mostly took the latter option. Not that there’s anything wrong with the LotRO story and all–it’s certainly one of the better games for story–but I got sucked into this show called Bloodline this past weekend.
When last I reported, I had finished all the level 52 quests in Moria and still needed more experience to reach level 53. Instead of doing skirmishes, I got sidetracked when I found a Hunter class quest in my log that required me to run all over creation and kill things to farm trophies. I did that (although I cheated after I found out you could just go to a skirmish vendor and buy the trophies you needed) and got a class trait point or something like that. I have no idea what to do with it.
Since I was in Angmar, I decided to return to the Volume I epic story where I left off around level 49, which was a particular instance in Angmar that I kept failing over and over again. It was Book VII, Chapter 8, "The Gates of Carn Dum." (No I don’t know how to do the funny caret symbol over the vowel in Dum.) I kept failing to keep Lorniel alive when those 3 stupid little whatevers sounded horns to bring in reinforcements.
Anywho, it was much easier to complete that instance at level 52. Since I was on a roll, I went on to finish Book VIII and IX, which lead me to Evendim on the trail of the mysterious Sara Oakheart. I’ve been to Evendim before, but only briefly, so it’s sort of like a new area to me. The epic quests led me to a city at war in the south that looks like some kind of continuous skirmish area. Again, something I’d never seen before, reminding me again of just how massive LotRO is. It probably would have been cool if I’d gone there at the right level.
Somewhere during this time I reached level 53. Also during this time I was amused to find that some quests led me back to talk to some Fellowship folks in Rivendell who I had previously watched leave to head south with The Ring. I guess they took a break from the trevails of the road to return to Rivendell just for me.
From here I think I will keep going and finish the Volume I epic story before I head back to Moria. LotRO is considerably easier when you’re a few levels higher than the content you’re doing. :)
Oh, and I went ahead and subscribed for 3 months, because I got tired of seeing all the things I couldn’t do.