Tonight a fairly high-expected patch to Lego Universe (LU) will be loaded, bringing with it the missing-at-launch class for all of the factions, along with a new area and a new racetrack. There’s also a great amount of hope that a bank or storage solution will be put in, as there has been a lot of official comments that “something” is coming for a while now. Some of these were promised, but not delivered, at launch, so seeing them come out relatively quickly is good. However, LU launching with such limited content is causing a lot of dissatisfaction among the user base. Nowhere is this more evident as in the zone called Gnarled Forest, in an area called Brig Rock. It is this area that really shows that the “MM” of “MMORPG” was not thought through completely.
In order to get the best (more or less) gear in the game, you buy it from your faction rep. You buy it using coins as well as faction tokens. These tokens can drop from just about anything, but certain monsters drop them more often. You’d think the end game dragons would drop more, but they actually drop them very rarely, so the dragons are only typically farmed for the top level weapons they drop. I have a few places I ground out my tokens, but one I avoided was Brig Rock, due to the dozens of threads on the official and fan boards about how horrible it is. Last night I decided to go back for the first time since I ran through there quickly for quests. It was just as it had been described.
Brig Rock has 3 total spawn points. These spawn points spawn 2 Admirals and 1 Pirate each (Brig = Brigadier). They spawn very quickly after being smashed, on the order of 5-10 seconds, so it is very fast paced. Admirals also have the highest drop rate of tokens in the game, often dropping 2 tokens per kill, thus speeding your farming up dramatically. If these had no other purpose than grinding, I’d simply say it’s an annoyance that we need to put a grind in a kids game, and move on. But there’s more to it.
There’s a series of quests that revolve around Brig Rock, including smashing these Pirates and Admirals, as well as building walls to keep them in. These walls are built-in griefing tools. Let’s say you are grinding a spawn point, which already means you are trying to tag the 3 spawns faster than the dozens of others at the same spot also doing so. Someone gets upset, and in retaliation, builds the wall. Now there is one less spawn spot, and no monsters to kill. While there last night, this one player did nothing but build the wall over and over on one of the spots, which is obvious griefing. When I managed to ask him why, which is more challenging than you’d think due to LU’s chat restrictions, he said he was doing it so we would leave so he could have the spot. Because he wanted to grind out his kill achievement there (kill 1110 Admirals).
So this is one fairly small area, with a total of 9 mobs, that is needed for a huge concentration of actual requirements – quests and multiple achievements – as well as also being the easiest to get to fast farm spot in the game. And from what I’ve read, this was an issue even back in Beta, and never addressed. Very disappointing.
Now myself, I found several other areas to grind out that I enjoy, but even those less-popular ones were fairly packed this morning when I logged in to get the last 100 tokens I figure I would need for the patch. As an Engineer, I can easily outkill most others because I have AI-driven minions that can tag a monster before anyone even sees it, but that really doesn’t seem fair. That didn’t stop others, similarly geared, from doing it, but because of the game’s mechanics, they didn’t really have an option. The requirement of grinding out tokens, 180 per piece, and there are 6 pieces plus the book that allows you to wear it in the first place, means that you will have little choice but to get out there and attempt to steal from your fellow mini-figures. There’s no team-up function that would allow you to work with someone, so you are stuck soloing and attempting to outgun everyone else. I really dislike that young gamers are being basically told that the way to work things out is to be a faster shot. That’s a very unfriendly way to game, and I hope that they address it soon, as it’s generally a fun game, and it is, besides these issues, one that I wouldn’t mind recommending to my dozens of nieces and nephews for at least a try out.