Mounted combat is the centerfold for the Riders of Rohan expansion in Lord of the Rings Online (“LOTRO”). It changed things, subjectively for better or worse. Some people think that LOTRO became bad for them. I feel that as I am nearing level 80 I have a pretty good handle on mounted combat. I can see through the curtain, so to speak, and I haven’t decided whether I like what I see. The horse’s path doesn’t seem to go very far.
To recap, instead of the stand-and-deliver style of normal LOTRO combat, mounted combat focuses on gaining momentum for “passes” of attack. I enter an Enemy logging camp filled with logs, orcs, and destructible things to destroy. Old LOTRO is telling me to dismount run up to one enemy, kill that enemy, destroy that siege weapon he was near, rinse, and repeat. New LOTRO is telling me to run in Gangnam-style, smash my palm against the skill bar, and repeat that until the logging camp is in bloody ruins. The difference is quite shocking. What game was I now playing?
Old LOTRO unmounted combat is slow and methodical. There is a zen-like rotation. It also gets boring. New LOTRO is quick and chaotic. I feel like I throw strategy right out the window and start to spray and pray. I might aggro a few extra mobs, whereas before I would’ve had a visual imprint from my mind on where exactly new mob aggro would start. I really don’t care which skills I am using as long as they can hit, whereas before I played skill rotations very strategically.
At times I want the slow methodical cycle of unmounted combat. That is what I had been playing in LOTRO for years. It is available, but at the same time I can clean sweep a logging camp in minutes on a warhorse. That is also fun, but it feels so different from everything before level 75.
Mounted combat does not feel like a timeless expansion addition like legendary items, which are now core to LOTRO. I am not sure mounted combat will ever be core, and the choice between old LOTRO and new LOTRO will remain present to both developers and players. The next group content patch heads away from Rohan and warhorse battle permits, which makes mounted combat feel like an expansion gimmick. There is a clear answer on whether Turbine was going to press forward to make mounted combat part of everything, and coupled with hints of the next zone being Long Lake, I do not see new LOTRO staying prevalent for very long.