Moria Impressions

I finally completed about everything I could do at my level (except maybe the School instance) in Eregion.  I had a blast with that new content, but now I was heading into the crown jewel of Lord of the Rings Online’s first expansion.  At first, I really didn’t like it… but that changed.

The main reason I didn’t like it was because of the 3-D movement space.  In most of Eriador, I played on mostly a 2-d plane.  Sure there were hills and caverns and what not, but I could think in terms of X,Y on the map.  In Moria, content is stacked on content.  I can’t normally just go in a general beeline from X1,Y1 to X2,Y2.  I might have to go “out of my way” to get to the next floor up to go across that bridge in order to avoid the chasm of death between me and the shiny.

I don’t think this occurs everwhere in Moria (I did get to see a little bit of the Waterworks when I accidentally fell down a well), but the Great Delving requires 3-D thoughts to get from A to B.  I have grown to like it.  Now that I am not a Great Delving noob (currently learning the basically two-leveled Silvertine Lodes) moving from A to B is kind of fun.  Also, there is not set path to get from A to B; there are a lot of different routes one could take.

The second thing I didn’t like was the lack of fast movement via my horse.  One cannot use horses in Moria… only goats, which of course the stunties won’t sell to me unless I become their bestest drinking buddy (read: rep grind).  However, Moria follows Eregion in creating ‘Chapters’ of content with a goat-stop at the hub for each sub-region ‘Chapter.’  Travel is not as big an issue as it is pre-level 35.

The rest is all cake.

The scenery and layout is beautiful.  I cannot imagine the time and effort that Turbine took into making an underground world with the internal structures.  It’s so seamless, and I would go so far as to say realistic.  I mean, the buildings that the dwarves of old created look like they were put there for a reason… not because a graphic designer had something to say.

As a quick tangent.  I bought my current gaming laptop for Warhammer Online, which of course was delayed nearly a year from the time I bought it.  Warhammer Online looks and plays fine.  Lord of the Rings Online, on the other hand, looks fantastic.  My wife just likes watching me travel around because “the scenery is so beautiful.”  She rarely gives any other game a glance.  I, myself, am addicted to watching the DX10 shadows that move with my character.

The story is also fantastic, and it really has me looking forward to visiting other parts of Middle Earth.  The 10-second premise is that the Fellowship (the people in the movies) caused quite a shakeup and stir, and the death of the Balrog (Durin’s Bane) caused a power vacuum.  So, the dwarves of Middle Earth decided the time was right to reclaim the greatest dwarven city ever built.  They have to deal with multiple goblin tribes (not always allied with each other), native denizens of the dark, ruined structures, broken machinery, and crazy miners that go off by themselves.

Turbine’s next Book of content is rumored to be coming in January, but I am taking things nice and slow.  I am even concurrently enjoying the Forochel region, which I am just now exploring.  I highly recommend the expansion.  I would say that it wins hands-down for me the best MMO experience and product of 2008.

Khazâd ai-mênu!

33 thoughts on “Moria Impressions”

  1. I would say that it wins hands-down for me the best MMO experience and product of 2008.

    You mean compared to WAR or AoC…?

    Oh wait….

  2. I was pretty impressed with the new classes, and the legendary item system is crack as far as I’m concerned. I’m leveling six of those things at all times now. However, now that I’m in Moria itself I’m even more impressed.

    I have to agree, best new MMO content all year. Like it way better than WotLK personally. Hell, when it comes to it the only MMO expansions that I’ve ever liked as much were Catacombs (in DAoC) and Jump to Lightspeed (spaceships..woot!). And I wouldn’t say either of those was overall of the quality I’m seeing in MoM.

  3. Yeah I like how you can have six legendary items and they all get exp at the same time. For some classes this provides a lot of versatility. :)

  4. Moria is ridiculously confusing at first because of the heavy reliance on vertical space. It took some time to get used to it.

    What really helped me was talking to those guides with the silver ring icons above their heads who lead you into the first real group of quests in the area. Once I had a grasp on that, the rest of it didn’t seem so bad. It’s as though I really just had to change my thinking of where things should be.

    I fell into that damn well too. Three times lol.

  5. Yeah, once you start seeing in your mind’s eye the 3d space it’s actually quite fun. I had to take my textures from ultra-high to high because I was killing my graphics card memory in Moria, and I had processing lag by the well… and whoop next thing I know I am going at 35 fps down a well.

  6. Another casualty of the well me. Clearly we are all jumping around too much.

    Permit me also to join in your MoM love fest. I have been hiding my enthusiasm on other blogs for fear of being branded a fanbois but here, among like minded souls (allowances made for OpenEdge) let me say it. MORIA IS BRILLIANT!

    (I would add further exclamation marks but I understand that you and Zubon have started charging for them)

  7. I’m saving my trek to Lothlorien until the Book 7 update nears (or at least as long as I can resist the temptation). Book 7 adds the rest of the Lothlorien content anyway, including the reputation system.

    Not to be too snarky but how are all you guys falling in the well? I mean… there’s plenty of NPCs and stuff to get your attention not to mention a big gaping hole in the floor. I’ve never once came even remotely close to accidentally falling in. On the flip side, once you learn how to survive the fall, jumping in is a nice, fast way to get to the Waterworks! :)

    I’ve always appreciated LOTROs vertical scope in Eriador and I’m beyond impressed at the technical achievement of constructing Moria the way it is. And it certainly promotes taking each step carefully on certain paths (and not falling into wells, ha!) lest you fall into the depths.

  8. I’m waiting on Book 7 as well. No point in getting a half-finished and more confining Lothlorien than I have to.

    There should sooo be a death by falling down certain places deed in Moria (Well, Endless stairs, etc..)

  9. “Not to be too snarky but how are all you guys falling in the well?”

    It isn’t too hard, especially if you’re not paying attention, or get hit by an inopportune lag spike. I’ve heard a number of people complain about falling down there, so it is a somewhat common occurance.

    As for Lothlorien, there are actually half a dozen, or so, quests you can do there right now. It’s mainly killing Orcs, but it’s a start.

  10. allowances made for OpenEdge)

    Why would you say that? Oh my, I better change my game if I am THAT transparent…lol.

    Naw…can’t do it.
    Why is this expansion so awesome, yet EQ2’s new expansion released in the same week, is able to get top 10 on the NPD chart for that week (mind you, the first time EVER for an EQ2 expansion), yet LOTRO never charted…

    Ok, back to you raving fanboys!

  11. Because Turbine is a private (read:quiet) company and the majority of people likely bought the expansion online directly through Turbine.

  12. Regarding NPD numbers. I know I bought mine directly from turbine. Doing the digital upgrade meant no trip to the store for a preorder box followed by a second trip for the actual box. I was able to pre-patch and simply launch the game come opening day.

    Given Direct2Drive, Steam, Impulse, and direct from vendor channels, I would take any PC-related numbers from NPD with a fist-sized grain of salt.

  13. Nothing personal @Openedge its just that you were the only previous poster who hadn’t joined the lotro loving bandwagon.

    That said – I can’t help noticing that you do mention Lotro an awful lot on your own blog.

    “The Lady doth protest too much, methinks” :D

  14. Playing through Moria and WotLK at the same time…

    I love the new landscapes, but one thing keeps bugging me: WoTLK deals with latency much better! I keep having instances where I’ll hit a potion button and it won’t activate for a couple of seconds. Last night it caused a death and I logged out in rage (and then downtime hit anyway)

    Being in Australia (gaming ghetto) you tend to notice these things…

    Not to mention the hitching, one-second pauses whenever I kill/loot/etc…

    May be I need to uninstall/defrag/reinstall/defrag?

  15. @mbp: Yes, he *mention* LOTRO a few times per week. All negative comments however! :) I think I’ve seen him make ONE single more or less semi-positive statement about the game the entire time I’ve read his blog, blog comments and forum posts. heh

  16. yeah he trolls teh interwebs looking for mentions of LOTRO so he can blast it, unlike well most of us who don’t bother to say anything if we don’t like a game, Who cares if I don’t like what you like? I am sure you don’t care, and it’s not goint to add to the discussion. But he feels this need to post on blogs how much he doesn’t like the games that people writing those blogs like. I just don’t read those blogs. … or don’t post on the posts about stuff I don’t care for.

    It’s really odd, almost an obession. Maybe he got jilted by LOTRO and is stalking it, his anger and hatred of LOTRO is really a defense mechanism for his unrequited love?

  17. his unrequited love?
    I would put it more to the “I fell in love with the woman LOTRO, until I found out she was a man” type of love..

    There is nothing wrong with that…but, it is all wrong for me, but I guess a select few others find out they are closet…uh…LOTRO lovers.

    @Blue Kae
    Given Direct2Drive, Steam, Impulse, and direct from vendor channels, I would take any PC-related numbers from NPD with a fist-sized grain of salt.

    NPD now tracks Steam and D2D.
    And we need to understand something here. EQ2 has been slim to no pickings when it comes to brick and mortar, so most of the sales would be D2D or direct as well, if they report.
    I guess this is the case with Turbine being so private, they decide no one really needs to know how well they are doing.

    Guess layoffs is one form of knowing how things are on their end..

    Majority bought online would mean no “new” sales. The online offer for Moria was for those who either already had a scrip or were on Trial…i.e: no sell through also hurts overall sales numbers.

    Listen, I know you guys are on a lovefest and all that, but I figure the devils advocate needs to slip in once in a while and help those who have not seen open their eyes a little is all.
    LOTRO is a mediocre seller, and just gets by on landscapes alone.
    But, I am glad you guys think it is good.

    There just happens to be so many BETTER games is all.

  18. Oh come now Openedge, if you took WoW out of the picture, LOTRO would be one of the leading US/EU subscription based MMORPGs. You statement lacks a basis in fact and is just based on your own bias.

    As for being “so many BETTER games,” that’s kind of a put up or shut up moment. Again, stick to subscription based MMORPGs, you know, the direct competitors, and you might convince me there are two, maybe three, better games. But that is subjective.

  19. “one in awhile” heh

    I think people just wonder why you spend so much time complaining about it (well via comments, your own blog is yours to talk about whatever). It just seems like a waste of energy. What’s the point. I don’t find posts on ATITD and say “ATITD sucks! I don’t care what how much cybercat loves it!” since well what would be the point of doing that? If they like ATITD, they can talk about it without me annoying them. What do I care?

    Though I admit LOTRO for some reason really brings out the emotion. People loved it or hated it. Maybe it is the unrealized expectations. It was really many people’s first love in fantasy and nothing could measure up.

  20. I also agree that MoM is really well done. My main problem is a concurrent EVE addiction which has limited my LOTRO playtime! As for the haters, we are very lucky to have so many MMO options these days! I hope you find one that works for you.

  21. I’m finding myself more and more intrigued with LOTRO and I’ll probably be venturing into it for the first time (well unless you count the open beta) this week.

    The expansion sounds great.

  22. @Openedge1: I personally don’t really care what the sale comparisons of these expansions are, but I’m a stickler for accuracy and your trust in NPD’s numbers is IMHO unfounded and misleading.

    NPD does not directly track Steam or D2D, they “quantify” based on publicly available info and their own surveys. In other words, they estimate and guess. NPD has been notoriously inaccurate at PC game sales and profits and they announced their attempts to collect digital distribution numbers in an effort to save face. They don’t have any magical bean counter over at NPD, it’s just their business to try to sell marketing numbers to marketing people. I personally would trust their info about as much as I’d trust any biased marketing source. One big huge grain of salt.

    You’ve always been looking for metrics, I know it interests you. But there just are no such reliable metrics in this industry. While you could call this stuff the best you can go on, I wouldn’t base an argument on them.

  23. @wilhelm2451
    if you took WoW out of the picture, LOTRO would be one of the leading US/EU subscription based MMORPGs
    This would be interesting if true. But, lets look at more data.
    If we look at sales (even though as Rog points out, it cannot be precise, but it can show a trend)
    For the year of it’s release, LOTRO sold around 250k boxes according to NPD (this did not track Steam or D2D at the time)…and that is for the YEAR.
    Yet, within 1 month, 800k copies of AoC had sold out, same for WAR.
    Lets look at maybe…XFire as a another example of “trend”.
    The highest LOTRO ever reached on their charts is #14, yet AoC and WAR have both hit #5. Again a”trend”.
    As of now WAR is at #15, and LOTRO is #24.
    EvE Online is #8…impressive!
    So, overall LOTRO has never made a “major” impact sales wise, customer wise, or player wise.
    Out of all the blogs that are regulars for MMO’s (Tobold, Keen and Graev, West Karana)…how many discuss LOTRO? Or how often?
    The only popularity contest LOTRO wins when you do a search on Google for example is in Gold Sellers.
    Actually, starting in November, Steam and Direct 2 Drive started to provide their charts “directly”, and is available for news sites (check Kotaku for comparison data from those charts)…so the data is pretty accurate for their numbers.
    The fact is the people who “bought” MoM were previous players, and new sell through’s were not rampant.
    I know the game is fun for some people, but as I said, I also think we need to look at the clear picture here. LOTRO is not a “top” seller, and may be profitable for Turbine. But, Turbine as a whole has never had a good track record (one closure, and one dogged MMO – DDO), so, they got lucky with a license beloved by many.
    It is too bad that it does not do great business like a huge IP should though.
    But, as long as you guys are happy eh?

    Merry Christmas btw!

  24. @Openedge1

    After all you have said LOTRO is what then, #4 or #5 when it comes to subscription based MMOs in the US/EU? Not exactly as bad as you have tried to paint it. Or are you asserting that LOTRO would have been better off cramming the channel and having people leave in droves, disgusted with the game? Holding up AoC as such an example of “success” relative to LOTRO rings pretty hollow in my book. BTW, comparing LOTROs NPD numbers with FunComs announced sales doesn’t ring true to me either. Do the NPD numbers show 800K sold, or are you mixing you data?

    And I am quite tepid on your XFire trends. I mean if EVE is #8 with ~250K subs, then it does not speak well for WAR, LOTRO, or AoC, since the “all things equal” analysis would say that they’re now all well below the 200K mark. XFire stats are only good for tracking what people who run XFire play. It has always seemed much more focused on shooters, which track more to the PvP fans. The Venn diagram of PvP fans and LOTRO players would show a very small intersection if I were to guess, while it would be much larger for EVE players and PvP fans. Of course, judging where solitaire ranks on XFire, who knows. Of course, those could all be EVE players looking for something to do while mining or patrolling.

    But, in the end, as long as LOTRO has enough subs to keep going and continues to improve, I’m happy.

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