Easy Mode

I recently said in a kin-chat in Lotro how much I love the new Quest Guide that points me to where I need to go for each quest.  No more looking things up with google!

One of the people in kin-chat responded by saying, “That thing is for stupid babies, too lazy to read”.  I could sense an argument brewing in chat, so I quickly said, “Yeah babies like me! :)” in kin chat.  No one had any place to rush to my defense, and no one had any place to argue against the use of the quest guide.

What exactly gets people in Lotro so fussy about the addition of this quest guide?  The little arrows pointing you towards your goal goal are completely optional, and disabled by default.  Really, I think it’s the principle of the thing, more than the thing itself.  Quest guides make tasks like “Find treasure x” or “Hunt down mob y” much easier.  Newbies want things easier so they can rush to the high-end content, but old-timers want the game to be as hard today as the day it was made.

One of my kin mates took six months to reach level 50 in Lotro.  I took a little over six weeks.   Sure, he wasn’t the fastest leveler back then, but the speed at which I’ve gained levels has actually made his accomplishment seem trival.  The quest-guide, in combonation with the xp-curve readjustment, has left many old-timers feeling bitter.  To them, an all-too-easy game is getting even easier all the time.  And you know what?  They’re right.

The starting areas for Dwarves and Elves recieved a revamp in the last update.  New quests were added which enabled you to cherry-pick only the easiest and fastest quests on which to level.  New travel routes were added, which allowed someone to easily reach other starting areas for even more selective-questing.

New areas have opened with tons of quests.  Not only can you cherry-pick your solo quests, you can cherry-pick entire zones.  Want to skip the Barrow Downs?  Fine.  Don’t think you want to try Fornost?  No problem!  Don’t feel like setting foot in Angmar?  Just go somewhere else.

The truth is, the game is much easier than it once was.  But that’s unavoidable.  If there’s a new area, then it’s going to help someone level easier.  If there’s new raids and new loot, it’s going to make someone’s character stronger.  If the level cap is raised, it’s going to make old raids trivially easy. As these games progress, they get easier.  That’s just the way it is.  The alternative is that we go without new content.

The thing to remember, if you’re an old timer, is that the new folk are not stupid.  We know it was hard to reach the cap before they put in Evendim.  We realize that 24 level 50’s used to wipe at Helegrod.  We know someone had to find out everything the hard way before it was posted on Allakhazam.  You’ll just have to be satisfied that we newbies are still interested in your tales about “The old days”.

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Suzina is a 27 year old who usally plays the same MMOs as her husband. Games played: UO, EQ2, FFXI, SWG, LOTRO.

12 thoughts on “Easy Mode”

  1. I’m not convinced that LotRO is getting easier than it’s always been. I remember levelling before Evendim was added, and while there was a lack of content, the content that did exist wasn’t difficult unless you were tackling it at too low a level.

    Inevitably, it’s usually gear inflation that trivialises content. The constant striving for better and shinier gear killed any challenge in SoA content long before the level cap did so.

  2. One significant change seems to be ability to solo up to the level cap. When Lotro was first released grouping was pretty much essential and indeed there were “black hole levels” where the game ran out of solo-able quests. Personally I quite liked it because I wasn’t too fussed about levelling speed and I was happy to hang around till I found a group. Except for the mess that used to be West Angmar (now fixed thankfully) it was all very enjoyable. I have always thought that the legacy of enforced grouping contributed to the good community spirit that generally seems to prevail in Lotro.

    Even though I think it was a good thing at the time I am not surprised or even disappointed to see it go. The game has matured and there probably aren’t enough players at the lower levels to enforce grouping. Turbine are doing what they think they need to do to keep the game accessible and I will go along with that. Forcing a brand new player to go through two years of hard grind just to catch up would probably be the kiss of death for the game. In the end it is in all our interests that new players can get up to speed quickly.

  3. My, my… you were not told to “go back to WoW”? This is an outrage. I’ll talk to my representatives and the people at the Department of Telling People to Go Back to WoW.

  4. I like it when the low levels in CoH get easier because I have so many damn alts.

  5. I think it’s a good move to make the game easier for new people. As the amount of content grows you have to make progression faster to allow new players to catch up with their highlevel friends. What really annoys me about the new questtracker is that it encourages people to not bother reading the questtext!

  6. @ mbp: “I have always thought that the legacy of enforced grouping contributed to the good community spirit that generally seems to prevail in Lotro.”

    I don’t agree; I was in LotRO from early beta through Forochel, and though the community was by and large superb, I didn’t see any link between the quality of the community and the need to group. Rather, I credit the community’s quality to the appeal of Middle-Earth to an older crowd, the lack of open PvP (don’t get me wrong, I love good PvP, but it does lead to interplayer competition which often leads to asshattery), and the support for roleplayers (I played on Landroval, an RP server, and people actually… gasp! RPed there).

    Just like other games, PuGs often sprung up in LotRO, but I will say that the quest chains did probably help with the community’s tightness, so in that sense I’m contradicting my earlier disagreement. ;) That is to say, I often got into PuGs for quest chains and the group would stay together for a long time because we had a lot we could accomplish together. Compared to e.g. WoW, WAR, or AoC, the groups were a lot “stickier”, which I agree does abet community spirit.

    I was guilded most of the time I played, but often soloed. I found people were by and large friendly and approachable; I couldn’t guess how many people I helped with various quests, or how many helped me, nor how many random conversations I had with passing strangers. Even the regional chat was by and large mature and devoid of Chuck Norris jokes or references to peoples’ mothers.

    Damn, this is making me miss LotRO.

  7. Another way to look at the updates and current status of LOTRO is not so much whether it is easier, but whether it is in the state it should have been when it launched. Back in the game after a few years away, the progression feels much more natural to me. I like the pace of leveling…not to fast not too slow. Of course, I could go a lot faster on my alt by jumping in fellowships, but it is my decision not to right now. I’m exploring a lot of stuff I completely forgot about.

    There is a difficult balance to be reached in a game with both solo AND group content. LOTRO is more solo friendly than say EQ2. Sure…EQ2 has a crap ton of solo quests…but you have to do a million of them to gain a level. Just because there are “more” solo quests doesn’t mean it’s “more” solo friendly. The balance is in the rate of advancement. The difference between solo and group XP rates in EQ2 make it more of a grouping game. The gap between soloing and fellowing seems much closer in LOTRO.

  8. “The thing to remember, if you’re an old timer, is that the new folk are not stupid.”
    Indeed. It’s even entirely possible that new folk waited specifically for the increased pace before jumping into the game.

  9. I’ll tell you EXACTLY why.

    It seems that 99% of gamers (or at least those that post about it on forums) do not understand that “convenience” and “accessiblity” are COMPLETELY independant concepts from “easiness” or “skill-less” or even “casual”.

    Luckily, at least one Game Developer understands.


    Halleluja! I’m so damn sick to the ignorant vitriol that gets endlessly slung around the webs simply because it’s so damn unproductive.

  10. Well said. I welcome the added convenience and accessibility of LOTRO. I’m still supporting the game with a subscription fee because of the devs’ demonstrated willingness to offer content to both playstyles: solo or group.

    I play the game as primarily a soloist, since my highest level character is stuck on a relatively deserted server and other MMOs distract me from committing huge heaps of time to locate a kinship network to bond with. Being ‘hardcore’ in terms of earnest committment, I wouldn’t want to bog anyone down if I knew I couldn’t commit to the time necessary for proper groups.

    The in-game quest tracker simply makes things more convenient. Having been around LOTRO from the start, I have used my share of third-party websites like the dynamic ME map, Brasse’s maps, and still look up item wikis for stuff I’m not familiar with. It has always been a pain to locate the precise coordinate to get to, because one has finally gotten tired of wandering in circles for two hours.

    Since the change, I was actually able to READ the quest text, use the quest text to get in the general vicinity, with the in-game map compass direction as a guide, and see my compass flash to let me know there was an item to find in the area, and complete an entire quest in-game without resorting to looking up an offline database. Hallelujah. For me, not having to ALT-TAB out of a game makes it a tide more immersive.

    I’ve blown heaps of money on initial repair bills (yay, Guardians), freaky riding costs, been unable to earn money due to clogged inventories (yay for quest items making their way into the quest journal), bought a horse only at level 40 due to said money problems, and got jelled into a morass of non-progression due to way too many group quests in Angmar at level 44.

    I welcome any and all convenience changes to rebalance the amounts of money Guardians used to spend, riding costs that make sense and are affordable, freeing up of inventory space, earlier mounts, and a hefty addition of solo-possible quests and new areas to venture to. What’s the harm? I’m never going to group with you, your group quests are still there, I’m happy grinding 24 boars, 24 wolves and 24 drakes and progressing on my personal solo journey.

  11. I actually felt LOTRO had the worst location descriptions out of the 4 or 5 MMOs I’ve played. I’ve spent so much more time in that game wandering around looking for people.

    Of course that time got cut down a little once I realized I was supposed to be looking down at my feet for a dead body :)

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