I have been getting back in to Lord of the Rings Online in anticipation for the Siege of Mirkwood expansion. The level cap raise and obvious gear power creep does not really affect me because I am having fun now. For the most part, though, I am trying to amass some play money for when level 65 legendary items start dropping. The best way to do it for a Captain-Historian… potions. I cannot believe how much the highest tier potions are selling for. It’s nearly free money, but I still need the materials. That’s where the crafting instances come in.
I was impressed with the addition of the solo crafting instances from the get go. They were layered for all sorts of fun. There are at least a dozen material nodes per instance. There are three daily quests per instance, and completion of all three gives the hard to get Galadhrim gold leaves. The type of monsters change all the time. One day it might be goblins ransacking the library; another it might be Moria’s feral fauna. I seem to get bats as enemies in a disproportionate amount. On top of it all, it’s relaxing. Players can’t aggro like morons, but 98% of players that have made it in to Moria should have no problem with the instance. It’s no wonder that the solo instances are so popular.
With Dungeons and Dragons Online as well, Turbine makes good use of instancing. They start with some persistence to give the feeling of a world to belong to, and then they layer all sorts of instancing mechanics through their main MMOs without losing sight of the persistent start. Turbine uses their instances for dungeons/raids like everybody else, but they also use instances to fill holes.
The crafting instances in Lord of the Rings Online feels like such a hole where they created an in-game vacation for crafters. I didn’t even really know the hole existed until Turbine told me it did. In crafting instances, my kinship is there to chat with. I am significantly progressing my character. And, the challenge changes just enough to keep it from getting stale. Then I return to the persistent world to meet new players, sell my wares, and create a fellowship for glory. I think it’s very important to have challenging, edge-of-your-seat encounters and relaxing encounters without an enormous difference in reward.
I think the upcoming skirmishes are going to fill another hole not normally found in the “hobby-oriented” MMOs: quick, intense PvE action that can be soloed or played with a large number of other players. The best part is Turbine decided to make them “pop” like Warhammer Online’s scenarios. Players can join the skirmishes from anywhere to group up for a quick PvE battle. Then the players are returned to the location they originated from. I really applaud Turbine for taking travel time out of the equation, wholesale. Plus, players get a Barbie doll, ala Guild Wars heroes, to be used in skirmishes. I think the 9 skirmishes that will launch with Siege of Mirkwood will be worth the $20 alone.
when you have to shoot, shoot, don’t talk