Launch day for Lord of the Rings(tm): Shadows of Angmar(tm) has finally arrived!
As anyone who’s read this site know, I’ve been beta testing LotRO since December and have had generally favorable impressions. Readers will also note that I’ve referred to in my posts and comments to my regular weekly static WoW group of five friends whom I’ve know and gamed with for a long time. Having a stable, reliable, friendly, balanced and highly capable group is, IMHO, one way to fully enjoy what MMOs offer. Occasionally its so much fun that we end up waking up our sleeping families in an explosion of victorious glee. Those shared moments among group mates are a big part of why I play these games. Its not as fun with a PUG. Its not even as fun with a bunch of semianonymous guildies. Its a riot when a group has a shared history.
Some time ago, dark forces captured our WoW tank and imprisoned him on top of an ivory tower in the City of Gotham in the kingdom of Luchre (/wave ETC). So, while he’s on hiatus, our little group of adventurers has been left with quite the conundrum: progress as a group of 4 in WoW, leaving our tank in the dust or migrate to something else while awaiting his return.
Our high council met after our successful Saturday 4-(gnome/human/dwarf) run through Zul’Farrak. We couldn’t do this indefinitely. The idea of overlevelling the instances (tackling them as a higher level foursome rather than an at-level fivesome) just didn’t appeal. In WoW at least, the gear drops from instances when done at-level are far superior to the vast majority of other drops and AH items. With this group, we had done very little soloing and very little outside of instances which made for a quite efficient operation in terms of fun & rewards v. time committed.
Several of us had already pulled the trigger on the pre-order for LotRO, so the topic was whether to make the switch and put WoW on ice for a while. After much gnashing of teeth and tearing of raiments, we decided that we would be migrating to LotRO, at least until our WoW tank returns, and even then, who knows.
A big part of the decision related fundamentally to two different aspects of gameplay: Middle Earth is somewhere/something new and LotRO is something solo/casual friendly. For MMOs, WoW turned the dial from the kill 100 rats model to the kill 10 rats model of advancement. LotRO has turned that dial further to kill 5 rats. Grinding can still be done for resources or rare drops, but to almost no advantage experience-wise. Quest experience is proportionately much higher than mere mob kill experience. This suits our casual play style which has to balance real life commitments. It also enhances your investment in the lore with which all of us are familiar and enjoy.
More fundamentally, Middle Earth is terra incognita for us, at least on foot. We might know the books inside and out, but none of us have walked the Shire, tipped a pint in the Prancing Pony or gazed upon Lake Evendim.
Most of us have been playing WoW since release and while its fun, there are few mysteries or surprises that remain in Azeroth. Many I’m sure in Outland, but our group hasn’t progressed that far and what I’ve soloed or small grouped to date is much more grindy than WoW 1.0. If Azeroth was kill 10 rats, Burning Crusade is kill 20 rats. In Middle Earth, what lies over each hill and around each corner will be a new experience. An aspect of MMOs I cant over emphasize. New content matters.
So, onward to Middle Earth! Our little band of humble adventurers will soon be helping the fellowship in defense against the Enemy and exploring a new world.