Gibbets and crows: Rise of Isengard and the state of LotRO

It's only a model.

If you are unawares, you’ll probably want to know that my feelings on LotRO haven’t really been that nice. At least, that is to say that I’m less and less impressed with the things Turbine attempts to do in trying to continue developing for LotRO, an MMO that has drastically changed in one short year prior to its four years running. Once again we find ourselves waiting for what seems like eons (six months since Book 3—or, if you’re a true defender, I suppose you’d say five months because of the Rift coming back in June) for scraps from the master’s table. At the very least Turbine is still operating under their previous year’s update schedule, which essentially means they are only able to release one Book update before then spending the next seven months working on an “expansion.” Was it worth it? Has F2P actually turned the game around to pave the way for Turbine’s way of success?

The short answer: no.

The long answer: If by ‘success’ you mean ‘greed’, then yes.

It’s difficult to decide where I should start at their faults, as there are just so many, but I suppose I’ll stick with the ‘expansion’ before moving on to higher forms of argument. Firstly you will notice how I continuously call Rise of Isengard an ‘expansion.’ I denote it with such contempt because it’s not an expansion. As I’ve made the case before, Turbine set the bar for what an expansion is with Mines of Moria. Which is to say an update that introduces multiple zones, new levels, a new game mechanic feature (Legendary Items, in this case), and a new Volume (six Books from the start). Mirkwood was a good example of how that standard deteriorated (at least it brought the Skirmish system). Isengard is Turbine’s latest and greatest example of, “do less expect more.”

Rise of Isengard brings us ten more arbitrary levels and a new raid. That’s it for meta content. No new feature, no gigantic change, no new classes. This is our reward for being so patient—having to trash our LIs once more, trudging it through ten levels before we start working on the LI grind once again. Yay, so much fun. But before I digress onto another issue, I’ll just get to the meat and potatoes of the Book 4 paid patch (which is what I’m calling Rise of Isengard from now on).

Uruk-hai giving orders to others.

We’re still in Volume 3 after two years, wetting our palette on the starter menu of Book 4. Granted it is quite a large book, but that’s not surprising considering the new zone, Dunland, is quite large as well. We are still following the Grey Company to meet up with Aragorn and eventually ride off to war, but before we get to Rohan Turbine has made it apparent that the reason why Grey Company didn’t meet up with Aragorn months before is because they were wasting so much time helping their lord’s enemies.

If you remember Book 3, the Rangers were doing pretty much the same to some degree, although it’s understood that the Dunlendings in Enedwaith are actually outcasts that openly opposed Saruman’s hand over Dunland. Plus helping the Men of Enedwaith would eventually help in the long run because they eventually planned on raiding Dunland in the hopes of taking back their lands. The Rangers get two bargains out of it—for one, they ensure civil war is happening back on the homefront to trouble the Dunlendings, and secondly they are taught the “safe ways” through Dunland to get to Aragorn.

Book 4 apparently throws all of that out the window. Halbarad, in his infinite wisdom, apparently waltzes into every single Dunlending camp in Dunland asking where they pledge their allegiance and whether or not they would like some help starting a rebellion against Saruman. This takes somewhat for a number of villages (and one prominent town). I just cannot shake the feeling, however, that we are still helping the enemy because regardless of whether or not the Dunlendings fight for Saruman or not, we’re still arming and training the rabble that hates Rohan’s guts and wants to still burn and pillage their countryside.

Soon enough this plan escalates to full retard when you’re helping out one particular village and they turn traitor. This is after arming them, training them, gathering them necessary supplies to survive and commit to the war effort, and also saving various townsfolk from various ailments (whether they are physical or psychological). Yep, the village repays you by taking you and the Rangers prisoner. Gee, thanks.

What follows is probably the best “jumping the Sharkey” moment of Book 4 (and not all those times Saruman shows up in an instance and you’re powerless to try and strike him down where he stands). I did say you are taken prisoner, and that’s exactly what happens. You’re transported into an instance of Isengard as a prisoner. Your captives, however, have failed to strip you of your gear, so you still have all of your armor and weapons. Time to do some slicing and dicing, right?

Nope. Instead you do the bidding of Uruk-hai taskmasters—this ranges from helping them supply their war effort so they can more easily kill helpless women and children to cleaning up the slop off the kitchen floor (which Turbine makes you do a total of four times over). Not once are you ever presented with the opportunity to at least say, “No.” You can run to the unguarded gates of the front door and you can’t leave. Eventually the number of tasks you complete promotes you to “captain slave,” or the precious pet of the Uruk-hai that enjoys serving the White Hand. Turbine crucifies you to a train in this railroad plot.

Of course you eventually escape with some prisoners and sabotage a siege engine, but the damage remains—you’ve helped the enemy greatly. It apparently takes the event of the capturing and killing of numerous Rangers for Halbarad to go, “Gee, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to help our enemies.” No shit, Sherlock. I’m so glad you’re playing the part of Captain Obvious here. Does that mean we can pack up our things and just get our asses to Rohan?

Nope again. Now we start working for Theodred, Theoden’s son, who has led a foray of Rohirrim into Dunland to investigate what’s going on. Because apparently after passing Isengard’s ashen fields and seeing wargs and Uruk-hai, they also managed to miss a huge Dunlending camp that’s armed to the TEETH. “Where are my eyes?” Theodred beckons to Halbarad at one point. “I don’t know, maybe we should help the Dunlendings so they can help us search for them,” Halbarad answers back.

At least Theodred mans up and does what Halbarad should’ve done, which is attack the village that betrayed you, but he then has you “investigate” the “Dunlending problem” with scout camps that are behind his position. Gee, thanks Theodred. Why don’t you go on ahead to all the villages I’ve already been to where I’ve already liberated the people and had to drive back the townsfolk from offering me their daughters while I go do the job your party is supposed to be doing?

This is essentially Book 4. Halbarad gets a bunch of Rangers killed because he thinks he can make the Dunlendings have a change of heart, while Theodred is still wondering how the Dunlendings are so well-armed when they bear GIGANTIC FLAGS with the standard of Saruman on them. Apparently it is Turbine’s intention to somehow write why exactly Theodred managed to get himself killed at the Fords of Isen if he already knew before his death what was happening in Dunland and Isengard, and that explanation apparently is: he was an idiot. Strangely enough, that’s also Turbine’s plan for the Rangers as well.

There were a number of different paths Turbine could’ve chosen for the plotline for this Book. The forces of good had too few numbers and all they could do was perform hit-and-run tactics. Or maybe Theodred’s scouting party found out they had too much on their plate and instead of retreating back into Rohan, they were cut off and they needed the Ranger’s help to make a hole so they could attempt to cross into Rohan (or vice versa—at least something heroically tragic). But no. Turbine’s answer was instead to have intelligent, seasoned heroes to act like total noobs and frolic in a minefield with complete disregard for the safety of their company.

Now that we have the story out of the way, we can now talk about what changes Isengard brought us. For starters, Turbine once again ignored the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” rule of thumb and went ahead and fiddled around with the stat mechanics again. All resistances have been lumped under one batch of “resistances,” attributes have been uncapped (although truthfully you start hitting diminishing returns at about 1500), heavy armor classes have greater survivability, while medium and light armor classes have lower survivability, the Finesse attribute was added (essentially a stat that dictates how often you crit against an enemy and how often an enemy’s crits are resisted), and mobs past Normal hit harder. What does it all mean?

As a Hunter I’ll give you a feeling of what my life has been like for two weeks—I’ve died more times in these past two weeks than I have in the past two years. And that’s saying something, honestly. Armor sustainability was reduced for medium armor classes, which means Hunters have lower survivability. Which is a bit of a joke, as we already have lower survivability. The only way we survived is by killing the mob before it could get into melee range to really befuddle a class whose greatest skills are 95% on inductions. We now couple this with the Finesse rating, which all mobs have. It’s a good thing Turbine went through the hard work of updating all current armor in the game to add that stat, right? Oh, right, nope. So there I was, at LV65, with no Finesse whatsoever and having enemies clobber me with crits for 40% of the fight. Now we add on how every enemy in Dunland has the ability to stun you (and they do—every mob I have fought has stunned me in a fight, which is why the nickname for this update has been Stunland), which renders you unable to perform any actions and also drops your B/P/E to zero for the duration. And let’s not forget the fact that after LV68 our shiny LV65 LIs are worthless in the damage-dealing department.

Put this altogether and you have a recipe for a development team that obviously did not test out whether numerous changes all at once was such a good idea or not. It’s at a point where I cannot take on enemies that are two levels above me—they hit like dump trucks, clobbering me for at least -200 damage each hit (-350 on a crit). I’ve got 7,100 morale. After one fight with a mob, I’m down at 45% health. If they stun me, 30%. If there’s a second mob, I have to run—I cannot survive that fight unless I blow all of my top CDs. At which point I would have to wait at least five minutes to fight more than two mobs again. And forget Sigs or Elites. These mobs hit me for -400 each hit (-580 on a crit). I’m dead in ten seconds. Which essentially means if you out-level your quest progression (and you will, as I did at 72 with only 25,000XP to go to 73), you’re screwed unless you get one of Turbine’s Favorite Children to help you (Guardian and Champion). I even tried the skirmish route—my first pull in the skirmish ended with me dying.

Of course before I out-right gave up there I thought maybe I might try and upgrade my soldier instead (after all, I was sitting on 4,000 skirmish points). I tried to level him past Rank 25 but was barred from doing so—I was informed that I had to “…purchase the Skirmish Trait Max Rank item in the LOTRO Store.” Wait, what, huh? I’m a VIP. Since when were VIPs required to purchase that? So I submitted such an inquiry to support and was informed that it was no longer a VIP feature.

It was at this point that I walked away from the game.

Turbine has always had a reputation for not informing their players when it came to spending money, but this is just a new low. I decided to do some more researching as well. Apparently I don’t actually “own” the RoI expansion pack. What I bought on the store was actually just the quests to Dunland. 3,250 points for quests. That’s $50. I paid just as much as the folks who pre-ordered and got less. And I’m not just talking about “no pre-order items.” Sure, this “Skirmish Trait Max Rank” is only 195 points on the store, but the new Draigoch raid (there’s a Welshman somewhere masturbating furiously) is also 3,250 points. Essentially Turbine wants people who didn’t feed them their pre-orders to pay at least $100 for Rise of Isengard on the store.

Yeah, I think I’m more than justified here. What exactly is the point to subscribing if they’re just giving everyone the same treatment? Turbine made no effort whatsoever to make this public information. In fact, it had to be demanded on the forums for months before Isengard before at least some of this information was revealed (and still quite vaguely). At the very least they should rename VIP to “Sucker” or “He-Who-Gets-Swindled.” The next update will be getting the same treatment as well. They’ll be releasing new group instances and that’ll go up on the store for 3,250 points as well. Never mind it was supposed to be released day one. And Book 5? Well, considering they’re nickel-and-dimming folks for the small stuff, would it be such a stretch if they just go ahead and charge EVERYONE for that update as well? Cue the defenders that will say 500 points monthly actually amounts to something when it actually doesn’t.

I’m here to tell you that the “reported success” of F2P is just higher-up humdrum hooey. Success should equate a higher quality of standard—one we were used to before the game started getting stagnant in 2009. Instead we are still only getting two updates a year. Updates that we will have to pay for each time they come out now. That’s Turbine’s actual success—realizing that they can get away with nickel-and-dimming old customers that provided a roof over their head in the first place. Our reward for loyalty isn’t to be provided with the standards we were used to, but to be taxed heavily and as often as possible. And our protests fall on deaf ears—yell loud enough and they’ll just whisk you away and dismiss you as a nuisance. Feudalism isn’t dead at all—it still exists at Turbine. Thankfully we have the right to up and leave whenever we want, which is exactly what this dirty peasant is doing. Enjoy it while it lasts, Turbine. All kingdoms eventually fall.

New company logo before they share the same fate as SOE.

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About Agamemnon
Started blogging back in 2007 amidst that whole Hellgate: London fiasco on a blog known as flagshipped.com. Eventually moved on to do my own thing in December 2008 at gameriot.com and started Caveat Emptor there. Wrote there for six months, gained some notoriety, and then left. Now I'm back.

72 Responses to Gibbets and crows: Rise of Isengard and the state of LotRO

  1. Shirokage says:

    You certainly delivered on your word. A very accurate assessment. /nod

    • Agamemnon says:

      I wanted to say much more, specifically on how Turbine continues to “let sleeping dogs lie” on features and content they’ve developed. I cannot go through an expansion without mentioning how the Legendary Item system is still broken and how obvious this is to Turbine because they’ve made Delving Scrolls nigh impossible to attain…but they’re on the store.

      Which really couples with the whole ‘Stunland’ bit when the first few days of RoI stun-immunity potions were on the front page of the store.

      Also, someone linked me to the official forums. That was a very brave thing to do before Sapience eventually deletes the topic. Although I’m surprised I’ve only had one white knight defender so far.

  2. Frodo says:

    I think Draigoch raid is 1250 points, but I like you only purchased the quest pack.

    • Agamemnon says:

      I couldn’t quite remember, but I remember it being x250 points and I was not reinstalling the game just so I could check again on the store. Regardless, if it’s at least a 1,000 points that still means people who are buying the new content on the store are still paying more than people who bought the pre-orders.

      • Prat says:

        LOL! That’s precisely why all this is nothing more than a sad little angry boy, stomping his feet and throwing a temper tantrum. I have to applaud your honesty though. I for one would be hesitant to openly admit to making such a humongous screw-up.

        “I couldn’t quite remember, but I remember it being x250 points”??? REALLY??? So… from remembering it to be x250 points, when writing an article on your blog, you thought “meh, what the heck… let’s just make it 3250 for dramatic effect.”?? Your entire blog post is tainted. It has a very pungent smell… smells like the rant of someone who’s trying to convince himself that he did the right thing by quitting the game.

        As for “paying more”: if you’re a *smart* customer you buy your point bundles… when? C’mon… you can do it… That’s right! WHEN THEY ARE ON OFFER! Buy the biggest bundle. Twice. Three times. However much you need. Which then also, I might add, would make the quest pack you bought for 3250 TP cost the real life equivalent of $ 23.55 and not $50, as you say (but comparing TP prices to real life cash isn’t fair to begin with, as any player earns TP in-game, VIP more than others, so it’s NOT a 1-on-1 conversion, no matter whether you’ve bought points.) Just like the mistake with buying the quest pack instead of the expansion… entirely YOUR fault. Not saying Turbine isn’t being savvy to the point of deception with the way they handle things, but there’s such a thing as “buyer beware”. Think – before you click that oversized “PTW” button ^^

        /giggle

        • Wildcopper says:

          Turbine apologists like Prat are really sad people… but they are fantastic customers for scamming companies like Turbine. As long as there will be gullible people like that, companies will keep on doing what Turbine is doing right now.

          • Prat says:

            I never defended or “apologised for” Turbine. Not once. In fact, I called them out on several of their bad traits, habits and whatnot. So either formulate a solid argument or crawl back into your corner and go cry over there.

            • The Merovingian says:

              The only one crying here because someone dares to attack your fetish video game company is… YOU, mister prat. You cry like a baby because the person who wrote this article hit the nail right on the head, and it hurts your Turbine fanboi feelings.
              You are not on the official forums here. Turbine doesn’t moderate this place. You can’t have sapience (or whoever else) to delete threads. And I guess it hurts control freak fanbois like you and a few others.

              • Whats funny/cute about that is, the “fanboi” is still enjoying his game and laughing his ass off at the OP who plain and simple didn’t read what he was buying. There were multiple posts on the forums about RoI for TP, the how, and the how-much.

                Mister/Miss Merovignian, I can’t see how this topic/conversation applies to you at all – you don’t claim to have purchased RoI from the store OR pre-order. So what significance does anything you have to say – let alone just rage-screaming “fanboi” like every other forum-flamer-faggot does – have at all?

                None?

                Oh, you’re insignificant, just like the QQing OP. Neither of you will impact Turbine’s success as a company, nor Prats, my, or any other LOTRO players fun/LOTRO career.

                Get over it.

                You bought the quests instead of the expansion? Yo’ bad.

                You used the store instead of just pre-ordering? Yo’ bad.

              • The Merovingian says:

                You definitely have a lot of LOTRO fanbois on your blog, Agamemnon.
                You can feel their rage as they can’t control your blog like they can report critical minds on the official forums.
                Go read the thread on the official forums, mister “jeejeewannabe”. Look at the amount of people who agree, partially or completely, with the author of this blog. Scaring, isn’t it? Yeah, the majority agrees with him.

              • Agamemnon says:

                It’s the Internet. It’s like a family reunion and they’re the estranged part of the family that married one another’s cousin. You endure their presence but you do your best to keep your distance and keep interactions to a minimum.

              • Prat says:

                ^^

                Hope for your sake that some day… some day you’ll finally take off those blinkers and pull your fingers out of your ears, open up to views other than your own. But I guess that’s just not for everyone. Have a great life… glad I’m not like you though. No matter how often you say it, ignorance is certainly nothing like bliss.

              • Prat says:

                You’re a blithering idiot who has no clue what he’s talking about. I’d try to explain the flaws in your reasoning, but it is clear that your mind is FAR from critical and furthermore there’s no actual reasoning going on, from what you are displaying. Maybe you simply lack the mental capacity to understand logic reasoning, who’s to say. In any case, I won’t waste my time on you anymore. Seriously though… try to develop an original thought some time, I dare you. At least “Agamemnon” has found a creative way of saying “fanboi” without saying “fanboi”. You on the other hand… Oh go on then… have another crack at it 😀

                And no, the majority does not agree with him. I challenge you to think outside your own pitiful box that you’ve created for yourself (or are enslaved into) and figure out WHY this is so. Good luck! /lol

              • The Merovingian says:

                I’m still waiting for you to comment on the fact that the thread on the official forums received way more approvals of what Agamemnon said than post of blind Turbine defenders like you. But I’m not holding my breath, don’t worry, I’ll be fine.

            • Doh says:

              U r a sad little man

        • Agamemnon says:

          To be honest the only people I’ve seen here “stomping their feet” and acting like children are you and Wanderv. I understand it must be tough for you to act like a human being because you’ve been so used to being a different person on the Internet, but I regret to inform you that you’re barking up the wrong tree. Troll elsewhere.

          • Prat says:

            Hahaha… classic. You crack me up mate. Nothing *factual* wrong with anything I said, right? Can’t actually defend against any of it, so rather than admit you were COMPLETELY WRONG, take the ignorant route: call me a troll and pretend you’re “better than that”. Fine, stick your fingers in your ears and go “LALALALALALA”. Fits very well with the blinkers blocking your view ^^

            • The Merovingian says:

              He’s completely right except for that number mistake he made on the price of the raid. Everything else is spot on. You just can’t accept it because it would be admitting that your fetish MMO developer is not perfect.

  3. Raedwulf says:

    I ended up skipping through this because so much of the first part resonated. I’m not a blogger, but if I was I would have said exactly the same things (only better, naturally! 😉 ). It’s exactly what I’ve been saying on a couple of forums, one of which is the Raid Alliance I lead.

    RoI is pish. It was Turbine’s last chance to release a paid expansion that would recover or, at least, buffer their their reputation. They failed. SW:TOR will take a big chunk of their paying playerbase. The games players will go elsewhere. GW2 will take much of the rest – the Fantasy games players who won’t leave for SW.

    There is so much that is bad in this expansion. There are good things too… but they’re buried by the landslide of “we couldn’t be bothered to make the effort to write decent content, so we palmed you off with this & hoped you wouldn’t notice. Oh, and half of it isn’t ready so we’ll pretend that the release of “extra” stuff in December isn’t what should have been part of what you’ve already paid for”.

    LOTRO, alas, is dead in the water. Urine’s only hope (I tend to call them that on account of how much they’ve been taking the piss) is that GW2’s release is much delayed & doesn’t live up to the hype. Otherwise Turbine are royally screwed…

    • Agamemnon says:

      Personally I thought Turbine’s only hope was that someone at WB whip them into shape and help them out. Then I heard about WB making a game based off of The Hobbit movie and it had nothing to do with LotRO. I’m not even in marketing and I can already tell you how much of a failed opportunity it is to NOT capitalize on a movie by not producing content specific to that region (conveniently enough, WotR did reach Dale, so they have a full excuse to divert their attention, just like they did for the excuse to go romping around in Mirkwood).

  4. Halstaff says:

    Actually I like this update. My hunter only has died twice from 65 to 75. She had a Second Age Bow, third age axe, and crafted armour. So I wasn’t specc’d to the hilt. One death was the instance on top of the orc cave when the boss hit me with a devistated and the other was I pulled way to many orcs. I do question why we are helping some of the people along the way but it has been a fun trip to 75.

    As for being money hungry, well I went F2P on both accounts long ago. One account was even a founders account. I spend what I want to and pre ordered the expansion. I am loving this expansion more than any other and the only complaint I have is that we just need to drop the LI system. as for another class, well I don’t know of any roles that need filled. You can always go play a panda in WoW if you just want another class added.

    • Raedwulf says:

      What you just said, sorry, what a lot of people will read, is that this expansion is EZ mode. It is. I am known to complain that the WDN & RK are over-powered; now it feels like many of the classes are. LOTRO was never a particularly difficult game anyway. Now, there doesn’t seem to be any real threat at all, apart from some of the instances.

      As for the LI’s, that’s one of the few things that makes LOTRO stand out from the mass of other games. The only problem with the system is the way they force us to re-grind the blasted things every time they raise the level cap. I agree about classes though. WDN & RK were two too many; we certainly don’t need another uber OP paid for premium content class!

      • Prat says:

        I agree for the most part. A lot of the content is certainly much easier now, definitely more geared toward the “casual” and solo player. Hope the upcoming instance cluster will bring some much needed challenging content!

        As to the LI system: the re-grind isn’t the only problem, just one of many. A significant overhaul is definitely warranted and I’m totally guessing here but I *think* they’re working on it, long term. Can’t see this system remain as-is until Mordor.

        • Raedwulf says:

          I have to confess, I’ve always been a defender of the LI system. Remember the outcry (on CM’s forums, at least) about the randomness of it when it was intoroduced? I did concede that it could do with being a bit less random. I think at the time I said that if A was entirely random & Z was totally controlled, it was about D, and it could do with being G.

          I think a certain amount of randomness is good. It makes for less cookie-cutter builds; it makes players think more about what they’re doing & how they’re playing. There again, I like a challenge. Very many players, I’m afraid, just want to be uber-l33t {winces}. Now, with replacement scrolls et al, we’re probably at least P, if not T. Aside from the necessity to destroy your old LI’s & start from scratch every so often, I really don’t see a big problem with the system. It certainly was innovative at the time; it’s something that no other MMO had. Has any other MMO adopted such a system since?

          Incidentally (and I hope Ag doesn’t mind the ad), if you want a genuinely independent forum for things LOTRO, try http://www.lotrocommunity.com where UnSapient moderation holds sway! 😉

          • Agamemnon says:

            I think we all like the concept of the LI system, but just not its implement. “Weapons that grow with you” was something I was looking forward to, as I’m sure was everyone else, but from so many different standpoints there’s a severe blow to character progression every time they up the level cap. I want to enjoy leveling, not run right through it just so I can get to the cap and start working on real character progression again.

            Do I think we should have kept them indefinitely? Maybe not, but maybe a different system could have been designed around “reforging” that would ensure that you didn’t pick up your end-all weapon at LV50 and never looked back.

            As for the link: I’ve already signed up. I didn’t even know a large unofficial community existed.

            • Raedwulf says:

              Oh, I know you’ve signed up; I’ve seen your posts. It was the advertisement I was referring to. 😉

          • Prat says:

            Hmm… I would actually prefer the LI system to be *completely* free from randomness. It sort of boils down to how you implement time sinks. I remember a dev saying on forums (about being stunned/disarmed/etc.) that it’s no fun at all when you’re frustrated with the game, and that they really should do all they can do to prevent large groups of players feeling frustration. In its current form, the LI system can be nothing short of *maddening*. Imagine grinding Ost Dunhoth for weeks, months on end, then finally winning that precious Elder King symbol. You get an LI made, go to ID, stick some ixp runes on it to get it to 30… and you’re left with an utterly *useless* LI with only 3 major legacies. I’ve seen/heard that happen more times than I care to count, and it is possibly the WORST thing in the entire game. There is absolutely NO reason why they couldn’t get rid of that stupid lottery.

            Imagine this: what if LIs don’t just fall off every single damn mob you come across, but instead are earned by completing a long and challenging quest line? First thing that would do is give actual weight to the word “legendary” in the name of the item. Then, instead of trying your *luck* at ID/reforge, you would level it up and get to upgrade it from 3rd Age all the way to 1st Age, while also gaining more legacy slots (that YOU get to choose how to fill) and earning points to spend on those legacies. In that system, nobody would give a damn if it’s an awfully long grind. In fact, it would encourage people to spend even more time on it, since it would probably take much longer before you’re completely satisfied with what you have. As it stands now, I won a “Worn Symbol” from a pug skirmish raid in the first week of RoI. Got it ID’d and reforged and ended up with a pitiful 3 majors. Am I extremely happy with that bow? No, but I’ll stick with it for now, since the symbols are so damn rare I’d rather use them for my alts – if and when I get one. End result is that I’m no longer grinding, which would’ve been impossible if they’d set it up like I just outlined. And even that is just *one* possibility. I’m sure there’s very creative people working at Turbine, who could come up with something far better than that.

  5. Prat says:

    I’m with Halstaff. I understand where you’re coming from, but honestly… you’re clearly not a complete idiot, but rather someone who knows (or at least *should* know) where to get valuable information. Your decision to *not* buy the pre-order was your own, but had you done some very limited research, you would’ve been aware of the way the *expansion* was/is being offered for purchase. Pre-order AND (after launch) web order of the *expansion* includes the quests, the Epic, the dragon raid, the new crafting tier, the skirm trait cap raise and (last but not least) ALSO the instance cluster coming up in Update 5, this December. Turbine need to work on their communication, for sure, but you *knew* that communication is bad, so it’s your own damn fault if you buy the quest pack with TP and find out that it doesn’t include all those goodies. Truly, it was plastered all over the forums, for many weeks before launch. I have no sympathy at all for anyone who missed that, *unless* they are the completely uninformed type. In this case, it’s just a complete and utter FAIL. You spent 50 bucks on the quest pack eh? Shoulda just spent the exact same amount on the legendary pre-order version ^^

    But go on… QQ and /ragequit. Have fun swinging your laser sword and flying your spaceship-on-rails. And oh… can I have your stuff?

    • Agamemnon says:

      How is it “my fault” for Turbine not advertising in any detail whatsoever the fine print details to the alternatives to not pre-ordering the Book 4 patch? Please, tell me how it’s my fault for not finding one thread (really plastered all over the forum, that one thread /sarcasm) and looking on page whatever of xx number of pages to see a CM’s vague answer to what is actually going on at Turbine. Go ahead–tell me it’s my fault for not religiously following the forums when I’ve been permanently banned from them for two years now. Obviously someone who’s disallowed from participating in an online forum should still surely check it every day, because he obviously values the opinion of white knight defenders like you.

      Yes, my apologies for expecting Turbine to treat me like a human being. I will never make that mistake again.

      Also, Strawman much? I didn’t say I was going to another MMO.

      • Prat says:

        I’m not even gonna spend my time hunting em down for you, but there were *at least* three threads where this information was clearly stated, not to mention the TONS of threads that were created as a result of that information being shared. Any person who read the RoI forums even *once* in the weeks leading up to launch would have found the information. If you were perma-banned from the Turbine boards, well… I have no idea what that’s about, and I do know that their policy on that stuff is quite strict. That doesn’t stop you from creating a separate F2P account and using that to surf the forums. Or even just (there’s a crazy thought!) reading the forums *without* logging in. Oooo scary… can read but… but… waaaah! I wanna rant at what this guy’s saying but I caaaan’t!

        “Yes, my apologies for expecting Turbine to treat me like a human being. I will never make that mistake again.”
        Welcome to the real world mate. Best lesson you’ll ever learn: NO COMPANY CARES ABOUT YOU. Not one bit. They care about what’s in your wallet, that’s all.

        Funny term that, “white knight defender”. I’m guessing that’s your personal version of “fanboi”? Clearly you have no idea who I am, and I don’t blame you for that at all. But forgive me for having a hearty LOL at that 🙂

        • Karen says:

          I think you may be misssing the whole Point, Prat. Its not just that Agamemnon is crying and complaining about how life and the game is unfair, and wants people to hold a pity party fo him. The general point is, that the whole behaviour on Turbine parts is more and more set on the greed principle. Sure, you can buy point bundles- but why should you, if you have enough your own points you that you accumulated? Just so that you can save some money on the purchase of RoI? Is that not simply illogical?

          The problem is their whole system is set to get your money and while every company really does that too, at least they have a way to do it decently, and not like this. Turbine is basically punching old and loyal customers in the face and spitting on them. (And from what I know, VIPs sometimes buy and spend TP as much as a F2P player does.) Such behaviour is not just ‘not caring’ for a customer, its in itself disgusting – and ‘economically’ not very wise.

  6. Linda says:

    I hate to say I agree with most everything you’ve said. Especially about ripping off the VIP players. When I said ‘most’ everything you’ve said, I have to disagree with the survivability/fighting. I played EQ1 for several years and left quite frustrated that I could not kill a single mob 5 levels below me without running and kiting. It may not be as easy as it was before Isengard, but I vividly remember how my minstrel’s survivability after Moria was the SUCK. I haven’t played my minstrel through Isengard yet, been playing my warden, but I’ve not had too much trouble. I die in the harder solo instances a couple times til I learn what needs to be done. But this is by far still better than when Moria first came out. I haven’t logged in much at all since Isengard, but mostly due to lack of time, but I used to not let ANYTHING get in the way of my playing.
    On the other hand…what does one do who is a Tolkien fanatic, who loves to BE in Middle-earth, who loves just as much about the game and world as they hate about it? What do we do? I really hate it that Turbine is completely ruining it. I guess for me, right now, the love for the game and world still outweighs the sucky crap Turbine does. Eventually, I may walk away. But how awesome would it be if Turbine could really improve and shine? It wouldn’t even take that much to do so given the title they’ve been blessed to tinker with.

    • Agamemnon says:

      The only reason I had stuck out with LotRO for so long is because of the reasons you listed. There’s really no other viable options for Tolkien fans out there. At least when it comes to a game where you can actively role play in. As for alternatives, I find my RTS outlet with a Medieval 2: Total War modification called Third Age: Total War. And I hear there’s a massive Third Age mod coming out for Mount&Blade as well. And I can’t forgo mentioning MERP, although I don’t think we’ll be seeing that for another year or so as they are now saying they’re waiting for Skyrim and will then attempt to port their work over and continue development then.

      Survivability isn’t really what bothered me, to be honest. I completely understood why it was happening. I was still using my LV65 LIs because I refused to waste my time with LIs that I would eventually trash a couple of levels later. And honestly the best gear to replace my current gear would be the LV75 crafted stuff, so I was waiting until LV75 as well. Pretty much my intention was to just bear it through 75 and then make the transition to progression and then sweat the bigger stuff like getting raid gear. It wasn’t until I learned that higher-level skirmishing and the new raid wasn’t available to me that I decided to just stop bothering.

      • Halstaff says:

        Even if you have maxxed LI’s you really should always have something leveling or your just wasting item XP and chances for relics. I was truly pleased to see that a decon of my level 65 weapons gave me a scroll I could apply to the new ones and that the blue pills (item XP) worked on any LI 50+.

        As for Survivability, well, I have played a guardian since March 2007 and I do like that fact that armor is armor now. It never did make sense that hunters, minnie’s, or any class could tank most of the content. I am a causual player and really don’t want a complicated game where I am being inspected for X, Y, and Z when I want to expericence certain content but I also want to see the classes used mainly for the roles they originally filled. I love crafting and hated Moria for the simple fact of Radiance Gear. I still hold that most raid gear should have something that is a lesser value but craftable.

        I was a VIP until shortly after F2P. I had to purchase SoA content on two accounts. Unlock skirms, etc… I have kept track and have spent $100 on the founder account and $120 on the founder invited account. So, on one I have broken even and the other I’m up $20. That does not include the $50 spent of RoI for each account but in that was my choice and I could have chosen to get the lesser pre-order packages. I think they were $30, $40, and $50 minus a few cents. I also remember a Blue Name stating the once the items go into the store they will always be priced individually and not bundled.

  7. Wanderv says:

    >(seven months since Book 3—or, if you’re a true defender, I suppose you’d say five months because of that itty bitty update in May that added only two skirmishes)

    Article begins with a lie so i dont read it. U3 consists of 4 instances – 2 classics and 2 skirmishes. U3 is bigger than 4.1.0 patch in WoW which consisted of only 2 revamped heroics.

    So the value of your post is nealry zero if you do not even know simple facts.

  8. Wanderv says:

    >No new feature, no gigantic change, no new classes.

    False. There are huge class and stat changes. The game is different now.

    >Halbarad, in his infinite wisdom, apparently waltzes into every single Dunlending camp in Dunland asking where they pledge their allegiance and whether or not they would like some help starting a rebellion against Saruman.

    False. Did you ever played the RoI??

    >Soon enough this plan escalates to full retard when you’re helping out one particular village and they turn traitor. This is after arming them, training them, gathering them necessary supplies to survive and commit to the war effort, and also saving various townsfolk from various ailments (whether they are physical or psychological). Yep, the village repays you by taking you and the Rangers prisoner. Gee, thanks.

    What a mindless hating comment. That is the point of epic. Dunlendings are betrayal people for most. So we meet betrayal. It’s very good and interesting part of epic.

    >You’re transported into an instance of Isengard as a prisoner. Your captives, however, have failed to strip you of your gear, so you still have all of your armor and weapons.

    Another mindless whine. Gameplay >> quest lore. ALWAYS.

    >Because apparently after passing Isengard’s ashen fields and seeing wargs and Uruk-hai, they also managed to miss a huge Dunlending camp that’s armed to the TEETH. “Where are my eyes?”

    False. Man you really need to read quests. That camp was rohirrim and was assaulted some time before player arrive.

    >At least Theodred mans up and does what Halbarad should’ve done, which is attack the village that betrayed you, but he then has you “investigate” the “Dunlending problem” with scout camps that are behind his position.

    May be because it’s DIFFERENT dunlending clans?

    And so on and so on. Mindless hating, tons of lies, crazy assumptions. not knowing what happening in quest lines etc….

    Epicfail post.

    • Agamemnon says:

      >>The rest of your trollerific post: ignored.

      What part of that did you not quite understand? Save your trolling defense for the official forums.

    • Raedwulf says:

      Epicfail criticism. Just one point – allegedly taking you prisoner whilst leaving you all your gear is pathetic. A five year old could have have written a better story than that. Particularly when this, as with most of RoI, is forced on you. If you want to get anywhere you have to do *everything*. Even then, the game does not have sufficient xp to get you from 65 to 75.

      In SoA, I could pick & choose what I did and get some variety. I could choose to go through North Downs instead of Lone Lands, for example. Even up to the previous expansion, I could pick & choose which quests I felt like doing. I’ve one of each class at the (old) cap. Killing General Timurzgrat was always a bit of a pain, so I rarely bothered. I could still do all the deeds, I could still level quite happily.

      Now, though, I have to do *every* quest in *every* area (not strictly true, but near enough) to do the deeds, and as noted, even then it isn’t enough xp to reach the cap. What’s worse is, as released, there weren’t even enough quests to complete certain areas e.g. Trum Dreng. They’ve fixed that in the first patch, along with e.g. the appalling state of the Pit of Iron. But they released the expansion in this state? What happened to closed Beta? Can’t the dev’s even add up the number of quests any more?

      I don’t like derogatory labels, but those who get called Fanboys will love RoI as they love everything else connected with the game. Those of us who are less one-eyed about the game won’t & don’t. And ultimately, there aren’t enough of the former to support Turbine’s finances in the long term, whilst the latter seem to be increasingly walking away from the game. So much for LOTRO, then… 😦

      • Ell says:

        I have heard different comments on levelling to 75. Some have loads of quests left over when they reach max level, others run out at 73 or sooner. My minstrel wasn’t 65 quite yet when RoI came out, so I was in a good position. I finished Enedwaith (a gruesome task IMO) and now I’m level 69 after killing that HUGE hog (rediculously big, badly textured btw).

        Having said that, it is SO true that the number of quests is too low or the amount of experience required too high – compared to what we’ve seen previously. There was always quests left to do when the max was 50, 60 and 65 (last one is my assumption).

        I wouldn’t have describe the game being in quite that bad state, but looking at the future, it really isn’t enough either. Too much competition coming up with too big names and too big features. Too big in comparison with LotrO. Fact is that like myself, many people only play the game because it is Lord of the Rings. It is nice for most parts, but it could be SO much better.

        Maybe we’ll get “Lord of the Rings 2: The return of masters of the code” or something similar in the future and “lotro” won’t be a cuss word.

        • Raedwulf says:

          I have to laugh at the “Masters of the Code”. Whether or not that was deliberate, it’s wonderfully sly!

          Sub-critical numbers is the real problem, as I’ve said elsewhere. RoI is not impressive. It’s not going to keep the interest of new players, and the old guard (anyone that’s been playing for a couple of years or more) are steadily getting fed up. An MMO is a social activity. Even if you mostly solo the game, there is still content that you want to see that requires 2, 3, 6 people. Even if you’re a Bartle Killer, you still need someone to kill!

          LOTRO is not going to die overnight; it’s not going to be shutdown next year. However, the more the revenue stream falls, the less resource will be given to development, which is an ever downward spiral. When numbers fall too far on a server (and yes I know the servers we see are virtual, rather than physical; nevertheless!), it feels dead, which only encourages an exodus. When server mergers happen; they inevitably do with any online game more complex than Backgammon; that only encourages the feeling that the game is dying.

          In the face of new technology, new games, new looks, new mechanics, how is Turbine going to get players spending money again? In short, I don’t think they’ll be able to. Gamers, on average, are a pretty fickle bunch anyway. The game is superficially fine for now, I’d agree. But I’m an analyst by nature, trade, and training. I’ve also been here since Day One of Open Beta. I’m looking at the underlying trend and it’s all downhill as far as I can see. I’d love to be proved wrong, and I’ll stick with LOTRO until GW2 comes out, but I can’t see any change on the horizon. AoC was the last challenger, but FunCom screwed up something that looked promising, and LOTRO, then still relatively young, survived pretty much unscathed. Now? I fear Turbine have shot their bolt & missed.

  9. Sander says:

    Haha, you opened a can of fanboys.

    Despite the few errors the article resembles what I hear quite a lot from kinnies and friends (the ones that bothered to come back for RoI).

    My own feeling is that I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy some of RoI but as a whole it left me underwhelmed. Now that I got my first char to 75 I have no desire to do it again. The most noteworthy changes/improvements I enjoyed where the minstrel changes and the changes to the mount skill both could have been done in a regular update.

    .

  10. Eve says:

    I agree with some of your disappointment. However, 3250 Turbine Points isn’t “$50.” Not even close. VIP’s get 500 bonus points a month, along with their subscription. You have to count those one way or another. Either the points are a free bonus, or your subscription is really only $5 a month instead of $10 (less than a Runescape membership).

    But even for non-VIP’s who regularly buy points, they don’t buy ALL their points. No one does. Just from playing the game, going about my normal business, I rack up almost 500 points a month that are awarded to me FREE in-game. This means that every month, I’m getting almost 1000 Turbine Points that I did not pay for.

    People whine that they buy 6900 points every six months or so for $50, while neglecting to consider that in those same six months, they were probably “awarded” 3000-6000 points that they didn’t pay for. This means the “cost” of Turbine Points is NOT 100 points =$1 (which is the standard everyone assumes). The “cost” is really closer to 100 points = $0.75 to $0.50.

    Meaning that quest pack did not cost you $50. The real cost, if you buy it with Turbine Points, is closer to $20. Not unreasonable, honestly.

    Again, I’m not taking issue with most of your article. I just get tired of people automatically equating 1000 TP to $10, when it isn’t. Turbine doesn’t “get” $10 in revenue every time someone spends 1000 Turbine Points. They give so many away free every minute of the day, they are really only getting about half of that back in actual revenue. So setting a Store price of 3250 TP for the RoI quest pack is actually kind of logical.

    • Agamemnon says:

      I don’t know how you think anyone is you and has the same time to play the game as you, but if I were “racking up” 500 points a month in awards then you’d see me sitting on everything this game has to offer. I’m lucky if I see a hundred points that are awarded to me through deeds.

      And since you took the bait, let’s sit here and talk about the “worth” of 500 points in a market where the majority of items are priced between 195 and 295 points–700+ for anything of substance (quest content, storage, etc.). Hell, I can’t even buy three emotes with my monthly 500 points. So the “worth” of 500 points is about zilch for any of the goodie items on the store. Essentially you probably end up like me, saving those points for something that is account-wide.

      I count the “worth” of points here: http://www.lotro.com/lotrostorepoints

      For 5,000 points, you’re dropping $50. And yet, if you want the RoI quests for 3,250TP, you’ll also be buying that pricing option regardless. Sure, maybe someone already has 2,000TP, so they’ll buy a cheaper option, but we’re talking about the bare minimum here. Turbine is so clever in this game that they bump up an extra 50 points for the RoI quests, just so you can’t buy the $20 1,600TP twice. Now lets factor the Draigoch raid (1,250 points) and the new Skirmish cap (195 points). Turbine now ensures that you buy the $20 option just to own exactly what is available to people who pre-ordered. To compare: $30 digital buy (the cheapest option) or the $70 you’d have to drop on the store. And we’re not even counting the group content that’s coming in December.

      But it’s true. In some people’s cases, there can be ways to get past having to purchase that much TP. That’s not the point. The point is that it’s eventually going to catch up. Turbine knows this. They’re slowly trying to ease this fact in. They did exactly that with RoI by not offering it as an actual expansion option in the store. And when they sell the next Book patch on the store, they’ll do the same thing.

      The subscription model is just a joke these days. As you’ve said yourself, you apparently can amass tons of points each month (or you at least paint a picture that you’re sitting on a hoard of points). You can effectively cancel your sub, buy the low level content and remove the caps for Premium accounts, and play the game while facing the existing pricing options with the exception of no longer having to pay a monthly fee. VIPs, despite the tongue-in-cheek designation, are getting the very short end of the stick these days. 500 points is Turbine’s monthly offering of salt on the wound.

      EDIT: I didn’t even mention relic removal and delving scrolls either. But if you are defending 500 points as having some worth, then I’m sure you’ll just say that it’s easy to get new relics anyways, so who cares, blah, blah, blah, etc., ad nauseum.

      • Eve says:

        Before you dismiss me as a raving fangurl of the game, may I remind you that I offered, as bookends to my post, that I agreed with a lot of your complaints?

        I play LOTRO primarily because my husband plays it. I like to play with him; we run a small kin together. But I am not a crazy fan. In fact, I am highly critical of a lot of things about the game, and I can think of a couple games I’d rather be playing, if I could convince him to leave (I can’t.)

        In fact, I took issue with only one part of your statement above: the part where you said the quest pack cost you $50. It didn’t.

        I can see where you might think that, and why people might decide to buy $50 worth of Turbine Points in order to get the quest pack. But that isn’t quite the same thing. You can’t ignore the points you got for free in your calculation, however many there might be, and however you already chose to spend them. Because everyone, even F2P characters, get free points, just for playing. The fact that you might choose to spend them on other things is not relevant. The point is that they were given to you, they were free, and they might have been used to purchase this expansion.

        Most people might be surprised if they view their Store account history and see exactly how many free points they’ve been given. I know I was. Because they are awarded in 5 or 10 point increments, I never really paid attention to them. I assumed I was getting maybe 100 a month. What I found out, the last two months when I really started paying attention, was that I was in fact getting four times that amount. I wasn’t doing anything special – I play mostly on my main, and very rarely, some alts. I play on one server. I do some skirmishes, but not many. I do some instances, but not many. I occasionally grind virtues and rep, but again, not often. I don’t actually even quest very much – probably half my play time is spent crafting or just goofing off. And from this, I was getting about 400 TP every month.

        Personally, I bought Turbine Points one time – over a year ago. Since September of 2010, I have been given 6,500 Turbine Points just for subbing. I bought 850 points for $10 that one time. And I have been awarded thousands more just for playing the game…I’ll estimate 4,000 even though I think that is on the low end (~300 a month). In all, that would mean I have accumulated 11,350 Turbine Points, for which I spent $10. Obviously, that is more than enough to get the RoI expansion. The only way I would *have* to buy $50 worth of points in order to get RoI is if I already spent the 11,350 points I had. And maybe I did…I have a weakness for shared storage and wardrobe space. But even then, I wouldn’t have spent $50 to get 3250 points, which is what you imply. I would have spent a total of $60 to get 16,350 points. What I spend them on, before or afterwards, is completely up to me. It’s still $60 to get 16,350 points, of which RoI was only 3250. Again, the value of what you can buy with the points isn’t the issue, either. If I don’t “value” the things I buy with my points, well, perhaps I shouldn’t be buying them.

        Looking at this another way…let’s assume I *did* drop $50 to get 5000 points for RoI. During the same year, I paid $0 for 10,500 more points that were given to me. I can no more claim the expansion “cost” the $50 I spent on the 5000 TP, than I can claim it cost “$0” since I paid nothing for the first 10,500 points I had. You can’t look at only half the data and make a claim like that. It’s inaccurate, and slanted, to do so. You can’t call 500 points a month “worthless” on the one hand, and then describe 3250 points as costing you $50. By your own statement, 3250 points = $50, and 500 points is 1/7 of that, so 500 points is worth 1/7 of $50, or about $7. Or put another way, the RoI quest pack cost 7 months of VIP points. If you ignore all the free points, that’s what you’d be coming out to. I don’t ignore the free points, so I’d equate 500 points to about $2.00. But then, I’m calling the cost of the RoI quest pack about $15, too.

        I’m sorry to have to say, I think this statement was kind of ridiculous: “Turbine is so clever in this game that they bump up an extra 50 points for the RoI quests, just so you can’t buy the $20 1,600TP twice.” I don’t for a second imagine Turbine priced RoI assuming players had less than 50 TP in their accounts to begin with. Everyone that I know, including myself, my husband, and the kinnies I’ve talked about this with, have at least a few hundred to a few thousand TP at any time. Even when I’ve gone on something of a buying spree, I’ve never gone lower than two or three hundred. I think it’s astonishingly rare for anyone, ever, to have less than 50 TP. Turbine would not have priced RoI specifically for those players who did. That would have been downright silly.

        And as for relic removal scrolls, stat tomes, etc, I don’t buy them. I draw the line at buying things like that. I never slot anything in an LI that I wouldn’t mind losing…which means most of the time, I’m slotting T1 relics. The difference between T1 and T5, for a lot of the relics, is really minimal. And when I make an exception, I do it knowing that I’m not getting the relic back when I replace the weapon. That’s fine with me. It was the same thing in WoW, where you’d spend months getting the best gear and slotting it with the most expensive enchants, the best gems, etc. You knew that when you eventually replaced that gear, you would lose all your effort and enhancements. And start over. That’s not exactly something new in MMOs.

        Again, I regret that this post (and my last) have been so argumentative. I definitely agree that RoI is deeply flawed and like you, I am unsettled about the future of LOTRO and the priorities of Turbine as a company. We really are in agreement about most things, I believe.

        • Agamemnon says:

          I apologize if it seemed like I was trying to label you, but I wasn’t. Like you I only play on one main, but my main issue is I have been playing less and less (partly because there’s not much content, but mostly because I don’t have the time I used to have). Yes, those deeds to rack up, but honestly we only see that with new content, and that’s been quite sparse.

          My point was not to make it a cut-and-dry issue–I was just trying to apply similar logic you have applied to the whole 500 points argument that a lot of VIPs talk about with one another. Personally I don’t see much of the worth to it because once you buy your max storage in the bank with gold, you have to drop 895 points for precious space. That’s two-month’s worth of points for one upgrade. The cost disparity for stuff in the store is so ridiculous that even 4,000 points isn’t much. And yet they’re being priced at a money value that is worth something.

  11. nicepants42 says:

    I agree with much of what you’ve said, but I think that you undermine yourself by focusing on the wrong things, and basing too much of your criticism on subjective opinion.

    For instance, I agree 100% that Turbine communication sucks, and the TP cost of RoI is over-priced. But in your blog, the only thing you did was focus on the conversion of TP to $$ and came up with $100. A 5 second google search brought me to a link to purchase RoI in it’s entirety (Quests, Dragon Raid, Future book 5 instances) for $30. This is useful information that readers of your blog might appreciate – instead of getting ripped off on the TP side, they can instead choose to pay $30 cash.

    I also agree that in general, Turbine’s story writing is trash. Most of Volume 2 was absolutely terrible. No one with two brain cells to rub together would’ve come up with a plan to trade captives with Dul Guldur, and frankly I found that entire story arc insulting. RoI certainly isn’t great either, and your issues are valid, but I don’t think it was as bad as Vol. 2. I personally enjoyed the short ‘prisoner’ period, and found the quest writing to be humorous and the change of scenery to be agreeable. Your review gives the impression that you hated every minute of it simply because it didn’t make sense realistically, with little mention of scenery or game play. At least we get to see the pits of Isengard before the Ents destroy them, right?

    I realize that you play a hunter, but there are other issues you could’ve touched on if you’d done a little more research. Specifically, there were 2 classes (Minstrel and Champ) that were completely overhauled with RoI, mostly with very positive feedback. Everyone else basically got zilch, and in some cases less than zilch. You mentioned that non-heavy armor classes take lots of damage – we now have a medium-armor tank class that’s broken. There’s plenty of criticism to be had in this area, and I think you missed some opportunities here due to narrow focus. Also, Finesse affects BPE, not crits. Kudos on Stunland though.

    What really undermines your title is that you don’t comment on the current end-game. No mention of the new Dragon raid, raid armor set, or reward system. You could’ve had a field day with the Draigoch raid – it’s a ~35-50 minute fight that is STILL bugging out on people and is easy to the point of boredom. You’re missing out on some very useful information here that would add a lot of weight to your assessment that RoI sucks. And that’s not even mentioning that the Dragon raid was supposed to be free back in Enedwaith/In Their Absence.

    You could’ve also mentioned that the only way to get the best new LIs is in the Draigoch raid, scaled Helegrod raids, or 12-man skirmishes. I personally like that they’ve tried to add more rewards to group content, but I’m sure it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Either way, it’s useful information and a very key issue in the current state of LotRO that you don’t mention.

    I think your laziness hurt this article – you could’ve offered your readers more useful information, supported your arguments better, and added new arguments if you’d spent a little more time in game or on the forum.

    That said, I completely agree with your concluding paragraph. I canceled my VIP sub back in August. IMHO the Relic re-vamp and store-only relic removal scrolls were the most blatant cash-grab.

    • Agamemnon says:

      Firstly, I wouldn’t recommend anyone to this game any more, even if RoI was for sale for a dollar.

      Secondly, the other bits of info that I would have liked to touch upon I couldn’t, as I didn’t make it that far before my stomach gave up and said, “Find something else to dine on.” I would’ve loved to have tried out the Draigoch raid, but there were two main factors stopping me: not being level cap and not “owning” the raid. Yes, I still do have enough points accumulated from my strenuous saving, but I get the impression that buying the Draigoch raid will leave me with too little to buy the content for the next update, which will surely cost more than a paltry 500 TP.

      Everything else is human error (i.e. Draigoch pricing, Finesse) or I don’t even have the full info about to discuss intelligently (such as the Warden situation). I have one character past LV45 and that’s my Hunter. Do not confuse me speaking on what I only know with laziness. I purposely did not touch on those points because I just don’t know about them.

      Frankly the majority of this writeup was just pointing out how Turbine was making the Rangers into complete idiots who are wasting their time while also nickel-and-dimming the heck out of the player base for the new content. Compare the pricing Mines of Moria and Siege of Mirkwood had on the store when they were on the store (or if they’re back or not–I don’t know, because I own both so I can’t “see” them). They were both about the same as Rise of Isengard. They didn’t sell the Turtle raid, they didn’t sell the skirmish system; if you bought those expansions on the store, you owned them. That’s just no longer the case, apparently, and the information was buried under pages and pages of a thread demanding an answer from Turbine.

      I’m not some end-all reviewer–I’m just some LotRO player offering his experiences. Well, WAS a LotRO player. Yes, it’s going to be biased–any commentary is going to be biased. If you were expecting hard-hitting points to all the faults to RoI while also praising what it did right then I’m sorry. That’s not what this is about. I could say some nice things about RoI but the truth is this whole issue has washed my mouth of any good taste my palette may have deigned with the two weeks of wine-tasting. I’m finished, I’ve had my full, and I’m moving on to the next label.

  12. Pugs says:

    few things id like to point out

    1st, your leveling issues were your own fault since you decided to keep your old armor and weapons to “stick it out” to 75. If the stats had not been changed around it could have been ok to do. Heck if it was 50-60 it could have been ok. 65-75 is a lot more involved than 55-65 and you did not take that into account. Changing out quest reward gear and swapping your LI at 70 or so would have set you up fine. Also with this last patch when they fixed the PoI and trum dreng deed they gave quests more xp which means leveling and coming up short is not a problem anymore. You also were at cap when RoI came out and did not have the benefit of any xp earned from mirkwood or enedwaith as you were getting ready to head into dunland.

    2nd, you have the same problem that a lot of older VIP players have, they assumed that TP was worth buying. Its not. Seeing as its entirely possible to earn enough TP to buy everything in the game without dropping a penny (although it would require a lot of time and effort) they offer the option of getting things with TP, but still encourage people to actually pay for the expansion just like any other game would do. So, you went the easy route, like a lot of other people did, and found out it wasnt a good choice. I am sorry but that was your choice.

    3rd, I was in the closed beta and it was a complete sham. It wasnt much of a beta at all but more of a RC1 where they just wanted some stress testing and to find extra bugs they hadnt found yet. Plenty of bugs were reported, plenty of suggestions were made, plenty of feedback was there, and the CSRs, devs, and CMs basically ignored it. They did not answer much or interact with the beta community at all really. It was a complete waste of time other than to play with the E&G tavern and get a bunch of free shineys and thousands of TP to go nuts in the store with.

    4th, just shortly since i dont know much about it, turbine has implemented new phasing technology with RoI. Like I said I dont know much about what it is or what it does, but apparently its a good thing.

    5th and last, the pvmp changes. PvMP has long been neglected and kelsen the new dev for pvmp has been outstanding. Sure free reavers were annoying to start with but they have slowly been integrated into the creep culture and are becoming somewhat valued members. The only thing people have a complaint about is the buying of skills via the store regardless of rank. Is it a money making tool for turbine, yes, but it does add a level of fairness to the moors that it had been lacking for years. As a pvmp vet i dont mind new players buying skills. They still have to learn how to use those skills and die just as quickly as if they didnt have them.

    Anyway, i started out lotro as free to play as soon as it launched and only went VIP about 8 months ago to do pvmp. I own every zone except forochel (what a waste of a zone), bought mines of moria for 12 bucks, bought RoI for 50 bucks (cause i wanted the extra goodies) and ive been happy with the game the whole time. Sure the bugs suck sometimes but every game has issues to be ironed out, especially an mmo. While your opinion is valid, its clearly just one opinion out of a sea of many, many of which have done things in a much better way than you tried to do and enjoy the game. At the end of the day, if your happy, play the game. If your not, play something else.

    • Agamemnon says:

      Look, I don’t know who you think I’m trying to be, but before my writeup was linked I was content with the fact that my blog receives little exposure (I certainly make no effort to try to do as much). Someone posted it on the forums. It got people talking. That’s not something I can control. A lot of people have pointed out that I’ve made some mistakes or that my opinion is narrow.

      Well, duh?

      I wrote this in a pair of gym shorts at my leisure. I’m not a “journalist,” I’m not getting paid. I wrote was on my mind and I didn’t even take the time to proof read. I have no doubts or reservations about who I am, so please stop trying to make me out as something I’m not.

      • Pugs says:

        i can appreciate that, but since it has gotten a lot of attention i thought a few things should be pointed out from another point of view. Theres always three sides to a story, your side, my side, and the truth.

        Anyway, my response was not meant to be an attack on you, just to try and help explain why the things happened to you like they did.

    • Shirokage says:

      The lady doth protest too much, methinks. 😉

  13. Andros says:

    Fun fact: All of you are completely fucking wrong. The OP is a most retarded consumer for not reading what he was buying.
    Turbine also sucks for not putting up a quality product, only interested in the profit.
    Stunland sucks.
    Lotro sucks.

    But hey… it’s free 🙂

  14. like it matters says:

    (deleted 4 paragraphs of ranting to get to the point)

    Well the books sucked, at least in my opinion. This guy has it right. The story does not make sense. It is long, dull, and just flat out lazy writing, but above all it does not make sense. How could you take some iconic characters and make them out to be complete tards? I am beginning to wonder if Berephon knows anything about war, fighting, subterfuge, or anything. Storylines in MMO’s may never be the best writing you see, but my 9 year old son could have come up with something better. I am beginning to think Berephon just writes a twist for the sake of having it. From this day forward I will call him M. Night Berephon.

    This ramble has gone on too long. In fact I will delete everything up until the last paragraph because I just realized this game is not worth the time and effort I put into this post. Yeah M. Night Berephon says its all.

  15. Grimmor says:

    At last, someone who finally steps up to the plate and tells the truth about the money grabbing ****s at Turbine. I put my money where my mouth is and deleted all my level 65s so they won’t be getting another cent off me. Nice one Agamemnon. I salute you.

    • Ell says:

      There are actually quite a few “plate steppers” out there, but far too few are making enough waves that catch the big whales. Gaming news is all but silent about LotrO, few mention the troubles but most just say “..and oh yeah LotrO got a new expansion.”

      Maybe smaller waves like this and few others (MMO Troll <3) make one big wave that hits Turbine in the face when they're (hopefully) exposed for what they are.

      Warner Bros, do your thing and cut this blood sucker off your side!

      • Agamemnon says:

        I hate to say it but I’m already drawing parallels to the Hellgate fiasco.

        Little content being pushed out, few major media outlets reporting on any of the MMO news, information being purposely withheld or being made difficult to find, employing CMs that are more like inquisitors (ironically enough, one was actually part of the Hellgate fiasco), permanently banning people off the forum that do not agree with Turbine, and the same few familiar faces of the vehement defenders who continue to cry out saying, “Everything is alright, there’s no proof of anything being wrong here!” All that’s missing is focusing on some sort of fluff feature, like pets…

        Ah, wait. They still plan on doing that, don’t they?

  16. Bram says:

    Agamemnon I agree with your analysis of Book 4 – definitely something suspicious going on when the epic story basically says “Clean thy enemy’s latrine and provision his evil forces”. That was a fairly dumb book. However,many of your comments are quite off the mark. I went from level 65 to level 75 (through to the end of the available epic storyline) using lv65 weapons and had no problems – and I am not epically decked out, I’m still wearing 4 Moria instance armour and 2 purples from Mirkwood. Sure, I died a few times, but dealing with a challenge is part of the fun. And this game is already MUCH easier than many other MMOGs – you really have to get into a Tier 2 Skirmish or raid to find a challenge.

    Every single skirmish can be completed solo by on-level casual players on Tier 1, so I am really not sure where you were going wrong. The only one that made me die a few times was Icy Crevasse, but that is in a league of its own (and my Herbalist is a few levels below yours, but here’s a hint: as a hunter you may want to get a tank/cappy soldier instead of a herbalist).

    The changes to the stats and mechanics were for the better – finally Turbine has started to simplify this abominable mess that is the game mechanics. It is now easier to understand how each stat affects your character and it is MUCH easier to build your character the way you want it. With the exception of Finesse (which does not impact you unless you raid) everything was streamlined, which is great move (FINALLY).

    I agree with you that the lack of a major feature like LIs or skirmishes was disappointing. I also agree with you that some of the monetization strategies are totally rubbish and insulting to VIP players. And I am not impressed with the amount of content delivered, however we all know that Turbine has been late on every expansion and update so far, so the missing stuff is going to be added as free updates (the real question is when?).

    Consider some of the good points: you can now obtain great armour fairly easily by getting Superior Fourth Marks, instead of grinding out 300+ Enedwaith tokens, which was impossible unless you played devotedly every day for months on end. Yes, you have to scrap your legendary weapon, but getting a new weapon gives you something to do and more to experiment with. There’s good and there’s bad.

    • Shirokage says:

      Concerning the Enedwaith token grind, had you considered that that was purposely put in by Turbine to keep people busy while content was delayed? Most people would not have been able to upgrade all their armour without incessant runs in the five instances involved. I’ve known a few players that did put in the effort, and, predictably, they finished just in time for RoI….when they would have to replace their armour. It was nothing more than a time sink and a stalling tactic.

    • Agamemnon says:

      I don’t know what class you’re playing, but squishy classes became squishier, which is what I’m told is the source for the majority of my problems. Like you I’m still using 4/6 Moria with other quest reward stuff. I certainly have more health than most Hunters I saw leveling in the region. And I’m not going to argue the numbers for LIs, as anyone can take a look at a LV68 LI and put a couple of ranks in DPS and see it does significantly more damage than a LV65 one.

      My problem consisted mainly from not switching out my armor and weapons because I was content with just stomaching the trouble of making it to 75 and then starting to upgrade. The “adventure” to 72, in the very least, was the biggest leveling nightmare yet. Which I’m sure it had to do with how the majority of spawns and mobs seemed to be clustered together and all have the ability to employ stuns–you know, pretty much fights that Hunters are not too keen about because it doesn’t take their class into consideration.

      I wasn’t expecting to be unscathed, but I also wasn’t expecting to be losing to trash mobs either. In fact, this reminds me of a specific quest in which you help our the Rohirrim deter attackers at a rallying tree. The objective is to hold out for a whopping four minutes (if memory serves right). I didn’t last two minutes and thirty seconds in that instance–three Elites targeted me and whack-whack-whack–in four seconds 3,000 morale disappeared. You call that what ever you like but I like to call it poor class optimization. I’m not sorry that I took advantage of the exploit and just sat in Hunter stealth next to the horse until the timer was up.
      Not if it means that I can’t even tank a rubber ducky these days. Same goes for the Rohirrim that is trapped near the Gap of Rohan where you need to sound the Horn of Rohan for reinforcements to come on in. The instance is set up so one mob aggroes the Rohirrim and the other automatically aggroes you. By the third mob I’m popping Man Heal, Improved Strength of the Earth, Press Onward, and Scholar guild pots. Still died because the ranged spawns auto-targeted me and plucked away at my last bit of health. Granted the quest is two levels above mine, but we never ran into this sort of stuff pre-RoI.

  17. I disagree with you about the Epic book. I thought the Epic Book was great, especially, the journey through Isengard.

    The rest, you are pretty right about, except for these few things:

    a) Skirmish Soldier unlock is a part of the full RoI xpac. However, even though you are VIP, you elected to purchase RoI as a Premium, in chunks with TP. That’s why you are SOL. The rest of us VIPs that purchased the full expansion got the Soldier unlock.

    b) Finesse is not a crit rating. Finesse is essentially a consolidated to-hit rating used against a mob’s b/p/e or resistances. There are mobs in RoI that use Finesse, particularly elite mobs, however at level 65-70, I think it’s fair to say you didn’t fight any. It wasn’t Finesse that killed you. It was the change in mitigations that were getting you killed.

    c) Not trying to sound mean here, but if you are using Inductions 95% of the time as a Hunter, then you are doing it wrong. You really should visit the Hunter forums to get some information and tips on how to create a Focus DPS build. You will be a lot happier and won’t have to suffer inductions so much.

  18. TD says:

    I’ve been playing LotRO since closed alpha way back in the fall of 2006. While I think the world builders for this game pretty much hit a home run every time, and I was excited to see places like Minas Tirith, Minas Morgul, and Mordor, I can no longer ignore the fact that this game is headed in a very bad direction.

    1) As Pugs says above, the closed beta for RoI was a joke. I’ve been in every beta this game has offered, and I’ve never seen so much down time and so little dev interaction. It became pretty clear that player feedback (outside of changes to the Champion class) was not something they were interested in. In and of itself, this was a troubling development. The test server was down for weeks at a time with no word from the devs or CM’s whatsoever.

    2) It’s becoming increasingly clear that the top priority right now is funneling people into the store rather than providing engaging gameplay at endgame. The game is becoming more and more a series of grinds with store shortcuts. Want a Scroll of Empowerment? Go grind a ridiculous amount of shards…or head over to the Store™! Want to craft? Need ingredients? Go grind faction rep so you can buy them…by the way, there are faction boosters (and crafting boosters) in the Store™! Want to complete deeds, meta-deeds, and the meta-meta deed in Dunland? Go grind 9 slayer deeds…oh and did we mention there are slayer deed count boosters in the Store™? Want your relics back? Hey, forget we ever said anything about convenience, not advantage, and head to the Store™! Want to play a creep but all that ranking nonsense got you down? No worries, it’s pay-to-win in the Store™!

    3) Here’s a list of the group quests in Dunland: the Culling Pit quests, and the Draigoch raid. Now I’m all for supporting every play style, and I whole-heartedly got behind the move to make the epic quests soloable (even though I think the Inspiration buff is completely OP)…but 10 levels, an entire zone of nothing but solo quests?

    4) Oooh, look, it’s Orthanc! The home of Saruman and site of a major plot event in the LotR story! Oh, what’s in there, you ask? Ummmm…3 repeatables and a big wax museum of mobs standing around doing nothing.

    5) “Hi devs, it’s the Guardian community. So, um, we noticed that Guards got…what was it…oh yeah, they got fuck-all in RoI. We also noticed that Champs got extensive changes which make them even more appealing as tanks. Any chance we could provide some feedback on that?”

    6) I have to win HOW MANY races to get the stupid festival deeds done? (Thankfully I can get more race tokens in the Store™!)

    • Agamemnon says:

      The story bothered me more than usual this time. I really don’t understand why they forced us to become a prisoner. They wrote their selves into a corner with that, which led to numerous problems (i.e. so many interactions with Saruman, Uruk-hai are apparently very friendly, etc.). Usually we’ve always been the guy(s) who get to the party too late or we’re asked to do the Fellowship’s dry cleaning. Which is more appropriate for the nature of our characters–if we get too close to the main events then the line of disparity between ‘helper’ and ‘hero’ become even more blurred.

      By having Saruman show up numerous times in instances, they present an opportunity that any “hero” might take upon himself if he saw a great enemy–he’d throw himself upon him the first chance he would get. Turbine makes no attempt to even give you an option to at least walk up to him and have him shout at you and have you cower in fear so you are unable to do so–I walked up to Saruman in every instance and used the /slap emote. I figured if I was taking a giant piss on Tolkien’s grave I might as well make it fun. Now compare this to moments in previous quests involving people of great interest. Or hell, think back to the very first Book instance in the Epic line–you know, the one that has you following Aragorn and the Rangers to Ost Baranor? As soon as you run up to the Nazgul ritual, the Nazgul’s fear freezes you in place. This, at least, explains the reason why you can’t run in their head-first and try to help Aragorn out. If they did something like this for Saruman it would take away a lot of the story issues when ever he showed up and we were all allowed to run up and play leapfrog with him.

      The other issue surrounds the entire “getting captured” bit. It’s obvious they can’t strip us of our weapons and armor (Gor a number of different reasons–mostly technical, I imagine. Or mostly laziness.). So if that was obvious, why in the hell did they make us prisoners in the first place if the biggest wall banger of them all was going to played out straight? And why the hell are all these Uruks friendly? Why are none of them whipping me, beating me, or, in general, treating me poorly? Yeah, sure, Saruman says “I may be of some use” so the taskmasters ensure no harm is done, but still, they are all nothing but friendly. Um, we are talking about the murdering horde that ravages the Westfold’s villages, killing women and children, right? Because they’re all giving me a pat on the back saying, “Hey, good job! I kinda like you. You know, for a human.” And then that escape, ugh. After swimming through a sea of Orcs, you and two other people apparently manage to “sneak” past Saruman’s vast Uruk army and frolic around outside Orthanc where NO ONE is to be seen.

      It’s just poor writing on their part. If they give us the opportunity to play the sacrificial hero then they should at least give us SOME REASON why we can’t even attempt to walk out the front door or why we’re allowed to go up to Saruman and spit in his face without any repercussions. These are the signs of a weak writer. We should have NEVER come this close in contact with Orthanc–never should have met Saruman in-person. This is the opposite of “moving through Dunland undetected.”

      Which just brings me back to Idiot 1 and Idiot 2, or Halbarad and Theodred. They’ve completely rewritten the way these characters would’ve acted and have also rewritten what has actually happened (mostly regarding Theodred). Theodred crosses the Isen with the full knowledge of knowing Saruman is warring against him, as are the Dunlendings. He’s not sitting in some tiny little camp eating chicken with Halbarad saying, “Hmm, I wonder where that large enemy force can be? And who’s arming these Dunlendings?” Theodred crosses the Ford with a large force, pretty much goes up to Isengard’s doorstep, and starts a battle. In that same day he later retreats to the Fords where the First Battle of the Fords of Isen takes place. He dies later that night.

      Instead Turbine writes him into a blubbering idiot who apparently spends a weekend vacation DEEP in Dunland wondering why the Dunlendings don’t like him or some pish posh nonsense like that. Meanwhile Turbine is trying to figure out why the Rangers were delayed if they were all practically so near the Fords of Isen by February 23/24/25ish. Never mind that we see the Fellowship off on February 16 and then manage to participate in a coordinated assault on Dol Goldur, then we hurried back to send missives to Rangers to rally to Aragorn, and then we spent some time helping the Dunlending outcasts in Enedwaith to prepare for war–all in the time span of about seven days. My my, aren’t we busy?

      Anyway, yeah. They need to come up with an excuse as to why the Rangers were tied up for another three or so weeks, and I’m guessing because it’s going to be because Halbarad wants to be an idiot again and says, “Let’s go attack Isengard!” or something stupid like that.

      So many different things could have been done in regards to the story and yet they went in a completely different direction–the wrong one.

  19. Degwarg says:

    Turby’s really made a mess of things, eh? And I thought radiance era LOTRO was terrible…

    Looks like my retirement is gonna be permanent.

  20. Drakos says:

    I dont really know if it is pure greed on Turbines part. Lifetime I am up to a whopping $20 and only I play on one server(no alts grinding TPs over and over on different servers) and I have all the quest packs but 2(North Downs and RoI) some extra skirmishes and had zero issues hitting the new level cap. Sure the epic story in RoI sucked(I’d like to punch the dev that keeps getting me into retarded obvious fail situations with no options but DOH ok we’ll turn tail and run, but the game is still pretty decent. As to people crying about Finesse try logging into the game and looking around, I was at about 3k within an hour of hitting 75, again no RoI quest gear other then the epics, just a skirmish piece and a couple gold on the AH.

    That being said I dont see it as greed, just arrogance and not listening to people in their own company. If they paid attention to DDO they would learn that players will spend if they release plenty of good content, not try to make it all up with one purchase every other year.

  21. burr says:

    As a customer in the video game industry, loyalty will get you NOWHERE.

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