Thoughts on Isengard and a quick roundup
Firstly sorry once again for such a huge delay in posts! We have been away for a few weeks on holiday, some of which we spent catching up with our kinmates Mike and Julie and meeting their little boy, and reminding ourselves that Mike doesn’t always look like the hairy dwarf we see every week in game (believe me the reality is far more frightening!). The Baby dwarves had a great time. Though for some reason our baby dwarf didn’t seem to want to leave my sandcastles standing on the beach!
There has been a lot of new info whilst we have been away, and an awfull lot of hot air and words about it, so I thought I’d run over a few of my thoughts about it and spout some hot air of my own. I have kept up to date with all the images, videos realeased, and news from games com, the forums, and such, and well as some beta leaks (especially Betacake (spoiler alert!) whilst we were away, and this is what my opinions are based on.
The tower of Orthanc/Isengard is too *insert problem here*
It not exactly how I imagined it, neither was Peter Jacksons, nor probably will anyones version outside of my head, though it does look fufill most the things I expected to see, and seems to fit well within the description laid down by the lore available within the confines of an MMO and its scaling. All in all I think it looks fantastic, and is going to be very appropriate and suitably epic looking, can’t wait to see it ‘in the flesh’.
The Stupid Dragon
Its different to expectations, I had a similar reaction to Peter Jacksons hobbit pictures when they were released. Why has Nori got weird hair, look at Fili, Why does Ori have XYZ, and so on. I’m not a huge fan of Draigoch, but I appreciate the attempt to avoid too many cliches.There have been complaints about his name being a literal rendition of ‘Red Dragon’ in Welsh, the chosen derivative for the Dunlendings language, and one I think is very appropriate.
Many of Tolkien names are simple descriptive names in ‘Westron’ that sound exotic to us when spoken in Sindarin or whichever language is used.
- Moria- ‘The Black Pit’
- Mithrandir- ‘Grey Wanderer’
- Amon Rudh- ‘bald hill’
- Amon Sul- ‘Hill of Wind’
And also lets not forget that many of the more rustic folk of middle earth are more simplistic still, Turbine followed this policy in Forchel using a crude form of Finnish for the basis of its language (some Finnish kinmates described many of them to us during a Sari Surma run one night!). Tokien himself used very simplistic Westron names in the Shire and Breeland.
- The Old Forest
As such, the Dunlendings who culturally are probably considered reasonably crude, compared to Elves, Moria Dwarves, or the men of Dale, Rohan, and Gondor, naming the landscape, and notables in their region in this manner, I think is probably not outside the realms of common sense. ‘Draigoch’… The Red Dragon… I can’t see many locals going.. “which one is that again?”
I find it amusing that many compained about the beard, especially with regards to fire. I’m actually not even sure it is a fire-drake anyway, but I anticipate it is and with spend most the raid whacking you with its tail and toasting the poor tank!.
However, if you are willing to accept a creature that large, with wings, can fly, with its internal organs producing and storing highly flamable liquids or gasses, then ejecting these from its mouth/nose whilst igniting them, in a controlled fashion, but yet your biggest concern with realism is a singed beard… 😀 I have said enough. There are plenty of way this could be explained, but basically what I’m driving at is; by all means say it looks dumb, just don’t invent half baked theories about why.
Its goofy looking, thats all, but will probably be pretty cool in the flesh.
The ‘small’ maps of Isengard
They look pretty large to me, and fit in pretty damn close to my predictions in this post. Sure the gap of Rohan, and Isengard/Nan Curunir are not as big, but Dunland looks huge. It looks like a sizable total area, and the quality and variety of the artwork sp far looks amazing. It is being bandied around that there are 400+ odd quests with Isengard, which is so is 100 odd quests more than in the Moria expansion, and 300 more than the Mirkwood one, with a land mass somewhere inbetween the two, so that seems reasonable to me, probably fairly dense and rich!
No new 3/6 man instances are shipping with Isengard
This was a bit of a let down when I heard. I tried not to get too wound up about it, though from my point of view, it was an expected part of content, and should come with an expansion. Then I found out soon after there will be some, most likely by or before Christmas.
Not sure what the delay is, perhaps announcing the deadline has hamstrung them a bit, perhaps they want to stagger content, to release smaller more frequent packets. Whatever it is, realistically, It is unlikely Emma or I will level that fast. We don’t tend to race our way through stuff, especailly as we’ll be playing one set of characters most the time, 2 others on set nights, and be horribly inconvenienced by the small person that lives with us! 😀 This means that, certainly for the Khazad Guard, a November/December release will be pretty awesome timing for some new instances, preferably lots of new three-mans! So all in all I’m happy again, the content is there, its just a timing thing.
I must admit, I freely expected to pay £20 for a huge quest pack, and some instances (we’ll get on to this). In additon I expected the ‘free’ things everyone will get- Class upgrades, Epic book, Crafting and Guild Tiers, etc. I do of course assume that, even though these are free to everyone, this sort of thing is being paid for by money we have spent on the expansion, previous expansions, and TP purchases in a round about manner. The costs for these things are subsumed into the prices everywhere.
Given the nature of the Free to Play model, surely this is all an expansion can be from this point forward; Quests and instances, perhaps access to mounted combat later too? They can;t restrict the Epic book and landscape, nor levels or class skills, so what else were people expecting?
I do expect, as both a VIP and purchaser of ROI, to not pay for any instances when they come. Indeed, I believe that they should be covered by the price of the ROI expansion regardless of VIP, if not this would be a little inappropriate in my opinion.
The only reason I can imagine they are being cagey, is that they don’t know what or how much of what they are working on they will release, or how they will release/bundle it. The phrases we have had relayed to us, relate to working on ‘instances’ which could encompass many things. Being speculative, it may mean a non-Epic book Isengard skirmish, a cluster of 2x 3-mans, 2x 6-mans (like Mirkwood), and one stand-alone Isengard 3-man (like HON or IOF), or even open dungeons like CD/Uru in the Isengard Forges, or any combinations and variations of the above. In this case I can see they may provide the ‘cluster’ as part of the ROI expansion, and the skirmish and stand alone as exclusive VIP access with purchase options for Premium and F2P, or some such split release. If this is the case, I can understand that, but I do sincerely hope ROI has some instances as part of it, but we’ll have to wait and see.
The bottom line here is, I am fine paying £20 for these things. In fact I paid £39 or whatever it was, in the full knowledge that as a lifetimer all I got extra was some cosmetics, a XP pocket, and 1K TP extra, but still for the hours of play I get and the enjoyment I have, thats very little to shell out, in this day and age it nearly costs us that in fuel to go visit the In-laws!
The landscape design looks good, with nice artwork, there seems to be plenty to do, and with the promise of some more content around the corner. Call me a fan boy if you will, but the punchline is, that these things will provide me with 100s of hours of entertainment over the following months, thats not a bad price per hour for my money. Thats all anyone rational can consider surely? I am as passionate about playing this game as anyone, honestly, but I think as worked up about it as some had is a little our of perspective.
More Transparency in Future?
I do hope a little more transparency is a bit more forthcoming from Turbine in future. I’m not charging down the deception and dishonesty road, but I do empathise with the point many are making. Turbine seems to be rightly aware that the majority of noise on the forums does not reflect the general player bases attitude, and this is sensible. I think a slower more considered approach is appreciated by many of us. However, the flip side is, they seem to be using the fiery attitude of this vocal minority as justification not to release a roadmap of future LOTRO plans as proposed by Khafar and put to Sapience by Lowj here (thanks for this interview Lowj, and honest and tempered approach is always welcomed). Actually I think this roadmap concept IS something the more tempered player base would appreciate, and take heart from, and lets be honest, the more vocal elements will rant and rave anyway, adn to have a vague idea of what is on the cards, will give us something to look forwad to. You never know, a little more clarity with the planning an process may calm many folks who are a bit concerneed about there game down as well.
As per usual, as soon as I open my mouth and voice an opinion, things change. In this case, for the good, and as I hoped. Lots of new content has been officially announced. This comprises, five new instances, 3x 3mans, 1x 6man, and a 12man, and all free to ROI purchasers from the webstore. As it should be, and all before the end of the year too! Good job Turbine. There is still some dissent (after all these are web forums) about the requirement to purchase from the webstore, as opposed to the in game LOTRO store. I suspect that ROI will be available in the LOTRO store at some point not too long after release, though it may be that they break it up into quest packs, and instance purchases, drafting tier advancement etc, or perhaps this and a full expansion, who knows? But given they are allowing the purchase from now until release, and afterwards, this seems entirely fair to me.
In Khazad Guard News!
Whilst away on holiday we have had a little in game access via a laptop, so took the time to work on some deeds, crafting, and the odd skirmish; mostly things that don’t require a decent PC inbetween times. We are doing well and enjoying ourselves with our targets for Isengard we had laid out in this post.
- Ganin and Azaghar have their virtues sorted out, are world renowned, and in decent gear ready to be duo’d first into Isengard!
- Izbaruk, Haki and Anlafski reached level 65 (three years after starting them!), and Anlafski has been sent on an aside mission, and Vithar Gvmpson, a dwarf hunter, brought into the group. He has lent his bow and tracking skills to Izbaruk and Haki, and they have been running lots of three man skirmishes, and instances, acquiring new gear, and practicing working together like a tight team. We have worked on their virtues, and we will continue on with these three, once a week, every week, up to Isengard and beyond, just running three mans together and having fun.
- I have levelled Emmas Elf champion Gilforniel to 49, joined her captain Barandis, and we have both entered Moria, and are begginning the long journey through the dark! They are currently level 51, and we may begin levelling them a bit more in earnest next week. My Rohirrim Captain, is well geared and levelled at 65 awaiting his sister barandis to join him!
- Finally I have Been working on my Burglar Chumbo Bobbins deeds, and some of his gear and making a bit of a premptive switch to agility for Isengard. Yes, I’m a burglar, my agility was pretty high anyway, but I also stacked a lot of might, especially trait and armour wise, and I have switched this around some. I have to say, I should have done this earlier, whilst his base damage is technically lower, he seems to kills things so much quicker, I’m not sure if this is him missing less, criticalling more, or just my percpetion playing tricks, as he has only gained 100 agility (he’s just shy of current cap now) and I’m not sure how much difference that can make over 500, but either way I’m happy and have been enjoying him! Emma and I will be using her tank and him to roll through enedwaith and Dunland etc, at a later date, but for now we are happy with where they are at!
- Hain and Dralli, have suffered a little, due to house moves, holidays, and flaky internet, but are now 32, and about to move on to Tinnundir.
- And one final piece of news, our kinmate Jualin has finally found some spare time to start playing again (after those manic early months new baby dwarves and hobbits bring), and has just hit level 40! She’ll be in Isengard with us in no time!