It wasn’t that long ago that I was writing up my first review of Lord of the Rings Online. My initial impressions were quite good and, based on everything I had experienced up to 50, I was pleased. Now that I’ve reached max level, I thought it would be a good time to review my trip through LotRO’s Moria while it is still fresh in my mind. With the new look of the site I’ve also changed up how my reviews will work a bit. The top score is now five.
One of my biggest annoyances is when I start an expansion and there isn’t enough content to do to take me from the previous max level to the new one. Turbine has done a pretty solid job when it comes to populating Moria. Dresden and I duo’d and tried to only pick up solo and small group quests. In our experience we almost never ran out of appropriate level tasks. On occasion things would get a little lean but as soon as we hit the next level we’d have somewhere new to go. If we had been more social and participated in the dungeon quests I imagine we’d have had more to do than could possibly be done in ten levels.
Shifting from the mechanics of content I also want to discuss how happy we were with the atmosphere and architecture. Moria really took our breath away when we first set foot inside. The cavern was massive and impressive to behold. The way the walls are crafted truly gives you a feel that dwarves had been at work here. Most areas give you a airy feeling instead of a cramped and claustrophobic one. Each area throughout the expansion was fairly different and offered a clear impression of attention to detail. It was also refreshing to find new monster models.
My only real complaint about the content is that travel is somewhat annoying and it is aggravated by the fact that the task givers tend to treat you like a ping pong ball. Your horse does not want to follow you into Moria so you’re forced to take goats everywhere. This can get quite expensive quite fast. You can get a goat but only after you grind out faction with the dwarf miners. It is also fair to say that these same dwarves take a sick enjoyment of sending you to an area over and over again, making you run back each time. Couldn’t they just tell you that you need to kill 20 orcs, 20 goblins and then their leader all at once? I suppose not.
Legendary Weapons & Gear
Gear progression in Moria works, for the most part. Quests reward you well enough that you can get through the solo content easily enough. In some cases the itemization is a bit weak and you might replace one slot four times before you see anything for another. By the time I reached 60 most of my gear was fairly dated. Once more I do need to stress that I have not yet extensively explored the dungeons. I fully recognize that in doing so I open myself up for the actual gear progression.
Crafted gear seems to fill a lot of the blanks that you would miss while leveling through the expansion. I will say, however, that the five day cool down on combines is excessive and silly. It seems inappropriate to me that it can take up to two months to make one suit of armor. This is especially true since the armor is good but not exceptional. If the reward was greater I could see it but in this case I don’t. A three day, at most, cool down might be appropriate.
Legendary weapons have earned a special place of love and dismay in my heart. I’ve said in the past that I love the idea of weapons that level. For the most part LotRO provides a good system with which to play. It does, however, fall short in a few areas. The random nature of legacies really sucks the wind out of the excited feeling. It is almost a gut punch when you get a 2nd age weapon only to find out the legacies make it worthless. I know some will argue that a weapon is still worthwhile but for certain classes you can’t force that to be true. A Champion without fervour on a legendary weapon will be weaker by at least 10% total damage than one who has it. No other legacy can make up that difference. In the future I hope Turbine addresses this and makes the system more exciting. Despite the negatives, however, the system is still fun and I would rather have it this way than not at all.
I am pleased by the sheer volume of dungeons in the Moria expansion. Turbine has really stepped up and put numerous areas to crawl through in a rather clear progression. The developers have also included some three man dungeons which I also enjoy. I don’t really want to say too much about this now as I intend to write up stories about each dungeon in turn.
When I decided to go back to LotRO I had heard that Moria was all about grinding. I would love to say that these claims were exaggerated and unfair. If I did, however, I’d be a liar. Moria is all about grinding and they aren’t quick. At the bare minimum to succeed you’ll need to grind dwarf guard faction, Lothlorien elf faction, a minimum of two legendary weapons if you’re the luckiest person on earth, radiance gear, and of course your own levels (the easiest grind). Daily quests abound in the expansion but really don’t amount to much more than busy work. The rewards are minimal and just exist to make the grinds feel less grindy. I can accept a level of grind in my MMOs as I’m accustomed to it from EverQuest but I do not care for the method by which Turbine implements that grind.
It is probably abundantly clear to long time readers that I don’t like being a “go for” in MMOs. LotRO rarely leaves me another choice. Mob kill experience gains are so low that simply sitting in a cozy place and killing them isn’t effective. There also isn’t a set of solo mobs (and possibly group, I honestly don’t know) that just give faction hits for killing them. You have to find what drops the appropriate trinket and farm them if you’re out of daily quests. In many ways it frustrates me. In my eyes killing orcs in Moria should make the dwarves at least a little happy without bringing them a lamp or piece of rock.
Is the grind enough to make me disinterested in playing LotRO? No, not really. I just don’t understand why it is as steep as it is. Moria has a lot of content. You usually only put in a grind when you’re hiding a lack of activities. To confuse me further the grind isn’t even difficult. The daily quests are simple to do and only require a bit of running around. The only real challenge is not getting bored or disgusted with doing the same activity for the 1,000th time. I would love for Turbine to add one activity per grind that offered a much bigger reward but was actually difficult. I would also appreciate seeing the grinds reigned in a bit. They’re a bit over done and take away from how great the expansion and game truly is.
In my original review, I gave Lord of the Rings Online nine gnolls and I think that was a good rating for my experience up to that point. In this and future reviews I’ll be doing more than just a general over all review to add a new level of detail. Despite some of the flaws I found in the Moria expansion I still think the title did quite well. Each category is out of five gnolls.
|Content: Beautiful, fun and in large quantity|
|Itemization: Well done, clear direction|
|Fun factor: Entertaining and inventive|
|Grind Potential: Too grindy for no real reason|
|Over all: Moria is a solid expansion to an already great game|