For the past couple of weeks I have been branching out for a bit from LOTRO mainly from a lack of dedicated time. Not that I don’t have time available but that time is frequently and without warning interrupted which makes it very hard to do some of the things I enjoy in LOTRO, like raiding and group content. Because of this I’ve been shifting a bit from my normal play style in LOTRO to some other avenues. This has also been part of the reason for a lack of activity here as I just haven’t had all that much to write about. But for now this just feels like a little bump in the road.
Inside of LOTRO this has included a lot of the spring festival and the Ale Association quests. I’ve also been running a fair number of skirmishes but those can require attention depending on what skirmish and tier I’m attempting. And I’ve also been running around with my baby RK who just dinged 22. I’ve been enjoying the new Lone Lands area quite a bit as it is a MUCH better flow from Bree, although for an RK it is a little dis-jointed. The transition along the book epic lines was great as it takes you straight from Bree to Candaith and for me I was around 20ish before finishing off book 1 as I had done a number of other things in Bree. The issue I ran to on my RK was the level 15 class quest for RKs is there in the Lone Lands and I ended up picking up some other quests that did throw me off a tad. Nothing terrible, but I’m really trying to walk through this zone in order and I ended up with some scattered quests as I normally grab all quests I can see
Outside of LOTRO I have been checking out a few other games as well. I’ve pretty much stopped playing Dragon Age as Awakenings seems to have lost its luster for me. I did enjoy it, but it doesn’t have nearly the same re-playability as Origins did. It certainly is replayable, but after the second time I just wasn’t that motivated, unlike the 5 times I went through Origins Maybe that’s just because there are enough similarities that I don’t distinguish between the two. But certainly if you haven’t checked Awakenings out I do recommend it as the new skills and abilities are LOTS of fun.
Another single player game that I’ve been playing off and on has been Mount and Blade. I’ve talked about Mount and Blade before and it is getting more press now that they’ve released Warband. I’ve downloaded Warband and have checked it out a little bit but I’m still on the trial version so I haven’t made it all that far. The graphics updates are great and they’ve redone the map completely such that it seems much more conflict centric. There are a number of other tweaks with romances and NPC relationships and the like that sound really intriguing but I have yet to see them. I still haven’t gotten quite used to the new swinging animations so my horseback attacks are pretty bad at the moment. I’m still on the fence about if there are enough differences between Warband and the original to warrant me buying the new version as I think the biggest new feature is a multiplayer aspect which while intriguing, doesn’t interest me at all.
The final game I’ve been playing lately has been Age of Conan. I tried it out a little bit when they first launched and just couldn’t get into it. I will admit that I didn’t play all that much as I just couldn’t get the hang of the combat system. But when they announced the revamp of their trial system to allow full access to the starter zone for as long as you want I figured it would be a good time to check it out again. Plus the upcoming patches and expansions are interesting enough that I wanted to check things out. So far I’ve rolled 4 different toons, 2 of the heavy armor classes (Dark Templar and Conqueror), a ranger, and a mage type (Herald of Xotli). I haven’t done much with the Conqueror yet (the rest are at least level 13), but aside from the ranger the other 2 are quite different from the typical classes from other games I’ve played. The Dark Templar is a sword and board tank type that also can use dark magic to de-buff and leach life off of enemies. So in some ways it does mimic the play of the Warden, although with a drastically different back-story The Herald of Xolti (HoX) is a fire-based mage that also uses two handed weapons – which to me sounded like an interesting concept. The HoX does have some good absorption buffs which mitigates their cloth armor restriction so in that way they’re also somewhat analogous to Wardens in LOTRO. For all of these, I’ve mainly been focusing on following the individual epic class lines which are solo based. I’ve had to do a little grinding to get to the level requirements, but for the most part it hasn’t been bad at all.
Based on my initial experiences, I am actually tempted to pick up AoC to scratch my PvP itch as it certainly is much more prevalent and rewarding then PvMP in LOTRO. The graphics in AoC are really impressive and I enjoy the feel of the area only slightly less then I like things in LOTRO. It has taken me a bit to get used to the combat system but now I really do enjoy it. The biggest thing that got me was the targeting system – you don’t have to target a mob to hit it (such that you can get inadvertent AoEs) but there is an auto-face standard that I haven’t figured out how to turn off such that if I forget to target the mob in front of me I’ll keep spinning around to some other mob that I might have tabbed to. AoC also has a combo system that reminds me of the Warden gambits but AoC has a visual prompt of what the next builder is supposed to be such that there’s not the same memorization requirement Wardens have. AoC also has a nifty way of handling your class epic line in that you’re taken to a Night-time instance that is single player. So all of your epics are done in that fashion at night, and if you want to join other folks you need to travel back to the day-time. So far I enjoy that system, but I’m not sure how it works going forward. Another enjoyable aspect of the story line is how the different stories play off each-other in that you’ll hear about other people in one class story and then actually get to play that part in another story. I didn’t realize they did this at all until I was reading the quest and realized “hey, that was my ranger doing that” which does make me want to roll other classes to see where they fit in.
Now the only “issue” I’ve run into is partly my own fault but it also shows off a strength in my mind. When I started, I decided on the PvP server as my home as I wanted that environment and wasn’t real sure how the PvP-RP servers would differ. What this then allows for is common quest areas in the day-time environment are open combat. As I’ve found already, these can be camped by higher level characters who enjoy killing newbs like me, repeatedly. However, a couple things that I appreciate about how AoC handles this is they do have an instigator flag that will prompt guards to attack said “criminal” to discourage that act somewhat. I will admit that I’m sure that times out after some interval and there are probably ways around it such that it doesn’t really do my – but it seems like this does create some level of punishment that stops some from just randomly killing people. This flag also is pretty obvious such that you can see it from a good distance and have a chance to run if need be. The other aspect is when you die there’s an immunity buff that makes it such that you can’t be harmed while close to the res circle. I realize this isn’t perfect but it at least gives you time to map or log. I’m sure others have a different take on this, but for me it hasn’t bothered me yet as they seem to have more rewards for PvP then penalties for dying.
The other game that might fit into this play style for me is Eve which I’ve played a couple of times but never quite got either. It certainly has a lot of the planning and spreadsheet aspects that I like and success isn’t solely driven by how much time you spend in game. Reading Tobold’s latest series of posts as he hops into Eve has brought this back into my thought process and I may have to give that game another go.
I’m hoping that I can get a chance to get back to a more dedicated schedule for my gaming, but for now it is what it is and I’m just trying to enjoy it as much as possible.