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Exclusive LOTRO Mines of Moria Preview Pt. 2

Discussion in 'LotRO News and Announcements' started by SWATJester, Nov 14, 2008.

  1. SWATJester

    SWATJester Guest

    [drupal=29679]Exclusive LOTRO Mines of Moria Preview Pt. 2[/drupal]

    Part 1 of our preview can be found here.
    Our next stop on the tour was the Twenty-First Hall, a hub of trade and social activity for players in Moria. Again, you can get a glimpse of just how large the caverns of Moria really are, and the fact that there are no loading zones in-between areas is truly remarkable. The Twenty-First Hall is home to one of the forges in Moria, and here we were introduced to the Legendary Weapon system, another customization technique in Moria. Essentially, some weapons in LOTRO can be identified as "Unique" and can be developed into Legendary Weapons. As you kill mobs, in addition to gaining experience for yourself, you're also gaining experience for your weapons. When a weapon gains enough XP, it can be reforged at the forge-master, and gain "legacies". Legacies are basically special bonuses provided by the item and can be anything from increasing the power or duration of a class ability, to adding DPS to an item. Every time a Legendary Weapon is reforged, it can gain new legacies. Furthermore, the player is given a certain amount of points that he can spend to improve legacies. Some legacies are ranked higher (i.e. better) than others, meaning they'll cost less to develop or provide more of a bonus at each point investment, or have longer duration effects. These points are given back at each reforging to allow the player to choose how to respend them with the new legacies. With up to six Legendary Weapons, the player is able to have a set of top-tier weapons with a wide area of customized uses, without having to depend on raids or camping mobs for a rare drop (though, other rare items than weapons will still drop this way). A player could choose to develop one weapon by putting all his points into increasing its DPS, while developing another weapon to have better tanking stats, and a third to have better offensive skill abilities. These weapons can be further customized by drop-in relics that provide even more enhancements. The result is yet another layer of customization providing for a truly deep and varied experience.

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    Next, we looked at instanced content. The Forgotten Treasury is a relatively technical instance, in which the players must defeat several minibosses in order to clear the way to rotate dwarven statutes, which reflect sunlight. Once all the statutes are in place, the boss encounter will open up with two cave trolls, who get stronger the closer that they are to each other. Players will have to focus on the challenging task of keeping these two giant trolls separated in a relatively tight space. In the second screenshot, one of the minibosses talks a little smack at our tourguide, and inflicts "corruption" on us (as indicated by the glowing eyes over our heads). We then travelled to a larger instance, Azanarukar. In contrast, this area was very vertical and populated by a combination of corrupted enemies, including the "Grims", nameless evils of apparently elemental power. We experienced fire, ice, and darkness varieties.* As we approached, a Shadow Rogmul recruited several orcs to follow him, by warning them that we were about to kill them.

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    After fighting off more Grims, we descended lower into the cave complex, coming across the Globsnogas, corrupted goblins and trolls that we struggled to fight off (ok, we were invincible, so it wasn't much of a struggle, but it wasn't easy). The caverns wound their way downward, until we came to another miniboss encounter. These were two named demons (I believe Shadow Rogmuls, but I'm not sure), who opened up pits of doom as we fought them. You can see one off in the distance in the third screenshot, and a close up in the sixth screenshot. Over time, more and more pits opened, gradually restricting the space we had to fight. The floor quickly became covered with these pits, but we overcame the enemies.

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    Progressing further, we came to Gwathnor, an ancient evil described to me as something like a cousin of the Balrogs. Gwathnor was apparently being worshipped by some of the Globsnogas as we walked in, but like all Ancient Evils, it's not safe to be around one if you're just a minion. It may not be apparent from these screenshots, but Gwathnor just kicked the asses of all of his minions lickety split. Remember how in the introduction to the movies, Sauron was sending men flying with his mace? Yeah, that's what Gwathnor was doing...I saw a minion get blasted way up by the ceiling, but couldn't get a screenshot off in time. Anyway, Gwathnor has two forms, a fire form and a shadow form, and he's also flanked by a pair of seriously powerful Grims of the fire and shadow type as well. By defeating the appropriate type of Grim, the players can essentially make Gwathnor switch into a particular form, which could be beneficial if they have a better fire resistance, for example. I couldn't tell if the Grims or Gwathnor was doing it, but one of them let off a cool dragon shaped fire attack that made me think of Gandalf with his fireworks. The screenshots below show the Gwathnor fight in its various stages

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    Of course, the elves come after I've done all the work, and act all condescending. Bastards. Just for that, I'm not playing as an Elf. Our final raid encounter was a two-branched dungeon called Skumfil. At the very beginning, players can choose either the left or the right branch, but as soon as they choose, their progress in the other direction is blocked. Each side has different mobs, and goes to a different boss. We chose the side with centipedes, because centipedes are awesome. And yes, Skumfil is an appropriate name for an area that looks like a garbage pit. The sixth screenshot has a great image of Orvago blasting the miniboss with a lightning bolt. Apparently there is some sort of reputation system (seventh screenshot), but around this time, my client crashed, and by the time I caught back up, I forgot to ask.

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    The boss we fought was a seriously huge monstrosity called Grim Reaver. Unfortunately, we were running short on time, so we didn't stay to fight him.

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    Our tour moved on to the outside portions of Moria, specifically, Lothlorien, the home of Galadriel. (Hey, finally something that I remember from the movies!) We emerged in an orc camp by a beautiful river and mountain waterfall. I let Tourguide do all the bashing while I snapped photos. I had remarked early in the tour about the water effects in the game, and the developers pointed out that in Lothlorien, you can actually see the reflections of the stars in the water. Apparently, this has some sort of significance in the story, but it was beyond me. The foilage effects in the game were stunning, and the whole place had a very alpine feel.

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    We jumped from there to Caras Galadhon, where Galadriel was waiting for us. As you can see from the screenshots, everything had a sort of mystical tint to it here. Obviously, the gardens were no small area. Galadriel herself stood glowing aside the river, and its reflective properties were beautiful. She sent us to Gwaihir the Windlord, who is hanging out in her garden. Tourguide told him something, and he flew off.

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    Our final stop on the tour was the lookout post of Haldir. Unfortunately, my screenshot of him didn't come out very well, but I did get a good picture looking down from his perch into the river. And yes, I did jump off of it. As I was jumping, I took a screenshot of the scaling of the tree details over distance. (Second screenshot). The third screenshot was the 200th one that I took in our tour. Look at the reflection of the scenery on the river, and the ethereal, almost painted quality of the trees in the distance. Just beautiful. Marred only by Tourguide swimming in the water. The next screenshot is even more beautiful, and blessedly dwarf-free. Our Tourguide left us in front of this statue in the fifth screenshot, an almost understated and abandoned ruin in the midst of what feels like a truly living world. But before he left, we had a little dance party, followed by Tourguide doing pushups while Orvago did handstands.

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    Unfortunately, we didn't get to everything that I'd have liked to have covered (for instance, I wanted to know more about monster play), but the sheer amount of awesome coming out of the screen at me was rather overwhelming. I can see why LOTRO has a reputation as being a solidly different MMORPG than the WoWs and WARs of the world. From an outsider's viewpoint, it's certainly intriguing. I like the gameplay mechanics that are favorable for casual gamers, and the amount of customization is similarly impressive. I can see that some power gamers might feel underwhelmed by some of the instanced content, but what I saw was suitably impressive, and far more innovative than the cookie cutter raids of some games, like Age of Conan. I also enjoyed playing the Warden class, which feels like it fits into a void that some other MMORPGs are missing. Hopefully we've given LOTRO fans enough content to salivate over for the next few days until Moria is released. If you still haven't gotten your fill, head on over to LOTRO Stratics, and Orvago will take care of you. Until then, navaer! (Elvish for goodbye! Yes, I looked it up. God I'm such a nerd.)

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  2. The fourth image had me so awestruck I actually time out ingame while looking at it. Bahaha!