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Revisiting the Lowbie Experience (LotRO)

Duillond (click to enlarge)

This past weekend was a good one. I got some work done, spent some quality time with my wife at home, and some quality time with a lifelong friend in LotRO.

It’s been a long time since I’ve found myself adventuring through Ered Luin, the dwarf and elf starting zone. The last time was actually almost a full year before they did the revamp the newbie leveling experience. At the time, I remember spending a good few days working my way through and actually becoming a little frustrated by the end. The whole place was very contrived with the amount of running you had to do. But, wow, have things changed!

I started off an Elf Hunter (ranged DPS) on Thursday, since it’s a pretty stark change from my Guardian. I’ve been through the introduction instances before, so I chose to skip them both and move right into the open world, sacrificing a few levels in the process. You’d think that would have made the going a little tougher but, oh no, within an hour I was level nine and ready to wait for my friend.

So, fast forward to last night, and we’re both level nine, and both hunters in Duillond, one of the early Elven quest hubs. We managed to line up our quest trackers almost exactly and for the next two hours, we proceeded to massacre every piece of wildlife we came across. God help the feathered fowl or little bear cub that got in our way! Mercy was just a pipe dream and, thanks to the vast array of quests soliciting our murderous intents, we managed to get another five levels in just two short hours!

Talk about fast! But, that’s just the thing. That wouldn’t have been possible a year ago. They’ve streamlined everything to make the whole leveling experience a breeze.

Gondoman (click to enlarge)

It’s actually very reminiscent of WoW’s quest design.

Before, you would grab a couple of quests in one spot, three more across the map, and then have another a whole zone away. Once you turned them in, the guy next to the original NPC would suddenly remember that he needed something from that place you just were and, uh, sorry, but how about some pipeweed for the favor?

Turbine has given their NPCs a memory check, it seems, because they now speak up before you head out. You can do everything in one trip. Escort quests have also gotten a nerf, since they’re now reasonable to manage by yourself, even if you’re not a tank class.

In short, they’ve made it quicker, easier, and more rewarding. You might be killing birds and bears but hell if you don’t feel powerful doing it so quick.

Believe it or not, that makes a lot of difference.

It was good to see my friend enjoy the game, too. We tried it together the first time I found myself in Ered Luin and he dropped out right around level 14 to go back to WoW. This time, though, he actually exclaimed “Wow, it’s like a whole different game!”

And he’s right. Between the combat changes and the streamlining, it’s probably going to feel like a different game all the way through Bree-town.

It’s a good time to get in LotRO. It’s true, the game can take a little getting used to, but once you’re in there’s a lot to love. Beautiful settings, a familiar story, a great community, wonderful story telling in the Epic Books, and some of the most unique classes in the industry.

If you’re on the fence about getting back in, take the dive. You might just find it a refreshing change from the norm.


  1. We Fly Spitfires

    I think LotRO will be the game for me once WoW dries up (assuming Cataclysm is a long way off, of course). I do wish they’d update the graphic models though… I hate the animations 🙂

  2. Chris

    It’s a great game, really. It’s second only to WoW, in my opinion, in terms of polish and the sheer amount of content.I’m with you on the animations though. The walking animation is so stiff it’s almost painful to watch.

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