With last week's vote pointing me toward a final destination of Everswim... er, Evendim, it might make the most sense to head north. But I had to make a little detour at the Forsaken Inn first.
After finishing up most of the Bree-land quests, I knew that I had to head east for the grindy leveling goodness that is the Forsaken Inn questline. Now that Tasks have been added, it made leveling that much easier and rewarding. But I soon found out (and remembered) that these leveling hubs are all over the place, so I could have just saved the trip and leveled at Trestlebridge. But seeing Weathertop was fun anyway.
Aside from the goals you set for me last week, I also set my own goal to reach level 25 this week. Nine levels didn't seem like too much, and I was able to hit 25 with no problems, thanks to Tasks, the power of the Warden, and... well, one other thing. See, I have a confession to make. I... I bought something on the LotRO store. I know. Go ahead and remove me from your friends list, but I have to say that I bought some XP boosters to help me with my leveling. It's not as if they were hurting anyone, and I can quit at any time!
I'm usually the guy staying far away from item shops and figuring out ways to play these shop-based games entirely for free, but I don't even see this as any different than using silver coins to buy Traveling Rations for my Hunter to use during his fast travel. I'm earning the TP in game and buying things in game.
Now that I'm no longer a LotRO store virgin, I felt like it was silly for me to be leery of the new F2P LotRO after all this time. I'm having fun again in LotRO, but there are a few observations I had this week in addition to my character's regular progression.
Last week, you chose for me to take on the Explorer vocation. My Hunter main is also an Explorer, so I'm very familiar with the benefits of this job, but I ran into a pretty serious hitch along the way. By waiting that extra week (and almost 20 levels) to get my crafting vocation, I missed out on the entry-level crafting materials and had to run back to gather them up enough to level. The one thing that made this easier was the fact that enemies in the early zones were grey for me, so they didn't aggro (one thing I always miss in other MMOs), but it still took some time to go back and gather up ore and branches to level those jobs. New entry-level crafting quests made things a bit easier, though, as they give you a few materials to get you started.
Wow, I forgot how grindy this game is. On one hand, I understand that the grind is a classic MMO staple, and I should just shut my trap and kill 10 more orcs, but when I've killed 10 orcs, then go back and kill 15 more, and then go back and kill the boss orc (whom I've killed twice already), I want to stab myself with a Nazgul blade. Hey, at least then I'd drift into the wraith realm and see something other than boars, wolves, and bears.
Combat and Loot
I'm now in love with auto loot. Sure, there's auto loot in other games, but looting in LotRO was tedious, and inventory management was crazy. This new auto loot allows you to kill at your own will without a worry in the world about loot because anything that doesn't fit in your bags is saved for you in a little magic invisible purse for an hour until you can make it to a vendor to clear some space. Sure, it might break immersion a bit, but I'm a fan of efficiency. And the loot we're gathering is not just pure merchant fodder any more -- those dusky ears and blackened skins can now be used toward your daily Tasks. If you have any extra, they can be used for the next zone's Tasks. I like that much more than just dumping everything off at the merchant (although I still did that this time before realizing what Tasks were). But you players who were around back at launch may remember how crazy loot was back then with 20 different versions of every body part. Thank goodness that's gone.
I've played on two other servers, including my main on Nimrodel. I've always enjoyed those servers and never had an issue with other players on either. On Landroval, it's like a whole new ballgame. There are perpetual concerts in front of The Prancing Pony. There are dance circles in front of Bree. There are fireworks shows. There are player-run fishing competitions. There are strangers giving gifts and people walking (not running) everywhere. Mostly every other player I come across has a white name (denoting RP mode), and it seems to be a much more lively and organic world, even after all these years! Sure, you'll find these things on other servers, but there just seems to be much more of it on Landroval, which adds so much to the whole experience.
This week's poll
So I know I want to head to Evendim before next week, but what should I do along the way?
- Concentrate on group play. There are several fellowship quests that I've just skipped right over because I'm doing this completely solo so far. But that's not in the spirit of the MMO, right? Vote for this one if you want to see me group up and take on some fellowship quests.
- Dabble in skirmishes. I've never actually done a skirmish (outside of a dev tour when they were first introduced), so this would be something fairly new to me. Vote for this one if you want me try out a few skirmishes and report back on how/whether I like them.
- Explore crafting guilds. Being an Explorer, I'd be after the Tailor's Crafting Guild. Luckily, that's right down the road in Esteldin. Vote for this one if you want to see how crafting guilds work and if you want me to focus more on leveling through crafting than combat.
- Get to Evendim. Since Evendim starts at around the level 32 range, I would continue through the North Downs, reach Esteldin, then head back over to Evendim to show it off for two full weeks instead of one. Vote for this one if you want me to keep doing what I'm doing with steady questing and level progression.
- Do more storyline Book quests and less side questing. Vote for this one if you're more interested in finding out how Frodo gets the ring to Mordor (whoops, spoiler alert).
It's Shawn's turn back in the driver's seat of Choose My Adventure with you as the co-pilot. It's going to be a rough ride, so put on your seat belt! If you want to read a full six weeks of farcical puns about cars and farming, be sure to tune in every Wednesday as the adventure continues to unfold.