Last Time on Resolina's Blog: How long has it been since we had a serious run-down? Must have been August 4, 2020 when not only was Rohan Housing finally released but the The Tournament of the Twins on the PvP Server made the developers redesign classes so their interrupt skills would normalize at level 20. What has been going on since then? Well let's take a peek.
Expansion Buying Woes (September - November)
War of Three Peaks expansion came out... I'm sorry, "mini-expansion" is perhaps the phrase they wanted people to use. Instead of offering another quest pack or "region pack" as Far Anorien likes to be referred to in the lotro store, the developers spontaneously decided to sell the content in this pack as an expansion. Not only did this lock out those who were on a subscription basis, but it was also the first time they tried selling content without raising the level cap. They offered the core content at half the price of $20 instead of $40 with the appropriately marked $60 and $100 packages for those wanting to support the game or wanting the new Boar Mount.
The actual weird part of all this is perhaps what revolved around the five month period of its inception. Our first introduction to the expansion actually came during one of Cordovan's weekly video streams. Our first impressions was marred when the video started to skip on one of the platforms. The trailer itself didn't really inspire too many people. Perhaps because the content was "recycled" into two phases within the same environment. Or maybe because nothing really stood out from a typical quest pack. You don't get to go inside Gundabad and there really isn't much highlighting the mission aspect of the expansion.
Then the questions came, and boy were there a lot of them. If only they added a FAQ like the other expansions then perhaps they could have avoided the public's mass confusion. Unfortunately one was never added, contrary to what they said. So it was up to Cordovan to answer as much as he could from the script the developers handed him. He confirmed the expansion would be offered for lotro points at a later date. He listed the core aspects of the expansion. He couldn't tell us a release date. This, of course, panicked a lot of people since the content were released on the Bullroarer test realm about a week later. No one knew what was contained in the three bundles until the day the expansion was released on October 20, 2020.
Since then, I don't think a single week went by without someone asking when the expansion would be out for lotro points, whether it was in the forums or in the game. It wasn't just because the sudden circumstances around the released content was unprecedented, but there were so many issues for those trying to buy it from Lotro Market. For starters, they removed the option to pay through certain methods... including Subway Gift Cards. There were also major conflicts when certain new international laws took effect. People were having problems buying the expansion that Cordovan acknowledged was an ongoing issue. This might have to do with the fact that the expansion automatically delivers to your game account instead of gifting you a code. Or it could also be because it was the first of many changes to come.
Bought Out (December)
EG7: When December hit, we all began to realize the real reason behind the expansion's mysterious conception. It became apparent that Daybreak was sold to EG7 Global. If you aren't familar with who EG7 Global is, that's alright because neither was I. They are apparently a Swedish company that buys up video games and helps remarket them. They also bought out Piranha Games a week earlier, probably because that company's attempt in making Mechwarrior Online into a single-player game didn't go so well on the Epic Store. However, I use the term "remarket" loosely. They came out with their fancy Powerpoint Presentation talking about all the things they could do to their games, including Lord of the Rings Online, but it became abundantly clear they really had no idea what was even possible. Their highlights regarding how to popularize the game during the Amazon's television series just reeks of investor PR. Will the new owners involve themselves with the progress of the game or sit back and try to monopolize on the IP. I think the latter.
Shard Shortage (December - January)
Update 25.4: Although it seems like a simple update that came out on March 3, 2020, the forums exploded with information around this patch. We saw our first preview of the Rohan Housing. Raiders were trying out the new Remmorchant raid. Minas Morgul came out for lotro points a couple days later only to be dwarfed by the March 19th Twitter post stating that everything is free. Itemization was adjusted. Universal Optional Crafting Ingredients with a 100% crit chance while crafting was added to turning in 10 tasks each week and festival quests. Adventurer gear went from item level 412 to 417. However, there was one little thing they were trying to sneak through the cracks with no notice on the patch notes or even mentioning them on the test realm notes. You see, they made it possible to obtain "trigger essences" from crafting T4 Essence boxes. The catch? You needed universal solvents which were super rare to come by unless you used lotro points or had 30g to spend on the Auction House. The initial design was so humongously bad by not allowing the users to choose their essence that they actually changed the method after the test realm closed but before it went live.
The one thing you might not remember from that update was the "buff" to Minas Morgul weeklies. There were 3 weeklies that unlock once you complete the meta quest deed. They gave virtue experience, sigils, and ember. However, Update 25.4 made it possible for you to also get from the instances and - more importantly - Ithilharn Shards. Why is this important? Well when War of Three Peaks came out, you needed a Boaty McBoatface load of them. For those wanting the shiny new gold pocket item, you needed a total of 15 Ithilharn Shards. You needed 10 to buy two crafted relics from the guild leaders. When Update 28.2 came out on December 10, 2020, you needed another 5 Ithilharn Shards for the weapon title (or 10 if you were a hunter). Ironically, 30 shards is about the amount you would get if you did the three quests for a typical time-period for doing weeklies - 10 weeks. That would give you 20,000 ember and just enough time to finish all the instance slayer deeds.
For those who did the quests before the change or those who decided to skip any portion of Minas Morgul, things looked rather bleak. Raiders were up in arms about how they found it devastating to only get 4 shards in 2 hours opening chests or gathering resources with a mere 1 in 50 chance of getting an Ithiharn Shard. The price of shards skyrocketed - eerily similar to how Dwarrogleam Shards went - from 75g to 350g each. They were being sold the instant they were listed on the Auction House. Now that we no longer have the frenzied raiders around to spend their gold, the price has normalized once again around 100g each. The forums were flooded with complaints of "the grind" required to get their characters raid-ready. Although I do agree that 15 shards for the pocket might be overdoing it, it isn't exactly necessary to get unless you successfully pass T3 Bloody Threshold and want to buy another set piece for roughly 8,000 ember (27,000 ember to activate the 4-set ability). In fact, I don't doubt those exact raiders were the ones complaining when the developers included an alternative pocket item during the Summer Festival. I also show no sympathy towards those who complain about the work involved getting more than three characters raid-ready with their multiple legendary items in order to properly weapon swap for higher tiers.
Lotro Market Streamlined (January)
For the longest time, Standing Stone Games has had to deal with various issues and complaints when it came to people buying their product. People had to buy an expansion and wait a given amount of time (on average 24 hours) before receiving their code which was "unconstitutional" as some might put it. Returnees couldn't figure out what expansions they owned since their accounts weren't exactly updating over the years and since some expansions were still being shown in the lotro store (which usually meant there was something they still didn't own in that package). Some pointed at other games that bundled older expansions for a one-time purchase. Others wanted older expansions to be given away once you bought latest one like in Star Wars: Old Republic or World of Warcraft.
We knew something was up on November 25th 2020 when they knocked 50% off all the expansions with a Last Chance notification. Then January 9th 2021, we saw the new changes. Now you get to buy one package with all the previous expansions. No more waiting for a code because they get applied directly to your account! The catch? You are now paying the total price of all the previous expansions instead of being able to buy each one individually. You now have a choice to buy them in the lotro store using lotro points or paying $60 for whatever expansions you might be missing. The original market place where you could buy VIP Gift Cards, Quad Pack, and individual packages are no longer available. I also still don't know if the details under the "Expansion Trove" are correct. The rune-keeper and warden classes are not listed under the Moria portion even though it does specifically list the Skirmish Soldier Trait increase.
Standing Stones Games was very kind during the Pandemic when they let everyone play all the content, including the expansions, freely for 6 months. They even gave away all the quest packs and allowed people to purchase the expansions (except Mordor and Minas Morgul at the time) for 99LP each. But now anyone who is just returning to the game is in deep trouble. Not only did they miss out on a lot of stuff, but now they have to pay full price for it. If that wasn't enough, there isn't a week that goes by that people find out that they no longer have access to their characters. If they didn't transfer their characters within the 4 years they allowed world transfers from the server migration in August 2015, then they aren't able to access them since the last data transfer in October 2019.
Scroll Scare (January - February)
Scrolls of Empowerment is something everybody struggles with once they obtain their level 100 legendary items. The whole process was already so overwhelming that people were constantly hoping for the developers to produce a highly-speculated "LI Revamp" they may have teased over the years. Nothing about this has ever been mentioned or referenced in either 2019 or 2020 Producer's Letters. The only time it was vaguely discussed was during this February 2020 interview when Severlin mentions an "essence-based" legendary system after being interrupted by the weirdest sound at a PAX Meetup. So what did they end up doing after all this time?
Update 28.3: When the initial patch notes came up on Bullroarer, people blew a gasket... and they were right to do so. According to just those notes, they were removing the ability to apply any Scrolls of Empowerment obtained in the original Gondorian zones past the imbuement process. Not just that but "Small Reputation Accelerator Tomes offered on Skirmish Vendors now Bind to character on acquire and have a Max Usage Level of 100." It didn't take long for both Cordovan and Tybur to jump in and say that they were making some more modifications to the original concept. When the patch hit live on January 20th, the only change to Small Reputation Accelerator Tomes was that they were now "Bind to account on acquire" while various other things were adjusted to make gaining scrolls progressively easier as people ventured through each zone instead of trying to gain all the scrolls from the Gondor region.
The changes were adjusted even more - for the better - in the February 1st patch. Not only do you gain 3 scrolls each at the current maximum tier cap of 83 for the daily quests in Vales of Anduin with 300 motes of enchantment, but you can now do the quests twice a week. Let's not forget all those "worthless" Host of the West Silver Pieces you received from North Itihilien and Wastes that can be turned in for 7 Scrolls of Empowerment Tier 74 (2 daily, 5 weekly). Some might fret that not being able to "grind scrolls" from what was considered the easiest source in Minas Tirith is a burden on the game. However, I think Standing Stone Games was "playing catch-up" by allowing people to obtain scrolls organically through each area. The only people this actually hinders are the ones who did not unlock certain areas. Even then, it isn't like there is a lack of sources to get Scrolls of Empowerment. There are plenty of unlimited ones obtained from the Skirmish Camp, Featured Instances, bartering Stars of Merit from Big Battles, exchanging Ithil Coins from Throne of the Dread Terror T2 (or as I call it - Rako's Modern Life), or gaining commodations from the Ettenmoors.
Ill Omens Fiasco (February)
Skirmish Event: Cordovan was pretty quick when it came to posting a new 2021 schedule. If only we knew at the time what this "Skirmish Event" had in store for us. Now, I'm going to preface this by stating that this is the third year for the Ill Omen event. So I have no sympathy for those who complain about "being forced" to go back to complete the Moria and Mirkwood Epic in order to unlock the skirmishes to participate in the event. They complain that the skirmishes are "ultimately boring" and "no reward should ever be tied to them." These are probably the same ones who hate Epic Battles and feel there shouldn't be anything required to unlock something else.
Yet the pot was boiling over when an overly-zealous poster shared to the world what the new rewards were on February 7th. There was a new "portent" that allowed people to increase their damage +39% for 45 seconds every 10 minutes. To give you a comparison of how outrageous that was, not even the captain's Oathbreaker Shame (+35% damage for 20 seconds) could compete with that. Reusable items is certainly nothing new to the game - I still use the item from Dunland - but something about these things being account bound, usable in conjuction with each other, and having a level cap of 140 made them insanely irresistable. This means that you only had to obtain the portent once for all your characters and be able to continue using it far into the next expansion, even the next raid.
Needed Adjustment: Thankfully the developers saw the error of their ways and implemented a patch to fix the issue. I did say the portents hit live, right? The next day Cordovan posted the following changes before the patch rolled out a week into the event. Everyone was quick to call this "a nerf" when seeing the clearly overpowered damage portent lasting a mere 15 seconds instead of 45 seconds, but honestly I felt it was more "a buff" since the +1.3% B/P/E turned into -35% damage and the +13% Morale now heals you for the same amount. They also adjusted the level cap so that it will not be usable in Gundabad endgame. That didn't stop people from complaining about having to do skirmishes for 12 days out of the 27 days on three whole separate characters to get each one of the portents, but I felt that any hormone-induced rage that might have occurred has now officially died down. The only sympathy I have are for those who lost a week during the Texas Ice Storm. Things like this or this would definitely be good reasons not to be able to log into the game.
Wildwood (February - March)
As if I already didn't have a hard enough time distinguishing Wildermore and Mists of Wilderland, they just had to include a new zone called Wildwood. If you didn't have a chance to watch the stream or check out Bullroarer, there is a new level 45 zone coming out in the northwest area of Bree-lands. People have been noticing changes since August and the new dock ports in Buckland, Trader's Wharf, and King's Crossing when War of Three Peaks released also pointed us to some new activity. Along with the new area, they are redoing the overhead maps in the core zones. The zone will include a lot of fun deeds including fighting 10 hidden threats, finding 8 flowers, and completing 10 new missions.
But it seems like no one really cares about the new "trash zone" on Bullroarer (yes, someone actually called it that) or the fact that the Spring Festival has something called "Bee's Big Business" and a new seasonal instance boss fight with Naruhel the Red-maid. No, it seems like the only thing the lotro forum vigilantees care about is how the Remmorchant gear no longer requires the T3 deed. There is a reason why 80% of the toxic posts I used to see on the forums disappeared after ignoring about 50 people. It is like they are missing the whole point of MMO gear progression.
Gundabad Rumors (Future)
Did you know that there were people asking for the Annual Producer's Letter way back in January. It's like they don't realize that it comes out during the Anniversary Event in April or something. I guess they want to hear more about the The River Hobbit race no developer actually said was happening or how "Brawler" was added to all the class filters. Maybe they want to learn more about the next non-human housing district. The last letter we received on April 6th contained a ton of information leading up to the Gundabad expansion. Their road-map wasn't too far off from what was produced either. The only thing that didn't happen was the "new legendary server" for additional challenges (or as I like to call it - "Sauron Server") last Fall. As for Gundabad, well it looks like it was pushed back from the suggested Spring date to Fall 2021. The developers have consistently avoided in mentioning pretty much anything about it. For example, to regards of the level cap increase we know two things: there will be a level increase and level 135 is not expected to be the next level cap increase. Why not just say what the level increase is? Since most of the special abilities on the set pieces have a level 134 limit on them, there is a good chance it will be level 140... but we won't know for sure until they say something.
by Resolina on 2021-03-01 05:35:13
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