War of Three Peaks Review
War of Three Peaks
March 26th, 2021
Synopsis: It is a little strange when you consider that it has been a whole year since I reviewed the last expansion. Though, you may notice that I'm not dividing this expansion up into a series of different articles like in Minas Morgul. Something was different about this expansion. Standing Stone Games developed what they coined a "mini-expansion" where they deemed there being enough content to be bought using real money instead of offering it for lotro points or free to VIP. For half the price of a typical $40 normal expansion, people could buy 80 missions, an instance, a raid, and large sum of quests. There was also a $60 and $100 bundle on top of the $20 core package for those who wanted the exclusive Boar Mount and Battle-adorned Pig. Sadly, there were major problems with people buying out of the country, buying for other people, or any number of other reasons. At least they gave VIP members a free map table. It was approximately 4 months later since the release on October 22nd, 2020 that it was offered for 1995 Lotro Points on February 18th 2021, which the developers later admitted might have been a little overpriced.
"This must be Three Peaks! Or something. I don't know anything about dwarves." - Resolina
Quests: Normally when an expansion comes out, you tend to see some sort of FAQ detailing all the information regarding bundles like in Mordor and Minas Morgul. War of Three Peaks doesn't seem to have any. The only things we knew were posted on the expansion page the day it was released. It doesn't show what the cosmetics look like, how many quests are contained inside, or even when the expansion was going to be offered for lotro points. I figured it had to be somewhere between Central Gondor 94 quests and Minas Morgul 200+ quests. If we peer at the deed, it actually specifies 90 quests split between both zones. Then there is also the 80 missions contained in the mission deed. That seems like a fair number of quests. So the question we should be asking isn't the number of quests, but what kind of quality are they in. Since the missions are segregated into private instances, let's examine only the quests for the time being. These quests are seperated into two transitions of the landscape.
The main quest chains include:
- Doing your average-day chores with a bunch of dwarves outside the war effort
- Discovering the origins of an unusually friendly bat
- Helping a dwarf that is somehow also a lore-master
- Discovering the true nature of the Angmarrim in the region
- Tracking down the trail of a nefarious researcher
- Checking out the sites
"Today is a good day in the wilds. Bees are buzzing and the birds are singing" - Runi, lore-master.
Quartermaster: Considering that all available quests, deeds, and tasks contribute to the March of Gundabad reputation, there is no need to bother using any reputation tomes. You will come out with a good amount of coins and Ally standing by the time you finish all the quests before the war. The quartermaster is actually there for all those who ask the question "where is the shiny?" You have ports, relics, recipes to craft supply packs for crafted relics (which are actually located at your guild leader), weapon titles, weapon cosmetics that are identical to the housing decorations offered at Minas Ithil tier, teal shields, teal gear, gold pocket items, A War Frame, pets, and now... crafted pets? I didn't see anything in the patch notes about "crafting" pets for 5 shards! Did I mention all of this is account bound?
Battlefield: I understand that the nature of a war zone is supposed to be highly combative, but there are way too many quests that boil down to killing a certain number of mobs. The biggest hurdle I had was how sudden the transition comes. "The War of Three Peaks" region (labeled by the stable-master) occurs almost instantaneously while doing Chapters 3 & 4 of The Legacy of Durin and the Trials of the Dwarves. One moment you are making preparations at certain landmarks and the next the dwarves are being razed by the most competent orc army they have ever seen. If you ask me, they missed a golden opportunity to include some quests that would have preluded the battle. It would have been nice to show how all those ballistas were setup, how the trenches were formed, where the gas came from, the number of dwarves proportioned in each section, or where all those blasted boats came from. At the very least, they could have given us some quests involving a bunch of dwarves digging up all those tunnels. Instead, what do we get?
The war zone quests include:
- Killing Wargs
- Helping dwarves out of the battle
- Killing Orcs
- Assisting the beorning track down enemies
- Killing Goblins
- Putting out fires
- Killing Trolls
"The Angmarim appear to be searching for something, but can't venture close enough without meeting the pointy end of a dwarf-blade." - Rékkur
Additional Content: The good news about the war zone is that there are a lot of extra stuff you could do that isn't required for the quest deed. If you get closer to Gundabad and visit Náin the Slakeless at Drenghól, he will offer you the beginning quest "The Battle of Azgh-buzru" for the fellowship area. Now I feel obligated to tell you that it was possible for my redline captain to complete the fellowship quests by herself (if you don't count Fred the Herald and Shelena the Skirmish Solider), but I definitely needed some assistance and retraiting when it came to the final boss. There are a total of four warbands that you will probably need assistance for to collect on additional coins and scrolls. While you are there collecting that quest, you can also go about collecting the daily quests that include things like singing to depressed dwarves, picking up lost weapons, and carrying an explosive across the field of battle without a single thing touching you.
Leothred: However, there is one awesome quest chain that does sneak through the cracks if you aren't careful. Starting way back in Beorninghus, you will encounter a Rohirric scholar by the name of Leothred that takes you through the history of the region through a series of flashbacks as you visit the ruins in the Vales of Anduin, Wells of Langflood, and Elderslade. You do have the option to skip the Wells of Langflood portion of his quests and continue the expansion portion in Hlithseld if you so desire. Things will come full circle once the scholar meets Frothi, someone equally curious about the true history behind the relationship of dwarves and humans. You will learn much about how everything ties together: The Weeping Warrior, the dragon tooth stored in Erebor, the falling of the human nation, and the missing treasure.
"I could kill him here, take the sword and use it against Scatha." - Karazgar
Instances: Of course, there are certain people who will want to skip the quests and shoot straight for the instances. Although technically classified as an expansion and thereby having at least one instance and one raid, there is no level increase. However, bypassing the natural way of discovering the two places tends to confuse people. Before the battle, you can visit the steps of Gundabad and discover Shakalush, the Stair Battle. However, discovering Amdân Dammul, the Bloody Threshold, requires one to enter the "The War of Three Peaks" zone and venture upwards toward the landscape-version (fellowship area) of Bagûd-mekhem. Although there is a milestone up there where a friendly captain can summon people into the area, getting there on foot is a bit more complicated. The banner that ports you into the zone does not become visible until you finish that portion of the Epic. Even if you somehow managed to stable there from Annâk-khurfu, there is not a stable point behind enemy lines. This means you must travel all the way up on your steed. Before you go rushing into the raid, I'd suggest grabbing the quest from Durin that offers you a nice-looking goat as your reward.
"My Longbeards will be more than enough to slay you, Orc!" - Durin
Overview: Now comes the hard part of the review. Highly controversial since the moment news spread that Eldersdale would not be a quest pack, "missions" are simple private instances with a few minor differences. They are like the resource instances we've seen in many other zones, only without any resources to speak of. It is possible to have another person come with you, complete objectives, and collect on the chest at the end, but there are no mechanics that modify your partner like in the Ettenmoors. Don't be expecting any "loot" like they advertised on their website. You will not be getting any on-level jewelry like in Epic Battles or some bounty for your trouble like in Skirmishes. There is a chest, but it only rewards you with 1-3 war-marks. Two dwarves will offer a total of 8 missions that will change everyday for a total of 10 days. There is also one "story mission" you can do for every reputation tier. Unlike the others, these can only be done once and contain phenomenal voice acting (especially from your female dwarf friend, Ausma) with some interesting objectives related to the war.
Purpose: So what is the main purpose of these "missions" that the developers spent so much time developing? MadeOfLions stepped in with his thorough explanation and stated that it was a way to help lower level players "participate in the assault on Gundabad." That's why the missions only appear within the vicinity of Vales of Anduin, Wells of Langflood, Ered Mithrin, and Elderslade. Although his reasoning was sound, it is a pretty hard pill to swallow when they have to pay $20 (or now offered for 1995 lotro points) for an entire package when only a portion of it is available to them. This content isn't made available for VIP unlike something like Askâd-mazal instance that was offered with Wells of Langflood. There is also a problem with what I call the "math of the situation." The initial release of the expansion only awarded you with 500 reputation per mission. Since no deeds give reputation (even the ones that count missions), no wrapper quests contribute to it, and you only get 900 from the 5 story missions, it would take you 40 missions for cosmetic clothes, additional 50 missions for cosmetic weapons, 60 missions for the two pets and goat mount, and a whole 90 more missions for the final story mission and Elderslade Steed. That is a total of 240 Missions! A mountain of missions indeed! Then there is the issue with the Gabil'akkâ War-marks. Story mission gives you 15, completing 20 missions gives you 10 (up to 200 missions), you get 30 for doing all 80 unique missions, turning in a quest gets you 2, opening the chest gets you 1-3, doing three quests for the daily gets you 9, and doing the daily wrapper for four days gets you 30. Don't worry about doing all the math. It simply means that there is a good chance you will cap out of 500 War-marks before having access to a single item. What's the point of doing missions on your alts if you collected everything it has to offer on your main? Now after all that being said, let's take a look at how the mission system was eventually made worth doing after it took the developers 5 months to improve it.
The following changes were made to the mission system since its conception on October 20, 2020:
- Update 28.1 - October 28, 2020: Missions - 'The War Effort: Missions for the Cause (Daily)' and 'The War Effort: Missions for the Cause (Weekly)' are now available to players of all levels at Annâk-khurfu after completing 'Mission: The Main Gates' as a method to earn additional Gabil'akkâ War-marks and Motes of Enchantment for completing Missions.
- Update 28.1.1 - November 3, 2020: Completing any missions quest will now award 5 Motes of Enchantment, in addition to Gabil'akkâ War-marks.
- Update 28.2 - December 10, 2020: New housing items have been added to the Gabil'akkâ Quartermaster [at Friendly or "Uzkhas" Standing] & new housing decorations are available at Kindred for Copper Coins of Gundabad barter [which are a handful of the same decorations you can get from the mission barterer]
- Update 28.3 - January 20, 2021: The quest "March on Gundabad: Additional Steps (Daily)" now awards 2 Scrolls of Empowerment with a max-tier cap of 83. The quest "The War Effort: Threats to the Battlefield" now awards 3 Scrolls of Empowerment with a max-tier cap of 83. [You can contribute to these via the Mission Daily quest offered at the Quartermaster]
- Update 29 - March 17, 2021: 10 new missions available with Wildwood content & "On a Mission (Weekly)" and "On a Continuing Mission (Weekly)" are offered that supplies... a whole ton of different things, including 500 embers for level 130 characters or 500 motes for lower leveled characters.
"Whatever fool finds these two will report that they got into a brawl after drinking too much. It happens all the time among Orcs." - Ausma
Problems: It's abundantly clear the mission system had a lot of problems on release from the lack of rewards to the over-indulgence of war-mark distribution. I initially had most of this review already written up three weeks prior before I started doing missions. That's right, I've been doing three missions everyday for the past four weeks (with the added bonus of a dozen reputation tomes) and I still need to do another three weeks just to obtain the final story mission and steed. This makes the Bullroarer Update 28.3 Preview #1 statement - "Small Reputation Accelerator Tomes offered on Skirmish Vendors now Bind to character on acquire and have a Max Usage Level of 100" - even more terrifying than it already was. But there are a few more problems I haven't mentioned. First off, the 80 Unique Missions Deed is not listed alphabetically, or even by day. Good luck crossing off all those missions on the list since it seems they are arranged by zone. Because of the branching nature of some of the missions, the reward chest will spawn at your original spawning point. In order to properly exit the instance, you also have to talk to the mission retriever that comes up next to the chest. Oh, and you have 2 minutes after completing a mission to collect your rewards. I can tell they tried to make some of these missions fun, but they too have problems of their own. "The Great Goblin's Treasure" requires you to find a lever behind the throne and then collect the chest. "The Riches of Sundergrót" had you finding an ancient key from upstairs, but the chest would not become selectable on the bottom level until you stood on top of it. "Goblins at Stramvárth" is a fun mission involving a bunch of drunken goblins, but you must /point to 2 specific goblins, /bye to the other 2 goblins, and perform the right /dance moves to succeed.
"Walking doesn't hurt as much any more." - Tended Dwarf
Wildwood Missions: The 10 missions offered from Wildwood are vastly different than the 80 from War of Three Peaks. It is almost like they took the advice straight from the forums. The majority of these missions take twice as long and utilize all kinds of mechanics from skirmish flags to area effects. Before whenever you completed any of the dwarf missions, a chest would spawn either at the beginning of the instance or in rare cases directly next to where the final boss was. Now, you have to return to your original location for the chest to spawn and properly exit during some missions or loot it on the rare occasion it does spawn where the final boss is. You are less likely to cap 500 Wildwood tokens now that there isn't any reputation requirement. You only get 2 tokens per mission, 10 for the ten mission weekly, 10 only once for completing each unique mission, and 4 (or 8) for the slayer deeds. Though, the cost for such a sparse number of items is way too high! A minimum of 80 tokens for a level-appropriate teal earring, 150 for the pet (non-bound), and 200 for the steed. This isn't even counting the cosmetics. Don't make me figure out how many missions are required to get everything from a pool of just 10 unique missions.
War of Three Peaks is a wonderful quest pack that suffers from a lack of substance. With the added scrutiny of it only being available to people who purchase the content, the "mini-expansion" loses focus among the chaos. Decreasing the difficulty of both the instance and the raid made it pliable for the average player to complete without frustrating too much about their overall stats. Adding a wide-range of cosmetics, decorations, and gear was also a nice service. Elderslade having some nice landmarks, the expounded conflict between the dwarf factions in the Epic, and the added portion to the Tales of the Scholar were all nice steps to what could have been an awesome addition to the game. But calling it an expansion that caters to people of all levels without increasing the level cap made it all feel frivolous. The majority of the available missions are disjointed, the instances are way too short, and recycling old areas without contributing too much into the battle made it feel smaller in scope than it should have been. What they should have done was flesh out the quests pertaining to the actual tactics you see in the war zone. Instead, the developers looked ahead by establishing a new system that no one asked for to build upon further down the line that ultimately felt hollow until they padded it with rewards they themselves shorted the player to begin with. Looking back at what I experienced, all-in-all I enjoyed what they gave us. I'm simply disappointed that it was only sub-par.
by Resolina on 2021-03-26 01:22:11