Monday, October 22, 2012

Riders of Rohan pre-review

The 15th was the release of Riders of Rohan, Turbine's newest expansion to Lotro. While it is a bit early for a review, it might be interesting to give some first thoughts for those still doubting on whether or not the expansion is worth it. Once I've done all of the content and experienced endgame, I'll be writing a big review.


After waiting for the patch to complete and then a long time at Examine Data in the patcher, I finally found myself logged into my lvl75 captain and ready to explore the new content.

The first new thing I noticed not even being in Rohan yet (not even being in the game yet!) is the new character selection music. It's not bad at all, but I'd have preferred it to be slightly less "epic" and like every other mmo out there. Anyway, that's not why I'm here, I gotta check out Rohan.

mandatory picture of the Argonath
There's 2 ways to get into Rohan (through the epic and through the intro quest) and on this character, I decided I'd follow the epic. Ported to my milestone in Stangard (new icon) and rode north to lothlorien.
One thing I noted during the new epic is that phasing seems to be used more than ever. There are also quite a few interesting session plays, having you witness key points in the story.

Now Rohan isn't all about the epic, that's free anyway. The biggest changes are open tapping, mounted combat and the location of Rohan itself.

Open tapping
Immediately when you enter Rohan and select a mob, you'll be informed that it uses the open tapping system. This boils down to that if you even damage the enemy in the slightest form, you'll get rewarded for it. No need to form a party or wait turns for killing a mob.
While travelling the lands of Rohan, I've seen (and had benefit) from this system quite a lot. Waiting together for a boss to respawn and then just attack him both instead of queueing, killing mobs together on the fly,...
Overall, it seems like a good system (in the short while I played), though I can see why it could be abused.

Mounted combat

Once you get your mount (you'll reach the location from either of the starting points) after doing the rather big    questline for it, you'll notice that it's different than normal mounts. A warsteed handles kinda differently from normal steeds. A good comparison is that of a car. You have acceleration rate, max speed and have speed affecting your turns. You can even drift if you want.

The warsteed tutorial does a good job explaining stuff. First thing I did though was toggling the slowdown upon release option. That really makes a big difference. Fighting enemies on your horse is unlike anything in the game and is great.

The only downside is that it feels a little easy and needs getting used to.

Warbands

Warbands are a group of mobs and a boss riding through the fields of Rohan. They'll be noted with a red arrow on your minimap. Some can be soloed, others are for raid groups. The quests are daily and give boxes (like presents) that contain some random reward. Got a few marks and 5 ore myself but I've heard someone got a horse skin from one.

Rohan

The main attraction may seem like it is mounted combat, but Rohan itself certainly deserves the spotlight. It is open, yet not so open as you may expect. There's forests, open plains, ridges and fast currents. The villages and settlement might seem like they come straight out of Skyrim, but that's just how the style is in the books as well. (And there could be worse comparisons than Skyrim.)

Quests

There are a lot of awesome quest lines in Rohan (at least those I have done). Playing games with kids has to be one of my favorites. The pop-up quests (where you locally accept/complete the quest) are nice as well, offering some quick rewards. Some of the storylines get as awesome as the epic story.

Inventory

-autoloot:
This may not seem like much, but autoloot has to be one of the best things in Rohan. If you ever needed to get to a corpse (as ranged or with one of those fleeing mobs) you'll know it's sometimes impossible to do so without getting agro. This feature also saves a lot of time, especially for ranged classes.

-overflow bag:
This combined with the above is heaven. It's like 50 extra bag slots for free. What it does is this: Every item you pick up after filling your inventory gets put here, where it'll disappear after a 1h timer. This means you can save a lot of space with trophies, crafting ingredients and li's getting stored here until you can make your way to a vault/store/taskboard.

Music

The music by Chance Thomas is great. There're some earwurms among the pieces and thanks to the music change (music won't just get cut off anymore) you get to listen to larger parts of them. The only (personal) gripe I have is the reuse of Tom Bombadil's theme, which I'd rather keep with Tom just so he can have his own track.

Concluding

What I've seen of Rohan entices me to explore more of it. The new systems are definitely a nice addition though they might need a bit tweaking here and there.
Of course, there's still a large part of Rohan I need to explore (in particular Hytbold, the endgame content) and later we'll also get the instances included in the expansion. Rohan will probably get a high score.

Forth Eorlingas!

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