Don’t Fence Me … Out!July 5, 2009
I haven’t said too much about content gating and LotRO, because previously it didn’t really affect me. I have a fairly fixed group, and we’re nutty enough that doing hard-mode Moria instances 6 times or more to get items isn’t often an issue. In fact it wasn’t an issue for us. We got equipped in good time with a full set of radiance gear from the hard-mode instances, and helped others get bits and pieces too, which is always nice. And indicates that we did the instances quite a lot more than 6 times.
We didn’t really go to The Watcher all that much though, but we’re now hoping to go on a weekly basis. Luckily having the gear already meant we didn’t have to suddenly gear up in order to go. We did, however, have to re-learn the Dark Delvings on hard-mode so we can now help equip some essential kinmates!
In comes Book 8, and more gated content. This time you need +15 radiance items (the previous set is +10), and they come from doing a certain number of runs of the new instances. There’s two 3-mans each of which you need to do 4 times. And a 6-man, which you need to do 7 times. In each, you get items that can be bartered for the radiance piece once you have enough. So this time, the game is mandating how many times you do each instance.
Previously you could go with a mixed group, do a hard-mode instance in Moria and with a lucky roll get a radiance piece. You didn’t have to do the instance 6 times, though most probably did it that often out of politeness. Also, some of the hard-mode runs were very short. Grand Stair is only about 20 mins on hard-mode, Forges about 35-40 frantic minutes – so doing multiple runs didn’t seem too bad.
The new instances involve two 3-mans, and that gives less class flexibility. And they’re tough. Which has good and bad points. On the good side they feel like a real challenge that first time you go through them, and depending on your group make-up. On the bad side, I’m not sure I’d want to do more than two runs in a session. And I’m quite good at going into hardcore mode when it comes to instances and gearing up. With apologies to my casual friends, I know that how I play doesn’t always match the casual brief.
The 6-man instance was pretty fun, and probably the easiest of the new instances. But still I know I need to do it another 6 times. And I’m about to go on holiday for two weeks, so the fear remains that everyone will be fairly bored of it by then, though I know my gang and kin will come help me get through it.
I’m hoping to get at least 1 new radiance piece before I go and be halfway to another. I believe 2 pieces and the rest of the previous radiance set is enough to go to the new raid instance – which we’re going to peek into tonight as an experiment.
I like the flexibility and challenge of offering hard-mode and easy-mode instances, of giving us properly challenging content for 3-man groups which is quite unusual and definitely making for some interesting groupings. But, I do fear that constant gating wouldn’t be my choice, if I had one. I enjoyed the Rift, where everyone could just sign up once they got to level cap and had reasonable (not awesome) traits. I enjoy the Turtle for the same reason, though I find it lame that it’s just one room, one boss, and a 5-min fight.
I miss the easy-access raiding of Shadows of Angmar. It didn’t make the actual fights any easier, Thorog, Thrang and the Balrog properly took us a while to learn. They were just as challenging as The Watcher – and we didn’t need to go through some content over and over and over again, and hope for lucky rolls (if we didn’t happen to have a good group) just so we could walk in the front door. Hopefully Turbine will bear this in mind, but I fear they’ve now thrown their weight squarely against gear acquisition as a key to raiding content.