Wednesday, 16 May 2012

LOTRO: Update 7: first impression

I logged in on Monday evening after Shadows of the Past had been going live and wanted to try some of the new instances. Unfortunately, I logged on far too late, so most people in my kin were already doing things. I could find four others who were up for trying things out, so we went in with a group consisting of a warden, minstrel, captain, champion and lore-master. 

Storm on Methedras
We set up a tier 1 raid mode and went in with five. Apparently we had to go up the mountain with some rangers to stop Gwyllion, the evil old woman of the mountain. We were attacked by funny horned snow trolls, lights and ghosts (an unusual combination in skirmishes), but for the rest it was just another offensive skirmish, in which you had to open gates and survive waves in order to continue. We got to the end fight, were you had to defeat four giant gwiber and protect Saeradan. To be honest, I still don't really have a clue of the fight mechanics. There were some lights and small gwiber as adds at a certain point, I think, but it was all hard to see as the giant gwiber were really blocking my view. Even with five it didn't pose much of a problem, though. It seemed to be a matter of getting them down fast enough in order not to get overrun. Yesterday (Tuesday) I did it again, but failed halfway because we got a gwiber in anti-exploit.

Tips and thoughts:
  • We did not open any gates ourselves, as we were warned by kinnies that this could cause the skirmish to bug out. Instead, we waited for the NPCs to open the gates for us after claiming each banner.
  • In the final fight we tanked the largest gwiber with his back to the group, as he does an AoE firebreath attack. Note that another gwiber (we called him the "acid gwiber") reflects damage.
  • Lore-masters with AoE wound removal (trait Proof Against All Ills) seem to be useful: we encountered groupwide double wounds in the last gwiber fight that hurt a lot.
  • Negative effects on NPCs can currently not be cured (I'm fairly sure we used to be able to). It doesn't work with curing skills such as Knowledge of Cures, nor with salves. Saeradan will need a lot of healing due to the stacks of wounds he might get.
  • The encounter uruk Garzog had some sort of -80% and sometimes even a -100% incoming damage buff. We tried to move him to certain places and try if killing mobs in his vicinity had any effect on him, but failed to find out what his mechanic was. In the end we just turtled him down while fighting other mob groups. He didn't seem to harm us much.
  • My graphics card didn't like Storm on Methedras. There's this horrible snow storm (much like there used to be in Helegrod in the giants part) that made me lag out even with my graphics on low. People with good graphic cards don't have this problem.
Overall: I'm not extremely impressed, as this seems just another easy skirmish but with different surroundings. It's fun for now, as it's something new to do and I haven't figured out all mechanics yet. An advantage of this skirmish is that it gives easy marks in a short time period. It took us about 10-15 minutes to do this in raid mode and I think it gave us about 200 marks.

Picture below: the location of the Methedras skirmish on the map

We also gave Fornost a try, but only had time for one wing. Having completed the whole thing on-level apparently doesn't count, because now with the revamp you have to do each wing in order to open the next one up, much like in Helegrod. This caused us to start with the so called "Water wing". My first impression was that they weren't happy with the former down-to-earth look of the place. You now go in there at night under a blue starry sky, giving everything a strange but colourful glow. We killed some uruks and... there she was: Sara Oakheart! Alright, alright, we'll help you escape, but only because you got a shiny quest ring above  your head. We all actually feel the urge to kill you instead, but it's not allowed. Luckily escorting Oakheart only took some short moments. There was also the old familiar "search through skeletons" quest, which now counted fellowship-wide (win) and there were enough to complete the quest in one go (another win). It used to be such a pain to complete it! So far so good.

We were less happy when we got to the boss room. They changed the place a bit, so there were several platforms with water in between them. The challenge was not to touch the water, and of course the boss was flying all over the place, so we had to follow him. There were pebbles in between the platforms, but we failed right away as someone jumped wrong. After we failed the challenge anyway we practiced some jumping, but it was a real pain. Some spots on pebbles near the edges look solid, but you fall into the water if you step there anyway. You do have to jump from near the edges, though, as you otherwise can't jump far enough. It really seemed impossible to do this correctly, as it just looked buggy. We restarted the fight and instead ranged him down, which took a looong time with only a warden, a lore-master and a champion as "ranged DPS". I must've had the most 'fun' task of the lot. I don't want to think of that poor captain who was just waiting until his Battle-shout was off cooldown all the time and could only spam Words of Courage in between. Luckily there were some adds from time to time to keep us awake.

Overall: the quests are much better this way, but the boss challenge was a nuisance. I don't think I'll be ever doing that again, unless someone needs it for the deed. I need to see the other wings of Fornost before I can say something about Fornost overall.

There seem to be a lot of bugs. I found several by just playing for one night. I'm not sure if all of these are actually bugs, as some are just from heard-say and they're not all in the known issues list. Here's a short scramble:
  • I'm invisible! At least, when I use Light of the Rising Dawn and Cracked Earth (lore-master bug)
  • Negative effects on NPCs cannot be cured (as already mentioned earlier)
  • Opening gates in Storm on Methedras can bug out the skirmish (heard from kinnies)
  • Rune-keepers have been bugging out on Lightning wing in ToO again, being unable to use any skills. Reports sound like the all too familiar old rune-keeper bug that can break characters and the game around you (heard from lotro-wiki friend)
  • The hunter ToO Faron 3-set bonus is broken. It only resets Rain of Arrows and not Split Shot (heard from lotro-wiki friend)
Why can't they just properly test an update like this before releasing it? They had Bullroarer running so they must have known of most of them, but they still released it like this. I don't think a lot of people were expecting update 7 already, at least I didn't, so they surely could've waited a bit and fix things first. Then again, they might have wanted to implement it now in order to not having to do it at the same time as the spring festival (when will they do that anyway, I wonder, it's almost summer).

Unrelated observation: I was excited to read in the patch notes that the eagle's in-combat power buff had been scaled to level. I logged in on my lore-master to find out it's now.... 84. 84 instead of 60, as if people are going to pick the eagle now because of that slight increase. *Sigh*.

I know that loads of people are like "oh a new update, and it's really cool!" etc etc, but I'm not sold that easily. It's fun to have some new content, sure, and I still need to figure out how things work, which is always fun. The overall difficulty seems to be pretty low, though, as it was no problem at all to clear Fornost T2 and Storm on Methedras set as raid skirmish T1 with only five people. And that at our first try, with me as a leader, which is also a big handicap! In my experience, the first time is always harder than later attempts, as you are not sure about what to expect. If it's this easy already at start, it might all just be a total faceroll after a few weeks. I might be wrong on my conclusions though, as the rest of Fornost may still end up being game-breakingly spectacular (you never know). I'm not overly impressed by what I've seen so far, but it's nice to have new content anyway. It will certainly keep me busy for a while.

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