In Helm's Deep, even hobbits can be fearsome
I was startled by the announcement that LotRO's newest expansion, Helm's Deep, will be released November 18th. With the Beta only started a few weeks ago, I was hoping the devs would take some extra time to polish the new expansion. Especially since I sometimes get the feeling that Helm's Deep will make or break the game.
Dooooom and stuff
As an active LotRO player since the game's launching year, 2007, I can say that the in-game world of my server Gilrain hasn't been as quiet as it is now. The autumn days of the Mirkwood expansion was the last time I experienced something like this, but then Free-to-play managed to save the game from its difficult situation by attracting many new players. Nowadays, I'm not only bothered by the 'Snowbourn movers' (people moving to that higher populated EU server) and the silence in the world of Middle-earth, but also by the online silence in the blogosphere. Over the last year, I've noticed a massive decrease in active LotRO fan blogs, not to mention its largest, A Casual Stroll To Mordor, changing its title into Casually Strolling Through MMOs. I don't want to be overly negative here, but let's just say Helm's Deep better be darn good.
I personally had to giggle a bit at the "Batman style" voice over and music combined with the kinda cute old style LotRO design there. Oh oh, trailer designers...
what I was expecting of Riders of Rohan and whether to pre-order the expensive legendary edition or the cheaper version of the expansion, I now find myself torn by the question if I should buy Helm's Deep at all.
Okay, let me clarify here, this doesn't solely have to do with the prices (which are once again very steep). The pre-order options are more or less the same as they were with the Riders of Rohan, with similar prices for a legendary and a basic edition ($59.99/€53,99/£44.99 and $39.99/€35,99/£29.99 respectively). There's a good analysis here on CSTM that I'll point to rather than just replicate the content of the editions here. It suffices to say that the fluff mostly consists of the Amour of the Hammerhand and the Steed of the Hammerhand of which you see the pictures in this post.
My hesitation to pre-order has to do with how much of a Turbine fangirl I am (not so much one).
There will be content that I will certainly enjoy: I'm sure the landscape will be beautiful once again, there will be new quests and a good epic story line. The developers have never let us down there. But do I want to spend so much money just for that? There is something else that has been bothering me.
To my fear, Turbine has declared that Helm's Deep's end game content will consist of 'Big Battles', which sound like huge skirmishes to me. In addition there will be far stretching class changes. While I like good changes, the devs' talent for buggy content makes me very weary. Generally, I get the impression that Turbine has looked at where most money comes from, concluded that it is from casual players, and is now taking the game in that direction. Which is fine if you're a casual player, but for me as an end game player this diminishes my interest in LotRO.
Should you pre-order Helm's Deep?When thinking about all this I realized that there were so many different things to consider.
And then, oh dear, I got a creative attack and had to abuse my Bamboo tablet once more. So here is your very own Horse of Wisdom to determine whether or not to buy Helm's Deep:
Now I'm sure not even this Mearas steed is perfect, but I'm still very much curious as to what decision you ended up with. Me, it was "No, but consider buying with release". Even though that pre-order armour looks so darn sexy (and that on a hobbit).
Although the direction LotRO is heading might not be very pleasant for me personally, I do still feel curious as to find out what Helm's Deep will be like. I might spend my hoard of Turbine Points on the expansion rather than real money. If I'm unlucky and end game and class changes disappoint, I will at least be able to complete the epic story and explore the new landscape.
Many thanks to my friend Ger from Gilrain for offering his services as a handsome hobbit-mannequin-in-armour.