Just when I thought I was out…

they, Blizzard, pull me back in.

Well, us actually.  The annual deal gets us 1) into the beta for the new expansion, and 2) Diablo III.  The wife was always going to get Diablo III.  There’s this cool looking flying mount.  We also got to cash in on the pet codes we got after they cancelled the magazine on us.  And there’s pandas.  Pandas.  (Already reserved my name: Sengxiongmao.)

It’s good.  It’s hard to believe it’s been 8 months since we’d last logged in.  But hopping back in, taking our Orcs up the Highlands, and noticing all the subtle little things (like map & letter reading graphics), and I’ve finally gotten “the Hallowed” achievement completed, I’m glad I’m back.  The wife is too.

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Until the expansion then.

We spent the evening lifting the last of the fog of war in our final maps in Telaria, the world of Rift.

And then we logged off in the Faceless Man’s laboratory.

Neelhtak, here waving, has a sad look on her face.

It’s time, however, to get through the Mines of Moria and beyond and await the Rise of Isengard.

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I scream, you scream, they all scream (but no ice cream)

LotRO calls them “Shouts” and “Cries.”

After the 15th or so it’s just screaming.

Every character appears to have them.  Lots of humanoid mobs appear to have them.

If you play LotRO have you noticed how vocal the world is?  Everyone is yelling.  Goblins in Moria.  Captains, Guardians, Wardens.  Seemingly everyone.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could tone it down some?

How about intimidating a mob with self-doubt imposed by “A Stony Regard” or the chilling feeling they’ll have after getting “The Cold Shoulder” from you?  Ooh, scary.

Or an aggressive taunt issued via “The Snarky Look” or “A Golf Clap?”  (“Gazgar, he mocks you.  Attack him!”)

I think I could enjoy a quieter slaying experience.

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Sneakers broken?

It occurred to me the other night, as I ran through Bree, that in the real world I’d never run like that.  From the bank to the hobby shop.  I could.  I’ve got shoes.  I could make the run.  But I don’t.

Likewise, in Bree, I could walk from the bank to the crafting hall.  I could.  I would use the insert key and slow down to something one might identify as “Not Being Chased by Orcs” speed.  But I don’t.

I guess once it’s someone else doing the running it’s no big deal.  I know if I had an army of minions and we were in a fast paced environment, I’d be very put out if they weren’t running hither and thither at my behest.  “The keeps door has just been smashed down by someone in a holocaust cloak and you’re going to walk to it’s defense??  Don’t get winded and drink plenty of water.  And be safe.”  No, I’d be screaming “RUN YOU FOOLS!  No, the other way!”

Even though the towns are really small in these online games, they’re still way too big to tolerate at a walkers pace.  Rift’s recent update included the ability to ride one’s mount indoors.  Sure, it’s technically possible in real life too, but when you go to meet your racial leader, don’t you think you can do so on foot, and not clop up to them on some horse?  Maybe have some “Show some respect” zones where folks are dismounted, and slowed to a walk.

Bree sure could use some distractions to keep thoughts on track.

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Best served chilled.

This screenshot does not do the actual graphics justice.  The ice here in Iron Pine Peak is so well done.  The frozen lake, with the craters of shattered ice, and the semi-visible sunken ice sheets and ships is simply awesome.

The architecture is unique and well done. Even the simplest of wooden shacks is incredibly nicely rendered.

Rift’s graphics remain the best I’ve seen in any game.

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Nightswimming at the Mines of Moria

Finally we get to the Mines of Moria, the wife and I.

Here is Giselher, waiting for the Watcher to makes his appearance, awed by the harvest moon.  (Maybe you dwarves can throw a few more rocks, you fools.)

Regarding the actual quest, they force us to do it solo.  (Then again, aren’t legends usually born solo?  There are no legendary armies.  There are legendary warriors.  And legendary weapons.)

Nightswimming, remembering that night.
September’s coming soon.
I’m pining for the moon.
And what if there were two
Side by side in orbit
Around the fairest sun?
That bright, tight forever drum
could not describe nightswimming.
-R.E.M.

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There and back again.

LotRO’s next expansion is announced: Rise of Isengard™.

I went Free-to-Play with LotRO months ago.  The wife has maintained her VIP account.

What caught my eye about the announcement was the pre-order perks (which were available immediately):

  • All three Rohirrim Style Mounts with a blanket & emblem in the colours of green, red and white
  • All three sets of matching cosmetic Rohirrim Style armour in the colours of green, red and white
The Mrs. was very much going to be riding in style.  (She pre-ordered.)  This is nice.  Real nice.  I buy sparkly star horses.  To get the matching get-up to go along with some nice barding?  Count me in.  This alone is not having me pre-order the Legendary Edition however.  (The Heroic Edition of the pre-order lets you pick one of the three colors.)

 

  • An in-game title – Guard of the Isen
This game has a lot of titles.  I’m giving up some cool titles to have this one.

  • Access to the Path of the Fellowship Quest Packs including Trollshaws, Eregion, Lothlórien and Moria plus the Mirkwood Quest Pack as a special bonus
  • 1,000 Turbine Points for use in the LOTRO Store
Okay, this is what got me. “Free-to-play” isn’t really.  Unless you can still consider it “playing” when in a quest-driven MMORPG you can’t do the quests.  Not if you don’t pay extra.  When I was a VIP member I blew a lot of my Turbine points getting horses (and a ram) for my four characters.  (Raising 4 gold cash seemed an insurmountable obstacle to horse riding.  Turbine points for the win on that front.)  So, when I went free-to-play I didn’t have a whole lot of Turbine points left for purchasing stuff like, oh, the darn quests.  The quests packs you get with this pre-order, and then the expansion, will last me to the end of the game.  Which is nice.  The Moria quest pack is 595 turbine points, for example.  Like I said, this quests packs included in the Legendary Edition are going to last me a long while.
Pre-Purchase Bonuses
  • A 25% XP Boost for all characters on your account that will last up to level 65
  • All three cosmetic cloaks that match the colour of your armour and mount
The cloak looks nice, does match the outfit and the barding.  But the 25% XP boost till level 65?  That’s real nice.

 

The wife has been soloing lately and managed to get to level 42 or so while I was stuck at 39.  With the xp bonus, and some renewed vigor in the game, I’m now at level 42 to her 44.  And we’re now questing up in overcast and foggy Forochel (a quest pack I’d purchased earlier).

 

So we’re back in LotRO again.  On the path to level 45, on the road to the Mines of Moria, and now Isengard.

 

So it wasn’t a cold day before I started playing again afterall.

 

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