I checked this morning and have clocked 25 hours played in LotRO – and have just finished Book I and hit level 22 in so doing. Progress has been fairly slow level-wise, because I’m doing pretty much every quest I can find, many well below my own level now. But there appears to be a fair bit left to accomplish in Bree-land – besides which, I don’t have quite enough Turbine Points to buy the next zone.
Which reminds me to ask: if anyone knows of any brick-and-mortar retailers where I can still get a copy of Mines of Moria for a reasonable price, let me know.
I’m finding the game to be very grindy in terms of level progression, perhaps as a side-effect of me doing every last quest. But oddly enough, this isn’t bothering me very much, since I’m getting most of my enjoyment out of exploration and the story arc. Even more oddly, I’m finding myself having a similar experience to what I got out of Vanguard, at its best – where the impetus is on exploring the detailed world rather than on leveling. Like Vanguard, too, LotRO has really beautifully done landscapes and so-so character models. But the structures – buildings and towns and such – are done better here.
I’m also remembering that, in this kind of environment, I actually like grinding, to a point. I’d never want to use that an my exclusive channel for leveling, but I approve of the fact that the game offers some motivation to do so. However, I’m also finding that it’s best to do the grinding of Deeds after finishing all the quests in the zone, because there’s an excellent chance that quests, possibly multiple quests, will send you to kill the same mobs anyway. Largely, I am finishing Deeds up fairly naturally, without going out of my way to find and slaughter mobs on my own.
I also started an alt – a Hobbit Minstrel – with whom to explore one of the other starting areas and confirm that you can get Turbine Points for the same deeds on multiple characters. And also as a second crafter (I chose Explorer) to whom I can channel some of the extra recipes I’m getting. The Shire content that I’ve seen so far (I’ve hit level 10 on the character,) is much more pastoral than that in Ered Luin – a lot of mail and pie delivery quests and whatnot. But there’s mobs to kill in the Shire as well, I just haven’t gotten to them yet.
The biggest issue I’m having right now is with inventory; you collect a lot of little pieces-parts in the game, and a large-ish percentage of them are not worthless. The shared bank, whenever I can afford it, will be an enormous help.
Still having a good time, though. Classes start on Wednesday, so I’ll be devoting less time to gaming from then on. But hopefully I’ll get to still play on a recreational level – the microtransaction model doesn’t offer a disincentive to play at a pace different than all-out.