The Shores of Evendim content patch went live for Europe yesterday. Thanks to Turbine / Codemaster's foresight in allowing the patch to be pre-downloaded offline I was able to get into the game with only a minor install delay having downloaded the patch the previous night. Very impressive performance for a major patch day. The forums are full of commentary on the changes. Naturally those with complaints are the most vociferous but it is probably too early to trust anybodies first impressions.
UI scaling was promised but I couldn't find an option to scale the skill buttons. There is a welcome option to scale floaty names. The large fixed floaty names used to obscure all the action in fellowship battles and I generally turned them off. The new scaleable fonts used are not quite as readable as before but at least they can be scaled to the size you want. There has been a number of complaints about Champion damage and combat morale regen getting an undocumented nerf but I have to say I didn't notice this. I did notice that fervour no longer generates the one pip of fervour out of combat that it used to. This means it takes a bit longer to get things kicked off in a battle but it is a minor inconvenience. Throg has re-adjusted his attack sequence to put in an extra fervour generating skill at the start.
I can't say anything at all about the new content because Throg was busy slaying a dragon, a real honest to goodness dragon [Mother of the Valley]. This was Throg's first significant venture in Angmar and he went in with a well balanced fellowship: 2 Guardians, A Hunter, A Burglar, A Minstrel and Champion Throg. The Dwarf had just Dinged lvl 35 and the others varied between 32 and 37.
In my opinion fellowship quests are a high point of Lotro. They are generally well designed and give excellent loot. The difficulty level usually allows any decent pick up group to complete while still keeping them out of the reach of solo players. Throg has had some very successful fellowship encounters with groups consisting of nothing but Champions - using Raw DPS to compensate for lack of defense or healing. This particular quest is at the harder end of the scale however and Throg was gad to have tanks and a healer in the group.
The Matron's lair is reached via a narrow mountain pass infested with giant worms and elite drakes. The Guardians tanked the Minstrel healed and Throg was able to wade in and pile on the damage. It is a great feeling when a group clicks and you are able to do the job your character is designed for.
I was impressed by the versatility of the Burglar character. I had previously known about Burglars stealth, backstabbing and conjunctions but I was surprised to see this burglar off tanking an elite drake who wandered in while the fellowship was engaged in battle. Champion Throg for all his heavy armour would have been shredded by the same drake but the Burglar used a combination of evasion skills to deflect damage and stay alive until the fellowship was ready to relieve him.
The Matron herself was a level 33 master elite with over 11,000 morale. By way of comparison Throg had around 1600 HP at level 34. The Matron was guarded by two level 32 young drake elites, not that she needed guards because her own fiery attack was capable of roasting a character in a couple of breaths. The Gods must have smiled on Throg's fellowship for just as they had planned their attack and were about to rush a dark shadow came over the valley as the FATHER DRAGON flew in. If this mighty beast had wandered by while the group was already engaged it would have meant certain defeat. Luckily the father dragon was giving to prowling and it was an easy job to ambush him on his own and kill him. The father appeared to be at least as capable as the Matron but on his own he was no match for such a strong fellowship.
With daddy dragon out of the way the group tackled the mother. While the strongest Guardian held the the matron's attention the rest of the group took out the young drakes. Finally the entire group rounded on the Matron to deliver the kiling blows. Job done - return to Esteldin for the reward
With all that dragon killing Throg never got a chance to visit the new Evendim region. Perhaps he will wander over there tonight for a look. In having reached level 35 Throg is entitled to purchase a pony so perhaps he will acquire a mount and practise his riding skills on a journey to the new lands.