Thursday, November 27, 2008

Lotro: Where have all the group quests gone?

At level 51 Throg has comleted almost every quest in Northern Eregion as well as Book 1 of Volume 2. I guess he has done about 40 quests and completed 10 or so quest chains. In all of this there was only one group quest (can't recall the name but it involved killing the Elite Master Wood Troll who was responsible for corrupting the holly trees). A few quests mis-labelled "small group" were in fact easily solo-able as they involved killing lone signature mobs only. Where are all the group quests?

I asked in Kin chat and a player who has already got to level 58 (time to empty that bucket Amfi ;)) surprised me by confirming that most of MoM is in fact soloable.


A defining feature of the early days of Lotro for me was the number of great quest chains which started with solo quests and ended in one or more tough group quests with high quality rewards. This pattern persisted through the Lone Lands, North Downs, Trollshaws and into the Misty Mountains. It fell apart a bit in Angmar because the quest chains were a mess originally but that eventually got sorted in the great Angmar Revamp. Even though some folks complained when the ran out of solo quests I loved that system. I found I could keep myself busy soloing the starter quests while keeping an eye on the LFF channel for someone doing a fellowship quest I was ready for. I had some great experiences pugging my way through the mid levels of Lotro this way. It trained folks into grouping and it did engender a co-operative spirit that I believe persists in Lotro to this day.

Of course things became more difficult as the bulk of the population moved on and it became harder to get a group to complete low level fellowship quests. I believe that Turbine subsequently revamped a lot of the lower level stuff to make it soloable in order to overcome this problem. That is understandable but I had hoped that the advent of MoM with everyone levelling up together again might allow them to re-establish the pattern of Quest chains leading to fellowship quests. Sadly it looks like Turbine decided not to do this favouring solo-able content instead.

On the positive side there is always the book quest line which has some great fellowship content and I hear interesting stories of some very enjoyable 3 man instances. There is no room for error in a 3 man group, so I am looking forward to some challenging fun.


Green Armadillo said...

I think you've hit the nail on the head - Turbine does not want to commit to spending the time revamping the content once the leveling push is over.

Personally, I think a lot of the problems with running out of solo content when the game came out were because there simply wasn't enough content in place. The number of group quests were fine, it's just that there weren't enough solo quests for people who missed the leveling curve. I found myself making the haul back and forth between Evendim and the Western Trollshaws way too many times (and this was BEFORE the swift travel route to the east end of the Lone Lands), and it honestly affected my entire impression of the game.

One other point is that they should be a lot more careful about burying group instances at the end of massive solo chains. The main Evendim arc (the one for the gem that Aragorn desperately needs to reforge Narsil but trusts any random idiot who walks into Rivendell to go get for him) was very long and entirely solo until you abruptly get to a 5-player instance that is at the top of the level range for an out-of-the-way zone. Anyone who actually needed to run the instance was probably finished with all the other solo content in the zone, which meant that they weren't going to stay around to look for a group. Given how much time that quest chain took, it was really frustrating to have to abandon it. It should have either been an all-group chain, an all-solo chain, or a SHORT solo chain with the final instance set in the middle of the zone's level range so it was actually possible to find groups for it.

mbp said...

Good point about matching group content to the level range of players in an area. I do think that Turbine got it very right in some areas (Lone Lands and North Downs and the Trollshaws worked great for me) but wrong in others.

Any chance of you coming back to Lotro GA? I notice you are pretty much ensconced in WotLK at the moment and I hear it is good.

Thallian said...

I'm really looking forward to the three man instances. There was one pre-MoM in Angmar somewhere but I never visited it. It had a 'time limit' in that a wall of ghosts or dread or something chased you through the instance slowly. I read about it on the forums and a dev confirmed it but I never managed to find it myself.

mbp said...

I never came across that one Thallian. There's quite a few instances in SoA that I never got around to doing.

Green Armadillo said...

@MBP: I will definitely be paying Middle Earth a visit at some point to see the new solo content. Part of me is inclined to wait for a bit though, for the reasons I mentioned in my previous comment - LOTRO was a much better game as of the first anniversary free retrial than it was when it launched, and I would probably have had much warmer memories of it if I hadn't spent most of the 40's in pre-revamp Angmar, grinding kill deeds and legendary trait pages for exp for lack of content.

I've heard that Lothlorien is relatively sparse at the moment (didn't the devs say they hadn't even implemented the faction yet?), and thus I feel like I might be better off waiting around for a few books to finish up the expansion.

(That said, I'm definitely curious to hear what's going on, both as a player who will probably come back at some point, and as a blogger with interests in how different games do incentives, and thus my increasing visits to blogs for non-WoW games. Wrath is very good - I played to level 80 in the beta and am happily doing it all again on my real main - but it's also looking pretty short, so I'll definitely be branching out in a few months.)