Is it time for me to give up on the LotRO Legendary Server?


I’ve accepted the fact that I’m a very intermittent LotRO player. I love the game, and every time I log in after a while away, I think, “Wow, why don’t I play this more?” Then, inevitably, it just doesn’t stick. I have no idea why, that’s just how it is.

When the Legendary Server was announced, I thought for sure this was going to be the time LotRO stuck with me. I was going to learn to play the Warden class, and stick with it this time. And then… I didn’t. The Warden was too frantic, so I rolled a Lore-Master. At that point, not only was I suddenly far behind the pack, I was also starting to lose steam for the game, as so often happens. I eventually dropped my sub in favor of other games. Now Moria, Mirkwood, and Isengard have left me what feels like hopelessly behind. My two highest level characters on the normal servers (not counting a Cappy who I regret level boosting, as she’s stuck in Mordor without enough DPS to get through basic questing) are on either side of Moria (that is, one about to enter Moria and one who just finished it), and I’ve been playing LotRO for years at this point, so the chances that I’m going to just blitz through those three expansions in time for the next unlock seem slim.

On the other hand, the new Stout-Axe Dwarf race just came out, so I would imagine there is no shortage (no pun intended) of lobie dwarves running around Middle-Earth now. Whether I choose to stick with existing characters or make a Stout-Axe of my own, theoretically, there would be a bunch of alts to play with. And I really like my Lore-Master, and my only Lore-Master on the normal servers is much lower level.

Still, if I’m so far behind on current content on the regular servers, why would I play on a server with even slower leveling? At the rate I play, the Legendary server will be caught up to current content by the time I caught up anyway. Plus, as much as I like supporting LotRO, I don’t have to subscribe to play my characters on the regular servers.

I really liked the idea of LotRO’s Legendary server, but, at this point, I think the best my best bet is to wait for the next one (assuming there is a next one).

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LotRO is my WoW Classic


Hey, not sure if you’ve noticed, but a lot of people are playing World of Warcraft Classic. Shocking, I know. As I recently wrote for Massively OP, I never played WoW, but I was interested in giving Classic a try with some friends. I haven’t been converted to Warcraftism, but, weirdly enough, my time in WoW did make me long for The Lord of the Rings Online.

In some ways this shouldn’t be surprising. After all, LotRO did shamelessly steal much of its gameplay mechanics from WoW. Playing a game so similar is bound to stir up old memories. But if I’m turned off by WoW, shouldn’t I be turned off by LotRO?

After thinking about it for a while, I realized why. LotRO has the same effect on me that WoW Classic on my friends. It’s a traditional, tab-target MMO, with mountains of content (no Erebor puns intended), that I played during some of the formative years of my MMO gaming career. Unlike modern WoW, LotRO hasn’t had the budget to do major, Cataclysm-style revamps of the game, so, while it has seen its fair share of controversial updates, the “retail” version of it feels much the same as it did back in its heyday. LotRO is my WoW Classic.

The problem is that I’m still subscribed to WoW Classic. More than once, I’ve logged into LotRO, felt guilty that I’m playing a free-to-play WoW clone while paying for WoW, logged out after an hour, played WoW for half an hour, felt bored, and logged out and played something completely different. This is exactly why I dislike the subscription model, and why it’s bad for the industry as a whole.

Why, you may ask, isn’t Old School RuneScape my WoW Classic? After all, RuneScape was my first MMO, and the thing that I was playing when World of Warcraft Classic and Old School RuneScape were just “World of Warcraft” and “RuneScape.” The answer is… I don’t know. Maybe it’s because RuneScape is from such a different branch of the MMORPG family tree that it doesn’t fire the same nostalgia triggers. Maybe it’s because LotRO has built in so many more quality of life features, whereas OSRS has preserved many of the little annoyances of oldschool MMOs (although, let’s be honest, by 2007, RuneScape had better QoL features than WoW, you just had to earn many of them through levels and/or quests).

Have you ever had a similar experience? Is there a classic MMO that things like the recent WoW nostalgia storm has you longing for?

Five things to do when your MMO feels stale


It happens to us even in our favorite MMOs. Content we enjoyed gets stale. We wind up in a rut. We still feel like playing, but nothing sounds fun. This is different from simply feeling turned off by a game, where we have no will to play at all. So what’s a gamer to do? Here are a few ideas.

Roll a new character

As an altaholic, this is my go-to. A new character in a new class, or even a new style of a class you’ve played but want to make different choices with, can breathe a lot more life into a game. Sadly, this often means either deleting a character or paying money for a new character slot. But I feel that I get a lot of value out of new characters, so I generally don’t mind paying for one.

Just wander

MMOs have rich, beautiful worlds. If you can think of nothing better to do, stop and explore them! Sometimes you’ll stumble onto something you’ve passed by a hundred times but never really noticed, or a hidden nook that you’re never sent to explicitly that has a cool easter egg.

Check things off of your IBNU list

We all have things in life and in games that are important but not urgent (IBNU). It’s a good idea to keep a list of these things and return to them when you have time. When you’re looking for something to do, these things can be a great change of pace and a great way to feel productive.

Help others

Send a quick message to your zone or guild chat and offer to help anyone in need. Sometimes all you need is for someone to make the decision of what to do for you, and you’ll likely make friends in the process.

Play something else for a while

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, or so the old aphorism goes. Sometimes the fact that a game has grown stale is just a sign that you need to step away and play something different before it becomes a chore. Coming back to a game after a long absence has a way of reminding us what we loved about the game — and giving us perspective about its faults.

So what do you do when a game becomes stale? Any tips not on this list?

City of Heroes: Nostalgia for a classic that I never played

One of my great regrets in life is that I never got to play City of Heroes before it tragically shut down well before its time… that is, until a few months ago. In a bizarre series of events, it came to light that a secret City of Heroes server, that you had to know someone on the inside to get an invite to, had been running since the live game shut down, and, after being forced into the light by a YouTube expose, the code was made publicly available and the Homecoming servers were born. Now the people who were running these once secret servers are reportedly in talks with NCsoft to legitimize their claim to the game.

I was trying to explain this to my Elder Scrolls Online guild the other day, and I don’t think they believed me. Quite frankly, I don’t blame them. The whole thing is a little insane. It sounds like the kind of thing someone makes up to get you to install spyware or something. And yet here we are, flying around in our capes and spandex.

If you read my blog, you know that I’m just a bit of an altaholic. So when I found out that this game gives you a thousand character slots, I was in heaven. Nooby, low level, gamer ADHD heaven. I know little to nothing about this game’s META, so thus far I’ve been mostly making characters based on a concept that may or may not result in terrible gameplay. Heroes like Fire at Will, a fire/thermal rad corruptor, The Sandwitch, an earth/dark dominator, and Executive Staff, a staff fighting/willpower scrapper. Yes, the puns just kind of… happen. And they’re getting worse. I made an earth/fire dominator (with the lava rock visual set on earth) named Magma Cum Laude. I’m not even a dad. I think I need help.

The early game experience isn’t the greatest. You start out with only two powers (plus one more if you grab it off of the P2W vendor), so chances are you’re going to spend a lot of time waiting for cooldowns for several levels. But then there comes a point where you start getting really cool powers and everything clicks into place and you get a real feel for how this character is going to play. I’ve made a lot of characters, and some work well, while others don’t. That’s the beauty of this game, though; you can play pretty much any crazy thing you can imagine.

Movement powers become available at level 4 (I’m told the requirement was much higher back in the day, so thanks to whoever made that change!). So far I’ve only tried flight and super jump. Flight is iconic and it feels good to just zoom over everything, but it’s also really slippery. Definitely something to be turned off when you get to your destination, though I do appreciate that you can actually fight while your travel power is toggled on. Super jump will get you most places that flight will, but with a lot more control. Super Speed seems like the most boring travel power to me (I’ve never been quite sure if Big Bang Theory is trying to be ironic, making all of the characters think Aquaman is lame and Flash is cool, but I can’t stand the show so I try not to think too much about it), and teleport freezes you for a strangely long period of time, so flight and super speed are the only two I’m likely to use much. I also think it’s really cool that there isn’t just one “flight” power, but different versions depending on which power pool you take it from; sorcery has mystic flight, for instance. How is it that this game from 2007, that couldn’t even give characters individual fingers, can have this kind of variety of player choice, but modern games seem to find it too difficult?

It’s weird being a noob in this ancient game that has been dead for so long. Most of my playtime has been with the Massively OP crew (check out our streams! Including us failing miserably at robbing a bank!), but I’d like to go through some of the story missions and get to know my characters without the cacophony of flying particles that groups bring. These new servers have popped up at a really bad time for me, materializing just between Guild Wars 2’s season finale and Elder Scrolls Online’s Elsweyr expansion, as well as some non-MMO games, but what I have played has been a lot of fun, and I’m definitely planning on really digging into the game soon. Until then, away I go!

I’m becoming less bothered by mobile game shenanigans

I remember a time, when smartphones were new and novel, that I thought that the original Angry Birds, specifically the free version, was the absolute worst. It had the audacity to show ads between levels. And sometimes banners during the level. And it was a whole dollar to get rid of them. Ah, if only we knew then how bad things could become.

Fast forward to 2019, and I got eye strain from rolling my eyes at everyone being shocked and outraged that the Elder Scrolls mobile game was monetized like a mobile game, with increasingly long wait timers on chests, buildings, and crafting, and green pay-to-win gems offering to help you skip past it all. None of it surprises me, and none of it is half as bad as half of what’s on the Google Play/iOS App Store. What’s the big deal? This seems totally normal and reasonable for a high production value, free-to-play mobile game! I’m way more bothered by the unreasonably long loading screens than the business model.

I can’t decide if I’m bothered by this change of attitude. On the one hand, I feel like I should be up in arms about the trend of exploitative, bait-and-switch monetization that’s taking over games these days. I shouldn’t be playing these games, because, even if I’m not giving them money, I’m supporting them by spending time in their game.

But another part of me feels like this is just how it is now. Me refusing to download a game isn’t going to cause game companies to change their ways. What modern game can you go to these days that isn’t flirting with some kind of frustrating business practices? If the game is fun despite its monetization model, I’ll play it. Or, perhaps more accurately, if a game isn’t so obnoxious in its monetization that I can have fun and not give them money, I’ll play it.

There’s a certain meta-game to trying to get as much out of a free-to-play as you can for little to no money. I remember when LotRO went free-to-play, one of the first to do so, there were a bunch of players who prided themselves on scheming all kinds of ways to get things from the cash shop for free by creating a new character, doing some “easy” low level achievements for the small amount of cash shop currency they rewarded, then deleting that character and starting the whole process over. In Guild Wars 2, people have been similarly farming the free Black Lion chest keys given for completing certain story chapters for years, to the point that ArenaNet has had to come up with several different strategies to thwart key farmers. I’m sure there are tons of examples of this in a wide variety of MMOs, but you get the point.

But is this really fun? Isn’t this just making your MMO into another job? Many have pointed out that you could pick up a few hours at a minimum wage job and earn enough money to buy way more cash shop currency in a lot less time. But, for these people, it’s not about efficiency, it’s about feeling like they gamed the system. Plus, let’s be honest, even repetitive achievement farming is way more fun than flipping burgers.

While I’ve long since given up on this kind of thing in MMOs, this is kind of how I feel about mobile games like Fire Emblem Heroes or Dragalia Lost or Clash Royale. I’m a little embarrassed to even admit that I play gacha-heavy mobile games like that, but, in a way, trying to grind out enough currency to get the best characters for free is the thing that keeps me in the game. Shortcutting by buying currency would take the fun out of it. I feel a little better about Elder Scrolls Blades, because, while a lot of my best gear came from lootboxes, some of it was also crafted from materials I got from quests (and lootboxes), which feels like a decent compromise.

People get really upset over this topic, to the point that I’ve sat on this post for a while before working up the courage to post it. I’ve been told I’m an anti-mobile elitist PC gamer for claiming that competitive games like MOBAs and shooters don’t work on mobile and companies should stop trying to shoehorn them in, and I’ve been called things I don’t care to repeat for daring to suggest that the upcoming mobile Diablo might be a reasonably fun game. This reminds me of a post that Massively OP ran[LINK] recently wherein Tyler made the claim, which seemed pretty innocuous to me, that being an elitist is dumb, so stoppit. The comments immediately erupted with outcries along the lines of “How dare you tell me what to like!” He was not trying to tell us what to like and what not to like, he was pointing out that liking a thing and screaming at people who like that thing are not the only two options. I didn’t think that was an extreme viewpoint, but apparently some people did.

Anyways, enough rabbit trails. What do you think? Has The Industry just worn me down so much that I just don’t see how terrible the games I play are anymore? Or is acceptance of the way things are, and making my own fun regardless, the ideal here?

Thoughts on E3 2019


So, I know the E3 announcements were a week ago, but I wrote this and forgot to publish it. Whoops. It’s not too late, is it? Well it’s my blog so if you don’t like it you can… not read it I guess?

Ah, E3. While it’s not what it once was (PAX has stolen a lot of its thunder, and media-centric cons seem to be less necessary with the rise of social media), it’s still always an exciting time filled with lots of big surprise announcements. Here are a few of my highlights from this year.

Bethesda had a really strong showing last year, but this year was a bit of a letdown. There was no information about Elder Scrolls VI or Starfield, which seems like a mistake to me. Or, perhaps more accurately, the mistake was to reveal both last year if they weren’t going to be ready to say anything about either a year later (especially since they had plenty of other material to talk about last year). Maybe it would have been more impressive if I cared about doom or horror games.
Elder Scrolls Online’s DLC trailer was good (Kamira being epic! Sai Sahan! Even more dragons?), and I’m excited that TES Blades is coming to Switch (I think I’ll enjoy it a lot more there than mobile). I was really excited to see the revival of Commander Keen, even though it looks like mobile garbage. Commander Keen was one of my favorite games as a kid, so if mobile garbage is the first step to convincing Epic that there are people who want a reboot of the originals, I’ll play it. I’m really confused as to why Zenimax Online Studios is handling this, since it looks like something an indie studio could crank out in a year, but, as much as I would love for there to be another AAA MMO on the market, I’m secretly a little relieved that they won’t be pulling too much talent away from ESO for another MMO.

Quite honestly, I didn’t pay much attention to the Square Enix presentation. I’ve recently come to realize that I just don’t care about Final Fantasy. I’m even apathetic toward the Final Fantasy MMOs, which I probably should be excited about. I keep buying Final Fantasy games and then not playing them more than a few hours. I don’t know why, and even stranger is that I enjoy many of the spinoffs like Chrono Trigger and Bravely Default, but actual Final Fantasy games, not so much. And that’s ok; I can’t be into every franchise. So, while I’m happy that other people are hyped for all of the Final Fantasy goodness that Square released, I’m just… not.
I’m not sure how to feel about this Avengers game. Mainly because, like so many trailers and reveals, they told us absolutely nothing about the gameplay. Yes, the story is an important piece, but if the game is just a bland button masher that’s no fun to play, it doesn’t matter. Also, you know there are a lot more than just five avengers, right? It just feels kind of lame when it’s next to Ultimate Alliance 3. I guess they’ll come in DLC.
A lot of people seem to be hating on the Avengers’ character design. I guess people expected them to look like their MCU actors? Maybe it’s because I’ve seen enough non-MCU Marvel media to not feel too tied down to one specific look, but I thought it was fine. If anything, I thought it was too influenced by the movies.
Also, it’s sad that companies have to specify “no lootboxes or pay-to-win” now, to thunderous applause. Good job, you’re doing what used to just be expected?

Finally, the day arrived for Nintendo’s presentation. As a big Nintendo fan, this was my most anticipated presentation, and they did not disappoint. And, as a Super Smash Bros. fan, the new DLC fighter announcement was the part I was most excited for. The Hero(es) from Dragon Quest didn’t get me that excited. I haven’t played the Dragon Quest games, and “anime guy with a sword” is approaching a quarter of the roster now. Granted, my two main characters are among them, but it would be nice to have something with a new and different style. But hey, I’m sure a lot of fans, especially Japanese fans, were excited, and the more characters the merrier. Then, at the end, they surprised us with a second DLC fighter announcement: Banjo-Kazooie! Smash Bros. fans, including this one, have been asking for these guys to be added since the Nintendo 64, but it looked like it was never going to happen since Nintendo sold Rareware to Microsoft a while back. Somehow they worked out a deal, and they look perfect! I’m so excited to play them this Fall!
They crammed a surprising number of ports into this presentation, both from older consoles and contemporary ones. There wasn’t a whole lot that jumped out at me, but the sheer number of titles coming to Switch is impressive.
They brought the stream to a close with a teaser for an unnamed sequel to Breath of the Wild. This was surprising, because Nintendo doesn’t usually move that fast on sequels, especially given that there’s another Zelda game (the Link’s Awakening remake) releasing this year, but BotW is one of their most successful games ever and it’s a lot of what made the system so popular, so I guess they’re hoping to capitalize on it. I’m certainly not going to complain!

What was the biggest surprise? I thought it was more likely that one of these days we’d hear that Phantasy Star Online 2 was shutting down than to hear it was coming to America, but I’m happy to be wrong. I never played the original, but I like the original Phantasy Star games well enough (aside from the weird spelling), and it’s not every day that we get a sci-fi MMO, let alone one attached to a long standing IP.

What am I disappointed that we didn’t see? I already touched on TES6 and Starfield, so there’s that. We also didn’t get any Metroid info. I guess I was expecting that, since Nintendo recently announced that they had scrapped Prime 4 and started over with Metroid Prime’s original studio (which was the right move), but I was hoping for at least a little something. Also there were rumors that the original Prime trilogy was going to be remastered for Switch, but that hasn’t materialized either. We also know that there are some new Mega Man games in the works, but that was also absent. The rumor is that it’s for mobile only, so I’m prepared for disappointment there, but I’m still interested.

ESO: The Day I Became a Kaiju

This is the story of how I became a kaiju. I was playing Elder Scrolls Online the other day, doing the Orcrest instance on my new necro tank along with my wife’s healer. Everything was fine, until, at one point, I noticed that I wasn’t getting buffs correctly. Then I tried to use the Bone Goliath ultimate, which normally makes you turn into a giant armored skeleton. Except, because I wasn’t receiving buffs, I didn’t get the skeleton armor. I just got bigger.

At first it was one of those “Haha, I’m taller than this high elf” things. Surely I’ll go back to normal size after the normal time the buff lasts, right? But then I didn’t. And then, I used Bone Goliath again. And I grew even larger.

…and larger…

I was now approaching Godzilla-level proportions. At this point it was becoming hard to do combat.

So I switched to first person, where I rained down spells on the ants below me.

I became so big that, even zoomed all the way out, my head took up the whole screen.

I used it one last time. At this point it was impossible to do much of anything.

Again, this is zoomed all the way out.

Then I remembered that the inventory screen gives you a zoomed out view of your character (even with the UI turned off).

It turns out it zooms in slowly when you close the inventory screen, which gave me some of the best shots. Here’s the whole instance!

Here are a few screenshots from my wife’s perspective as well:

Here she is inside my foot.

My running animation was messed up too; it was like I was running in place.

So that’s the day I became a kaiju. This is, without a doubt, the best bug I have ever experienced in a video game. Has anyone else ever seen anything like this?