LotRO: Running Wild(wood)

I promised last time that I would talk more about Lord of the Rings Online’s new Wildwood zone, so here we are. But before we get into that, can I just gush about how much I’m enjoying the Burglar class? To be fair, all of LotRO’s classes are fun, but I always thought Burg was one of my least favorite. I’m not saying I like it more than the Beorning or Rune-Keeper, but it has a nice, simple rotation, a lot of cooldown tricks to boost your DPS or get you out of trouble, just enough cleave, and stealth is always nice when you just don’t feel like dealing with enemies right now. Plus, the burglar is just so quintessential to Middle-Earth. 

Of course, coming back to this character after a long while, I had to design a new outfit for him. I was going for a well-to-do Hobbit look with this one, inspired, of course, by Bilbo Baggins, when I realized that I was inadvertently cosplaying Scrooge McDuck from the 2017 Ducktales reboot. New Ducktales is a fantastic series with an incredible voice cast — a rare case of a modern reboot that actually outshines its predecessor — so I decided to just run with it. If anyone knows of any 1-H weapons that look like fancy little canes, let me know and I will totally rock those. 

I mused last time about why SSG chose to even create the Wildwood zone in the first place. I have since read a few theories, from the one I gave, that they realized that Angmar is the worst zone in the history of MMOs[citation needed] and people want a way to sidestep it (I always forget that there’s already Forochel to do this, though I guess many people don’t find arctic/snow zones particularly inviting either), to the theory that their metrics showing that a lot of players get bored with the game around that level (anecdotally, I have to say, I do have an inordinate number of characters abandoned around the Misty Mountains) and wanted something fresh and inviting to keep them occupied. Still others pointed out that all of the mobs in this zone drop pages to those books that give you a skill point when you catch ‘em all, not just the humanoids as usual (why did this wasp have a page of The Expert’s Guide to Dirty Fighting? We may never know), and that this may have been designed as a way for players to get all of their skill points in before moving on to Moria without having to farm as hard for them. I feel like if that was the sole purpose, though, it would have been much easier to have the pages just drop from everything in the existing zones. Whatever the reason, it’s still a bit odd, but I’m enjoying having something new to do on an alt that doesn’t require me doing years worth of old content first. 

Wildwood is kind of a strange zone for LotRO, because there isn’t really much of an overarching story going on here as far as I can tell. Certainly nothing tying it to the trilogy. Just a bunch of people (and one random Ent for some reason) hanging out in the middle of nowhere, asking you to do stuff for them. And I do mean in the middle of nowhere; it took some wandering around before I even found any quests, since, if there are breadcrumbs leading you here, I missed them entirely. For anyone else looking, there are quest hubs on the east and west ends, near the borders to Tresselbridge and Evendim, and another smaller one near the very center of the zone. Orcs have taken over a few villages in the area, but, while you get a daily popup quest to kill them and blow up their stuff (seriously, why do their supply crates explode so violently? Are they shipping Star Trek bridge consoles or what?), nobody really seems especially worried about them. Apparently that’s no more urgent than hunting moose. 

Speaking of fighting things, I love that new combat musical cue. It reminds me of some of the vanilla LotRO combat music, but with a twist. Well done as always, Bill Champagne!

The new missions are a bit underwhelming. I’m not sure if the ones in the Three Peaks DLC were any better (I doubt it), but between these and The Further Adventures of Bilbo Baggins, I feel like missions are less like skirmishes, as I was hoping, and more like regular old quests that happen to take place in an instance that scales to your level and group size. It’s not terrible, just not the tentpole feature SSG is touting them as. At least there are a lot of them, so if you do decide to grind missions for currency or levels, it’s not like you’re stuck running the same instance over and over. 

The rewards from these missions aren’t that appealing either. The mining pick weapon skin could be cool for a dwarf, and some of the pets aren’t bad (some of them, like the moose, would have been cooler as mounts, but I’m not surprised since this game is very stingy with any mount that isn’t a new blanket thrown over a boring old horse/pony), but nothing I’m really excited to grind for. There’s some good jewelry in there, I guess, but I’m never that excited by gear I’m going to quickly outlevel anyway. 

It has been a lot of fun getting to know my Burglar again while exploring this new zone. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with him once I’ve outleveled it. Do I want to take him through Moria? I’d really like to get back to my Beorning, who I also love, and push into some content I’ve never seen. And I was just talking to a friend about how much I used to enjoy playing my Captain, who I haven’t played in ages because I level boosted her to Mordor and then couldn’t progress because the TTK and mob density was so ridiculous. Maybe I could grind a level or two in Wildwood missions and give Mordor another try while a little overleveled? I have no shortage of options in LotRO, I just wish I had the time to explore them all.