Siege of Mirkwood - what to expect?
A new level cap
Players will be able to advance their characters to level 65. Where the Moria expansion brought us from 50 to 60, this time it's only a 5 level raise. Apparently, Turbine has learned something. Much of the old content became trivial when Moria launched. This was regarded by a large portion of the player base as a bad move. Angmar, the epicenter of trouble in Eriador, became a trivial place. The epic region was no longer a heart of evil, it was merely a short stop on your way to the Mines.
Wonderfully designed raid instances such as Helegrod and The Rift became trivial. Even though very experienced players had managed to take The Rift's final boss down with a group of 6 in the ending days of the pre-Moria period, it was a challenging and interesting instance. Loosing it to a level cap raise was sad. Hopefully, with this level cap raise, the current raids will not be as trivial. The groups who are currently struggling will find it slightly easier, but it will still be a challenge. That is good.
For now, you will have to do with the little bits of information that have been released. Skirmishes are a new concept. They are instanced battles, available in various group sizes. You can take these battles on solo or 3, 6 or 12 people strong. In addition, you will be given help in the form of a Soldier. This soldier will work much like the pets currently available to Loremasters and Captains. However, unlike pets, Soldiers can be customized!
I haven't been able to find much information on the customization of Soldiers, but customization would suggest that you can set it up to do various things. Everyone who has a Loremaster or Captain knows that the pets aren't exactly the smartest thing about, nor very versatile. Perhaps this soldier system will allow you to make a guardian-like soldier to aid you if you are more of the squishy sort, where the stronger and sturdier classes can opt for damaging soldiers.
Skirmishes will be repeatable instances. Every MMO will have these in some way or form. Yet Skirmishes are, as advertised in the press release, randomized. While I do not believe this will mean random landscapes all the time, perhaps the encounters inside will differ. They will be made available from level 30 upwards, suggesting there will be skirmishes exclusively aimed towards the higher levels, while some are more generic.
One this is fundamentally different from other instances in MMOs however. You will not have to travel to said location to start one. Nor will you have to be in the same place. With a wonderful feature called World Join or Skirmish Join, you will be able to access these Skirmishes everywhere in the world!
I wish I could tell more, but I can't. Later, perhaps.
I think the new expansion can be very interesting. Turbine has announced it will be made available to players as a digital download, with a 20 dollar pricetag. Knowing the dollar to Euro conversion rate that Codemasters usually maintains, I expect our price will be 20 Euro. Funny that.
The Skirmish system sounds very very interesting. Depending on how it will turn out in the real world, it's either going to fail very hard, or keep players interested for a long long time. I think it will depend on the rewards people get from it, combined with the actual randomness.
A thing to note about Skirmishes is the introduction of achievements or statistics. These will be published (if you so desire) on MyLOTRO. However, while the US based players have this feature for a year already, including the PvMP leaderboards introduced with Moria, we in Europe are still waiting for Codemasters to get off their arse and fork out the money to release it to us. It would be very saddening indeed if such features are not given to Europeans because the local publisher is too greedy, when they are already being charged more to play than Turbine's players are.
I will try to find more information on features whenever I can, so come by every once in a while.
There are some movies at youtube interviewing Steefel where he explains how this works in short.
Thinking of it, didn't we have something like this already in a book quest as well? Where you can choose what kind of help you want from a NPC?
I also think raising the level cap to 65 is a great choice. Like you said, it will give the more casual player the chance to see the current raid content, while it still should be challenging.
The changes made to the mounts are nice as well. Much better when we don't have to dismount when we want to enter another instance. Doing emotes on mounts is great as well. Not sure yet about being able to talk/buy stuff mounted. I'm afraid this will cause large groups of mounted players around NPC's, which seems a bit unrealistic and could be annoying as well (try to select the NPC when 20 mounted players stand around him). Besides... I hoped they would get rid of the goats outside of Moria, but instead another goat is added to the game.
Crafting should get more interesting with the changes made to craft legendary items from raw materials and the 4th runic slot, which can contain a crafted runic. All in all, I hope these changes will make the legendary item system somewhat more like I expected it to be before Moria was released.
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