I moved from Rochester, NY to Dallas, TX a while ago.  It was quite the move.  I went with a friend and she and I alternated driving / sleeping.  27 hours later we unpacked the boxes at my new place.  I’m happy to say that I made it safe and sound … just really, really tired.  🙂  Recently got the Internet back and have set up my LotRO gaming stuff.

After a long time without the Internet, I couldn’t wait to see all the stuff I missed in LotRO while I was traveling, recuperating, or getting to know my new home.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Volume 3, Book 2: The Ride of the Grey Company has players following Aragorn’s Rangers as a continuation of the epic storyline.  The whole thing is soloable and a lot of fun.  Following on the heels of getting the Rangers to the new zone of Endewaith, players are encouraged to help the cause of the Free Peoples by securing allies (including Hobbits!) and hindering the forces of Angmar in the area.

The new zone

Endewaith is a landscape like the moors in places with some deep and scary woodlands and desolate ruins for adventurers to explore.  Amid the sparse hills and wilds, players will be assisting the Grey Company in their attempt to get through the place to help Aragorn in the War of the Ring.  Quests focus on getting the locals to side with the Free Peoples over the forces of Angmar*.  And Angmar’s* goons are also out in force along with local wights, ruffians and other standard fair.  (And yes, there are boars.)

As someone that appreciates geographical eye-candy, I really like the new zone.  It’s put together well with plenty of mobs and quests and some interesting story lines as well.  Turbine has changed a their quest structure a little bit.  There are many first-kill-trinket type quests which I think are kind of neat.  The player kills their first wight, for example, and discovers an ancient rune she should show to a nearby ranger.  The wights are part of other quest lines for the locals but many of them lead back to gathering information for the rangers and the player is constantly reminded of their mission with the trinket drops.

Other than that, it’s pretty much the standard kill-ten-x, click-the-glowy type stuff with a few escort missions thrown in for good measure.  Though I will say that the Huntsman quest line was a lot of fun.

Classic Instances

Ever look back fondly on the old instances you loved leveling up sad in the knowledge that you’d never see them as fun or challenging again?  Then classic instances are for you!  Classic Instances are available in the same section under your regular skirmishes but on a different tab.  Just like skirmishes, you can group up and join one from wherever you are in the world.  There are classic raids like Helegrod and instances like the Great Barrows.  I did a number of these over the weekend and they bring back the old maps and adversaries along with some new fights and challenges along the way.  You can even get supreme tokens for another radiance armor set.

The Store

Store (see the guide for info on using it)  Some neat items.  Note: There are a lot of items, particularly cosmetic items, that are available in game.  Don’t burn yourself out of valuable points for something you could get in game.  You can choose “store exclusive” to see items that are only available from the store.  Of course, it’s all about time and what your time is worth so if you see something in-game but would rather buy it, that’s understandable, but figure out your options first.

And for folks that want to see what stuff looks like before they get it, check out Seekingerin’s guide on the LotRO forums.  She’s done a great job of showing all the new cosmetic items available.

I got a buffs package and a shared storage slot expansion in addition to the hood (very burglary) and new cook’s pack (very hobbity).

F2P and Dynamic Layers

LotRO’s new free-to-play option hasn’t effected me much.  They have added a new feature called Dynamic Layering to cut down on lag a bit.  The idea is that you enter a high-traffic area and get split off into a layer with an optimal number of players on it.  You could be in Bree in proximity of other players that you cannot see because they are on a different layer than you are.  Ideally, if you group with your friends, you can move to the same layer as the group leader by clicking the DL icon in the bottom-right hand side of your screen.  Ideally, that is.  I’ve been following some reports that there are problems with the DL technology.  I haven’t had to use it yet so it hasn’t effected me much.

Another caveat: for folks that like to put on large, public events, dealing with the layering will probably be a challenge for you.  I think it’s probably possible to set up a raid of the people that want to be in the event or possibly even a simple group: person sets up group where the event will occur; person invites people so they can get pulled to the layer of the event; people leave group once they’re there.  That’s my idea, anyway.  I have yet to see it into practice and since I’m not in charge of any large events, it’s unlikely I’ll have the chance.

There have been other odd bugs with the DL stuff.  In one case a kinship member was farming when, due to server load in his area, the dynamic layers kicked in and he found himself in a different layer than the field he had just planted.


* As Thallian notes in the comments, it’s actually Isengard’s forces in this zone, not Angmar.