For I am ready to halt, and my sorrow is continually before me.

It seems that every mob now stuns during combat in Lord of the Rings Online’s Rise of Isengard expansion. I can’t begin to describe how annoying and pointless this feels.








What? Oh yes, well, I suppose I could at least try.

My experience with combat in this latest expansion has been one of general annoyance. I’m wondering whether my frustrations are the result of the change in how character stats work, such that my character has yet to accumulate enough newly itemised gear in order to get back to the level of power she once enjoyed. I do know that Wardens are also suffering a little in this expansion (admittedly it’s the sort of suffering the Sultan of Brunei would experience if he found he’d lost a five pound note), something of which Turbine is aware and intend to address in a forthcoming patch. Regardless of my class-specific woes, the number of misses, evades and parries my character experiences when in combat with basic, even-con mobs, has reached quite tiresome levels. The peak moment of heroism was last night, where my character snuck up carefully behind a stationary guard, took careful aim at point blank range, and then powerfully launched a javelin into the ground at the guard’s feet, with my character presumably smacking their forehead on the up-ended spear shaft with the momentum of the follow through. While my character staggered around clutching their head, the guard –after he’d managed to stop laughing– understandably decided to retaliate. Of course what actually happened was the words EVADE popped up on my screen, and I wondered what level of martial arts training this hillman had undertaken to be able to dodge a javelin thrown at his back at point blank range while he was seemingly oblivious to my character’s presence. And then I started to wonder why these supernatural ninja warriors hadn’t already taken over the lands of Middle Earth.

Do I need to talk about the giant slugs which can parry my attacks? I mean, is it really that hard to define an inheritance class of mob, called slug, with the Has_No_Blarmed_Chance_Of_Parrying field set to TRUE? Or perhaps it’s just an indication that it’s time to sharpen the ol’ sword, when a slug successfully uses an eyestalk to perform a parry and counter-riposte to your attack.

The reason for noticing all these niggles is that I’m constantly given time to contemplate them mid-fight, every time an enforced pause is foisted upon me. I’ve mused on the stun as a mechanic before, but the ironic situation is that every time I’m stunned in combat I’m simply being given yet another opportunity to mull and fume over the fact that there’s nothing to do when I’m stunned. Every stun is now a short advert break for how annoying stuns are. Quite frankly I’m seriously considering that this is all just a prelude to Turbine slipping in adverts for the LOTRO Store during the intervening period.

Slug parrying getting you down? Visit the LotRO Store today and pick up a Slug-Be-Gone salt shaker legacy for your legendary weapon of choice, only 250 Turbine points!
We now return you to your regularly scheduled grind…

What is the point of the stun? What?! Kif, I’m asking you a question! In the past I imagine it was a numbers game: someone, somewhere, had a spreadsheet which showed that if you halted play for two seconds every fight, and added all the delays over all the many many fights in which the player would engage, that you could add another day or two to the /played time for a character, which when multiplied by a healthy number of subscribers would probably equate to a second kidney extension to the CEO’s swimming pool.

In a free-to-play game the point becomes more about the fact that it’s unavoidable and, barring the odd class with a long cooldown ability, unbreakable, therefore I have no control in this; it enforces the realisation that, at any point, the game could simply choose to win, and therefore the only reason you experience victory at all is because the game lets you. It doesn’t add any level of peril, because most fights are never anywhere near the level of challenge where a stun might stall your defence for long enough that the mob could kill you. And even if it did, even if the mobs were clever enough to whittle your health low and then pop a stun and finish you off, what of it? All that shows is that the only way for the game to win is to STOP YOU PLAYING YOUR CHARACTER… If you really want me to stop playing your game, just say, I’ll go and find another one. Stuns like this, used consistently and for no tactical reason, are just one of those supreme examples of blasĂ© thoughtlessness that we often see in MMO combat design.

Or so it seems. I’d be very happy for someone at Turbine to explain the stun mechanic to me, to outline why it adds anything to the combat, anything at all, except for extreme annoyance and frustration and downright hair-tearing incredulity on the part of the player. Alas, my only –admittedly cynical– hypothesis for an explanation so far is something along the lines of “This is the sort of tedious trite crap we’re going to be pulling over and over again at the end game, so we thought we’d get in there early and build up your tolerance to it”.

8 thoughts on “For I am ready to halt, and my sorrow is continually before me.

  1. Nils

    Stuns like this, used consistently and for no tactical reason,

    Really, no tactical reason? Maybe they want you to become angry? As you know, angry people can\’t think properly and if you even quit the game, that\’s the ultime victory for the slugs !!

    On a serious note :)
    While I dpo understand you, one could also interpret this as problem of lacking immersion. You expect these mobs to die in a for you satisfying manner? Really? If
    LotR had managed to properly immerse you, you would simply accept that some mobs stun you every now and then. Of course, parrying slugs aren\’t exactly helping with immersion.

  2. vanhemlock

    Twelve years ago, I was boggling at Moss Snakes in Everquest’s Qeynos starting area which routinely delivered the Warrior’s ‘kick’ attack in defiance of all biology.

    I read of parrying slugs and wonder now if we’ve come full circle, or if we’ve merely gone nowhere at all.

  3. Melmoth Post author

    @Nils: I just have trouble seeing a valid reason for an unpreventable inescapable stun. If they want to stop me running then they can snare, if they want to stop me healing myself then they can interrupt. What is the reasoning behind something which entirely prevents me from playing? Especially when it has absolutely no significant impact on the outcome of combat (other than driving me towards rage quitting, you’re right).

    The problem of immersion in the context of a stun is that it forcibly drives the player out of the game; I’d suggest that being forced to stop playing, for any period of time, is a total disconnect, no matter the level of immersion.

    I understand your point, but I can accept other forms of CC being used by mobs, so I don’t think it’s an issue of them having such powers, just this specific type which has no valid use *from an NPC’s perspective*.

    PC’s have stuns in order to lock an NPC out of a fight which the NPC would otherwise likely win. Despite what one might think about this as a form of entertainment (being that it’s essentially an I WIN button), you can’t just invert that mechanic and give stuns to the NPCs, because NPCs don’t care about being locked out of ‘playing’, whereas players (should) do as a general rule.

    @vanhemlock: I’m going for an Ouroboros of design and development which is slowly eating itself.

  4. Docholiday

    I had to laugh about the parrying slug as there a number of those kinds of things that always cause me to wonder how they actually do that :)

    As for the stuns, they are quite annoying but the ones out of nowhere are the most annoying. I didn’t mind it in Moria when there were inductions you could stop (or at least move) but Isengard is a tad out of hand.

    I’ve been using more Wound food to help with disarms, and am curious if there’s some other way to get “mitigate” the stuns? I don’t think there is, but we can always hope.

  5. Capn John

    My Warlock got stunned, mid-cast, by a Bandit in Elwynn Forest a couple of nights ago. At first I thought it was simply server lag catching up with the cast bar, until I tried to cast another Shadow Bolt only to see “You cannot do that while Stunned!” pop up.

    I don’t think I was Stunned so much as Silenced because I could still move; I just couldn’t cast. As in LOTRO the Stun/Silence really was ineffectual, especially for a Warlock, because before I got off another Shadow Bolt my DOTS and Imp had killed the Bandit.

    I’m not bothered by Stuns so much as I am with the other point you brought up, being Mobs completely oblivious to your presence who can dodge a surprise attack from behind that they never saw coming.

  6. Modran

    I’ve been playing Dragon Quest V on the DS recently, and was having a blast using “Sleep” against enemies. That way, quite many of them couldn’t act and I could leisurely wail away on them until all was left was a snoring pile of goo (which in dragon Quest in a monster in itself).
    Then I encountered flying fishes that did the same to me, and I saw THEM leisurely whittling large chunks of my characters’ health while I was but helpless to act.

    On a different note, I encountered Rhino warriors that could up their defense so high I did a measly 1 damage with my fiercest blow. Needless to say, I was enraged.
    Until my priest discovered the same spell, but usable on the entire party.

    I could tell you “do not do unto otters what you don’t want them to do to you”, but I don’t know why otters come in the equation here.

    What I mean is: you can stun them, why couldn’t they? :)

    It’s still infuriating, i’ll give you that.

  7. pkudude99

    EQ2 did this at some point early on — gave nearly every trash mob a 2s stun to use on players, supposedly to increase combat difficulty. It didn’t, just increased player annoyance. The occasional death that occurred from them was if you got a pack of mobs on you that kept you chain-stunned, but that was about it.

    In less than 2 months the stuns were removed from the game due to popular demand and they’ve never returned. I’m surprised no one from Turbine played EQ2 then and witnessed the debacle to know not to repeat it in their own game 5 years later.

    Some boss mobs still have stuns as part of their scripts, but that’s the extent of it. And every class (or nearly any, anyway — with 24 I can’t recall all of them anymore) has either stun resistance, stun break, stun reflect, or abilities that can be used while stunned anyway, so if you know the boss encounters you know when to pop your cooldown. When they’re rare and/or predictable so that the player’s not forced to stop playing, as you say, then they become fun and part of the challenge. But when you’re simply being forced to stop all the time… yeah. Not fun.

  8. Telwyn

    I always felt playing LoTRO like the whole world was a vast disease/poison/wound-inflicting nightmare. So many debuffs, some which last for far too long. The stuns were but one part of a larger strategy of ‘make the player character suffer often!’.

    Plenty of other games have such mechanics but for whatever reason Turbine’s dev’s seem more sadistic than most…

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