Monday 15 February 2010

Sickness comes on horseback, but goes away on foot.

I spent the weekend being raided by what seemed like several hundred different virus pick-up groups, as though it was patch weekend in the virus world and I was the new dungeon content. None of them managed to defeat me, I’m happy to report, although one group did get me to about ten percent on Saturday night before my enrage timer kicked in and I dropped a couple of Paracetamol into their midst. The vanquished viruses struggled valiantly on, but once they were flushed out of my nose and the Tissue of Infinite Absorption came into view, they quickly resigned themselves to the inevitable wipe.

In between alternating sips of hot Lemsip and adding more white boulders to the tissue barricade that I was slowly erecting between myself and the rest of the world, I spent a little bit of time running a new character around in Lord of the Rings Online as a bit of an easy and mindless diversion from the interminable attempts at raid progression that were going on within my own body. Turbine really are working wonders on the starter areas of the game, they’ve gone back to several of the early zones now and have tweaked things to make the levelling progress swifter and less painful than it was when the game first launched. There are horse taxi ranks at various halfway points between major quest hubs where before the player had to slowly jog back and forth between said hubs and the objective of the quests found there, which invariably required you to be exactly as far away from any travel route as was computationally possible; now you can grab a handful of quests and then hop on a horse to somewhere that is, if not precisely where you need to be, then somewhere within the same geographical region.

Progression through the Lone Lands has been smoothed out as well, where before there were quests that sent you from one end of the zone to the other and back again, many of which required a fellowship, the progress through the zone is now a gentle wave of predominantly soloable progression running west to east, from the Forsaken Inn on to the new camp near Minas Eriol, via the still central focal point of Ost Guruth, then further east to Dol Vaeg which deals with the undead at Nan Dhelu, and also the Earthkin camp to the south, which sends you further south still, to visit the trolls of Harloeg. And for those who keep their eyes open there’s also a small contingent of dwarves who are having trouble with an excavation they are undertaking, located somewhere between Minos Eriol and Ost Guruth.

Although the Lone Lands is still a fairly drab place to adventure, with wide featureless rolling plains sparsely dotted with the odd ruin, albeit punctuated impressively by the looming imperious presence of Weathertop, with its stone watchtower crown, the actual quest experience is now vastly improved, the player finds themselves having to tread over old ground far less often than before, which helps to alleviate some of the previous frustration resulting from the feeling that one has seen it all before, and can we please move the tour bus of Middle Earth on to the next point of interest please?

So I’d like to give Turbine the KiaSA Hearty Pat On The Back In A Tentative-Yet-Manly ‘Jolly Good Show!’ Fashion To Show That We’re Not Coming On To You Or Anything, Just Trying To Express Our Appreciation Of Your Efforts award for service to new MMO players and alts. They’ll hopefully be pleased with it because it’s a bloody great big trophy, as it needs to be to fit that title on the plaque around its base. I didn’t win KiaSA’s Most Likely To Make Up A Spurious Award With A Title That Is Far Longer Than Really Necessary And Thus Causing All Sorts Of Trouble When Trying To Find A Trophy Large Enough To Fit The Title On The Plaque At Its Base award for three years running for nothing, you know.

Right, time to go and wipe some more raids, it might just be my imagination, but I’m sure I can see the tiny viral NPC vendors rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of more repair bills.

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