Monday 26 April 2010

Moderation is a virtue only in those who are thought to have an alternative.

I’m currently buried somewhere at the bottom of an alt orgy in Lord of the Rings Online; being sandwiched between a Lore-master’s staff and a Warden’s spear is not the most comfortable experience I have to confess. Then there’s the Captain, my main character, yelling away from her position on top of us all, possibly because that’s what Captains do a lot, possibly because she’s enjoying herself, or possibly because the Lore-master’s pet bear decided to get in on the action and she’s experiencing the discomforts of having a bare behind with a bear behind. It’s hard to tell from where I’m currently buried, and I’m honestly too busy trying to avoid being smothered to care.

The Lore-master is a fun diversion, but it’s very clear even at these low levels that it’s a very cerebral class, one that requires a lot of micromanagement and precision to play well when solo, and that the biggest rewards will come from playing as part of a group, where you can dictate the flow of battle without having to worry quite so much about orcs deciding that you look like a giant elven fajita, and where your cloth armour offers probably fractionally less protection to your meaty innards than a plain flour tortilla. Soloing is mostly frustrating at these lower levels due to the limited number of attacks that you have, there being primarily one fireball-like ranged attack and one ability to thock them gently with your staff just prior to them tearing your face off, like a little old lady trying to train a starved rabid pit bull by bopping it on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper. That’s not to say the Lore-master doesn’t have a lot of abilities, but when solo, damage is king, and damage is not really what the Lore-master is about. Join a group, however, and you become a God walking among NPC insects.

It’s the Warden that has captured my soloing spirit at the moment, what with the Captain requiring a slow and steady grouting, it’s down to the Warden to kindle the fire of adventure outside of our static Monday night group, and so far it’s doing a wonderful job of it. For starters the class is as innuendo laden as one could hope for, with all its spearing and thrusting and piercing and fisting, and the fact that I wield a huge purple spear… suffice it to say that most of my fights thus far have been awarded an 18 certificate by the BBFC. I’ve decided that I love shield-fighting classes, there’s nothing better than a warrior taking a sodding-great sheet of metal and slamming it into some orc’s face while at the same time having it provide a massive amount of defence, which is an added bonus because as they teach in schools nowadays: if you’re going to run around thrusting your purple spear into the bodies of other individuals, always make sure you’re carrying some protection with you. Honestly, the Warden class is just a walking lesson in sex safety, and I think Turbine should be commended on making something so enjoyable whilst at the same time educational. The Warden isn’t bad solo, but doesn’t really come into their own until the mid-to-late forties, as I understand it, but I think I’m enjoying the class more than the Lore-master because I am, at heart, a pervert. Mind you, I think I prefer melee combat to being a clothie caster too, there’s something satisfying about being all up in the face of your enemy with your purple spear, rather than running away like a loon and fighting a rear-guard action, because, as we all know, failing to guard your rear as a clothie caster generally means that it’s going to get some unwanted action.

It’s an interesting alternative area of adventuring, this altitus of mine: I’m adventuring not in the content of the game but in the classes. It’s about creating a character – helped tremendously by cosmetic outfit options and trait/deed customisation – and seeing how they grow and develop, and LotRO’s classes are all well-rounded and interesting to play, even though some are more specialised than others. I was speaking with Van Hemlock at the weekend, he has a Burglar alt that he dabbles with on occasion, and the way he described the class makes me want to play one of those too.

There are just so many wonderful classes in LotRO that they become content in their own right, and having so many interesting choices combined with levelling content that is polished, effortless and confident in its ability to deliver a smooth playing experience, makes one want to travel there and back again, again and again and again.

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