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PAX East 2010 – Lord of the Rings Online Skirmishes Impressions

Posted by: Tina at 3/29/2010 5:20 PM
Although Turbine admittedly mentioned that timing for PAX was less than desirable in terms of their MMO, Lord of the Rings Online, there was still time to inquire about the latest release of the Siege of Mirkwood expansion and the major new feature of the skirmishes.

A particularly important part of maintaing MMOs as they age is to ensure that older content isn’t missed. Although some of the developers have the task of revamping the lower level areas – including the Low Lands, which I was told was currently under construction – one intriguing new feature that the developers of LOTRO came up with was this skirmish feature. The skirmishes allow you to run through configurable content with ease. While instances have the challenge of meeting in one location with your group, and ensuring you are somewhere near the level range required to tackle it, skirmishes can be set to your specific requests. The level, difficulty, and the size of the group you plan to run with can all be modified.

Another aspect of the skirmishes that keeps the content fresh is the introduction of the solider, or the helper. As you gain skirmish marks (the only real reward to completing skirmishes as monsters do not drop loot), you can decide to use them to level your soldier. Depending on your class, you can choose a class for your solider that will compliment your battle tactics. Therefore, if you’ve already reached the level capacity in LOTRO, you can focus your time on leveling your new companion.

The particular skirmish we ventured through at PAX entailed liberating Bree. By fighting through challenges and maintaining control over the rally points, you can complete all of the objectives in the skirmish. Interestingly, I was point out to the fact that each control point will be guarded by various groups, but they will not remain consistent. Every new skirmish endeavor will result in a semi-random palate of enemies and difficulty, adding to the replayability of this new feature.

This system is contains both the value of replayability as well as being easy to pick up and play. Each skirmish has an average duration time of 30 or 40 minutes, making it less the overbearing MMO time-consumer you might be used to.

Skirmishes give players the ability to tailor their experience and retain the excitement of content that would otherwise become old under a different system. Turbine is working to revamp existing instances to maintain the storyline experience, particularly because they realize that while some raids can be great fun, they lose their challenge as you pass the level range.

Keep your eye on LOTRO, as we are told that they will be making new announcements for the game in time for it’s anniversary next month.