So now that the NDA has been lifted, I can share a little more openly on my thoughts for this expansion. I mainly focused on the warden and skirmishes but didn’t do any group instances or the raid. I did work through a couple of the questing areas in Mirkwood and overall really enjoy the zone. It is quite big and there’s a very good set of quests through there. So I’ll try to cover the areas that I saw and what I focused on.
By far, this is THE feature that makes the expansion for me. These are all sorts of fun and provide a good option for alternative experiences. One option that I haven’t seen talked about as much is that in addition to the normal skirmishes there’s a “survival” mode which really are lots of fun. Basically you’re in a losing battle and try to last as long as you can – basically a skirmish made especially for us wardens 😉 I really enjoy the mark system and I think it is a good balance of the rewards. Without skirmishes there’s no way this counts as an expansion, but with this system in place and them using it going forward in the Epic line it is really exciting for the overall game-play mechanic.
This was a bit of a roller-coaster but overall I like the new feel. Wardens are basically a tad faster on the gambit builders but I didn’t feel as much of a difference on that toon as I did on my captain. Power was a bit of a concern with the new system but I think you just need to adjust a bit with the new flow. The weapon normalization is rather disappointing as I would’ve liked some options for my toons. Essentially now classes will use the weapons that they (or their race) get bonuses for. I really don’t like the fact that a dagger hits as hard as an axe – I really was hoping they would’ve kept the DPS the same but changed the variance such that a dagger does more constant damage but the axe can have bigger crits. The other good news for wardens is that the spear bug is fixed, and I honestly don’t see a reason to use any other weapon due to the DoT proc potential.
Character stat Changes
One issue that hasn’t been discussed as much (that I’ve seen) is that incoming melee damage is now capped at 15% (equivalent, it now is a rating). In addition some items/traits have been reduced to be not as effective. So essentially it is possible to hit that cap and we might need to re-consider our traits (again). Tanis on the LOTRO boards posted another good analysis of the builds during beta and I’m sure he’ll update that again (if he hasn’t already). The main difference is that innocence, zeal, and discipline are no longer as dominant as they used to be. I’ll have to play around a bit more and see what Tanis has to say after some more data.
Also, stats have some different impacts on toons as Will now effects outgoing healing potential – which unfortunately doesn’t apply to us wardens. And you’ll see a pretty good morale boost as our vit now add +5 to morale per point as opposed to +3 currently. Other classes get other similar bonuses, but I forget what they all are.
Across the board, this was the MOST disappointing part of the expansion – if I remember there was only 1 skill mildly useful (minstrel dread removal now applies to the whole group) but otherwise most people won’t even buy it. I know I won’t buy my captain skill (withdraw isn’t even on my toolbar). Now wardens (and hunters) did make out better as we get a port but this is a very cheap skill as well since the Moria port was just a purchased rep reward. No trait progression, no class traits, no new legendaries, nothing for progressing to 65. This part of the expansion is really hard for me to swallow – I just don’t like getting 5 levels for no reason at all.
New Armor Sets
So Az beat me in posting pictures, but mine are a little different in that you’ll notice you can now zoom in on the dressing room. So I won’t post the individual pieces (go to Wizard of Azz for those shots) but the final looks. Also in doing a little stat comparison – here are the numbers between the Mirkwood set compared to my current armor (4 spear-hurler, 6 piece shoulders, and the helm from the mirrors instance)
Total Difference (Mirkwood – current)
- Armor – +352
- Radiance – +100
- Might – +1
- Agility – -121 (holy cow this will hurt)
- Fate – +30
- Will – -57 (not liking this either)
- Vitality – +16
- Morale – +201
- Power – -49
So there are some nice boosts, but overall nothing terribly exciting for me. I have mixed feelings about the look, but the set bonus is horrible. And I think this sentiment is pretty much across the board – the set stats are underwhelming and the set bonuses are worthless.
On the plus side, I absolutely LOVE the look of the head and shoulders of the 3 piece set! And the ranger hood is full of win 😉
For the most part, when it comes to Mirkwood I’m looking forward to it for the skirmishes, epic story line, and the new zone BUT the lack of real character progression in both skills and equipment is a HUGE letdown. Also the new stats and such are another hit for us and will take some time to get used to. This feels very similar to the re-vamp with Moria so I’m sure we’ll get used to it, but it will be a bit hard to get used to at first. It is almost like we’re being moved to 65 to force us to get new weapons and armor to replace mistakes they feel they made with those initial sets. I think I’ll hold off on being totally let down until we see the next step of this progression – notice the armor set is only purple compared to the teals we now have, so we might get something better quite quickly.
Enjoy the snaps, and I’ll see ya in game!