Sunday, April 23, 2017

LotRO's 10th Anniversary Scavenger Hunt

This year marks the 10th Anniversary of LotRO (you know, SSG's [formerly "Turbine's"] "other" MMORPG).  Apparently, there are supposed to be a few things being done in-game and out-of-game to celebrate.  Once such in-game thing is the Anniversary Scavenger Hunt.  The concept is quite brilliant; the implementation...not so much.

The concept is that there will be a series of quests, which are 'divided' into 'years' and that you must complete the previous 'year's quest' before you can get the next.  And similar to "The Ballad of Bingo Boffin" quest-line, each new 'year' will be released the next week.  So, for example, the first week of the scavenger hunt event will release "year 1", the 2nd week "year 2", and so on.  For the next ten weeks, a new 'year' is released until all ten-years are playable.  Additionally, they tell us that the even will be back next year with a 'year 11', and 'year 12' the year after that, etc.

However, the scavenger hunt event will only be around for a limited time, so when it disappears, so do the quests.  BUT - once you complete a quest-year, you won't have to repeat it next time (though if you DON'T complete it, it will be reset).  The inaugural event is scheduled to be around for 12 weeks, so you have a couple of 'extra' weeks to complete all ten-years.

Like a real-world Scavenger Hunt, your character is to travel thither-and-yon collecting various things, visiting various places, and/or defeating various (named) mobs.  The idea is to 'recall' some of the various adventures and locations that you might have traveled while playing LotRO over the past 10-years (or however long you may have been playing it).

As I said - a brilliant concept.

Now, if that is all you knew about the event, what would you're expectations be about the various 'years' quest-lines?

Here are some of my assumptions and expectations:
  • Seeing as how it is celebrating the anniversary of a game, everyone of (nearly) every level would be able to participate in at least some of the quest-lines.
  • I would not expect lower-level players to be able to complete the higher 'year' quest-lines.
  • 'Year 1' would be the easiest quest-line and each new 'year' would get progressively harder (so-to-speak), meaning that you could start at a low level and still complete 'year 1', but you would need to progressively level to take on the newer years.
  • You could do the quest-lines solo, even at lower levels.
Unfortunately, none of these assumptions/expectations seem to be the case.

My highest level character is a L36 Elf Hunter.  I figured I'd run the scavenger hunt event, knowing that most-likely I would only be able to complete maybe up to 'year 5'.  So, I picked it up (your characters get a letter that includes a map that will take you directly to the starting place of the even, namely "The Party Tree" in Hobbiton).  First thing is that there are (3) 'year-quests':  "Year 1 Tales:  Frodo", "Year 1 Travels:  Towering Monuments", and "Year 1 Trifles:  Old Foes".  I figured I'd run through "Tales" and go from there.

There are 11-parts to "Tales":  Gather remembrances in Bag End (0/3); Talk to Lobelia Sackville-Baggins; Pat Farmer Maggot's dog, Grip; Pat Farmer Maggot's dog, Fang; Enjoy a meal in Tom Bombadil's House; Dance on a table in the Prancing Pony; Talk to Frodo in Bilbo's Room in Rivendell; Faint by the Ranger's camp beneath Weathertop; Sit in the chair atop Amon Hen; Defeat fell-spirits in the Dead Marshes (0/6); and Gather remembrances in Henneth Annûn (0/6).

Simple, right?

Well, the first 8, yes - piece of cake.  The last three, not so much.

You see, Amon Hen is located in East Rohan, which is a level 75-85 zone.  On top of that, if you've never been there, you need to travel there by walking or riding a personal mount through all of the other intervening zones - of which there are several, all of various level ranges.  In other words, you cannot use the 'Stable-Masters' to 'quick travel' through zones you've never been to, not-to-mention certain destinations are level-gated.  So even though you can unlock the destinations by clicking on (and 'unlocking') the Stable-Master stations, you still have to be, (for example) level 70 to be able to travel to/use the known Stable-Masters located in East Rohan.

But wait!  It gets better!  The Dead Marshes are a level 100 zone, which means that the "fell-spirits" inside the zone are going to be level 100+ (the current level cap [for player-characters] is 105, I believe).

And Henneth Annûn, while a 'friendly' stronghold (as far as I know), is located in North Ithilien, a "mainly level 105" zone.

So how can a low-level, or even a mid-level, for that matter, character defeat L100+ mobs?  Let alone travel through the high level areas?  Well, you can't - not by yourself.  So what is suggested?  Well, you can always group with a bunch of high-level characters and 'pike' when it comes to fighting.

And if you are unwilling or unable to group with higher level players, then you are just TOOL* and you'll have to wait until you reach the higher levels.

OK, so you pretty much have to be at or near cap to complete "Tales".  What about the other two?  Granted, I didn't even bother starting them, but I did look some things up in the Lotro-Wiki (which is abysmal, compared to the excellent work, organization, and cross-references of the DDO wiki), and many of the "old foes" are (named) L60; and some of the locations in "travels" are also in L100+ zones, such as "The Cross Roads", located in South Ithilien/Gondor (level 100).

So much for making it low-level friendly event.

Now - it is possible to travel to/through high level zones at lower levels, but it is not without peril.  In "chicken play", you are a level 1 chicken and have to travel through several high level zones, including Gondor (for one of the newer chicken quests).  But often 'chicken players' try to travel with high level groups as escorts (though the high level groups do not always know they are escorts).  I have also made some journeys through high-level areas as a low level character.  The best tip I can give is "stick to the (main) road/path".  It is not "safe", but it is often "safer**" than trying to cut across the country side.  But keep an eye out for red dots on the mini-map, and avoid them as much as possible.  However, you also need to know when to break the "stick to the main road/path" rule.

For "Tales", I actually made it all the way down to area surrounding Amon Hen, but I have no idea how to actually get there.  The in-game (and in-wiki) maps are practically worthless, seeing as how that are simply general locations and not detailed at all.  They will let you know what general area you are in and in what direction you are travelling in, but that's about all.  It is one of the most frustrating things about LotRO (for me, anyway).  Granted, I know why they are like they are, but it is still frustrating, at times.

Oh, and one more thing.  When you are defeated in a (much) high level zone than your character, you do not get teleported to the nearest 'safe' zone - you get teleported to the nearest level-appropriate 'safe' zone.  For me, that's Moria, which is several zones away from Rohan.  And since I can use all of the stable-masters to get back into Rohan, I must travel by personal mount*** (or running).

What should have been a fun event to celebrate the 10th Anniversary turned into disappointing and frustrating game sessions.  I tried 3 times to get to Amon Hen before calling it - I did get close, so *maybe* I'll try again, but there's really no point to it, seeing as how I will NEVER be able to defeat (by myself) L100+ 'fell spirits' in the Dead Marshes, so it will remain unfinished (and will reset at the end of the event).

Looking back at how fun and successful DDO's 10th Anniversary event was (and having it 'completeable' by even the very low level toons there), I am completely awestruck (and not in a good way) at how the Scavenger Hunt event was implemented.  And highly disappointed, to.  I should not have to be at or near cap to participate and enjoy a milestone anniversary event, such as this.  But for whatever reason, they decided, "yes, you do."  Which is a shame, really.  But I am not the only one who feels this way, either.  In my opinion, SSG really screwed-up this one.  I just hope the other anniversary 'events' are fun.

So, to summarize:  Concept - "A+"; Execution - "F-".  Which I guess averages out to a "C"?

* "Tough Out-of-Luck".

** Travelling by river can be even 'safer-er' but there's nothing like using the river only to find out there is no way out of the river at the end of it.  So you end up back-tracking to find a way out, and THEN need to avoid the various mobs as you (often) cross-country it back to a main road/path.

*** Unless I use a milestone skill and can then teleport to the milestone.  But I'm not sure if milestones are level-gated or not.  If they are, then you're TOOL*.

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