Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Buying Virtues and Stat Tomes in Lotro

This whole issue has been annoying me for a while, so I'm going to have a rant about it but in a fair and considered way I hope. I don't mind paying for content, but the virtue system is more a barrier to play than meaningful character progression, and here's the kicker a free/premium without benefits is effectively paying twice for such a useless system. First they pay to open the trait slots and then they have to buy the content to earn those traits, double-dipping into the players pocket so to speak. All well and good from a business perspective, but it does take away choice from players if they want to for example tank at high level and the trait Innocence is essential, and most other melee characters would do well to have this one too. To get full ranks of Innocence then a player must do 75 quests in the Shire and buy the Trollshaws and Misty Mountains questpacks to ever have a chance of reaching rank 10. Acceptable for one character but for alts it becomes a chore, I'm starting to see this game as more and more alt-unfriendly for example every alt requires to be kindred with iron garrison guards and complete vol2 books 1-6 too, still no easy feats nowadays.

Despite these misgivings especially now the Store is in effect, I still like the idea of virtues just not the way they are implemented currently. When Turbine released skirmishes and allowed deeds to be completed during them, that was a step in the right direction, the player is doing relevant, rewarding and challenging content and choosing to so over going out in the landscape to kill grey difficulty mobs. I'm a fan of skirmishes and as a premium player own all of them but not all the quest packs, so you can tell which I favour. With content split up now, the design should change to provide multiple ways to earn the same virtues.

I'm all for simplifying the virtues too so that each one just affects a single stat or resistance, so Innocence would be melee defence, Empathy would be armour rating, Loyalty would be vitality etc. At present a tank would take all 3 melee defence virtues and 2 of the armour ratings and maybe some variability depending on encounters. To simplify virtues to affect just one stat, only 2 slots are filled by tanking virtues and then the rest are up to the player to choose depending on the mobs or boss the player is going to be facing, whether wound, poison, tactical, ranged, shadow...

Looking at these now simplified virtues there is 5 that affect the primary stats: Discipline, Determination, Loyalty, Idealism and Wisdom. Each of these increase the particular stat for 30 points, but including the now defunct lesser bonuses on other virtues, it's 50 points more or less for rank 10. That's the same as the adding all 5 stat tomes of one type to your character. But the distinction here is crucial, I see the stat tomes as a no-brainer, you buy them and add them to your character forever more, whereas if the proposed virtue system was implemented there is greater restrictions, it's unlikely that all of them will be slotted and maybe only one or two to shore up weaknesses or as a stopgap until primary stats are maxed. If being able to make those decisions when maximising your character is at the heart of many MMORPGs gear progression, then the stat tomes are nothing more than a money-grab without adding anything to play around with.