Saturday, November 17, 2012

Quest Pack Review: Riders of Rohan

Turbine's long-awaited expansion which finally takes us into the Mark. Flamed at, cursed at, loved and cherished. The Riders of Rohan expansion caused a lot of emotions to stir up. Forth Eorlingas!





As I've already said in my pre-review, there're 2 ways to approach Rohan. The epic has you go to the East Wall region first, then to the Wold. The intro quest does it the other way around. Either way is fine so do it as you see fit.







Mounted combat won't play a role in this review as it is free (only one trait-line though, I'd recommend people to unlock the others). I'll just say that I love mounted combat on my cappy (light steed) but it seems this depends from class to class. It also plays a pivotal role in some content, though it can be done without.

Quests in Rohan are varied. You'll get the usual kill and collect quests, but these are broken up by a lot of instances and some good old dungeon crawls. Phasing is used extensively and you'll see the world change around you because of the things you (or the Enemy) do.

One thing I can advise you is to complete each exploration deed before you leave an area, as some dungeons are hidden and never pointed to by quests.

The storyline is great. This is epic story (quest type) material here and some stories overlap the entirety of the Eastemnet. Be prepared to curse the enemy and be part of some of the most awesome moments in lotro (The 4 riders chain comes to mind). Nice is that (unlike some epic quests) you're almost never taking forced stupid choices or walking into obvious traps.

Thanks to the graphical update to the game, the game looks better than ever. Riders of Rohan uses all of Turbine's new technology in this department and it's noticeable. The grass waves in the wind and storms come rolling over the plains more realistically.






The areas are varied. Instead of the boring fields of grass you'd expect, the landscape is broken up by ridges, swift currents and mountains. To the north you have Fangorn with all its oldness and eeriness. Thanks to the new excellent soundtrack, the world comes alive like never before.

Warbands (solo->raid)

Roving bands of enemies roam the plains of the Eastemnet. These warbands offer additional challenges to those who wish to take a break from the usual questing. These quests range from solo all the way to the raid warband Bugud.
While the warbands are a cool feature, they suffer from 2 problems:
-Mounted characters are overpowered. This means you'll most likely be able to solo small fellowship and fellowship encounters. Either the mounted mobs should be stronger or the characters should be nerfed.
-Too much people do the raid warband at the same time. Which means you'll maybe get in a hit or 2 and then he'll be dead. Maybe this isn't the case in low population servers.

Aside from those flaws, it's a system that is well implemented and could be a very good addition to the game.

Hytbold (solo)

Once you reach lvl 84, you'll get a mail directing you to the destroyed town of Hytbold. This is the current endgame content until the instance pack is released. Hytbold is a way for solo characters to get raid-ready armour.

Each day (once you accept the Aiding the Eastemnet quest in Hytbold), you'll be able to do 5 quests all over East-Rohan which grant tokens that allow you to rebuild parts and barter for the armour parts. There are  4 quests per city available at a time, but these are taken from a pool of several quests. There's always 1 mounted combat instance, 2 quests that happen in another instance and 1 quest that's (usually) different from the rest (eg: fishing, playing with kids, races,...).

Seeing Hytbold getting revitalized is nice and the armour is decent, but as the only endgame it is somewhat meagre. But combined with the Instance pack from later this year, it could be a nice pastime for in between raids and other group runs.

Price/Value: 3/5 (No instances hurts. It's still a must-have.)
Storyline: 4/5 (Epic storylines. Love, treason, courage,... it's all there.)
Quest Progression: 4/5 (Loads of phasing, less linearity than some other packs. Sometimes you'll need to explore to find some missed quests.)
Atmosphere: 4.5/5 (Variation, awesome locations and some of the best music in the game.)

Overall: 15.5/20
A must-have. East-Rohan has a lot speaking for it. The lack of an instance pack and new stuff to do at endgame hurts the content but it won't be included in the quest pack anyway. (It is included in the expansion.) The content is too easy so far and could use some (optional) difficult content.
Still, Riders of Rohan is one of the best quest packs out there, and the only reason to deter from buying it would be the fact that it's only for those at a high level.

(In hindsight it seems my Isengard quests review was slightly optimistic and I'd give it a 14.5. I'm not gonna go back and change that though.)

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