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Turbine, Inc. | Play Now
MMORPG | Genre:Fantasy | Status:Final  (rel 04/24/07)  | Pub:Midway Games
PVP:Yes | Distribution:Download,Retail | Retail Price:n/a | Pay Type:Hybrid | Monthly Fee:$14.99
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Lord of the Rings Online: First Impressions of Mines of Moria

MMORPG.com Lord of the Rings Online Correspondent Matt McLean writes this overview of his first few hours in the new Lord of the Rings Online expansion.

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Greetings again all you men, dwarves, elves and hobbits (And hello to any Orcs who might be reading as well). My favorite online game (just so you know where my opinion sits), The Lord of the Rings Online (LotRO) has just released its first retail expansion, The Mines of Moria. Yesterday was a monumental day for all of the explorers of Middle-Earth, as it was the first time you could journey fully into Eregion and Moria. Thanks to some crafty scheduling at work, I was able to take yesterday off. So on Monday night, I patched my LotRO client up to date with all the Moria content, and first thing Tuesday morning I logged on to the game. After chatting with a few of my kinship mates, I check the game map for a way to get to Eregion.

After consulting with the map, I discover there are actually a couple of ways to get into Eregion proper. I decide to head towards the Giant Halls south of Rivendell. It’s a pretty straight shot into Eregion from there, and before you know it, I’m in undiscovered country. I roam around Eregion for a while, picking up one of the travel locations early on within Eregion. As more of the map is discovered, I’m really blown away by the vista before me.

Eregion is a landscape of mountains and green grassy areas…rolling hills and crumbling ruins. It’s a beautiful place, and in the distance, you can make out the mountains which house the Mines of Moria. I know that’s what I’m really after, so I head south and east and approach the gate to the Walls of Moria.

Standing beside the entrance to the Walls of Moria is a dwarf who has a ring above his head. As you know, this indicates a quest. As it turns out, it’s the beginning of the Volume II quest line. I get the quest and begin completing the tasks. As it turns out, these tasks have to be completed in order to obtain entry into Moria itself. Inside the Walls of Moria is a fairly small zone which shows many dwarves on an expedition to reopen the Hollis Gate and retake Moria.

After making my way up the hill and around the mountain, I find the infamous Black Pool. This is where the famous Watcher in the Water resides. Some dwarves are around the Hollis Gate, attempting to remove the debris left behind when the Fellowship entered and the Watcher had attacked them. I’m given some tasks to help the dwarves remove the debris.

After I complete a few more tasks, I’m rewarded with my first legendary weapon! As a hunter, I choose the legendary bow option and am immediately rewarded with a pretty cool bow. As a part of the quest rewards, I’m also given a handful of relics, gems and runes to add to the weapon to enhance it. I’m given a quest to find the Forge-Master inside Thorin’s Hall so that he can identify the weapon. I must have it identified before I can equip it.

Legendary weapons are a great new aspect of LotRO that I’ve been looking forward to for months. This gives you the opportunity to create a weapon that’s made specifically for you and you alone. Identifying the weapon lets you see what its legacy is. The legacy of the weapon tells you what special stats that particular weapon gives you. Usually there are anywhere from 3 to 5 different stat modifiers on each weapon. These legacies can be increased as the weapon levels up. The relics, gems and runes that I obtained also increase its stats and bonuses, so I take a moment to pick the three which can help me the most, and equip them. I decide to change out the relic one for another one I obtained, and in so doing, destroyed the first one I equipped. So there’s my first lesson in legendary weapons…never try to un-equip a relic, gem or rune unless you’re sure you want to lose it.

After equipping my legendary bow, I’m given a task to level the weapon up to level 10. With this new legendary weapon system, your weapon levels as you do. With each level, you get points you can spend on increasing the legacy of a particular stat. One of these is the ever-important DPS, or Damage Per Second, of the weapon. As you level the weapon up, you can choose to increase the DPS of the weapon with the available points. Or if you want, you can increase the other parts of the weapon’s legacy. It’s completely customizable!

I head back out into Eregion to complete the dozens of quests there, because for the first time in a long time, I’m gaining XP, or Experience Points. With the Mines of Moria expansion release, Turbine has raised the level cap to 60, so my previous capped out hunter, Givias, can earn XP again. And with each mob I kill, my weapon gains XP as well. My task is to get the weapon to level 10. I get through that in about 2-3 hours, and in so doing, I obtain my 2nd legendary weapon, a one-handed axe! I’m given a few more relics to add on, and so I head to Thorin’s Hall again, get the axe identified, equip the runes, and then equip the weapon!

Upon my legendary bow reaching level 10, I’m able to re-forge the weapon, uncovering yet another part of the weapon’s legacy. This gives me an additional stat modifier that I can increase with the legacy points. All the legacy points are given back to me and I can realign them any way I see fit. You can do this when your legendary weapon reaches levels 10, 20 and 30 (currently the legendary weapon cap). Upon re-forging the weapon, you can also name your weapon anything you like! If you want to name it “Momma’s Boy”, you can. I chose a more lore-appropriate name, Seregril, which is a combination of the Elvish words for “blood” and “gleam”. It’s really very cool to be able to name your weapon, because that gives you that extra layer of personalization that “Etched Black Ash Bow” did not give you.

After I get my two legendary weapons up to speed on their legacy points, I head back to Eregion to complete more quests. Before long, I’ve reached level 51, first in my kinship to do that! There aren’t any additional skills at level 51, so I continue with the leveling. In the meantime, to complete Book I, you have to help some dwarves defeat the Watcher in the Water, and so with my legendary weapon leading the way, we defeat the Watcher and, and with it I’m able to complete Book I of Volume II, and gain access into Moria itself!

There really are no words for the size of this place. As soon as you enter, you’re struck by the colors, the size, the details…everything. I obtain Book II’s starting quest, and head into Moria via the new travel mount, a ram! That’s right, within Moria, you can’t use your horse to travel…but you can use the rams of the dwarves to get to and from place to place. I take a horse to the Dolvin-view and before long, I’m deep into Moria. The epic quest chain takes me to the Chamber of the Crossroads, and there, quite by accident, I fall into a well! The well has me falling about 4-5 seconds, then I zone out. The screen goes into zone switch mode, and when it comes back, I find myself still falling! On the screen, I get a pop-up that says I’ve entered the Waterworks, which is a completely separate zone! I’m still falling, probably another 7-8 seconds, before finally landing in some water, and immediately dying! It was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done in the game.

I retreat (LotRO’s version of resurrection) to the Waterworks hub, and get the ram back to the Dolvin-view. It was quite an experience. Moria has several zones to keep you busy, but many of them are set up for fellowships rather than soloing. I say that because in Moria, it’s very dark and it’s easy to get lost. Having a fellowship there seems the most logical way to explore all that Moria has to offer.

After my night’s sleep, I get up this morning to play for a few more hours, and in so doing, I am able to get my legendary axe up to level 10, and so I head back to the Forge-master to re-forge it. In so doing, I have my axe renamed Beinruth, which is a combination of the Elvish words for “beautiful” and “anger”.

As I return to Eregion for more questing, I realize that I’m nearly halfway to level 52. Now it’s time for me to log off and head back to work. But my mammoth (for me) session of LotRO was one of the most beneficial and enjoyable of my time in the game. I played for roughly 14 hours and really enjoyed myself. I enjoyed the new legendary weapon system and the new areas so much, I didn’t even get a chance to create a new character with one of the two new character classes! I guess that means I’ve got another big game-play session in my near future.

There were a few things that I would say Turbine needs to work on with this release. For some reason, you can’t link legendary weapons in chat at all. With everything else that’s loot in the game, you can link the item in chat so others can see it. For some reason, you can’t do that with legendary weapons. I’m sure this is something that Turbine will address soon. Also while I was questing in Eregion, I noticed a few mobs that were bugged, but nothing overly annoying. And for the first time in a long time, there were tons of players around all vying for the same mobs. Some gamers might find that annoying…not me. I like seeing the area populated with characters…it means the game is coming alive!

Overall, I am really enjoying the new content, especially the legendary weapons and the new areas of the game. I am really looking forward to diving deeper into Moria. On the other side of Moria is Lothlorien, and the elf Galadriel. I can’t wait to meet her! Great job, Turbine!

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