While most people read the announcement of RoR (pronounced RAWR! by me) and thought that it was awesome, I was left with more questions than answers. This is because I recently got added on to CSTM for a PVMP article and have been thinking in PVMP mentality for the last few weeks. I was going to post my first issue of “How to be a Monster” and then RoR got announced. After reading from multiple sites, I could not shake away PVMP questions about RoR. I decided that while the news was still fresh I would write about how this expansion could change PVMP forever.
I first want to talk about the guarantied positives before we move on into the questions of what monster play will be like in this expansion. In the expansion the level cap will be raised ten levels to 85. This gives Creeps a temporary buff because we are automatically promoted to level 85. This allows most Creeps to solo against Freeps without having to worry much about death. This also provides an easy supply of destiny points and infamy for a few weeks. If you have a low level Creep then this will be the best time to try to level them up, even if you only do quests and get maps. Also a lot of Freeps will focus on the new content instead of PVMP. This usually creates a nice peaceful zone where getting quests and maps is easy for all players and the Ettenmoors is under complete control of the Creeps for about a month. These two things create a nice break for both sides from the constant fighting.
A major feature that is getting people excited for RoR is the conformation of mounted combat. I have been looking forward to go into combat as a hunter and shoot enemies from afar since the rumor came out around the time of the RoI expansion was announced a year ago. The big advantage of mounted combat becomes clear whenever an enemy gets close you can just ride away on your horse and pick him off from afar again. I don’t know how they will get a burglar into stealth while mounted because this would imply that the horse is either invisible, or it is sneaking up behind you without a visible rider. Anyway I think you can already tell that if Freeps had mounted combat in PVMP, then it could cause a huge imbalance that would need to be corrected.
The obvious solution is to just simply limit the Freeps from going into the Ettenmoors with their new mounts. This creates a problem, however, if mounted combat is as fun as Turbine claims it is in the interview with Turbine from Massively’s Justin Olivetti. I would not want to leave the new feature just to fight some Creeps in a nearly five year old zone. This could create huge drops in the number of Freeps in the Ettenmoors. However, it could be what Turbine is counting on and would then proceed to make PVMP open to free to play accounts. Opening the zone to free to play Freeps was not previously thought feasible because of the advantage that Freeps have on some servers. The new mounts might even be limited to just Rohan in which case the roll playing excuse would probably be that we were allowed to borrow the armored horses in order to defend Rohan and only Rohan. This would be a clever excuse Turbine could use to justify a decision to keep your mount in Rohan.
Another solution Turbine could use to balance the new mounted combat system would be to give Creeps the chance to have mounted combat. This would allow both sides to use the new feature and keep up the number of people in the Ettenmoors on both sides. The obvious mount, of course, would be wargs. I think many warg players would find this awkward however seeing other people riding things just like you. This could take away some of the specialness of being a warg if every character had a warg under them. This would make the wargs feel like a mount instead of a class. Could you imagine if Turbine announced a new horse class where you only controlled a horse? That would basically be the Freep equivalent of this solution. The only other common creature that has a history of being mounted would be a fell beast. However, having a fell beast would be lore breaking because only Ringwraiths can ride them, even though it would make mounted combat balanced (and would be awesome).
A rumor about a new zone came out around the same time last year as the rumor for mounted combat. While I am not saying that this is going to happen it would solve some problems. If there was a new PVMP zone that was near Rohan, they could create it with mounted combat in mind. Also, how awesome would it be after five years to finally have a new zone for monster play? During the first three expansions Turbine has put monster play to the side in order to advance the Freep adventure. Hopefully the year old rumor is true and we will be getting a new zone to creep in sometime this fall.
Also in the Massively interview with Turbine was another new system that will be coming before RoR (remember it’s RAWR!). It is going to allow Freeps to take their soldiers to any place on the map excluding instances. While Turbine did not say if soldiers would be allowed in PVMP, I could not help but to think about what would happen if this was allowed. I would be okay with allowing Freeps to bring soldiers into the Ettenmoors (or a new zone) but only if the Creeps get to pick what Creep soldiers they get. Since there are six kinds of soldiers on the Freep side there would need to be an equal amount on the Creep side.
Some people would argue that Creeps are a little under powered in the Ettenmoors so I think that Creep soldiers should be clearly balanced to the Freep soldiers to keep from other arguments from breaking out. Keeping this in mind, my soldier selection would be a lore breaking baby fell beast, evil aurochs (way better then a light bulb), ranged spiders, mounted goblins, baby wargs and armored trolls. Of course Turbine could just save the trouble by not allowing soldiers in the Ettenmoors, and instead make Creeps a little more powerful. If they increased the strength of each Creep class just a little, that would be enough to justify the inclusion of soldiers for Freeps in PVMP, at least for me. Also I think it would be fun having some easier targets for monster players than the normal Freep.
I hope that Turbine will also focus on providing new skills to the Creep side of the game. While we do have a good number of skills it does not even come close to the amount that Freeps have. I find this an unfortunate imbalance of the two sides that could easily be fixed in RoR. We don’t even need more ranks; we just need new low level skills for each monster play class. This alone could be used to balance the current low level fight in PVMP. While all the other changes are possible, this change would be the easiest to implement and could have major balancing effects in the current conflict. I would be surprised if turbine does not give monsters new skills when the level cap is raised in RoR.
I would like to also mention that Justin Olivetti’s interview with Turbine included Turbine saying that giving free to play players the right to play in monster play is an important change of 2011 to LotRO. This could mean that Turbine is looking at PVMP as an important part of the game now and will look at adding in improvements throughout 2012. It will be an interesting year for PVMP and the rest of LotRO. I am excited to have joined the CSTM team at such a big time in LotRO’s life.
See you next week in the first issue of “How to be a Monster”.