I don’t know what it is, but maybe you’ll know what I’m talking about. You’re leveling in Dunland; maybe it’s your first time or maybe it’s your third. And you’re following all the right steps. You’re letting the Epic Storyline guide you around the zone to different quest hubs, you’re working on quests, killing monsters, and things are going fairly smoothly. Then, all of the sudden BOOM you’re dead. It’s not a slow death either. It’s sudden and it’s unexpected.
“OK,” you think to yourself, “Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention.” So you gather yourself up, maybe you partially or fully remove your Dread, and you head back out to where you were and you start fighting again. And BOOM you’re dead again. Now you’re confused and shaking your head. Why are you suddenly dying so much? Why are things suddenly so much tougher?
Now I can’t say that everyone has experienced this issue. I know for a fact that when I was playing my Guardian through the Dunland areas he didn’t have any problems. But my Champion… Now that’s a different story. Things for my Champion actually started off a bit easier than it did for my Guardian. He swept through most of the content with no issues, but then around level 70 he started to have issues. Suddenly groups of 2 or more mobs on equal level or higher could be an issue for him and signatures could wipe him out in one-on-one fights if I wasn’t watching closely. And dang it, if some of those quests where there are waves of enemies coming at me didn’t have to be attempted several times because I kept dying at the end.
Sure, I could have grouped up for some of it, but a lot of these instances and experiences were in Solo Missions where I couldn’t group up if I wanted to. And besides that, I was fine for the first 5 levels, so what changed? Was there some large difference separating my characters? Well let’s take a look at the primary differences between the characters:
- Guardian in Overpower
- Champion in Fervour
- Guardian wore Anuminas gear until 75, but swapped jewelry out as he leveled.
- Champion wore crafted, reputation rewards, and quest reward gear.
- Some overlapping virtues between characters
- Guardian focused on tanking virtues
- Champion focused on those increasing Might first and then vitality
- Guardian had level 10-12 virtues
- Champion had level 4-5 virtues
- Traits & Skills
- Both had traits aimed at solo/DPS experiences
- Both capable of switching into a “tank” stance at any time
So, to me the biggest discrepancies between the characters were their gear and the virtues.
What about gear? Now, I guess I could have gotten some better gear from doing skirmishes or something of the kind, but to me that feels like moving backwards. I didn’t have any Moria or Mirkwood gear because the character was only level 50 when Isengard was released. I wanted to see Isengard, I guess I could have focused more on Vitality than I did Might, but most of the Isengard gear that has Might on it also has Vitality. Really, in my opinion the gear doesn’t seem to me like the likely culprit.
So is it virtues that really make that big of a difference? If I had leveled up my tanking virtues and then sent my Champion through the zones would he have had an easier time? If so, what should I do when I take my other classes through? Should I swap in some virtues that increase their physical mitigation with the possible loss of some DPS? I guess there is some experimenting that could be done to see how effective this would be, but I’m not sure I’m willing to put in even more time into grinding virtues for my alts.
I also think that this brings us to another issue that I seem to have with Dunland which is how the leveling progression seems to be very linear. Sure, you can skip some areas and come back to them, but in many cases if you hit a wall you have no other option to keep running into it full speed or group up to complete quests that were marked as “solo” (which is not a bad thing). I know that we here at CSTM had a writer that had such a horrible time leveling up their Rune-keeper in Dunland that she actually went back to Mirkwood to level because they were tired of dying and had no other options in Dunland.
So what about you? Have you had any problems in Dunland? Did you get to a point where it seemed that you just started dying suddenly? Did you ever leave Dunland to go level in another zone because you had no options in Dunland? And what kind advice would you offer to players who seem to be having a difficult time surviving the Rise of Isengard?