Andang’s Riders of Rohan Beta Experience

September 5, 2012

General

Today I am going to give you a mostly spoiler free look at Riders of Rohan.  I have played over 40 hours in the BETA and I think I have a good feel for Rohan as it stands.  Keep in mind that anything is subject to change because this is a BETA after all.

Let me start by talking about Rohan itself.  Like many other writers before me, I have to say Rohan is huge!  Seriously this place is very expansive and if you go my speed it will likely fill up hours and hours of your time.

One of the things I noticed early on is that now NPCs actually treat us like the heroes we are.  The side quests seem like the epic story and give your character new dimensions.  One story line about half way through starts out normal but then a murder happens.  You literally get to decide which of three NPCs committed the murder and you have to live with that decision and its consequences.  That is just one example of how amazing these new quests are.  Most of the quests seem to really tie in well with Rohan and help pull you in further to the zone.

The Feeling of Rohan

That brings me to my next topic: how Rohan feels.  Rohan feels right.  Feeling like the old zones of the Shire and Bree-land, Rohan pulls players into the world.  I really can’t put into words why Rohan feels right…it just does.

One thing that definitely works in its favor is that the majority of Rohan is very similar, making it feel much more like a zone then several biomes put together.  The player can believe that the zone could exist.  Rohan still has plenty of variety though being one of the few zones that feels big, yet highly detailed.  When I am playing through Rohan, I have no idea what will be over the next hill because Turbine has done a great job to make the zone diverse yet connected.

Settlements in Rohan finally feel alive. They feel very busy with soldiers, men, women and children (yes, there are kids!) moving around the cities. The attention to detail is much higher than previous zones in both objects and materials on screen.

Mounted Combat

Mounted combat is a big question on everyone’s mind with this expansion because Rohan relies so heavily on it.  Starting out mounted combat is a little hard even after the tutorials they give the player.

It is currently really hard to die or fall of a war-steed while in combat.  It is also really easy to run away from enemies if you pull too many because of how fast the mounts are.  While in larger groups, medium and heavy war-steeds seem necessary but if you are just a solo player then picking the light mount is probably right for you.  The light mount also does the highest DPS and so if you find you don’t like mounted combat then the light will get you through it quicker.

Once you get used to it, mounted combat actually feels more normal than a normal mount.  It was very hard going back to a normal mount on the live server after getting used to mounted combat.

While mounted combat will take some time to learn, I highly recommend doing so because mounted combat is my favorite part of LOTRO now (except for maybe the epic story).  It is fun to ride at an enemy, do a few passes and kill it, then ride on to the next one.  You don’t even have to stop to loot enemies because of an auto-loot system.

Mounted combat actually makes normal combat more fun because you now have two kinds of combat and can take a break from one to do another.  I have found that with the addition of mounted combat I can play LOTRO for much longer periods of time without getting bored or worn out.  (This is also likely do to the way Rohan pulls you in as stated above.)

Another improvement with mounted combat is that now multiple players can get credit for a single kill. Every enemy while mounted has this credit system but they are not the only ones getting this update. Now all ground combat elites/bosses can be taken down with multiple players who are not grouped up which really helps speed things up and encourages players to work together.

UI Updates

Turbine has done a good job with the UI to help you understand what is going on while mounted.  There are arrows now to show you where your enemy target is while mounted.  Also now when you do damage to an enemy it will show up on their vitals so that you can see the damage you are doing to an enemy without having to look at the enemy all the time.

About 1/4th of the quests will just pop up when you are in an area with an enemy to help make questing faster and more effective.  It is nice when you are in an area to just get quests instead of the old way where you do a quest and then accept a new one which sends you right back to where you were.

Epic Story

While I am not going to talk about the details of the epic story yet because I don’t want to spoil it, I will be giving you a quick opinion.  The epic story takes you through the breaking of The Fellowship within the first book.  I must say that it is likely the most epic moment so far in the epic (especially if you are fans of the books or movies).  Turbine did a really good job taking players through this story and giving them a good experience.  I have only heard immensely positive things about the epic story and I agree with those opinions after having played through it.

Beta Only Events

Lastly I would like to talk about something special that happened during the BETA.  During the BETA I was watching a MMORPG live stream with “Rowan” Campbell.  When he said that players could come and find him on the live server I did not waste a second and headed over to where they were.

Over the course of an hour I had a special tour from Rowan through Rohan.  We went all over the zone and he helped me get used to mounted combat.  This is likely my favorite moment in LOTRO because what is cooler then riding around Rohan with a developer.

Another cool thing that happened during the BETA was when we all got together for server testing.  We were trying to see how many mounted players in one spot the servers could handle so that Turbine knows where it needs to work before launch.  I have never seen so many horses in LOTRO let alone going into mounted combat with this many players.  It was truly an unforgettable event that was a lot of fun.  I am glad I was in the BETA to test the game and have cool experiences like these in the process.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully I have given my opinion of Rohan without spoiling too much of the game.  It is really a great zone and in my opinion is one of the top five zones in LOTRO.  Of course time could change that opinion but as it stands in the BETA, Rohan is shaping up to be a great addition to LOTRO.

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Avatar of Andang

About Andang

A lifelong Tolkien fan, Andang loves just about anything related to Tolkien. Andang is also a lifelong hardcore gamer with a huge love for any genre of game, as long as it is good. Andang currently writes for A Casual Stroll to Mordor and Middle-Earth Network's Gaming Team. He is also a co-host on Random Fandom, a weekly news podcast here on Middle-Earth Network. You can also find Andang on his YouTube channel and his Facebook page and if all that is not enough he has a twitter as well.

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22 Responses to “Andang’s Riders of Rohan Beta Experience”

  1. Avatar of bluntforce
    bluntforce Says:

    While i thought this was a rather well addressed player experience and very thought out, (without the hint of breaking any secrets hehe), i think you failed to mention a small detail. Especially since it kinda popped up in the last photo of the well written article, the cosmetic mount feature.

    While it was not only thoughtful itself but also enables you to, as demonstrated in the last photo…distinguish the mount with your own styling per se instead of just the grey/white usual warsteed colors.

    i applaud you, yet again andang on another good article!

    Reply

    • Avatar of Andang
      Andang Says:

      I thought about writing on the cosmetic system but currently in BETA it has been changing a lot recently and so my information might be useless once Rohan is finally released. Also I was saving this for the cosmetic experts at CSTM as they would likely do a much better job then me.

      I do like the system though as it offers players literally millions of ways to customize the mount with different skins and colors for each part of the mount.

      Reply

  2. Calder Says:

    Thanks for the write-up. I’m not participating in the beta, so I appreciated being able to read a spoiler-free summary of opinions from a ‘real player’ (as opposed to ‘press player’ write-ups). Cheers.

    Reply

    • Avatar of Andang
      Andang Says:

      If I was reading an artile about a BETA I know I would not want things spoiled but still want to know everything I can and so that is what I tried to do here.

      Reply

  3. Marbazh Says:

    Thanks for the review! Interesting thing about the sharing of the credit for killing an npc even though you were not the first to damage it. No need anymore to move to another area when someone else is clearing an area!

    Do you have any impressions on the updates to Ettenmoors as well?

    Reply

    • Avatar of Andang
      Andang Says:

      I am saving my PvMP impressions till the game goes live as you can’t really tell if changes are good until you get them on the server you normally play on…that being said so far the changes are all great and it should be really improved but I am holding off on an “official opinion” until I get a chance to try it on Landroval.

      Reply

  4. Andared Says:

    Fantastic article! Very detailed and well written (but tactful in it’s avoidance of spoilers). It wouldn’t surprise me if this influenced several more people to pre-order!

    Reply

  5. Shutz Says:

    I think most Lotro players will buy RoR. What astounds me is why a media giant like warner doesn’t expose the game enough to potential new players.
    Great write-up and pics, Andang.

    Reply

    • Avatar of Andang
      Andang Says:

      You make a great point about Warner Bros. seeming to not do enough advirtising to atract new players but they might be doing more then you think. Usually around a month after an expansion comes out for LOTRO they advirtise pretty heavily on most major gameing sites and now that they are on Steam they seem to be getting a huge new audience. That being said, I think they could do more marketing between expansions.

      Reply

      • Shutz Says:

        They probably are doing more than I think, I just don’t see it.
        Your article definitely portrays a game that should have a much bigger slice of the mmorpg pie. I remember almost zero advertising when the trilogy hit tv. With the big guns behind them, I hope they call in some fire when the hobbit starts up hype. Lotro really is a great game and deserves it’s place amongst the top tier. With continued improvements this could last years. Your screenshots show that improvement rather well.
        Thanks again and aloha.

        Reply

        • Avatar of Andang
          Andang Says:

          I really don’t know why LOTRO is not bigger except for people thinking it is just a WOW clone or they just don’t know about it. Serriously when friends ask why I am on CSTM so much I tell them it is because I play LOTRO and they always ask what is that? I have only met two LOTRO fans (and created two) and yet I know at least 50 Tolkien fans.

          The real problem Turbine marketers have right now is that they havn’t really shown off anything that makes LOTRO special. Really mounted combat is the only thing LOTRO is claiming for itself as far as marketing goes. Maybe I am missing something but in my opinion Turbine needs to learn how to show audiences why LOTRO is awesome, not why it is a good MMO. Every MMO on the market tells people it is a good MMO…LOTRO needs to set itself apart.

          I could probly write a whole article on this but the comments is not really the place so I will end it here.

          Reply

  6. AdamKickman Says:

    I couldnt agree more with everything said here, the only question I have.. when you com plete the Law and Order SVU quest (the Murder) it has ramifications.. not going to spoil but I wonder will those ramifications based on our choices start to follow us as we head closer to Mordor. I hope so

    Reply

    • Avatar of Andang
      Andang Says:

      I hope all these choices we have been making come back to give us rewards and grief.

      It would be really, really, really funny though if once Frodo casts the ring into the fire they have a cenematic that shows us all the decisions we made and what happened from them…and be like…turns out that one ranger should have stayed at home all along because he tripped at the top of Minis Tirth durring Aragorn’s celebration party and died…because of you…yes you all because of you…(Vol I spoiler alert) now who will take care of his daughter? Wait what? She died! Oh never mind…carry on then.

      Reply

  7. Daruma Says:

    This is starting to look more and more interesting.

    I think RoR would have gotten much less negative reactions, if Turbine would have started their ‘marketing’ by showing something, instead of just saying: You can buy the Rohan-expansion now, but it’s only half of it. And it will have mounted combat, but we won’t show you …
    I think they really dropped the ball there, but luckily, in the end, it seems to turn out really well.

    Reply

    • Avatar of Andang
      Andang Says:

      The real reason they will not show us is because mounted combat (and the whole game) was not in a showable state. For example just in the last couple of weeks they have changed the skins of NPC’s to their actual skins as apose to place holders…and that is in the BETA. The way the development cycle works for Turbine they really can’t show anything until a month before and even then it has to be limited because almost everything (visually) will change between then and release. This of course makes you wonder why on Earth they start advirtising so early and it must be pressure from Warner Bros. to be at E3.

      Reply

  8. feath Says:

    Can you tell us a bit about slayer deeds in Rohan ?

    Reply

    • Avatar of Andang
      Andang Says:

      I would but there is a history of these changing at last minute. For example with Great River the deeds where normal (terrible grind) but then at last second they changed them to be very managable (how they are now). Also they are still changing enemies’ skins and locaions so I don’t look at the deeds.

      I would hop on the test server and look for you but sadly it is down for an update.

      Reply

      • Avatar of Ethelros
        Ethelros Says:

        Last time I checked(Build 4), the numbers were the same across all mobs.

        First tier = 120
        Second tier = 200

        I believe there were deeds for:

        Orcs
        Uruk-Hai
        Half-Orcs
        Wargs
        Brigands
        Beasts
        Ancient Evil(creatures like wights and twisted beasts)
        Mounted Enemies

        There were possibly more but I cannot check right now.

        Reply

  9. Jacob Says:

    Nice write up and thanks for doing it. I saw that Sapience posted something recently about the developers narrowing down the lag problem. Have you noticed lag in the beta? I cringe when I hear how fast the mounted combat is. With this speed and the lag problems, I worry about it being unplayable. The current in-game lag is a serious issue for my friends as well and was hoping that you didn’t experience any during your testing.

    Reply

    • Avatar of Andang
      Andang Says:

      I actually have not had any lag except for when we were suppost to lag (during surver lag testing(seen in picture with all the mounted people)). Besides the intended lag I han’t had any issues.

      Reply

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