When mounted combat was first announced, I was a little wary of the idea. As Rohan’s launch drew closer, I was cautiously optimistic that it would be interesting at least. As I waited for my LOTRO client to update on the day the expansion went live, I was still unsure if I would enjoy the new system. But I was always sure that I’d enjoy outfitting my war-steed. Cosmetics have long been one of my favorite aspects of playing LOTRO. Upgrades to my wardrobe and outfit slots were purchased almost as soon as they became available. I figured dressing up my horses would be no different. I had plans to start a series of articles showing off different war-steed outfits. I had plans to spend plenty of money on Turbine Points so I could get the looks I wanted. I’d happily pay for my steeds to look good.
Now, a week after Riders of Rohan went live, I’ve found that my expectations in this regard were completely off base. I absolutely LOVE mounted combat. My captain is speeding around the plains of Rohan and making short work of any orc, warg or even warband she comes across. However, as surprised as I was at my enjoyment of mounted combat, I was even more shocked by how little I’ve been able to enjoy the war-steed appearance system. The price tag attached to the color options for both steeds and their accessories has proved to be far more than I consider reasonable.
Of course, I should insert here that while I think the color pack prices are far too high, I don’t have the same issues with the prices of the equipment pieces themselves. Yes, they’re still a little up there, but the fact that they are cosmetic items that you have access to anywhere without having to store them in your wardrobe or character’s inventory makes them feel much more worthwhile than a color option.
To buy a color pack of 4 options (that you cannot choose individually) costs 595 Turbine Points.
Changing the color for the hide of your war-steed and the color of their mane and tail requires two different color packs, even if you use the same colors. (Thanks to Cithryth for pointing out that this is not the case! You can purchase one pack for the hide and then use the same colors for the mane and tail.)
For the steed and hair color packs, the packs of 4 are generally all in the same range of shades. If you buy one pack because you like the dark red color, you’ll be getting 3 more shades of red that are very similar. It’s very likely that you’d only like one of those four colors, but you are still forced to get the other three (and pay a high price for them!) just to get that one shade you like.
The equipment dye packs are a little more varied in color, but again, you can’t pick which 4 colors are thrown together into a pack. Add to that, you can only dye some of the equipment pieces. Saddles and the accessory packs such as the quiver that comes with the Steed of the Hunter or the rolled blanket and pouches that come with the Steed of Night are parts that you cannot dye to make them blend in more with your other pieces of equipment.
Another issue that I have is with the “matching war-steed appearance” advertised for certain store exclusive horses. The Steed of Night and the various class themed steeds all offer this appearance match. Having these cosmetic options was an exciting prospect and I fully expected that these appearances would include the color of both the horse and the accessories from their original store counterparts. Sadly, this is not the case. None of these store purchases include the hide color of the horses, and in many cases the default colors of the equipment pieces are different from what you’d see with the same items on the standard steed. For some of these, the color difference is strikingly obvious. The green of the Hunter steed gear is now a washed out grey color. The light blue of the Rune-keeper steed is now a dark turquoise shade.
In this picture, you can see the original Steed of Night on the left, compared to a war-steed equipped with the same items. Without the distinctive dark hide of the original, I refer to this war-steed as the “Steed of Late Afternoon”.
For the RK steed, the difference in the color of the equipment is quite pronounced. Honestly, I like the new look, but I’m disappointed that the lighter color of the original seems to be something you can’t reproduce for a war-steed.
Danania has more examples of how these store exclusive cosmetics look on war-steeds, so I’ll not continue to overwhelm this post with more of these comparisons. Suffice it to say that if you want a war-steed that will look identical to one of the store exclusive steeds, be aware that you may not be able to exactly reproduce those appearances, and certainly not without spending more points for your war-steed’s hide to match.
The pricing for the war-steed dyes is based on the fact that they are not consumable items. You are purchasing the ability to permanently unlock the color options for your steeds on a particular character. So you will be able to switch your colors as often as you like on that character.
The fact that these colors are reusable is great. But the prices are rather outrageous considering that it is a single-character purchase.
A while back, there was a big uproar over the price of the Premium Barter Wallet and the fact that it wasn’t included free for VIP. I didn’t have an issue with making that purchase on the day it was released at 995 points because I felt it was a good value. The wallet is account-wide, and it has saved me more money on vault space in the long run by freeing up a minimum of 30 inventory slots on my main character alone. That price is considerably higher than one of these color packs, but the difference is that there was a definite value to all of my characters. I don’t see any sort of long-lasting value in these color pack purchases, regardless of how reusable they are. It is 4 colors at a time only usable for a single character.
How could Turbine make this better?
Unpack the color packs: If these options were a la carte instead of sold in packs of four, I would not object to spending 150 TP per color. I would get the option I want without feeling like I was being forced to buy more than the color(s) I was interested in.
Make these account-wide purchases: At the current prices, I would feel like I was getting a good value for these packs if they were applied to ALL of the characters on my account. I would be much more willing to spend on a cosmetic upgrade knowing that all of my characters could benefit, as opposed to something only one of my characters can enjoy.
Include the hide colors of purchased store-exclusive mounts: The Steed of Night is not the same without its distinctive dark hide. With the LOTRO Store advertising “matching war-steed appearance”, I should not have to make another purchase to make my war-steed match the original.
Include more than one hide and mane/tail color for free: We have several equipment dye colors available to us for free. Why can’t we have another option or three from the start instead of all war-steeds having the same default color?
What other people are saying about these prices:
Many people have weighed in on the forums to share their thoughts on these prices.
One quote from that thread did a particularly good job of summing up my feelings on the matter:
I said yes to one color pack and said no to being VIP this month. When a simple color pack for one character becomes more economical (7.99 for 600 vs 500 for 14.99 VIP) than subscribing there’s a problem there. They’ve created an either/or situation. I will have to wait to afford a color for my second 75+ character. Forget all my 65+ alts that will get there some day. If they had been account-wide then I could see more of an investment. Same with the warsteed cosmetic dyes. Saying “but you can dye them over and over on that character for that price” only means I can dye the only warsteed I will ever have the only color I like out of that pack repeatedly. What would be the point?
I hope something changes soon in regards to these color pack prices. For now, I’m back to leveling alts while I wait for the prices to drop or a huge sale to hit. My captain will just have to suffer the indignity of riding a war-steed that looks like nearly every other war-steed in Rohan because I’m far too cranky about these prices to spend any of my precious TP on these color packs any time soon.