It was interesting, and encouraging, to see the kinship’s overall reaction to the Free To Play announcement last week. Some hadn’t heard, a few took a somewhat negative stance (though none as strongly as Keen), but mostly it was brushed off and business as usual. That being the business of having fun. I expected more drama surrounding the announcement, and was pleasantly surprised by the lack thereof.
I managed to finish up Volume 1 early this morning (the kids have a wonderful habit of requiring us to fully wake up when they have no intention of following suit), by finally knocking out Book 15, Chapter 12. As nice a milestone as this is, I wouldn’t bother mentioning it, except for one difference in this particular experience. I decided to invoke “Inspired Greatness” for the first time, running an instance solo when it is intended for a full Fellowship. The buff that comes along with this is incredibly powerful; I’m almost inclined to say too powerful, despite having been toned down after initial implementation. For example, throughout the instance I don’t think I dropped below one third of my total Morale, and Mischievous Glee brought me to full morale almost immediately (I think I saw a +5000-or-so at one point). How’s that for “challenging”?
As a Burglar, I finally got the chance to play as the main tank.
I’m of slightly mixed feelings about this particular mechanic. As someone who does work with alts on a rare occasion, the option to at least complete the Epic quests alone is very nice – it can be tough to find groups when I get the chance and inclination to log into an avatar that isn’t my main. And, while tearing through entire groups of mobs is fun, I can’t say it’s entirely enjoyable. For a player who does not play a DPS or tanking class, it’s just too much of a departure from my normal role. As a Burglar, I’m accustomed to playing in a far more strategic fashion, and having to think out encounters a bit more before engaging. This was just pure slaughter, and the extent of my strategy was to grab the attention of as many monsters as possible, as quickly as possible, to keep them off Narmaleth. Oh, and by the way, without all those nice skills for grabbing mass aggro – good fun!
There are some parts of Inspired Greatness that work very well. In this particular case, it was extremely helpful to have the help provided. I tried running Book 12 close to when it was first released, with full parties of players ranging from level 55 to 60. It was tough; and I was never in a group that finished it, so the quest has been languishing ever since, and I’ve been wanting the Grey Steed that comes as a reward. (It’s so pretty! And now I can truly play out my fantasies about being Gandalf). Also, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t having fun tearing through what would normally be some pretty tough Orcs.
Finally, there was definitely an increased sense of heroism, running alone alongside Narmaleth, and seeing the conclusion to Volume 1 was great. Taking out an Elite Master single-handedly was a blast. As I stated in an earlier More Drama, Turbine has a great piece of technology with the system that allows dramatic scenes using the game engine (as opposed to cutscenes, though I enjoy those too), and seeing my Burglar in the midst of the final scenes was a terrifically engaging experience.