Turbine posted a new Developer Diary this morning, detailing perhaps my most-anticipated and celebrated change coming with Echoes of the Dead – the removal of Radiance. For those not familiar with this particular mechanic, Radiance was added in the Mines of Moria expansion as an additional character statistic that was granted through specific sets of armor. It was meant to be a complimentary system to Hope, designed to counter Dread which can often render a player helpless (if their Dread is too high, they cower in fear).
Like many players, this is a serious cause for celebration for me. With my main currently mired in this particular grind, I am more than happy to wish “Rad runs” a hearty farewell. My Burglar is currently stuck in “Radiance Purgatory”, with enough Radiance to just squeak into the newest raids (Dar Narbugud) but not enough to be truly effective. And I don’t have much time to grind out the content (Small Fellowship or otherwise) that would help me attain enough Radiance armor to be comfortable. Instead, I’m a burden on my kin, and I miss out on running good content with great friends. Not fun.
Ask any player in the endgame about the problem with Radiance, and you’ll probably get the same answer – it’s a pure gating system that prevents players from progressing into higher level content. To make matters even more painful, it’s the worst kind of “grind gear to get better gear” treadmill. Tedious – and that’s being nice.
What really surprised me about the Dev Diary (and frankly, disappointed me as well) was the description of what Radiance was meant to be – a deep system combining Deeds, Traits, and gear. Instead we got a horrific grind. But the way it’s described makes it sound like something I would have enjoyed, and could have really gotten behind.
“We wanted to not only itemize this statistic, but also tie it into skills and deed paths. We wanted to provide players with more character customization and differentiation as they moved into the upper portions of the game. Further, by tying Radiance more intimately into the progression of the character, we wanted to remove strict gear dependencies and provide a more encompassing and meaningful statistic for characters. In essence, the idea of Radiance was a large and inclusive statistic that provided players with something functional and inherently desirable to their character.”
~ Allan ‘Orion’ Maki, Update 2: Radiance Removal
I consider anything that provides opportunities for “character customization and differentiation” to be a very good thing. Perhaps if they had built more avenues into attaining high levels of Radiance instead of tying it solely to instance-based gear, it could have worked. Sadly, this appears to be simple wishful thinking, as Maki states in no uncertain terms that Radiance has been fully removed from the game, and makes it sound as if adding it back in would be nearly impossible (if players would even accept it without full-scale revolt!).
Honestly, I’m a little sad to see Radiance completely removed from the realm of possibility. Having gotten a sense of what it was supposed to be, I think that if Turbine had taken the time to implement it as designed, it could have been a strong addition to the game. I’ve always loved the scenes of Frodo fighting his way through Shelob’s lair, holding the spider back with only the power of light. It’s a hallmark of Tolkien, and if Turbine had been able to give us something like that, I don’t think anyone would have complained. Nonetheless, it’s refreshing to see a developer admit to their mistakes, and it renews some of my faith in Turbine – it’s not purely about The Store and profit. They want to provide players with a fun game. The honesty displayed by Maki is well worth checking out (as well as additional commentary over at CSTM).