To my knowledge, this past week’s Update 27.2 for Lord of the Rings Online may well be the biggest housing patch that’s hit the game since the system was first implemented. The sheer amount of additions and improvements that came with the Rohan neighborhoods far exceeded my expectations, and I’ve been in housing heaven since it dropped.
So in today’s column, I want to look at all of the facets of Rohan housing as well as general housing improvements that arrived with 27.2.
Neighborhoods and houses
Again, I am very impressed with the work that went into this housing update — it’s absolutely huge! For starters, we got two new Rohan neighborhoods instead of one. Kingstead Meadows is located in the wide-open plains, while Eastfold Hills sits in a more alpine, mountainous region. Each neighborhood has its own layout and architectural style, further demonstrating the great attention to detail that the developers had when creating Rohan in the first place.
Within these neighborhoods is a central area loaded with convenient services and then three different types of houses. There are the gargantuan mead halls, the basic house, and then a more deluxe house that comes with an extra interior location.
But no matter what house you get, you are treated to an estate that’s chock-full of slots, at least two instanced interiors (for example, the house and a separate barn), upstairs, downstairs, and new types of housing hooks (more on those in a bit). I was overflowing in my old deluxe house, but when I moved into my new Rohan mansion, I found that all of my stuff only half-filled the space.
The houses also look good, inside and outside, and that’s important. Belfalas housing was nice, but it also lacked this sort of personality. Those houses felt like you were moving into huge marble tombs; Rohan houses, on the other hand, exude a great log cabin atmosphere. I still wish that we could get smaller and more cozy houses that we encounter while questing, but I understand the hook system wouldn’t really allow for that. Pity.
The cost of Rohan houses isn’t just the elephant in the room; it’s the whale in the room. These houses are expensive, costing upwards of 400 mithril coins just for starter editions. I had 4700 LOTRO points saved up for a premium house, which I thought was more than enough for anything I wanted to get, but it turned out that I could only afford the basic home and nothing more.
SSG is going whaling with this addition, so be aware that you will pay a pretty penny just to secure one of these babies. This isn’t a complete shock, as Belfalas housing is pretty expensive as well. Those that pony up the dough do so because they want the extra house, the theming, the location, the great number of slots, and the nearby services. It’s all a subjective question of whether or not such a house is worth it to you. I’ve had friends that won’t buy one on principle or simply can’t afford one.
But so far, this looks like a successful whaling expedition because those neighborhoods started to sell out almost as soon as they were put up. Our kinship was full of chatter on patch day with people moving in, and I can only imagine that this will all result in a nice chunk of change for SSG this summer.
Hitching posts and pets
But the large price tag for Rohan houses hasn’t really proven to be the controversial element of these neighborhoods. Rather, it’s the fact that SSG steathily slipped in some extra monetization in both these premium houses and other houses in the game — and players are not happy.
In advance previews, SSG very happily talked up how it was going to add the ability to hitch your mounts in your estate’s stables and add cosmetic pets to your interiors. What it didn’t say was that all of this required a fee to use. Per animal.
With hitching posts, each premium house comes with a small bundle of tokens that you can use to put your mounts in the stable, but once those tokens are gone, any further changes are going to cost you. Cosmetic pets, both in premium and normal housing, costs 20 mithril coins to convert into a decoration. Again, this is per animal. If you want a whole herd of cats wandering around your house, you’re going to pay extravagantly for that privilege.
This really left a sour taste in the mouth of players, many of whom had dropped up to a hundred bucks on a premium house only to find the game asking for “more, please!” It’s greedy, moreso that the studio didn’t give players advance notice that this was how it was going to be. It’s another failure of both communication and monetization that serves to turn loyal fans against the company — and drive away those who might otherwise come into the fold.
“I placed one, because, I was totally unaware of the additional MC costs involved – because they didn’t put it in the article or on the patch notes,” one player lamented.
Ambiance, decor, and new tricks
I didn’t want to end on a down note, so let’s go back to something to cheer about. This patch not only adds new houses but also a lot of new tricks for players to use. Lighting hooks have appeared for the first time in LOTRO, letting players set the mood lighting in different rooms. There are soft and intense lights, lights that fill the space, and lights that are very dim. My favorite are the lights that mimic the flickering glow of a campfire.
The new ambiance vendor has plenty of other toys to play with, especially for ceiling slots. I was laughing at the ability to put rainbows, falling water, snow fall, and even bat colonies in my house. All of this gives us even more ways to personalize our home and create a specific feel. The Rohan housing brokers also sell a whole host of housing decor that can help with filling out those homes and making homes fit in with the region.
Finally, there are some new features that add more functionality to housing. Premium houses enjoy per-house storage in addition to shared storage (more inventory is always good), and Rohan neighborhoods have a reputation system to encourage players to create great layouts. Even better, kinships can visit each other’s primary home through the kinship panel, which is extremely convenient and a fun way to go house-hopping for an evening.
Overall, it’s a really great update with many cool features that is only hampered by a high price tag and additional nickel-and-diming by the studio for hitching posts and cosmetic pets. I hope that some of these features — such as lighting — make their way to all houses everywhere, as they’re fantastic additions to the game.