LOTRO Legendarium: Finding purpose in Lord of the Rings Online’s Wildwood

    
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In what promises to be quite the busy year for Lord of the Rings Online, the game’s first content update — Wildwood — arrived earlier this month. New content is always welcome, but this is a particularly curious addition to the game. It’s the first time that we’ve seen the dev team add in a zone that wasn’t at the top of the game’s current level tier. In this case, Wildwood expanded Bree-land significantly to add a level 45 questing area.

I’m all for devs trying something new and challenging themselves to get out of their routine once in a while, but ever since Wildwood arrived, I have to ask one key question: Why did SSG feel it was important to make this? Since the studio’s not really in the habit of putting out dev diaries these days, we’re left without much information as to the impetus behind this content drop. So why Wildwood? Is there a purpose to this, or is it just content for content’s sake?

A wilder land indeed

Before I go into my thoughts on this matter, I do want to say that I’m not complaining in the least here. Wildwood is a decent, if not that spectacular, experience. If you like Bree-land and it’s woods, then you’re going to get more of that here — just, you know, wilder. Rockier and more off the beaten path.

It’s certainly packed with a whole lot of stuff to do, mostly in the form of long quest chains and repeatable tasks that pop up around certain enemy camps. You know, go kill this many Orcs, grab their supplies, and come back tomorrow to do it all over again.

The land itself is pleasant and not too difficult to navigate. It’s not really packed with milestones or stable masters, though, so expect to do some serious riding while you’re here. A lot of the quest theming here concerns helping nature, rebuilding Trestlebridge (if you sign up with that), and going on wild hunts.

There is also a missions NPC who offers repeatable 10-minute (or so) excursions, perfect for short-duration gameplay and chasing some of the barter rewards on offer.

What is the Wildwood here to do?

As I was trotting about and going through the questing motions here, the question of Wildwood’s purpose kept nagging at me. Clearly, this isn’t meant to be for high-level players (except the missions, which scale up automatically). And I didn’t really encounter crucial narrative that suggested that this area is filling in a gap that’s been long neglected by the game’s storytellers.

Nor is Wildwood really that necessary from a cartographer’s point of view. I’m all for expanding more and more of LOTRO’s amazing world, but there are plenty of areas in Eriador that are just blank spots on the map waiting for attention. Bree-land was already plenty big and pretty complete in and of itself.

So the obvious answer is that either the devs thought that this would simply be a fun addition — or that Wildwood was needed to help with a sticky spot in players’ leveling journeys. They have access to all sorts of data and metrics that I do not, so it’s entirely possible that they looked at where players were slowing down or struggling and determined that this level 45-50 segment was a problem.

A change of perspective

I don’t think this completely holds water, though. For one thing, LOTRO is shameless with how much XP it gives players these days. It’s honestly really hard not to level — so much so, in fact, that many players take advantage of the Stone of the Tortoise to turn off leveling when they’re in danger of overshooting a zone’s content.

Prior to Wildwood, players had plenty of options in the 40-50 range. Typically, you’d go from Rivendell into Misty Mountains for a while, and then split your attention between Angmar and Forochel (the latter, by the way, is an excellent and unique questing region). Then you’d be ready for Eregion to get you to 50 and ready for Moria. So there’s plenty of XP in all of that, not to mention skirmishes and tasks and whatnot.

But the more I think about it, while Wildwood might not have been strictly needed from an XP gap perspective, it might be very welcome from a tonal perspective. Misty Mountains, Forochel, and Angmar are really not everyone’s favorite places, giving players a choice between a whole lot of snow (with the first two zones) or an unrelenting ugly landscape (Angmar).

Wildwood, on the other hand, is a trip back home. It’s revisiting the Bree-land that we’ve all known, just a little bit tougher. It’s got the cheerful forests, the no-nonsense mobs, and a welcoming atmosphere. When one considers that at level 50 you’re plunged into dark underground caverns for a good while, leveling here might be a way to stock up on the sunshine before spelunking.

In any case, the world of LOTRO is a little more full — and wild — than it used to be. It does give me a little bit of hope that the future might hold additional developments in these regions!

Every two weeks, the LOTRO Legendarium goes on an adventure (horrid things, those) through the wondrous, terrifying, inspiring, and, well, legendary online world of Middle-earth. Justin has been playing LOTRO since its launch in 2007! If you have a topic for the column, send it to him at justin@massivelyop.com.
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Viktor Budusov

I think Wildwood is training for SSG to add low level region which is still interesting for capped players. Probably they plan to return to Eriador in near future. But adding 140+ lvl Southern Shire right near 5-15 lvl Shire is crazy. Imagine newbie just steps in wrong direction and any simple badger DESTROYS him with one hit. Or Tower Hills between Ered Luin and Shire.

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Bannex

Is this game even worth revisiting anymore?

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Viktor Budusov

As usual.

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Bannex

Don’t think that answered my question…

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Ardra Diva

One of the zone design choices in EVERQUEST that I always liked was that you had pockets of higher-level content even in newbie zones. This ensured a mix of young and old players and kept starter zones from feeling abandoned as the server populations aged and moved on. I applaud this.

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Sleepy

I haven’t been able to play since I upgraded to a 1440p monitor. The UI looks rubbish at 1440 (and my ageing eyes can’t read it all properly) and the whole game looks terrible if I downgrade the resolution to 1080p.

Be warned!

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Roger Melly

I had the same problem . You can increase the size of the UI in the setting if you want to keep that resolution but I personally went back to 1080 because it doesn’t look terrible to me .

Looking around on reddit there seems to be another solution that I wasn’t aware of .

Goto Options -> UI Settings -> Down the bottom is UI scales, press ‘Reset All UI Scales’

Also make sure you’re playing on 16:9 mode under Graphics -> Aspect Ratio

Fisty
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Fisty

Can’t even play it at 4k. Its sooo tiny.

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Ardra Diva

I play it very satisfactorily in 1440p. Not sure why you don’t like it.

ScreenShot_2021-01-30_211623_0.jpg
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Big_Red

If you have an NVIDIA card, in the control panel, under the sharpening, there is a UI scaling option. I set the resolution to 2293×960 and is very clear for me with ratio maintained. I still scale, because I am old, but overall the interface is very easy on the eyes.
I agree, the text can be difficult to read at times, but that’s more the color choices… deed book yellow text on a tan background… ugh, why? The person who made the decision should not work on UI.

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Sleepy

It’s a Radeon card, but the software is pretty good – I’ll have to have a dig around and see if there’s something similar in there.

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Tobasco da Gama

If you don’t intend to follow the full Volume I story into Angmar, this zone sounds like the perfect place to bridge the gap to Volume II, actually. SSG have probably noticed that a lot of folks these days are jumping off Vol I as soon as they can pick up Vol II but ending up underlevelled for Vol II as a result.

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Robert Mann

It has a lot of benefits in the 40-45 range. Not only does it give players a source for pages that isn’t so restrictive (many lament RNG through half of Moria) but it gives them a solid experience that isn’t so grindy through that range.

It’s 100% aimed at making that part of the experience better, and it succeeds. How important that is at this point might be questionable, but at the least for anyone with a character going into that range (tbh 42-46 is probably ideal for this spot) it is a boon.

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Lethia Myune

As a new player i can tell you wholeheartedly that the new area will be a blessing for the lvl 40-50 gap. I took 3 characters through that in the past 2 months because i’m kinda nuts apparently lmao and I hated all the areas i had to go through. Bonus for Forochiel where i didn’t see a single human soul for the eternity i’ve been there.

Most people were packed in Angmar and felt a bit more lively despite the dead and ugly landscape. In MistyM, most people do only the starting quests i guess, and story ofc, because as i moved further the people also vanished, again. So i was left with 2 snowy barren areas with monotonous quests that asked me to kill the same wolves and foxes for 4 quests in a row or an ugly colored but a bit more lively area that had me navigate through 80% fellowship quests and elites i couldn’t solo lol.

Yeah, it was the only moment i wanted to quit the game and never look back but glad i pushed through because Moria was well worth it.

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Stormwaltz

My personal perspective as a casual player:

I dropped my ~85 main about eight years ago now, and took a long break from the game. I came back, tried one class to around 40, and decided I didn’t like it. So now I’m playing a Guardian, and I’m back to the 40s.

It’s been years since *I’ve* seen any new content in LotRO – I’ve just gone through revamped and streamlined versions of the same quests I played 13+ years ago.

I’m looking forward to exploring Wildwood after the Spring Festival wraps. I have no idea what the current standards of art and design are in the game – all that stuff has been locked behind months or years of grinding old content.

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zoward

While I’m a big fan of both the Misty Mountains and Forochel (which I recently got Kindred with the Lossoth in on my Dwarven RK), I am looking forward to trying this region out. It may even be an excuse to start a new alt.