One of the unsung benefits of maturing MMORPGs is that they generally offer far more options for leveling and adventuring than what was present at launch. This, in turn, allows for users to customize the game around their own playstyle rather than having to conform to a narrow path.Lord of the Rings Online, especially as we’re on the cusp of adding a completely new early game leveling track with November’s Before the Shadow. But even without that in consideration, this MMO gives you a wide berth for creating the kind of leveling experience that you enjoy best. In today’s column, I’m going to lay out four significant options that characters can pursue when adventuring through Middle-earth.
Option 1: Casual zone and epic book questing
One thing to understand right off the bat is that LOTRO has far, far more content than you need to do in order to level up. There are redundant zones overlapping the same level ranges, not to mention deeds, task boards, and other easy sources of XP.
So it’s certainly not necessary to stress out that you have to do every quest in the game, especially early on. Instead, let the epic book (your “Volume” quests) be your general guide as it sweeps you into various zones. Do quests there until you feel that you have accomplished everything you want to, and then feel free to move on without finishing up everything. It would benefit you to look at your deed log, however, and see what deeds you’re closest to finishing in a particular region (exploration ones should always be done).
You should note that later in the game, there are certain quest chains that are tied to much-needed class trait points, so you do not want to skip those. These are predominantly in Rohan and Gondor.
Option 2: Completionist questing and deeding
For many of us not in a huge rush to get to the end of the journey, there’s the option to slow way down and enjoy accomplishing as much as possible in every single zone. For this, you’ll be using the deed log as your guide while you try to do all of the quest, slayer, exploration, and other deeds in a region.
While this approach takes a significant amount of time, I’ve always enjoyed doing it for all of the benefits. Those include leveling quickly, getting scads of extra rewards (such as titles and virtue XP), and stocking up on a ton of LOTRO Points. And for my money, there’s no more satisfying feeling than completing a zone’s meta deed and seeing the flurry of announcements.
LOTRO is much more of a chill experience than your typical go-go-go MMO, and this approach is perfect for someone who is OK with not moving through the world quickly because they’d rather marinate in it.
Option 3: Epic book semi-exclusivity (with a few helpers)
One question that I see pop up from time to time is if it’s possible for you to only do the LOTRO epic questline and ignore all of the other side and zone quests. These days, the answer to that is “Yes” with a “sort of” attached.
So yes, you can just do the epic if you so desire, trusting in it to give you the bulk of your leveling gear. However, the epic questline doesn’t give enough XP for levels, so you’ll need to supplement it. Assuming that you’re avoiding normal quests, then you could avail yourself of the mission system, which pays out in plenty of XP to get you to the next level for your epics.
There are plenty of other options for side XP, such as crafting and skirmishes, but just know that (a) it is an option to eschew normal quests and (b) you’ll still want to dip into those aforementioned Rohan and Gondor questlines for your class trait points.
Option 4: Instances only
While this may be the least-used option, seeing as how most of the community is focused on the PvE questing side of things, I did want to point out that it’s a total possibility to level up a character simply with instancing. This includes dungeons, raids, skirmishes, missions, epic battles, and crafting dungeons. Many of those options are available via menu, with others located at specific spots around Middle-earth.
Last spring, I was leveling up a Lore-master to 45 solely through missions. This worked fairly well, especially since I was getting the wrappers done that paid out in virtue XP and legendary item mats. The only thing I had to watch out for was gear, as I was dependent on drops or trips to the auction hall.
Those are four options, but by no means the only ones available! I am listing them simply to point out that you’ve got a lot of leeway and flexibility to make this game work for you instead of the other way around.