LOTRO Legendarium: Of River Hobbits and river homes in Lord of the Rings Online


After a short delay, Update 37: The Humble Homes of the Holbytlan is here for us to unwrap and enjoy. Rather than being a patch full of quests and updates, this update is bringing value to Lord of the Rings Online through a stat squish, a new racial variant, a new housing neighborhood, and some class reworks.

With a pocket full of LOTRO Points and these new shinies on which to spend it, I dived right into these late summer offerings. So are River Hobbits worth it? Are they, as claimed, a shrunken version of humans? What about a new home in Lyndelby? That’s what I wanted to investigate with all of the frugality and critical vision that I could muster.

River Hobbits

While I had assumed that SSG was going to be selling these bundles as it did with supporter packs on the website — making them a cash purchase — the studio surprised me by offering them in the LOTRO Store itself. Perhaps I misunderstood, but I was happy to be able to snag the new race without having to drop any actual money. The lowest price point for a bundle is 1595 LP, which gets you the race, an extra character slot, and a title. A 1000 LP option for only the racial unlock is coming next February.

The first thing you notice about River Hobbits is that they can roll any class in the game, save for Beornings. This makes for the first time that a Hobbit can be paired up with the Captain or Rune-keeper, and I suspect those will both become popular options.

As for the character creation options, they are — and I don’t say this lightly — outstanding. I’ve been making Hobbits for 16 years now, so I am quite familiar with all of the options on that screen. River Hobbits are leagues better, with far more categories and much better hair styles (including improved versions of legacy styles). About the only thing I wasn’t happy to see was the body shaping slider, which never does deliver a classic Hobbit dumpiness no matter how much you mess with it.

If you’re curious about their traits, one helpful player posted a look at all of the passives and slottables on the forums. At a glance, I think they’ll be especially suited to the Rune-keeper or Lore-master with some of their frost and lightning affinities, but I’m sure Burglars are rejoicing to get a character with higher dagger damage and improved evade buffs. I do think it’s funny that with all the talk about water and swimming in the racials, none of these actually makes your swimming speed any faster.

While River Hobbits didn’t have their own intro during the first part of the beta test, SSG got so much pushback on this that the devs, to their credit, whipped up a fun little starter quest in Lyndelby. It’s nothing fancy, just a quick tour through the town as you say farewell to your friends, but there’s a surprise or two in it — and that stellar Lyndelby scenery.

For something thrown together relatively last-minute, this quest is remarkably effective in giving your character a little bit of backstory and motivation for exploring the wide-open world. The fade to black and the text that pops up to tell you that you’re just starting your adventures actually gave me some anticipatory chills.

Once you get to Mossward, you do get a quest to go over to Michel Delving to grab your full Lyndelby outfit — four nice new cosmetic pieces to add to your wardrobe. Groovy!

After several days of playing a River Hobbit, I can say that I’m deeply in love with the class. I don’t see them as greatly lore-breaking or anything, and they fit right in with the residents of the Shire despite looking a little bit different. The racials are nice, with a couple of useful emergency assists in there, but nothing that’s going to make this a must-play. I think the additional classes and better customization options play more in its favor.

Lyndelby housing

Walking hand-in-hand with the advent of River Hobbits comes a new housing neighborhood literally in their back yard. Ever since LOTRO started doing premium housing years back, I’ve been wishing for more Hobbit abodes — and now we have them.

Initial previews of this neighborhood were a turnoff for me as it seemed to be a bit of a let down in terms of house designs, but I’ve since come around to that once I got a look in-person. The neighborhood is tucked into a rocky alpine valley, with a small lake, rivers, crags, waterfalls, and gorgeous views abounding.

It’s clear that SSG is banking big on these being popular, as each neighborhood boasts five (!) different types of houses. These range from the affordable (yet still fairly spacious) small smial to the gigantic stately deluxe smial and kinship smial. In addition to lighting and hitching posts — premium house staples at this point — Lyndelby is experimenting with customizable fencing. And if you elect for the more expensive homes, you even get caves to deck out with decor.

In the middle of the neighborhood is an array of service stations and vendors, including a stable master and some room for players to gather together for socializing. If you accept the quest to go on a tour of the whole neighborhood, you’ll be gifted your choice of a River Hobbit visitor or a Deep Claw guard at the end of it.

Like other types of premium housing, Lyndelby’s version is well worth it if you have the Mithril Coins or writs to spare. It’s great to get a house that never goes into escrow, has tons of extra hooks, and is situated right next to helpful services.

I picked up a small house for myself and wasn’t disappointed at the number of slots where I could put exterior and interior decor. I even found that the random neighborhood I picked ended up being where many of my kinship was settling, making us all neighbors!

Yet unlike Rohan, Erebor, and Belfalas housing, Lyndelby is markedly more cramped. I don’t mean that in a bad way, either! The human housing was almost too tall and spacious in parts, so it’s great to get something with lower ceilings and smaller rooms that feels more cozy — especially once you get some fireplaces and candles going. Having numerous rooms — versus just three of the old deluxe Hobbit holes — to decorate gives you a lot of option for themes.

To be sure, Update 37 is a shrewd marketing ploy to get the LOTRO faithful to shell out for these top shelf features, and I won’t fight you too much if a lack of finances (or LOTRO Points) leaves you feeling crabby right now. But if your heart yearns for the Hobbit life, it’s money well-spent to experience this fan-favorite race in a new way.

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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