Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Opinion on LotRO monster play - the new way to PvP

Just for a change, I'd like to post a text - for I really liked Tobold's point of view.
Complite posting is here:Tobold's MMORPG Blog: LotRO monster play - the new way to PvP

Tobold's MMORPG Blog
Sunday, March 25, 2007

LotRO monster play - the new way to PvP

I mentioned before that having both PvE and PvP in a game causes problems, because what constitutes "class balance" for PvE and for PvP is so very different, and it is impossible to balance both at the same time. Lord of the Rings Online cleverly avoids that problem by never letting player *characters* fight each other. But if you want to do PvP, you can do so, you just have to first transform into a monster. So PvP becomes player versus player-controlled-monster, giving you all the advantages of being able to fight intelligent opponents, without all the disadvantages of classic PvP. Brilliant!

Yesterday I tried monster play out for the first time in the LotRO beta. I traveled to Bree, and found the Fel Scrying Pool in the south-west of that town. Clicking on that I was given the choice of starting monster play, or exchanging the destiny points I had won in monster play for some temporary buff. After choosing monster play, I was presented with 5 options of what kind of monster I would like to play: a spider, a wolf, or three different kinds of orc. I went for the spider, which turned out to be not the easiest monster class, but I managed.

The monster you create has level 50, and remains level 50, you can't "level it up". But you can increase its stats and even gain new abilities by spending destiny points. And these stay with your monster, so you can come back repeatedly to the same monster and play it to increase its power. You can have 1 monster of each class stored, and that is per character, so if you want more, you'd just need to level another character to 10, the lowest level at which monster play is allowed.

Now this being the beta, and there being no level 50 player characters around, I couldn't really test the PvP. But that doesn't mean there is nothing to do in the Ettenmoors, the PvP zone. There are numerous PvE, or should I say MvE, quests that have you kill mobs or NPC guards. Each quest rewards you with some destiny points. But it quickly becomes obvious that the most points could be gained in a raid on one of the numerous castles on the map. That is where most of the PvP action will take place later. The castles are defended by NPC guards, but with players from both sides around it would be more fun.

Normally MMORPG worlds are rather static, whatever you do changes back to its original state after a few minutes. But I can see how the Ettenmoors will develop over time starting from release of the game. Because players can play a monster starting from level 10, but need to be level 50 to fight against those monsters, the Ettenmoors will be firmly in monster hand for the first couple of months of the game. Then gradually the balance will shift, the "free people" will have some first successful raids, and again many months later the balance will have shifted to something where both sides have equal chance of winning. So in effect the character of the zone will change with time, which is interesting.

Back into the normal game, I was able to spend my gained destiny points for buffs. There is a long list of buffs you can choose from, starting from gaining more xp, to having more morale and power, to faster regeneration. Most buffs seem to last for 30 minutes, which given the fact that you can only get them in Bree and then still have to travel to whereever you want to quest is a bit short in my opinion. But nevertheless the option to spend destiny points either on your monster or on your real character is nice.

Lord of the Rings Online is by no means "a PvP game". There won't be much real PvP action before enough people hit the level cap of 50. But at that point the Ettenmoors could become as good as the DAoC RvR zones, with raids taking and re-taking castles. I like it.

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