Hello everyone -- this is the Mentor speaking. Just thought I'd share a few of my recent thoughts on my LotRO playing experience.
Anarwald recently took it into his head to see what was on the other side of Moria, and consequently rose (pretty quickly, I should say!) to level 59. Lothlorien is fantastic. I'm expecting Anarwald to give you all sorts of mushy talk about how beautiful the mallorn trees are, and how the whole atmosphere is soothing after being cooped up in a dwarf-hole for a month. But what I found most impressive are the quests and content. I couldn't stop laughing as I saw the XP bar go up, while that lazy, romantic hunter went around gathering flowers, singing to trees, and scolding revelers. But at the same time, it made me reflect on the whole concept of leveling in LotRO.
With the release of Rise of Isengard, the latest expansion, I've seen a general rush among players to reach the required level to start delving into new content. And as for those who already had the appropriate degree of skill... it was amazing to see them go! Level 75 within a week! Now, I generally find the whole business a very sticky issue... sticky as in, I somehow manage to glue myself to a certain level. This reached a climax around the late 40's. With great effort would I pry myself away from 48, only to find myself sticking to 49 for another month or so. Meanwhile, I would watch with chagrin as a fellow hunter went from level 39 to 75 within a month, and immediately started taking on the 'Moors. Of course, the XP boost from the RoI pre-order helped me a bit... but the fact that I'm not a subscriber, and therefore do not have the benefit of rest XP, made things much, much slower. The grind almost ruined my game experience, until I finally hit 50 and was able to start on Moria quests. Things started picking up from there.
Now, with these high-level quests giving me a ton of experience, I'm starting to wonder about the benefits of fast leveling. It seems that the higher you go, the greater the probability that you will go higher still. Hopefully I can get to level 60 soon, so that I can use that fabulous armor I got from my first few Grand Stair runs (yet another benefit of leveling -- raiding and better armor!). Besides, it's easy to get tired of questing in a certain region; I can understand people's desire to level quickly in order to face new and exciting experiences in higher-level areas, instead of being stuck among Angmar's blighted black cliffs for weeks on end fighting Bogbereth spiders, or lazing around Evendim while looking for those frustratingly rare Limrafn to kill for deeds. Also, being in a kinship that holds frequent Role-Playing events, I have experienced the frustration of wanting to sit back and listen to an in-game concert, while knowing I could be questing and accumulating more gold on that ever-present black line at the bottom of my screen. I can imagine that, being at level cap, people would be more willing to devote game-time to chit-chat and music... until the next expansion comes out.
At the same time, though, there are disadvantages. Leveling a character quickly requires a lot of concentration and dedication, and it's easy to miss out on a lot of other stuff ("distractions"). Players start to leave deeds for later, and therefore end up not having a fully fleshed-out character; only at level cap do they start working on virtues and class traits, which would probably have been of great use to them at earlier levels. Another problem is that, for players who suffer chronic altitis, like me, there is absolutely no time to spend on playing alts. And I have just started a love-affair with the lore-master class, too -- too bad, poor Giliarond will have to wait. And what about all the fluff in the game? Turbine gives us so many other sources of entertainment -- festivals, horse-races, a wonderful cosmetic system, housing, you name it! And what about chicken runs?! Anarwald *still* needs to get his Cloak of the Cluck! But the fact is, there's no time to spend on this sort of thing if your priority is to reach level cap as quickly as possible. And I discovered something else recently -- in the deluge of quests I found in Moria, I completely forgot about the epic questline. Now, at level 59, it's time to go back and finish Vol. I Book 8... how embarrassing...
Wow, what a rant that was. I don't think I meant this post to go on for so long. If you've gotten this far without getting bored, Congrats!
I guess the plain and simple fact is, I'm facing a dilemma -- to level fast, or not to. At level 59, what do you think I should do?!