The Lord of the Rings Online is going through a lot of change at the moment. The move to Free-to-Play (including the addition of the store) has driven a lot of those changes, often to include opportunities for Turbine/Codemasters to make more revenue. It has also in some ways, made the game ‘easier’. I’m aware that over time all MMO’s get ‘easier’ for various definitions of what that might mean. What used to take weeks now takes days, and what used to take days can now take hours. The driver is usually the result of additional content and a desire to allow new players to catch up with their longer-playing friends. One of the newest and biggest changes is a revamp of Evendim.
Evendim always felt a little odd to me. There was a long ride from Oatbarton to Ost Forod or Tinnudir through a lot of countryside that never really got used. Sure, you got sent back to Barandalf from Tinnudir to kill some stuff, but generally it was wasted space. On top of that, you sort of moved between Ost Forod, Tinnudir, Rantost and the other islands and tried to find quests of the right colour. A lot of that time was spent swimming (which was somewhat alleviated by the introduction of one boat route some time back, you can see what I think of all that swimming here, at the end of that post).
The revamp has done several things,
- Added a new quest hub on the bridge with the giant statue on it. This quest hub covers the gap between Oatbarton and Tinnudir . It has quests in Barandalf (the area between Oatbarton and Tinnudir), some of which are old and many of which are completely new.
- Implemented another new quest hub west of Oatbarton, in which you must help a bunch of Hobbits prepare for a festival. Those quests alone provide a single levels worth of experience, and give you a real sense of the Hobbit mentality.
- Smoothed the overall level progression, I’m not sure if they changed any mob or quest levels, but I was never stuck with a mix of blue, white and red quests. While some of the quests were challenging, I never felt like they were out of my league or totally beneath me.
- Expanded the quest hub at Men Erain, using the crypts and tombs along that road. This is a really good addition and provides a much better transition from Tinnudir to Annuminas. Some of the early quests in Annuminas have changed as well, but I didn’t stick around to try them out.
- Added two more boat routes, from Tinnudir to Tyl Ruinen and Men Erain. This removes virtually all of the swimming until you get to the Blue Lady quests.
- ‘Soloised’ most of the quests. With the exception of one or two notable quests, everything is now designated solo and can be done alone. This includes the instance on Rantost to defend it against Tomb Robbers. Obviously, this is both good and bad, depending on your play style.
- Added new Gauredain camps and opened up the general area around the Gauredain so you don’t have to travel through the entire camp to collect one item at the top. This is a really welcome addition, and along with the new camps there are a couple of extra quests in Evespires.
- Replaced the quest rewards with barter tokens, which you can use to purchase full sets of class specific armour. I really liked this, I’ve completed Evendim on 4 characters (pre-change), 2 characters (after they added the boat to the Evespires) and now 2 more characters after all the changes. One of the most frustrating things about the place was the apparently random rewards. Some classes came out of it much better than others. With the new system, you can build up tokens and get a full set of suitable, sensible gear. There’s a second set of armour to work towards as well, with a mix of tokens and quest rewards.
- The reputation has been changed so that it builds with The Wardens of Annuminas all the way through, and if you stay and complete the quests you’ll be Kindred by the time you move on. I like that, it makes more sense than having to hang around for days afterwards trying to get reputation drops.
- Ost Forod has seen the fewest changes to the actual quests (there’s a couple of new ones), but the way in which you get the quests has been refined to make more sense. This is true of all the quests in Evendim now. The best quest in the entire game is still present in Ost Forod, and no, I won’t spoil it for you.
- The overall story arc makes more sense now, with clear goals and a clear reason for the Wardens to be asking for your help. Old quests have new descriptions or angles, and the new quests are designed to tie the story to the location.
Overall, the Evendim revamp is a huge success in my view. It’s just a much more enjoyable place to quest, without the hours of endless and pointless travel to get from your quest giver to the quest location. Turbine haven’t lost any of the charm of the area, have worked hard to utilise locations that were wasted before, and have back filled some lore and story that was sorely lacking.