Last night I spent most of my time on my Hobbit hunter completing quests in the Shire for the “Honorary Sheriff” title. At level 23, there was little-to-no experience to be gained, but I had a lot of fun anyway. I even did some of the repeatable mail quests just for giggles. I finally got to see the inside of the goblin cave in the Northwest of the Greenfields. I revisited the Old Forest and slew enough brigands and goblins to get the traits / titles for the advanced deeds.
All of the hunter activity last night was to take a break from my guardian for a bit. I love the class, but it is slow-going to level him. Finally, at level 26, my guardian has “challenge”: his first actual taunt skill. Fights prior to level 26 are a lot like the Onyxia fight in WoW: you have to guess how much of your aggro skills you need to spam at a mob in order to keep them on you. The catch is: in LoTRO, if you overdo it, you can run out of power. While the guesswork involved in tanking from 1 – 25 does tend to get the player to think about their class and learn to use their existing skills effectively, it’s very hard (and often frustrating) trying to tank for a group that doesn’t know or appreciate what the guardian is up against. Add to the scenario above the fact that, prior to 26, the only taunt we have requires several maneuvers all of which require me to have the aggro in the first place. Well, now that I finally have a taunt ability with no strings attached (except a resistance possibility and a cool down), my hope is more effective tanking and better power conservation.
While getting the level 26 taunt ability was certainly important for my guardian, it was the only skill available for that level. Most levels are like this in LoTRO: odd levels, get a decent passive ability; even levels, get a decent active ability. There are no “amazing” new abilities, spells or what-have-you at any level. I believe this is why LoTRO seems less addictive to me than WoW. There are fewer times when leveling that you actually cared that you leveled. I mean, it’s great to have a new number over my head. It’s cool that I’ll have better stats against the mobs I’m facing and that I can explore further. The change in game play after leveling, however, is subtle and while it is certainly a progression, there is nothing spectacular marking the move from one level to the next. Leveling and training up is a lot more like stopping to get armor repairs or selling stuff to clear bag space. It’s something you do because it’s time to do it, not because you’ll necessarily get anything terrific from it. Don’t get me wrong, I have a blast playing LoTRO, but don’t come in expecting spectacular new abilities every other level or so. You’ll be able to make a great and functional character, but the differences between a level 19 and a level 20 aren’t as pronounced in LoTRO as they are in WoW (level 20 in WoW is when most classes get special travel powers or something else major for their class). Thus, while WoW leveling seems like crack, LoTRO leveling seems like methadone for WoW players.