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Itemization in Isengard: Chests with Shiny’s!

July 28, 2011

A new developer diary was posted today by the LOTRO systems team on one of my favorite topics: LOOT!

There are some exciting changes coming with Isengard. Stat changes are literally changing the way we build our characters and we have all been eagerly waiting to see how we are going to reach the new stat caps (or lack thereof). The items are going to have to be both powerful and focused.

  • The diary starts by explaining the reasoning behind the stat cap removals and the new gear. They started itemizing with Shadows of Angmar by restricting certain types of stats to certain types of armor, i.e. in-combat power regen on earrings. This made swapping pieces easier by making your build automatically balanced.
  • With the removal of stat caps and consolidation to one or two primary stats, balance will be less of an issue. They are “opening the floodgates” (gotta love that Two Towers reference with regards to Isengard) and no longer restricting which stats go where, giving a lot more flexibility.
  • The next thing they addressed was the incremental changes between armor sets. Apparently, the raid gear will be very clearly better than the dungeon gear, making it worth getting. This I think is great, as my captain is wearing the Moria breastplate because it has the second best stats I can find, and the OD armor is only a tiny bit better than it. But it is a little ridiculous that a level 60 piece of armor is better than a BUNCH of level 65 armor.

Then they broke down what the gear progression was going to be for the Solo Player, the Crafter, the Casual Group Player, and the Raiding Player.

The Solo Player

  • There will be consistent upgrades to gear just from quest rewards. (If this is anything like the Epic books in Volume III, then I can totally see this happening.)
  • Superior Fourth Marks will be able to be gained by the Solo Player over time (probably by bartering, I can imagine), and they can be bartered for the first four raid pieces. The last two will still be obtained by running the raid. (This is much like the Moria raid armor in its current configuration).

The Casual Player

  • As someone who mostly enjoys 3-man and duo instances and skirmishes, with the occasional 6-man, the Casual Player will see a lot of chests. Now, instead of just skirmish marks in the old classic instances, there will be actual items inside of the chests! (*gasp*).
  • Superior Fourth Marks will also drop in these instances and be awarded for challenge modes.

The Raiding Player

  • The final two pieces of the raid gear will be dropped in the raid, in addition to Superior Fourth Marks. I imagine this will be in the style of the Moria Watcher gear (with two distinct tokens, one for each piece).

The Crafter

  • Apparently, there will be a few “raid-quality” items available for crafting. All of these will be tradable, which means that a dedicated crafter will be rich! (Good news for me!)

A few random things that they threw in the end of the diary:

  • Yellow items won’t just be vendor trash. They will actually have some value, though if you have a purple item from the same area, it might not be as good. The order will still be white < yellow < purple < teal < gold.
  • Also, they said that Finesse will not be the new Radiance. It will not be necessary to make gear choices based on Finesse alone. As they put it, “The hope is that a player will be about at their maximum finesse efficiency by wearing roughly 3 pieces on-level with the space.” So apparently, one might walk into a raid and be competent with 4 rare items with Finesse, while when they get better gear, they may only need 3 incomparable pieces with Finesse. Hopefully this pans out as true.

In my opinion, these will be fantastic changes. I don’t think I know anyone on Vilya that has obtained the entire OD set, and the Helegrod set was too perfect to not use on my hunter and captain, the only two characters I’ve worked hard to gear up. As a primarily Casual Group Player, I can really get excited about this.

The biggest thing to me is the fact that there will be items in the chests again in the old instances. I love the feeling I get when there is something in the chest that I want, and when I win the roll. There is a reason I love to run Moria instances and the new In Their Absence instances, and that reason is the fact that there are items in the chests! There in nothing like looting a boss trophy from the chest at the end, and I just don’t really like Sambrog’s Helm as much when it was something I didn’t win a roll on.

Now for a conjecture, sort of on topic, sort of off-topic: with items like the Gilded Inkwell that reach to +73 Fate, I think in Isengard we will see our first item with 100+ on a primary stat. I hope very dearly, anyway!

And last, to finish up with their summary:

“Summary: Rise of Isengard will…

  • …provide more rewards, and those rewards should feel more impactful.
  • …make yellow items more potent, but not more potent than purple ones.
  • …provide solo players with an opportunity to acquire four of their six piece class set.
  • …provide brand new chests in classic instances, scaling raids and skirmish raids that will drop desirable loot.
  • …add a new stat called Finesse that doesn’t function like a content gating stat like Radiance did once upon a time.”
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