By "Danger Dan" Parke
If you're reading this article, you probably already know that The Lord of the Rings OnlineTM is full of adventures you can undertake solo. With Turbine's frequent content updates (like the addition of the entire region of Forochel with Book 13), the amount of solo content for players continues to grow.
Even with all this copious solo-friendly content, one of the unique features of MMOs is the possibility of teaming up with good friends or perfect strangers to take on challenges that even one hero of Middle-earth could not surmount on his own.
Finding fellowships to work on what you want isn't always easy. Even when you're rolling out with a bunch of friends, figuring out what to work on isn't simple. To top it all off, even after you've drafted your A-Team and know what you're going to do, you still need to assemble before you can roll out.
Well, surprise, surprise! Book 13: Doom of the Last-king contains a host of features designed to address those exact challenges. In Book 13, playing with friends and finding fellowships becomes better-and easier-than ever before. You want details? Read on!
Quest Log Enhancements
This feature began as many other great features have begun... with a ninja. A ninja feature, that is. I'm talking about a feature that only happens when a developer squeezes an extra drop of blood from the stone of schedules to get one more bell (or whistle) into the game. The specific feature in question was added for Book 11, showing players when members of their fellowship were on the same quest as they were.
All of a sudden, opening your quest log could tell you what you and your fellows had in common to work on... without a whole lot of typing of quest names into chat and comparing each other's lists. The feature was pretty popular among the devs and when it went live, we were pretty excited to see that players liked it, too.
For Book 13, we've expanded the idea behind this popular "ninja feature" and used it as a launch pad for a suite of enhancements to the Quest Log:
New Look and Improved UI
- More prominent filtering options for your list of quests lets you look at just solo quests or just fellowship quests or just the quests you share with your fellowship members.
- More concise information about quests such as the name of the quest chain, the expected group size for the challenge, the level relative consideration colors, and more!
- An easier way to add and remove quests from your tracker-just click the big, colorful space next to the quest to put it on or pull it off your tracker.
Shared Quest Status
- We expanded shared quest status beyond just showing who has the same quest - we tell you where each member of your fellowship stands relative to you for each quest.
- You can see who among your fellows is behind, or ahead, or even done with the overall quest chain-easily find out who needs to get caught up so that you can tackle that instance or group challenge together.
Shared Status on the Tracker
- Not only can you see status for all quests in the log, you can switch your quest tracker between showing your own progress and your fellowship's status relative to each quest in your tracker.
- You can see when your fellowship members are ready to turn in a quest-much easier than spamming fellowship chat asking if everyone is done collecting 10/10 boar stomachs!
Better Quest Sharing
- Sharing a quest can now share earlier quests in the chain-if you've done a couple of quests in an epic book and your friends haven't started, you can share the quest you are on and they will get the first quest in the chain!
- That means your fellows can get started on the chain right away-you don't have to remember where you first got the quest or who to talk to, just share anywhere and get your fellows caught up!
- No more blind fellowship invites-when you're invited, you see the name, level, class, and location of everyone in the fellowship.
- Requests to join an open fellowship or raid get the same treatment, so you see more information about the player who wants to join.
Find A Fellowship
Not everyone playing LOTRO today knows that there are tools for finding other players to team up with! The Social Panel's "Fellowing" tab has a number of features to help you search for and invite other players looking for a group or to post what you're looking for and let others invite you. Still, not everyone knows about it or takes the time to use it.
We want to make it dead simple for players to say which quest they most want a fellowship for. What could be nobler than a feature that helps to bring people together... to kill things and take their stuff?
That's where Book 13's "Find A Fellowship" button comes in. It's a new button on the Quest Log that works a little like the "Add to Tracker" button. You can mark one quest for Find A Fellowship.
That automatically opens the Fellowing tab of the Social Panel and fills out all the relevant information. You'll see a list of players who also want to work on that quest (and those players can now find you, too).
Here's a simple way to work this new feature into your routine: When you log in for a session of LOTRO, pop open your quest log and mark the quest you want to find a group for. If there are people already looking to play, great! Send some invites and make a fellowship. If not, just let the system work for you in the background. Work on some solo quests, Deeds, crafting, and wait for a few invites to come your way. You can always open the Fellowing tab while you're playing to see if there are more people looking for the same thing as you.
The final piece is, quite literally, to bring it all together. (Or, if you prefer, bind them, in the pre-dawn semi-darkness). However you refer to it, we call the feature "Mustering Horns" and they are coming to a Campsite near you.
Whether you've just found a pick-up group using Find a Fellowship or the LFF channel, or if you've pulled one together from friends or kinship members, if you are spread out across Middle-earth, getting together can take a while. The Mustering Horn has the solution-if one of your fellowship members can get to a campsite near where you all want to quest, you can all be there in short order. Just get there, use the Mustering Horn, and start getting the band back together.
There are limitations, of course. You have to be of appropriate level for the area to use a horn, as does the person being summoned. Further, an individual cannot be summoned more than once every 30 minutes (though one person can summon as many people as they want). Also, it'll take a traveling ration for both sides and it won't work while in combat. If you need a fellowship member where you are ASAP, Captains and their ability summon anywhere, anytime are still the best. Even with those limitations, Mustering Horns still make it easier to get your group together and start adventuring together.
Wrapping It Up
When you log in after Book 13 launches, you'll find a host of improvements and new features all designed to make finding a fellowship easier, figuring out what to do simple, and getting the gang together faster.
- Massive enhancements to the Quest Log will help you figure out what quests your fellowship has in common and track progress toward completion.
- An upgrade to our Looking for Fellowship feature will connect with your Quest Log to help you find a group for specific quests.
- Mustering Horns placed at campsites will allow you to quickly bring your fellowship together in one place.
What's the bottom line? With these Book 13 features, you can spend less time preparing for fun and more time having fun as you play the game, complete quests, and adventure in Middle-earth!