The Wold and The East Wall

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Following some of Dunland and most of The Great River, I finally embarked on the first two regions in the expansion pack Riders of Rohan which originally released in fall 2012. This brought along a few interesting new features I was quite curious about.

First, The Wold – the northern region of East Rohan just below The Great River.

The first thing I noticed right away as I rode into this region was the new music. It was wonderful. Just the right spirit and style of composition that brought me right back to when the game was launched in 2007. There was especially a repeating theme among the hills of The Wold that I was really fond of. I never grew tired of it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have quite the same praise for the music in The East Wall.

It just used a symphonic version of the Tom Bombadil theme.

The Great River

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The Great River, the region south of Lothlórien, was indeed more interesting to look at than Dunland.

I reached level 74½ here, never wishing to return to Dunland again. It was more of the Lothlórien look in the north, big human towns among tall hills, a camp next to two enormous human statues, one tall castle, an atmospheric marshland in the south, and The Brown Lands to the south.

Mobs in north were bears, badgers/wolverines and bucks/does, centrally it was hounds, goats and spiders, and in the marshlands there were lots of big turtles, avancs and grodbogs.

And orcs were almost everywhere to be found.

Dunland

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Dunland was the first region I entered with my level 65 rune-keeper. It was level 65-75, but it really wasn’t much more of a looker than Enedwaith was. A few forum visits revealed a consensus of Dunland being a slightly boring region and that it was better to leave for The Great River as soon as I reached level 70.

So I decided that was going to be the plan.

I did all the quests in Bonevales (lots of wights), Pren Gwydh around the central town Galtrev, then Trum Dreng and its small village Lhan Tarren, the secluded eastern lake Tâl Methedras and its snowy mountain town, and finally a few quests by a farm in the northern part of Starkmoor. This finally dinged me to level 70. I barely reached the town Avardin to check in and then left the region behind for The Great River.

Mobs in Dunland itself were wolves, boars, wargs, men/half-orcs, oxes and a few caban.

Return of the Lord of the Rings Online

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So I finally took the big plunge and dived right back into Lord of the Rings Online again.

I’ve been thinking about doing it for so many years. The last time I played it was with my then level 65 Rune-Keeper in Enedwaith in 2011. Since then a ton of expansions and content has been added. I’ve had a lot of fun with LOTRO and I’ve been wondering if I could catch that oldskool MMORPG feeling again.

I had my doubts. Chances were that I would try it and then run away screaming.

Knowing how picky I had become with video games in general, this concern kept me at a distance for years. Sometimes I let the launcher update for hours and then logged in, rode around for ten minutes, visited a few nostalgic locations, then left again. This repeated itself all these years.

But then a couple of interesting things happened. The first was that the new spin-off developer, Standing Stone Games, updated the game client with a 64-bit version making it run a whole lot smoother. The other thing was that the developer made most of the content free until April 30 due to the coronavirus. That was the final straw for me and I decided to give it a proper try again this Easter.

Short Sessions, Part 2

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This is another post in my series about the odd games that I would normally discard, but which I have decided to at least try out for up to an hour. It may have been free games, games given to me by a friend that had several keys of the same game to give away, or games that for other reasons just kind of popped up in e.g. my Steam library without me knowing how they ever got there in the first place.

  • Woodle Tree Adventures
  • Evil Pumpkin: The Lost Halloween
  • Orborun
  • SpaceChem
  • Kingdom: Classic

The Fall

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Developer: Over The Moon | Released: 2014 | Genre: Adventure, Side-scrolling

March 13, 2020

This turned out to be a side-scrolling adventure game with a smattering of cover shooter. The dark graphics and the strong ambient soundscape immediately reminded me of The Swapper.

I fell to a planet as what looked like an android or a robot, only surviving the friction of the atmosphere due to a nifty antimatter shield. I crashed through the surface and into a dungeon of underground corridors. It turned out the “robot” was actually a suit around a real human, but because he (?) was injured and now unconscious after the fall, the AI of the suit had taken over and was now in charge.

An autonomous suit walking around with a knocked out human inside. That was certainly unique.

The game was mostly an adventure game. I had to turn on a flashlight that could be moved around with a mouse, and only when shining on a hotspot did it go interactive. I could then use this item, use something on it, or use a network action which first had to be activated in my suit at a later time. In fact, the suit had a lot of cool abilities that were restricted and thus turned off at first.

Cradle

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Developer: Flying Cafe for Semianimals | Released: 2015 | Genre: Adventure, First Person

Inspired by the update in the previous blog post about The Talos Principle, I have decided I’ll switch to full diary style, adding to the same blog post as I play more sessions of a game. I realize this is quite uncommon – normally blog posts are a one-shot article and then never updated again – but I’ve already had exceptions to this rule.

Another reason is that I’ve never felt that I’ve found a really solid template for writing my impressions about the games I play. This new diary style can thus serve as another experiment in trying to find my voice.

Perhaps needless to say, there will be spoilers in this new diary style.

March 7, 2020

This game was only five years old? The way it started, i.e. in a window, maximum 2K resolution, options all reset and with a tiny menu text, made it feel older at first. For some strange reason the music was also turned down to zero. But other than adjusting all this, it seemed to work fine in Windows 10.

I “woke up” (whoever I was) with an amnesiac hangover inside a small Mongolian yurt, which is sort of a circular tent. Control was in first person with no body awareness. The level of detail in this tent was quite impressive. There was a ton of stuff to go through, picking up some things for my inventory. Left mouse click held an item in my hands at first, and a hotkey then put it away in my small inventory.

The Talos Principle

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Developer: Croteam | Released: 2014 | Genre: Puzzle, First Person

March 4, 2020

I’ve played a couple of hours of this first person puzzle game. It’s quite long – about 15-30 hours depending on your puzzle fu – and I’ve decided that the game is too samey to warrant completing. Also, I’ve heard a rumor that there’s a countdown in the end. Groan.

But other than that, I actually liked a lot about it. I’ve had it a long time in my backlog with comments about it being sort of a spiritual sibling to The Witness, but that’s not quite warranted. It has actually much more in common with the Portal series, spawning and moving stuff in small areas to get the sigil.

Playing as a robot in first person, I was spawned in environmental ruins that looked like the perfect home for Serious Sam. This was not too surprising as it’s the same developer. Using the same type of level design and even the fast walk and sprint speeds seemed a bit lazy to begin with, but it looked good and ran very smoothly in 4K resolution on my five year old PC.

My Predictions

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This is a mixture of my viewpoints and predictions put into a table where I can later state TRUE or FALSE, should some actually be answered. However, many are of a nature that probably won’t be answered in my lifetime (maybe even never) but it’s fun to make these lists anyway. Also, you’re welcome to discuss one or more of my predictions in the comments – as long as you’re being decent, of course.