Guide to LotRO's Mounted Combat, Part 1: The Basics
|Part 1||Part 2||Part 3|
|Getting Started | Training Instance|
Mounted combat is the centerpiece in the Lord of the Rings Online's newest expansion, Riders of Rohan. It is a complex, game-altering mechanic that changes how endgame players experience Middle Earth in the same way Legendary Items changed the game in Mines of Moria. In fact, the comparison to the LI system is a fairly accurate analogy - your war-steed is essentially a Legendary Item that you ride, and which replaces your tired old droopy-backed nag with something much tougher, more nuanced and fully customizable.
Like the LI system, the mounted combat system is tied to the epic books. Additionally, it is part of the Rohan quest pack, meaning players can get a war-steed whether they are doing the epic books or following the Rohan storyline. We'll be discussing the non-epic method of earning a war-steed here.
To get started, cross over from the southern Great River area into the Wold, and find the small Rohirrim settlement of Langhold. Do all the quests in this town - start with the guards, then the Thane and his wife Cillian in the mead-hall. You will be sent to the swamps and the watchtowers to fight brigands and Easterlings, whereupon you will discover a sinister plot against the people of Langhold. Complete the finale instance and head to the Harwick stables to the south. This is where you receive your war-steed.
The skill appears on the same tab as your other mounts, and you can mount and dismount it in the same manner. Shift + M opens up the mount panel:
At this stage, the only thing you can really do with it is look at the stats and change the appearance. You may have one point to spend on traits, but that's not likely going to make much of a difference yet.
The war-steed's stats are pretty much just a stripped-down version of character stats. They have a handful of physical stats - Agility affects the mount's speed and maneuverability, Endurance affects the mount's morale. It has a morale pool that is significantly higher than a standard or premium mount's morale (it starts with around 2,500 morale, which is around 10 times the amount of a standard mount). They also have a Power pool and an Armour rating, which standard mounts do not.
Check the Appearance tab - there is a nice big dressing room in the middle, options on the left and outfit slots on the right. Players will start with 2 outfit slots by default, with an additional 5 slots unlockable through the store. The war-steed has 8 cosmetic slots, arranged around the top and bottom of the dressing room: bridle, blanket, saddle and tail on the top row; hide, feet, gear and ___ on the bottom row. Owning any of the class mounts or certain premium store-exclusive mounts will add options on the left - so you can mix the gear element of the Steed of the Hunter, for example, with the bridle, blankets, saddle and leggings of the Steed of Night for a unique custom look. Other cosmetics can be earned through questing or purchased from the LotRO Store, and you can put together some pretty weird combinations.
Additionally, all of these cosmetic elements are dyeable. If you've always thought your class steed would look better in red, you can buy the dye pack from the LotRO Store. The dyes are sold in four-packs, so if you want red you also gotta take a couple shades of brown with it. The hide and tail have their own specific dyes with more natural colors, also available in the store in convenient 4-packs.
Once you're done checking out the stats and tweaking the look, grab the quest from the guard by the stable gate for mounted combat training.
|Part 1||Part 2||Part 3|
|Getting Started | Training Instance|
The mounted combat training instance takes place at the Harwick stables track, and it is here that you will really discover what makes this new mechanic different from the old-school regular riding thing.
The first difference you will notice is the Mounted Combat skill bar that replaces your usual skill bar when you mount up. This new bar contains only mounted skills - attacks, maneuvering skills and the three mounted combat stances - and drops away when you dismount. You can move skills around as you like, just like on your regular toolbar, and those changes persist. You can call up this skill bar at any time by clicking the tiny up and down arrows at the left edge of the main toolbar.
You will be tasked with riding around the track a few times, running through flag waypoints and jumping over fences. You will immediately discover that the war-steed has a different method of acceleration than standard horses. Your old horse has essentially two "gears" - walk and run - the same as your character. Hit W and your standard horse leaps to top speed immediately, paying no heed to g-forces or momentum or other aspects of physics.
Not so with the war-steed. It has four "gears" - hit W and it starts off at a walk, then a trot, then a gallop, then a full-out run. And once the steed ramps up to top speed, it will maintain that speed until commanded to slow down or stop. This was also possible with the old horses, but it's different from toggling auto-run. Coming to a full stop takes a bit of time, and even using the quick-stop skill requires a bit of stopping distance.
This acceleration/deceleration mechanic takes some getting used to, but it also makes mounted combat feel more realistic and exciting. You are only riding the beast, not controlling it like a bicycle. It feels as though the big creature beneath you has weight and momentum, and it makes the standard mounts feel more like animated paper cutouts.
There is an option to turn off the auto-run in Combat Options. The war-steed will still need to ramp up to full speed, but releasing the W button takes the foot off the gas and the horse slows down to a full stop. Running this way is actually much more difficult than the normal auto-run mode.
Of course, this same force of momentum makes the war-steed difficult to steer, particularly at high speeds. At the lowest speed, you will be able to make sharp turns and run tight circles. At higher speeds, the war-steed starts to act like a drift car from a Fast and Furious movie. You need to start the turn well in advance of where you actually want to curve, and you end up skipping sideways for several steps as the momentum carries you in straight lines.
You'll discover all these interesting physics during this tutorial instance, riding through sets of flags, jumping over low fences, and finally running along what appears to be a jousting track to attack the dummies at each end. This is a pretty simple test - tab-select your targets, queue your attacks and ride up close to hit them.
For tighter turns at the ends of the track, you will want to travel at a lower speed - at stage 1 and 2, maneuverability is about the same and tight turns are a piece of cake; at stage 3, it is noticeably reduced, and at stage 4 it is substantially reduced.
The tutorial instance teaches you about movement, but actual combat works a lot differently. We'll have a look at how the fighting works in Part 2.