Retaking Pelargir is the new offensive epic battle included in the upcoming Update 15. It first became available during the weekend on the Bullroarer test server in a somewhat unfinished, but playable, state. What follows is an account of my own experiences in the epic battle, my thoughts and suggestions, and plenty of images. Oh, and do I even need to remind you that everything from the Bullroarer server is non-final and subject to change before going live? (Yes, I probably do.) There’s also a video of me attempting this epic battle at the end of this post.
The epic battle is different from those that came before it. Instead of defending a single location, the goal is to move throughtout the city to clear the way for Aragorn and his legion of Oath-keepers. At the beginning, you join Elrohir, son of Elrond, and a squadron of soldiers to guard the main gate winch as it raises the gate to let in Aragorn’s forces. If you survive this encounter and triumph over the first of the half-troll crushers, you’ll join up with Elladan and move on to something more familiar. At the next defense spot, there is a ballista, some barricades, a wall with grappling hooks and loosely organized platoons of corsairs waiting to scale the walls. But halfway through this assault, you may notice a rare elite master-difficulty half-troll appear and threaten the integrity of your defenses. It is here where I received two side quests, one of which was another rare elite master which completely overwhelmed me and the other was bugged.
After securing this area, you move on with Elladan and Elrohir to the final defense location: a wall overlooking the docks with more corsairs, their grappling hooks and another ballista. Pro-tip: You can dismantle and bring the siege weapons from the previous defense position. The wall is long and full of obstructions, so it’s best to bring a comrade. I also received my third and last side objective here which was to kill another rare elite master-difficulty mob. The battle ended with a final push from the corsairs and then Aragorn’s forces finally prevail. If you’re a fan of the lore, it’s a satisfying scene to behold.
I tried this battle on two different characters: first, a level 100 Hunter with decent end-game gear and about 120 promotion points and second, on a level 50 Beorning with terrible skirmish gear but with a level 12 partner and no substantial promotion points. Having completed it with the solo Hunter and getting overrun in the Beorning group there are definitely still issues with balance coupled with pre-existing issues with level scaling. At times I was fighting a few normal mobs with a squadron of knights and at others, I was overrun after taking on two rare elite master-difficulty mobs by myself. If not for the quest proceeding and the sons of Elrond moving on, I would have lost. At the final defense position, I managed the grappling hooks better and stayed afloat to see victory without much difficulty.
With the Beorning, however, the level scaling did not give me appropriate DPS and survivability to withstand the blows from the bosses, a problem which has persisted since the introduction of epic battles. If I assume correctly, level scaling should boost your stats to something comparable to a capped-level player but you have to make do with the skills and traits of your unscaled level. Right now, this does not happen. My level 12 partner ended up with about 7,000 morale while my level 50 character ended up with about double that amount. A normal level 100 character would have anywhere from 13,000 to 30,000 morale. My poor teammate couldn’t withstand more than a few hits from a normal mob and those rare elite masters sure pack a punch. After a few bewildering and demoralizing failures, we called it quits.
If nothing else, a new epic battle means more easy promotion points and more daily sources for platinum loot. And speaking of loot, in addition to the platinum, gold, silver and copper rewards, it appears there will be a new currency with epic battles: Stars of Merit. These will be used to barter for level 100 epic set jewellery with barter NPCs in Helm’s Deep and Dol Amroth. These drop from boxes awarded when completing side quests and the main quest and right now drop 50 stars at a time, likely only for the purposes of testing.
This battle is equal parts exciting and frustrating but I foresee it becoming stale quickly due to the lack of variation in the main quest. Epic battles are still glorified skirmishes. However, I’m still looking forward to further exploring this battle instance in subsequent Bullroarer builds when there will hopefully be better balance and more suitable level scaling, though I’m not sure yet if this will make it into my regular set of instances to play.