Please Bear With Me - Beorning Play

Zyngor | Saturday, October 11, 2014

Note: All pictures and information are subject to change - all come from Bullroarer Update 15, Build least the non-photoshopped ones...

So yesterday I decided to check out the first LOTRO Update 15 beta build on Bullroarer, the preview server. This update boasts two fairly big pieces of content: the continuation of our journey through Gondor (Central Gondor), and arguably the bigger feature - a new class! The Beorning marks the 10th class to be introduced to the game, and the second time we've seen a class added (Moria brought us the Rune-keeper & Warden).

Beornings are explained as "skin-changers that can change into the form of a bear in combat." Their roots descend from the big fellow himself, Beorn. They are mainly a reclusive type, though the ensuing struggle of enemies pouring into the lands have pushed these people of the forest to lend their claws to rip the enemy open like the tasty honey pots they are.

As I sat in line to patch the server, I could only imagine how many Beornings would be rampaging the lands in both beta and launch day. Bears, bears, everywhere! Not to mention the plethora of puns that would no doubt strike the name box. Step aside, Honey Boo Boo!

There was a fair amount of talk about how the Beorning was a "race" and not a "class," and as such would cause a tizzy of shaking fist pumps and heresy heckling. I think that it was at least half-settled when it was revealed at character creation screen that the Beorning is also listed as a separate race option from Man (from which they were least ancient man). I guess it will be kind of strange, since the only kind of racial Beorning you can create is...a Beorning class. Though I guess it would also be kind of strange to create a "Beorning Skin-changer," since that is equally redundant. The Beorning class was purchasable in the LOTRO store for a BETA PRICE - SUBJECT TO CHANGE YADDA of 1000 Turbine Points, which seems roughly what I'd imagine it to cost.

Character creation screen - Beorning Beorning hype!

Sorry pink hair...or facial
hair for that matter. [CONCEPT]
At least there is no gender restriction in the creation of a Beorning, so there is no Dwarvish inequality going down. Another pretty neat bit is that an extra detail tab is available to adjust your facial war-paint/tattoo (one of the options being to remove it, should you decide to act as the rebel plain-faced Beorning). You make also pick from a fairly wide selection of colors for both that tattoo, and eye color. Other than this, the available hair and facial choices are basically the same as those available via the race of Man (which makes sense).

It is important to note the color of your hair during character creation. Depending on your choice of a lighter of darker hue, your bear-form's fur will echo this selection. Choose a light color, and your bear will likely try to migrate north and take up chugging cola. I'd love for them to add an option to see what your bear-form will look like from this screen, to allow us to make a more informed decision.

Jumping into the game will take you to a new solo instanced starter area for the Beornings, in the Vales of Anduin (specifically, Grimbeorn's Lodge). Getting through this area will introduce you to the basic mechanics of the class.

Grimbeorn's Lodge - Beorning starter area

Basically, you will generally find yourself starting combat in humanoid-form. There are a set of skills dedicated toward building Wrath (what I'd imagine as honey-infused bear mana). Once you feel you have a sufficient amount of Wrath, you can activate a skill to swap over to your bear-form. The set of skills only available to use in bearmode will then use up Wrath (as well as a Wrath being spent just being this fearsome creature). Once you are out of juice, you will shortly return back to your bipedal form. It is a pretty smooth transition between the two modes, but I can imagine it will take some work to get a good flow between the two forms. Sorry South Park fans...there is no pig-form.

Battle transformation - I hope that's honey the combatant is bleeding, yum!
One of the parts that felt a little weird was that upon the completion of the short starter area, my character was level two. After my character hop, skipped, and jumped to post-burning Archet, she must have had some tasty rabbit protein bars along the way, as she loaded in at level five. I understand the purpose of auto-leveling our characters to better fit the starter quests and to be in line with other classes making their way out of the starter, but it still felt a little jarring. I know that I'll keep in mind that this is just the first build of the public beta, so as always, anything is subject to change.

Overall, it seemed like a good start. I had to put in a report on the apparent clipping of a couple of the male Beorning beards, and several placeholders seemed to be place in the starter area for this build. I'm sure I'll go ahead and try out the Beorning class come the live launch of Update 15, assuming I have acquired the proper TP cost. The hard part? Deciding the craft. Maybe I'll craft large holes in trees, enough to sneak in and grab the precious honey.

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