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My LOTR Review

Oh admit it you were all dying to see my thoughts on this game :)



Actually you probably don't give a rat's rear but I'm going to post them anyway... cuz my kid got me up at this god-awful hour and I'm not in the mood to log into a game right now :)



Well to begin with I've been following LOTRO since before it even had a working title back in 1998 (yes, really, it's been in planning THAT long, wiki it if you don't believe me).  Since then LOTRO has been handed to 3 different development teams, finally landing in the lap of Turbine.....



So along comes Turbine.... First thing they did was announce they're not going to have PVP or the alignment system or even permadeath like it was originally going to be set up.  I immediately started worrying about this title but hey.... Turbine had done "ok" with AC1.... sure AC2 was a dud but that happens.  Then before beta starts DDO turns out to be a complete disaster... just not an impressive game at all so I am REALLY concerned now and it appears Turbine has lost their edge... well... shortly after DDO released I got into the LOTRO Beta....



Well I'm glad I did.......



Graphics:

To begin with the Graphics in LOTR:O are phenomenal.  Very polished and finished.  Much like WoW the graphics are awesome but have very low system requirements.  Even my 4 year old Laptop with a GeForce 4400 GO card in it can run the game just fine.  The world is very detailed and the graphics are top notch.  Turbine went with the more "realistic" style of graphics rather than the 'cartoon' style graphics.  This  makes all the difference to me.  While I could always appreciate the quality of the artwork in WoW it never appealed to me.  In LOTRO the artwork is awesome and really draws me into the game.  If you've ever looked at tolkien FAN art you will feel VERY much at home in LOTRO.   The artists went with a sort of water-color palate and chose to go with a more realistic look to characters and environment.  Allowing the world to draw you in and explore.



Sound:

Turbine didn't skimp here either.  The audio tracks in LOTR:O are extremely well done.  If you watched the movies you will recognize the sound as being very similar to the scores used in the movies.  I really enjoy the music that Turbine incorporated into the game.  I also really like the way they implemented so many sound aspects into gameplay.  Players can even have online jam sessions within the game.  I've actually sat and watched a 'concert' held by players and was able to enjoy the music they made.  Pretty slick stuff. 



Quests:

Well they obviously learned from their both their good parts and bad parts in DDO.  In LOTR:O the Quests are very well done.  Once you begin them some are instanced but most are out on the open world.  LOTR:O is absolutely a more standard MMORPG where 99% of your time will be in non-instanced land interacting with both the environment of the game as well as other players.  I really like this.  The quests are widely varied and very well done.  Making the game feel much more like an adventure than a 'go kill 20 wolves' repete syndrome.  Granted there are "go kill x and get me y" quests but there are a wide variety of other types as well.  The more involved quests generally kick off an instance so that your adventure can't be interrupted by other players.  And the storyline quests are absolutely top notch.  The quest system is done in such a way that while LOTR:O is an MMORPG at some points it feels almost like you're playing a co-operative single player MMORPG (Like NWN).  It's not 'perfect' but it's definitely one of the better quest systems I've run across.



Combat:

Nothing too spectacular here.  Combat is pretty standard.  You can wack on badguys with a sword or you can shoot them with a bow or you can blast them with "magic" (ok we don't call them mages but it's the same thing) or you can heal your party members with magic or song.  The combat system does allow for some pretty creative chains of skills and if you DONT use the skills properly you can significantly reduce your productivity.  Even to the point where in some cases if you don't use the skills properly you WILL die.  So combat, while not particularly hard to figure out, is involved enough to keep most folks very happy.   



Grouping:

I both like and dislike LOTR:O in the grouping aspect.  In the early levels of the game there is almost no reason whatsoever to group.  This continues up till about level 15-20 (depending on your abilities as a player, your ability to keep yourself equipped in good equipment and your playstyle).  After that grouping does become a bit more important but it's possible (at least as far as I've gone in levels) to play solo all the way through the game.    The game incorporated a very similar group finding system to what DDO uses (which is arguably the BEST "looking for group" interface I've ever seen).  So when you WANT to group you have a great tool for finding one.  But, as I said, most folks don't bother to group, especially at the very earliest levels asside for some key quests that most people DO group to accomplish.  LOTR:O appears to cater to the casual player very much, maybe even more than WoW in some regards. 



Level/Skill system:

Well... anyone who knows me knows that I am not a fan of class/level systems.  And this area IS a turnoff for me in LOTR but the rest of the game is so good that I am able to forgive it.  You pick a class, you go up in levels.  As you level you unlock skills but you don't automatically get them.  If you want a skill you have to go to a trainer and buy/train it (much like WoW or EQ1).   At higher levels you'll start unlocking traits which you can assign as well (again similar to WoW and EQ2 in this regard).  So it's a pretty standard level grinder though there are SO MANY quests (see above under quests) that unless you are just hell bent on reaching max level you really won't notice the grind.  Which is what I love.  I've always been a huge fan of quests and LOTR:O has them in droves....



Crafting:

Yep... it's got crafting... and the crafting is actually very fun and intricate.  Once it gets off the ground it looks like most folks will be running around in crafted gear as well.  Most things I've found in game I can buy a better item from a crafter so far.  (There are some exceptions to that).  So if you're a crafter you'll enjoy this aspect of game play.



PvP:

Most know I'm a PVP'er myself and I do admit that the original plan to just all-out eliminate PVP in LOTR really irritated me.  But Turbine has come through with a neat feature called "Monster Play".   At this point I have not had the opportunity to monkey with it much but it seems like a cool system so far.  Basically you can become an NPC and fight players as if you were one of the mobs in the game.  This is VERY cool and if Turbine takes advantage of it like I would I foresee some VERY entertaining GM Events on the horizons of this game :)





Content:

I see lots of people griping about how we didn't get all of middle earth at release.... Well I'm here to tell you, as a vet of just about everything ever released:  LOTR:O may be small in total landmass (right now) but it's HUGE in terms of content.  And Eraidor isn't even finished yet.  I can't wait to see how much it grows between now and release.   This is an area of concern for me, however.  As I am not a fan of paid expansions.  I'm hoping Turbine follows the AC1 and DDO model where "expansions" are free content updates because I refuse to pay for content updates to games any longer.  EVE has spoiled me in that regard.   All that said, there is PLENTY of content in the game to keep players busy already.  And they're still not done adding what they plan to have in at release yet.



Stability:

As I mentioned you should have no problems running this on just about any system even REMOTELY recently purchased.  But is it buggy?  Nope.... sure there are a FEW bugs but I can honestly say this is one of the most bug free games I've played (including released titles).  LOTR is, currently, less buggy than most retail MMO's out there.  And that's impressive.  I've had very few problems with bugs since Beta 2 started and Turbine has been great about stomping the ones we have reported.   Is it perfect?  Nah, but it's very solid.  



Putting it all together:

As many know I have a strict policy of  "Never Pre-Order".  In fact I have only ever pre-ordered 1 MMORPG:  Ultima Online...   EQ I got into at release because I was a guide so I didn't have to pre-order that one (and wouldn't have anyway, I knew release was going to be a nightmarish lag-fest).... So... eln.... is LOTR:O worth buying?



My answer is simple:  I pre-ordered.

Currently Playing: Dungeons and Dragons Online.
Sig image Pending
Still in: A couple Betas

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Comments

  • OBK1OBK1 Member Posts: 637

    Thank you, puts a lot of my worries to rest. I am still concerned about character development and uniqness though.

    Tell me, does the race you choose have any effect on gameplay or is it just cosmetical?

  • JackdogJackdog Member UncommonPosts: 6,321
    Originally posted by OBK1


    Thank you, puts a lot of my worries to rest. I am still concerned about character development and uniqness though.
    Tell me, does the race you choose have any effect on gameplay or is it just cosmetical?



    http://lotro.turbine.com/article/107

    this explains the trait system a lot better than I can. Not only does race play a factor, but which weapons you prefer, your play style, and even where you have explored affects you individuality.

    I miss DAoC

  • cyberlettucecyberlettuce Member Posts: 18

    Nice review of which I pretty much agree 100% One good feature you didn't mntion however is the way that you can swap out and change traits [of which you can get a lot] by visiting a bard. Also the great way that the traits are learnt through achievements that pop at just about any stage through your adventuring career. For instance, you see a interesting set of ruins, ah great lets take a look at them... oh up pops an achievement [bit like a quest] for you to find other ruins. Once you have found a specified amount you gain a character trait. Or you might use a certain skill at some point and get an achievement to improve it in some way after using it a number of times on enemies.  What I like most about traits is that they can come at any time, you dont have to wait for a level to get them which keeps a constant flow of customisation, things to do and little rewards to gain throughout the gaming sessions.

     The actual avatar customisation options are not titanic but I would say they are certainly adequate. That said another thing I like a lot is the sheer amount of different cloths and armour choices you can have. anything from feathered hats to platemail helmets, from richly embroidered robes to ringmail armour. That coupled with the fact that they come in all sorts of colours and dyes are available as well should you want to use them means a lot of physical customisation. Appart from the very early levels I really dont think that I have seen any identical characters at all.

    -------

    "At the very least, doing the wet towel snap should disconnect the nerves of the spinal column, causing total paralysis, thus enabling you to skin the bastard alive."

  • PerjurePerjure Member UncommonPosts: 248
    I agree with this review 100%. The game is everything the OP says it is.  Fantastic game!
  • SoldarithSoldarith Member Posts: 184
    Thank you for taking the time to post a well-thought review on this game; it is appreciated.



    I have some questions, however, if you or someone else who has actual first-hand experience is able to answer them.

    Is the world seamless - meaning, can a player explore wherever they want? To what limits? - Think of Fable and how a limiting terrain really limits your gameplay experience.

    How is combat? Is it turn-based, queued, or is it live?

    Are there limits to tradeskills - meaning, is it possible for a player to max out all of the tradeskills?

    Is the gameplay linear, 'a'la Guildwars - i.e. pre-determined storyline that you have to follow and the only 'freedom' you have is going back to old lands or the order in which you follow the main storyline.

    Can you return to older completed content for more loot/rewards? Speaking of loot, how is it handled in the world? Are there different quality types/rarities? Are there magical properties on items?

    How to does the game intent on handling "farming" or "camping" - two very different topics but somewhat related.

    Can a player solo in the game forever and still feel a sense of achievement?

    Economy - How does the world's economy work? It is player-driven? Are there auction houses to sell/buy or does everyone just shout around town?

    Finally, what goals are there for a character? I mean beyond the obvious ones: Do every single quest! Gain levels faster than everyone else! Amass amounts of money that one's character could never spend! etc...I mean, it being an MMO I assume there is no "ending" per-say...but what are the goals of characters playing in this so well-defined world?

     

    Thanks again for an excellent read and I look forward to this discussion providing some invaluable information about the game.

  • RattrapRattrap Member Posts: 1,599

    Damn you Elnator !

    Now because of you I will drag my good name into the dirt , and buy Turbine game! 

    Why did you have to write such a positive review!

    "Before this battle is over all the world will know that few...stood against many." - King Leonidas

  • RainStarRainStar Member Posts: 638

    Thanks for the review Elnator, can't wait to play it. Unfortunately, my computer is about 5 years old so I'm thinking I'll need a new one.

    I can play SWG fine but it looks like LotRO needs a better computer than what I have to run it.

  • JackdogJackdog Member UncommonPosts: 6,321
    Originally posted by RainStar


    Thanks for the review Elnator, can't wait to play it. Unfortunately, my computer is about 5 years old so I'm thinking I'll need a new one.
    I can play SWG fine but it looks like LotRO needs a better computer than what I have to run it.



    it's a pretty forgiving engine Rainstar, here is the requirements page

    http://www.lotro.com/index.php?page_id=104

    heres some screen shots of the  same scene lowest, medium and highest settings

    low

    http://img201.imageshack.us/img201/2540/screenshot00038qk6.jpg

    medium

    http://img441.imageshack.us/img441/1048/screenshot00040jd3.jpg

    high

    http://img404.imageshack.us/img404/4229/screenshot00039ka4.jpg

    a scene indoors on lowest and highest settings

    lowest

    http://img441.imageshack.us/img441/2328/screenshot00037bi0.jpg

    highest

    http://img201.imageshack.us/img201/5954/screenshot00036ju2.jpg

     

     

    I miss DAoC

  • VanguardlolVanguardlol Member Posts: 11
    Nice screenshots and good review to the OP.
  • AselliaAsellia Member UncommonPosts: 174
    Originally posted by OBK1


    Thank you, puts a lot of my worries to rest. I am still concerned about character development and uniqness though.
    Tell me, does the race you choose have any effect on gameplay or is it just cosmetical?


    Well, About uniqueness. When you level, everyone of your class at that level is about the same stat/skill wise. But, what can set it apart is items. There are loads of items, even though the basic items look the same, there are some rare items, and so on to set you apart.



    Then there is the "Accomplishments" Some are very hard to attain, they can give "Titles" which appear next to your name, and you can get Traits, and sometimes skills. That is how your character truly gets set apart from the rest, I mean there isn't an amazing amount of uniqueness, but I think the game play and amount of content makes up more then well for that.
  • RainStarRainStar Member Posts: 638

    I only have an Intel Celeron 1.3GHz

     

  • JackdogJackdog Member UncommonPosts: 6,321
    Originally posted by RainStar


    I only have an Intel Celeron 1.3GHz
     
    well in that case you will need to upgrade. Good news is you can build a really serious kick butt box now from the ground up for around 12 to 14 hundred USD. For that money you could even build a system that would play Vanguard Core Duo's and video cards are the best bang for the bucks I have ever seen.

    I miss DAoC

  • ElnatorElnator Member Posts: 6,077
    Originally posted by OBK1


    Thank you, puts a lot of my worries to rest. I am still concerned about character development and uniqness though.
    Tell me, does the race you choose have any effect on gameplay or is it just cosmetical?
    Race plays a solid role in your character actually.  From how you interact with the NPCs to what traits you can eventually get.  In the "grand scheme" it's not a huge factor which race you choose but there are definitely pros and cons for each race.  Also, some races have access to classes that others do not.


    Currently Playing: Dungeons and Dragons Online.
    Sig image Pending
    Still in: A couple Betas

  • AthelaAthela Member Posts: 492

    I agree with you on all points, Elnator, isn't that amazing

    I really do feel many many people will play and enjoy this game.  They are doing everything right, including listening to suggestions and comments while staying with their own basic idea.

    I think the fact that they added in Monster Play, and the way they implemented it, will entice alot of pvp and non-pvp players alike.

    The addition of musicianship has also been done very cleverly. 

    All along, I've thought the devs were very smart in their approaches to problem solving and the ways they have added to the world and gameplay.  It has been amazing to watch and test.  They just take ideas and run with them.

  • ElnatorElnator Member Posts: 6,077
    Originally posted by Soldarith

    Thank you for taking the time to post a well-thought review on this game; it is appreciated.

    You're welcome :)

    I have some questions, however, if you or someone else who has actual first-hand experience is able to answer them.



    Is the world seamless - meaning, can a player explore wherever they want? To what limits? - Think of Fable and how a limiting terrain really limits your gameplay experience.


    The world in't perfectly seamless.  You will hit 'loading please wait' now and then but it's not frequent enough to matter.  NOTHING like EQ2's zone-zone-zone-zone but not as wide open as AC1.  But yes for the most part you can wander pretty much wherever you wish. 


    How is combat? Is it turn-based, queued, or is it live?
    Anyone who knows me knows I DETEST this term in MMORPG's.  There is no such thing as turn based play in MMORPG's (actually I think there are a couple online games which are turn based but they're not MMO's).  Combat is not 'live' it is timer based.  Actions take place and have delays like most other games (WoW, EQ2).  That's TIME based combat, not Turn based. 


    Are there limits to tradeskills - meaning, is it possible for a player to max out all of the tradeskills?


    I'm going to have to let someone who concentrated on crafting more than I answer that one.  I've never been a huge crafter in any games other than EVE and SWG and UO.  The crafting system is quite detailed is all I can really say.  I don't know if you CAN be "anything" or if you have to specialize.  I typically only chose crafts that will enhance my character.  IE: As a ranger I choose bowcraft etc.    I do know it's possible to 'level up' in tradeskills completely independantly of combat skills, which is nice. 






    Is the gameplay linear, 'a'la Guildwars - i.e. pre-determined storyline that you have to follow and the only 'freedom' you have is going back to old lands or the order in which you follow the main storyline.
    There is a storyline (main quest line) but it's not one you are forced to follow.  The game is completely open-ended.  You can follow the storyline, or not, as you see fit.  There are so many quests it's actually sometimes easy to forget about the storyline but eventually most come back to it to follow it.   The storyline itself is linear.  The game is not.  You can play the game just fine and never even do the storyline if you so desire.




    Can you return to older completed content for more loot/rewards? Speaking of loot, how is it handled in the world? Are there different quality types/rarities? Are there magical properties on items?
    Yes, you can return to older content if you wish.  Loot is random for the most part in the 'wild' many items are quest rewards and there is 'dropped' random loot as well.  There are even some "named" critters that drop nice items as well.  So far I haven't had problems in any of these areas.  It's also possible for players to imbue crafted items with magical type abilities.




    How to does the game intent on handling "farming" or "camping" - two very different topics but somewhat related.


    To be honest farming/camping really isn't necessary though I suspect there will be those who do it.  It's far faster to level/acquire gear by just doing quests or crafting than camping or farming for them.  




    Can a player solo in the game forever and still feel a sense of achievement?
    I did :)  Depends on your personal preference but yes,  you can solo pretty much anything in the game.  There are a few quests specifically designed for group play, however, which will give a solo player some trouble but you CAN do them solo if you plan properly... tactics play a big part in doing much of the content solo.


    Economy - How does the world's economy work? It is player-driven? Are there auction houses to sell/buy or does everyone just shout around town?


    Finally, what goals are there for a character? I mean beyond the obvious ones: Do every single quest! Gain levels faster than everyone else! Amass amounts of money that one's character could never spend! etc...I mean, it being an MMO I assume there is no "ending" per-say...but what are the goals of characters playing in this so well-defined world?
    Well, I'm not hugely 'goal' oriented when I play a fantasy MMORPG so you'll have to get that answer from other players.  I'm a explorer/quester by nature so my 'goal' in most MMORPG's is to "see what's there to be seen and explore".  It varies from person to person I'm sure.  There are items to get so aquisition types will, of course, be trying to get all the best gear and levellers will be trying to hit X level first, etc.  Folks like me just enjoy the content provided and have fun.  Also the game is RICH in roleplay features so I will really enjoy the roleplaying that does go on in the game. 


    Thanks again for an excellent read and I look forward to this discussion providing some invaluable information about the game.


    Glad I could help!

    Currently Playing: Dungeons and Dragons Online.
    Sig image Pending
    Still in: A couple Betas

  • ElnatorElnator Member Posts: 6,077
    Originally posted by RainStar


    I only have an Intel Celeron 1.3GHz
     
    Erm... it's way past time to upgrade :)  My laptop from 4 years ago is faster than that (2.2ghz) :) 

    Currently Playing: Dungeons and Dragons Online.
    Sig image Pending
    Still in: A couple Betas

  • SpiritofGameSpiritofGame Member UncommonPosts: 1,329

    I have been testing LOTRO since Alpha (back in August) and the OP's analysis is very comprehensive.

    And, after all of that testing, my answer is also simple:

    ... I pre-ordered to become a Founder.

  • BahzBahz Member UncommonPosts: 182
    Started playing yesterday and I thought I would not like it but its great I must say :) Also gonna pre-order as soon as its available for EU
  • KemenlithKemenlith Member Posts: 263
    Okay, someone had a question about crafting...



    When you choose your occupation for crafting, it consists of three professions. Usually they are two creation and one foraging profession, although the explorer has two foraging and only one creation. They are all pretty unique, yet have a few crossovers. Historians are the only ones able to research scholarship and create recipe boosters, dye armor, etc. Weaponsmiths do what they do, and so do armorsmiths, there is a woodworking class, a farmer, and a cook. Think I got them all.



    As far as Item variety goes, its absolutely nuts. There are so many items to choose from. Even in the beginning I found a robe for level 5+ chars that add a 1+ agility bonus. There was also a early dagger that adds wisdom.



    Customization really hits in once you get a decent amount of traits. Class traits can increase your skills drasticly. One trait for the champion class adds a 25% critical hit bonus to all skills within a certain skill branch. Other traits add modifiers to stats, or add resistance to posion, wounds, fear, etc.



    There is so much to find in the game that the size of the world doesn't matter much atm. Also it looks like more areas in Eriador will be available at launch than now. on the map I can see where it says "To grey havens" and other places. Hopfully by launch there will be more zones open!

    Currently: Playing EVE Online
    Previous: FFXI, Dragonrealms, sad little stint in WOWland.
    Awaiting: Fallen Earth, Hero''s Journey, Tabula Rasa, Age of Conan.

  • RainStarRainStar Member Posts: 638
    Originally posted by Elnator

    Originally posted by RainStar


    I only have an Intel Celeron 1.3GHz
     
    Erm... it's way past time to upgrade :)  My laptop from 4 years ago is faster than that (2.2ghz) :) 



    Yeah, when I can afford to get a new one.

    /sigh

  • milhoan6milhoan6 Member CommonPosts: 580
    Originally posted by Jackdog

    Originally posted by RainStar


    Thanks for the review Elnator, can't wait to play it. Unfortunately, my computer is about 5 years old so I'm thinking I'll need a new one.
    I can play SWG fine but it looks like LotRO needs a better computer than what I have to run it.



    it's a pretty forgiving engine Rainstar, here is the requirements page

    http://www.lotro.com/index.php?page_id=104

    heres some screen shots of the  same scene lowest, medium and highest settings

    low

    http://img201.imageshack.us/img201/2540/screenshot00038qk6.jpg

    medium

    http://img441.imageshack.us/img441/1048/screenshot00040jd3.jpg

    high

    http://img404.imageshack.us/img404/4229/screenshot00039ka4.jpg

    a scene indoors on lowest and highest settings

    lowest

    http://img441.imageshack.us/img441/2328/screenshot00037bi0.jpg

    highest

    http://img201.imageshack.us/img201/5954/screenshot00036ju2.jpg

     

     


    I see you play a dwarf too. Before the last wipe I had a lvl 18 man champion but was starting to get bored with him. I came back and made a dwarf champion and am loving it.
  • RobbHoodRobbHood Member Posts: 58
    Its a good title but the same old stuff really.  No sense of ownership or permanence. 
  • solareussolareus Member Posts: 3,165
    Yup Cinematography scenes, narratives , solid story line and stellar art direction. Being able to jam with your fellow players in a musical piece , same old stuff :D



    If you want to own stuff, you should check project etophia, they sold a peace of virtual land for 25k ( probably to brad mcquaid lol )

    "Freedom is just another name for nothing left to lose" - Janis Joplin
    image

  • DystopiaBoyDystopiaBoy Member Posts: 222
    Originally posted by RobbHood

    Its a good title but the same old stuff really.  No sense of ownership or permanence. 



    After playing the beta for a couple days, I would have to agree with you (somewhat that is). To me the LOTRO = 70% WoW and 30% EQ2; basically they took all the good things from both games and rolled it into one. I guess I would explain it as an adult version of  WoW. However I wont pass final judgement until I get further into the game.

     

    I was a little disapointed with some of the character models (the humans, and elves to be exact). They seem kind of bland looking to me - especially for a next gen MMORPG. The dwarf, hobbits, and environment look great though.

     

    As far as ownership and permanence, do you mean owning houses?

  • Batak_KillerBatak_Killer Member UncommonPosts: 356
    Originally posted by DystopiaBoy

    Originally posted by RobbHood

    Its a good title but the same old stuff really.  No sense of ownership or permanence. 



    After playing the beta for a couple days, I would have to agree with you (somewhat that is). To me the LOTRO = 70% WoW and 30% EQ2; basically they took all the good things from both games and rolled it into one. I guess I would explain it as an adult version of  WoW. However I wont pass final judgement until I get further into the game.

     

    I was a little disapointed with some of the character models (the humans, and elves to be exact). They seem kind of bland looking to me - especially for a next gen MMORPG. The dwarf, hobbits, and environment look great though.

     

    As far as ownership and permanence, do you mean owning houses?

    about the bland thing i dont agree at all

    about the wow and eq thing maybe  but why should that be a bad thing?

    p.s. they took great things from wow only to make them better and more challenging.....wow sucks

    image

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