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