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I previously played LOTR in beta and ripped it for being a WoW clone.
I tried the game out 3 weeks ago. The game has definitely gotten better. Combat animations were improved. Graphics were tweaked.
However the game overall is still missing something. I cant put my finger on it but the game is hollow and uninspiring. Anyway...
graphics - the strength of this game. In my opinion LOTR has the absolute best graphics of any mmo period. The attention to detail is simply amazing. The tree branches sway as though wind was blowing by. I nearly crapped my pants the 1st time I saw a flock of birds fly overheard. The water looks spectacular. I would purposely enter any body of water just so I could look at it.
quests - some were the typical go kill 10 wolves or boars kind. But some had very interesting storylines. And there are so many quests its practically overwhelming. Doing the quests is really the only way to level as mobs dont give out much xp. The quests also end up giving more than just loot, you'd get traits to boost abilities. If you love questing then I guess LOTR is for you.
Personally, I prefer sandbox mmo's with some quests in them but not as the only means of playing the game. After 2 straight weeks of questing, i spent the last week trying to find other things to do.
crafting - reminds me of Horizons. Kinda neat but gets old really fast. Nowhere near the complexity of say SWG but nothing else is really. I did some farming and messed around with scholar. My chief complaint with the crafting like with most MMO's is anyone can do it. You do crafting as a SECONDARY profession and dont sacrifice combat for it. Therefore, everyone is a crafter, therefore there is no reliance really. Yes if your a Historian, you'll need to buy mats to work on weaponsmith but its not as reliant as others. And with the option to make 5 toons per server (5 classes), you get to play everything and choose all crafter professions. So self-reliance, the key to making crafting and a real economy are non-existent. Dont get me wrong, the crafting isnt terrible but honestly its not what it could be.
Housing - doesnt exist as of now but rumors say its being looked at. Even if it is added, and im not counting on that as Ive played nearly all MMO's to date and they all promise things that rarely happen, it wont be in-game housing. The world is quite small so Im guessing the housing will be instanced. In many of the towns the buildings are just paintings and arent accessible. I wouldnt be suprised if theyre used for housing eventually.
Bugs - the game is very clean. I ran across only one bug and it was just a combat animation glitch. The lag has improved since beta and only gets skippy around the Auction House in Bree when there are tons of people around. For a game just out from launch, im impressed with the lack of issues.
Overall, LOTR is a decent game but it doesnt feel like an MMO to me. Yes there are people around but it played more like an RPG with IM attached. I cant quite put my finger on why it holds no interest for me. It might be many of the little things I expect from my MMO's that are missing.
I dont regret the $50 and the $15 monthly fee as I got 3 weeks entertainment. Thats more than I got out of Vanguard and the other MMO's Ive tried recently. Still, in the end it wasnt my cup of tea. So I search on for another home to finally replace my beloved SWG - pre-cu