Ottaro was asking how much I liked Lord of the Rings Online (you can read his comment here), and rather than write a 400 word comment I thought I’d write up a more general review. Only it got out of hand so I’m breaking it up into individual posts. This is part one which has an introduction and covers the game content. Part two looks at the system behind the game, part three covers the technology of the game such as the graphics engine, the user interface and so on, and part four provides my overall impressions, a look at the social elements in the game and how immersive I find it. I reserve the right to completely change all that once I actually write the articles and find I’ve waffled endlessly about something else.
So that you can get an idea of where I’m coming from with this review, here’s some information about me.
I played EverQuest for something like seven years. I played as a new player who knew nothing, as a player in a big casual guild who sometimes got groups with guild members but often grouped with random people, as someone who ended up in a raid guild one expansion behind the curve, as a ‘hard core’ grouper doing the hardest group content (at one point), as a casual raid-force leader, and all levels in-between. At one point I cared about the ratio of hit points to AC as a warrior, I cared about the amount of avoidance and shielding I had. I spent time looking at upgrades and trying to work out how to gain tiny incremental benefits. I had three maximum level characters (when 80 was the maximum level) and one of them had every useful AA (my warrior) before the last expansion came out. Eventually I just got tired.
I love fantasy and sci-fi, and I deeply love the world that Tolkien built and the characters he wrote about. I love the Lord of the Rings story, world, characters and mythos and I have done so since I was 11 or 12. However, I’m no serious scholar of Tolkien and Middle Earth, so if I think things aren’t in the lore but they are, don’t have me shot.
Before I stopped playing EverQuest (EQ) I’d tried a few other MMORPG’s, EverQuest II (EQII), World of Warcraft (WoW), Star Wars Galaxies (SWG), Guild Wars (GW), Dungeons and Dragons Online (DDO) and Lord of the Rings Online (LoTRO). I had the LoTRO account for over a year, playing on and off before I finally stopped EQ and LoTRO was not the cause. I fell back into LoTRO when I wanted a social on-line game and found that EQ was just too much.
I am very much a casual LoTRO player. I spend some time solo, most time with my wife and every now and then a little time with a few friends. Sometimes we group, sometimes we just chat while we all do our own thing. Before the release of Moria I had a maximum level character (50), but it had taken over 12 months to get there. I’ve tried all the classes to some level or another and all the races. I have never raided, and have spent very little time in the elite dungeons (top end content at various levels). I don’t look hard for item upgrades, when I get gear as rewards I make a snap decision based on which seems best using a bit of guesswork. I’ve read something like three articles on the web to give me a very basic insight into choosing weapons. I have very little idea how my character stats compare to other peoples, in fact, I have very little idea what my character stats are at all.
I play on a roleplaying designated European server (the European instance of LoTRO is run by Codemasters, I guess it’s licensed to them by Turbine, this means that we don’t always get all the features, like my.lotro.com for example). The roleplaying server keeps the number of trolls in the out of character chat down to a minimum. Although I don’t roleplay in any real sense I do act in-character as much as possible in the /say channel (i.e. the channel which emulates characters talking to those nearby) and if you want lots of roleplaying it’s there for the taking.
Continue reading Lord of the Rings Online – a review – part one