This was supposed to be a Dragon Age 2 post, but then I saw an email from Turbine, notifying me that the LotRO EU to NA transfer is over and that I can finally have a go at the game. I had it installed and ready, but I’ve been waiting for the transfer to complete before I tried it because I didn’t want to deal with the transfer shenanigans. I was planning to give it a whirl for an hour or so and then go back to writing the DA2 post. The quick toe-dip turned into a five-hour session before I even knew it (okay I did). So today instead of DA2 I bring you my impressions on LotRO.
Initially I was planning on rolling a Warden after hearing about how interesting their gambit mechanic is. It turns out Wardens are a class that needs to be unlocked through turbine points, so I went with a dwarf champion. There’s nothing better than a dual wielding ball of fury (I miss my Slayer). My plan is to gather enough turbine points on my dwarf so I can unlock the Warden and play him from then on, but I’m already glancing at the Hunter. I’m not sure if the two character cap is applied per server or per character, because that could prevent me from rolling a thousand alts. We’ll see.
PS: The cape you see in the screenshot is an item I got from a promotional code. It came with 250 turbine points, a pocket item and a Bree Pony (which I was really glad I got).
Here are the things I didn’t enjoy so far:
- I realise LotRO is quite an old game now, but I still cringe every time I see my dwarf swing his weapons. Some animations are quite terrible, as are some of the weapon models. But I guess I can live with that. The spell effects are quite nice though.
- Being reminded on every turn of the LotRO shop is really bothering me. I can understand the need for Turbine to turn a profit from the F2P model, but it feels like half of the game functions are locked unless I spend (a small amount) of turbine points for them. I was fine with inventory space, quests, outfits, crafting materials and even two of the classes being locked. But when I wanted to create an auction and discovered that I can’t unless I spend 95 TP on purchasing 5 auction slots, I was about to log out. Later I also discovered that I need to buy trait slots I already unlocked if I want to use them. There’s a fine line between turning a profit in order to develop and sustain the game and greed. Right now it feels like Turbine are more fond of the latter, but I’ll just bear with it for now (I have no intention of paying for the game yet) and see how it affects the gameplay.
- Because LotRO is such a PvE, story-driven MMO, I expected the quests to be better. It simply feels like there are too many quests of the “run there and back again for no reason” kind. But apart from those, I’m quite enjoying the better epic quests (or whatever they are called).
- No PvP. I went into the game knowing that there is none (I tried Monster Play back when I did a trial for the game a few months after it came out and it’s not really PvP), but I can’t help but feeling like something is missing. I can’t really fault the game for that, but rather myself. What I can fault it for is the fact that Monster Play needs to be unlocked. Boooo.
- Nothing really screams Middle Earth at me. Perhaps my inner Middle Earth nerd has faded a bit (I admit I have forgotten most of Hobbit and Silmarillion) and the IP has merged with most other fantasy settings in my brain. Or perhaps the game doesn’t really start resembling the LotR setting until the later portions of the game. In any case, so far the game feels pretty much like a generic fantasy MMO, which is a shame since the IP is supposed to be its strong point.
And here are the things I have enjoyed:
- The classes seem interesting and the combat is complex enough for me to not be bored even when doing the generic quests.
- The deed, trait and virtue systems seems very complex and it feels like I’ve yet to scrape the surface of it. It could prove to be very interesting. In fact, the game as a whole seems quite complex, which is a good thing. It promises to keep me occupied for quite a long time.
- Crafting appears to have adequate depth to it. It’s not as simple as picking two crafting skills and making stuff because there are quite a few of them and you really can’t be self-sufficient. And while it’s not really complex with its recipe design, it should take quite a while before I understand all of it. I haven’t had much of a look, but LotRO promises a player driven economy.
- I got a horse early, which is a very good thing, I hate it when games give me a mount after I’ve already ran the length of a continent in my adventures. Plus the mount is very realistic and one of the better animated ones I’ve seen (although I haven’t really seen that many). The sidestepping is quite awesome, it looks like the horse is dancing. Love it!
- The game has everything a decent AAA MMO title is expected to have. A fully customisable and complex (but intuitive) UI, an appearance system complete with dyes, a very detailed quest tracker, tutorial and tips that will start you on your way and tooltips explaining stats and systems within the game.
- There are plenty of roleplaying opportunities. I’m not really a roleplayer myself, but even I have noticed a bunch of opportunities to do so, which might interest other players.
The Saga Continues?
For all my whining, the true testament to the quality of the MMO is the fact that I’ve spent around five hours playing it and want to return. I feel like I haven’t even scraped the surface at level 11 and that there’s so much to see and do. Perhaps I’m this MMO hungry simply because I haven’t played one for such a long time. But it seems like LotRO is a game I could enjoy for quite some time, we’ll see. For now, my adventures continue.