Game Review: Lord of the Rings Online (Part 1)

I have never been interested in Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) games in the past, I’ve had a bit of a look at some of them and there was no appeal.  But the Star Wars game Old Republic has been in works for a while now, and I was kind of interested in that, and wondering if my laptop would be able to run it.

And then a gaming friend introduced me to Lord of the Rings online (LotRo).  One of my all time favourite settings, and the chance to be part of the story.  I was able to pick up a cheap copy of the initial game, Shadows of Angmar, and then had to do a 35,000 file update overnight.  But the next day I was ready to go, and it was with great excitement – and quite a bit of trepidation – that I logged in for the first time and started to use my free one month trial.

Of course, being me, I jumped right in and didn’t do anything like read the manual.  I just picked a character and class that I thought would be interesting.  And that is how I ended up with my Burg-Maiden of Rohan.  Little realising that Burgs are the most complex and unique class in the game, and nothing like the D&D style rogue or Rolemaster style swashbuckler I was expecting.

The introduction and prologue are solo, and felt a bit like other CRPGs I have played like Neverwinter Nights, except in the prologue I could see other players run around (but not interact with them).  Basic introduction to the setting and how quests work, plus a few key NPCs and finding your way around with a few fetch and carry quests.  Nothing too strenuous – but I was in Bree!  Well Archet, but close enough.

The setting is rich, complex and detailed, and I feel does real justice to Tolkien’s source material.  The scenery is lovely, and each area is quite visually unique – there is no mistaking when you are in rolling fields of The Shire, or when you are in the snowy mountainous regions of Ered Luin.  Angmar is a dusty red nightmare.  And Moria – well, I think that will have be left til another post.

I have a subscription now, which I am happy to pay $10 a month for.  Compared to the price of going to a movie it is definitely worth it.  But since I signed up they have introduced a Free to Play (F2P) model which allows new players to try the starter areas of The Shire (hobbits), Bree (men) and Ered Luin (elves and dwarves), as well as the next area of the Lone Lands before having to purchase quest packs.  So it is a good time for people who are interested but don’t want to spend money on a game before they know about it to give LotRo a go.

Note that subscribers get access to content without having to purchase the quest packs as long as they have Shadows of Angmar, and the Mines of Moria and Siege of Mirkwood expansions (when high enough level).  But even subscribers can earn Turbine Points through regular gameplay which can be spent on all kinds of in game boosts, extra storage space, or even used to purchase those quest packs and expansion packs.

In my next post I will talk about the different types of quests, and how they interact with the Lord of the Rings storyline.  And probably something on character classes, and other stuff as I think of it.

Your thoughts and stuff

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