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Reader Comments (54)

Posted: Mar 5th 2010 12:03PM (Unverified) said

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Thanks for posting this. I think lotro is really a small gem in the current MMO landscape. Although I sometimes wish it were less like WoW with it's levels I'm still amazed at the polish of all the small details and the lovingly crafted world and that with some of its system it tries to distance itself from the many 1:1 WoW clones.

Posted: Mar 5th 2010 11:17AM (Unverified) said

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It's solid and always expanding and being refined, but to be honest, it's still a pretty brutal march at times to get to the newer, better content - especially if you're a casual player: it's going to be a long, long time before you ever get a mount and get into their "modern" content.

Not that other established MMOs are any better in this regard, mind you. Though the big dog is doing their best right now to refine the new user experience, and Bioware will (and I'm making a big assumption here, though I see little reason to think otherwise given their track record) create the first MMO that's as fun to play from the outset as it is through the middle and "end game". Fully voiced and story driven and all, and being able to learn from all of the mistakes of their peers over the last five-or-so years.

So if I were offering advice to a newcomer of "should I try LOTRO or the new shiny?", I might just suggest the shiny, since it might actually provide a more compelling and enjoyable experience for the first month. Hell, to be truthful, until SW:TOR or Cataclysm goes live, I'd probably just tell them to try Mass Effect 2/Dragon Age/Batman/Assassin's Creed 2/Heavy Rain/any of the other awesome games that have come out in the last year. The MMO scene has been pretty stagnant for years now.

Posted: Mar 5th 2010 1:01PM Tanek said

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"it's still a pretty brutal march at times to get to the newer, better content"

If the potential player you are talking to is only looking to race to the level cap, raid, etc, then you may be right that LotRO is not the place they should start. If, however, the player wants to take the time to enjoy the journey, I think LotRO can be just as much fun at level 5 (although these days you are at level 5 for approximately 2.7 seconds ;) ) as it is at 65.

Plus, the Turbine developers have even gone back to older content to revise here and there where they felt it was needed. So I never get the impression from them that they let parts of the game gather dust just because there is something new at the top.
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Posted: Mar 5th 2010 11:18AM (Unverified) said

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Aside from convincing friends to play, this article may have just convinced *me* to go back and give it a solid effort. Having hopped on at launch and been (somewhat unwittingly) dragged back into WoW before I could dive too deep, I've admired LotRO for quite some time now. It's just so solid, and every time I go back in for the numerous Welcome Back weekends (of which I've taken too little advantage), there just seems like so much content that can be lovingly sifted through.

My only concern is the classic "showing up horribly late to the party" syndrome at this point, in addition to just not knowing what class I want (Champion or Minstrel?!) The change to make the older books soloable is a lovely turn, though.

For anyone who's been on the fence about this game, I highly recommend the trial. While at its core it's a traditional MMO through and through, I almost see it as the NPR to WoW's wacky morning show. Sure, one's a lot flashier, and don't get me wrong, it's fun, but LotRO just feels classier in a lot of ways.

Posted: Mar 5th 2010 11:27AM aurickle said

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There are two games for which I've purchased lifetime subscriptions. This is the one I have no regrets over. I will occasionally go play something else for a while, but LotRO always brings me back.

Great list! But you forgot to mention one of the most impressive ways in which they've catered to the RP community: the very robust music system! I don't know any other MMO where your character can play a song with one of a choice of instruments, or where you'll occasionally walk into the auction house and discover a small band of minstrels playing together.

Posted: Mar 5th 2010 11:56AM (Unverified) said

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The lifetime subscription is probably the main reason why I haven't tried Lord of the Rings Online. When the game first came out, I wasn't sure if I would play the game enough to justify the expense. As the game went on, I kept reading more and more about how people liked the game. It wasn't a WoW killer... but it was a good game.

Then, it was a series of me missing other opportunities to get the lifetime subscription. I either didn't have the time/money to waste or the lifetime subscription wasn't available to me.

See... Guild Wars ruined other MMORPGs for me. I like the idea of not having a subscription fee. There's less pressure to justify the game's entertainment value. So, if I was going to play LotRO, it was going to be with the lifetime membership. I didn't take the plunge. I'm not regretting that choice. But for you, congratulations! Your reaction seems to be common. There seems to be lots of satisfied lifetime subscribers.
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Posted: Mar 5th 2010 2:33PM nevin said

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Is the user generated music (playing) anything like Turbine did with AC2?
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Posted: Mar 5th 2010 3:03PM aurickle said

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I never played AC2 so can't speak to that, but here are the generalities:

At level 5 (or around there) any character can learn to play two instruments. Minstrels get access to many more during their career. Around level 30 they can also teach other characters how to play instruments that they know.

You equip an instrument and enter music mode. This turns your keyboard into a keyboard of another sort. So you can play a song by pressing the appropriate keys on your keyboard.

They have also implemented ABC support. You can put ABC files into your directory and then call them by name from within the game. Your character will then auto-play the song. TONS of songs are available at http://www.thefatlute.com/ -- it's a modding community in and of itself, although it specializes in music for LotRO rather than interfaces.

In addition, they have added a synchronization feature. All characters in a band load up the appropriate ABC file. (For example, a song might have different parts of clarinet, lute and flute.) The band leader then issues a command so that everyone plays in synch, with their selected instruments. The results are spectacular.

Enjoy!
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Posted: Mar 7th 2010 7:16PM Grendel said

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"I don't know any other MMO where your character can play a song with one of a choice of instruments,"

So you should take a look at Mabinogi.
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Posted: Mar 5th 2010 11:37AM Wisdomandlore said

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Don't listen to some of the posters on here. LOTRO is the newbie-friendlist P2P MMO around. Leveling from 1-35 (when you can get your mount) is virtually painless. Turbine has toned down the content and upped the XP so much. Reaching a comparable level of content and power in WoW takes 2-3 times as long. There's still tons of people doing the Moria group-content as well.

My biggest problem with LOTRO, and why I'm letting my subscription expire (finally) in April, is Turbine's continued instancing of the world. Something this article points out as a strength is the expansive, story-filled world. Playing LOTRO in its prime was as an adventure. Today, you're just sitting in a pretty lobby waiting to load another instance. Once you get to max level, there's no difference between LOTRO and DDO...except DDO has better instances (and is F2P).

Posted: Mar 5th 2010 12:37PM Cinnamoon said

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I loved LOTRO, but it's a far cry from being newbie-friendly, and a mad dash from being the "newbie-friendliest MMO around". You don't even need a large sample size of MMOs to know that's hyperbole.

I'd *still* recommend it to MMO veterans looking for something new to try. It has a really nice feel, it's been improved significantly since launch, and is a nice, slow, cozy "retirement" MMO for those sick of the rat race in other games.
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Posted: Mar 5th 2010 1:34PM warwon said

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I don't want to post comments against game but since the last patch I have really bad feeling about this game has become.

1. Population has dropped (no one can disprove this) Brandywire is heavy in population, but such servers as Ladvoal are low.

2. Lack of content as of late, Mirkwood was the last area added, and before/after that content was slow coming in. Before Moria new books (areas were often), after moria it was almost 90 days before a patches came out to fix issues from Mirkwood.

3. Resetting of lendary weapons all the time (my weapon been reset several times)

4. First series of books are suppose to be soloable now (good luck), Book 1 Chapter 8 is impossible without a healer to help the NPC escort.

5. Groups are very hard to find.

6. The game word is massive and hard to get around, Book 1 Chapter 7 quests have you traveling almost all over the entire world twice for one item.

7. Turbine has given up on it, patches are so long inbetween in makes you wonder if they do care.

Posted: Mar 5th 2010 12:13PM Nandini said

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I do not have a favorite skirmish. Why isn't there a "none of the above" option?

That said, this article focuses on some very strong points of the game. Having played for almost 3 years now, I would agree with each of those points.

Also, Re: Hans Gruber:
"It's solid and always expanding and being refined, but to be honest, it's still a pretty brutal march at times to get to the newer, better content - especially if you're a casual player: it's going to be a long, long time before you ever get a mount and get into their "modern" content."

The journey in this game is much more enjoyable than the destination. If you are just in a rush to level 65, you're really missing out on the best parts of the game. The newer content isn't necessarily "better"; in fact, many players agree that the original content from 3 years ago is still the best developed and most coherent.

P.S. -- You can get a mount at level 20 now. For new players, this may take a few days, but not "a long, long time".

Posted: Mar 5th 2010 12:04PM (Unverified) said

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LotRO is a superb game BUT the end-game and path to the end-game 55-65 is woefully broken. LotRO has minimal LFG tools and with 99% of the user base at the cap and running instances or alts, it makes for running group quests nigh impossible. The work to solo most of the game continues, but be warned you will have a hard hike after lvl50. The end-game grinding of tokens for armor is pretty much as bad (if not worst) than badges in WoW at the moment.

Posted: Mar 5th 2010 2:26PM (Unverified) said

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Agreed on the LFG tools. The player-created channel, GLFF, mirrors what the WoW community had to work with until the LFG system was revamped. For a while I had hoped that LOTRO would mirror WoW's history in this regard, but it seems they are more interested in creating soloable content as an alternative to the ones that require groups.

But, I have to disagree with you regarding post-50 leveling. Moria has enough zones that in combination with some skirmishes and daily instances (to progress your legendary weapons or crafting), it is *very* easy to level to cap before you even explore *half* of the mountain, and before even having to set foot in Lothlorien.

The "end-game grinding" for armor tokens is most certainly not even half as bad as WoW. In LOTRO, player competency plays a much larger part of the equation. End-game grinding for gear is really only for radiance. It is arguably an annoying gating system, but LOTRO provides multiple ways for you to acquire radiance: a player who invested time to acquire level 60 radiance gear can spend less time upgrading to level 65-quality radiance. For a new level 65 player with zero radiance that decides to skip level 60 raiding, they can run several 3-man (level 60) instances to get lesser radiance pieces in combination with the greater radiance pieces from the newer level 65 instances (of which there are also 3-man ones).

The only way I can imagine it being harder than in WoW is if the player community you play with is dogmatic about class composition, and refuse to run the instances outside their safety envelope. And that is unfortunate, because in LOTRO, classes are robust, instance content is capable of rewarding strategy over brute force, and unlike the WoW heroic gameplay, the combat is not split-second survival-by-coincidence.

LotRO is a superb game BUT the end-game and path to the end-game 55-65 is woefully broken. LotRO has minimal LFG tools and with 99% of the user base at the cap and running instances or alts, it makes for running group quests nigh impossible. The work to solo most of the game continues, but be warned you will have a hard hike after lvl50. The end-game grinding of tokens for armor is pretty much as bad (if not worst) than badges in WoW at the moment
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Posted: Mar 5th 2010 12:10PM Tigress74 said

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As a former LOTRO player I agree on the top 10 reasons. Its a wonderful game for RP'ers and older more mature gamers that want a laid back very casual atmosphere for gaming.

Unfortunately, that is not me. I eat through the content way too fast and find myself with all the best shinies and nothing to do.

Posted: Mar 5th 2010 12:30PM Seffrid said

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A good article, about an increasingly impressive game.

The only criticism I would make is that your American bias is coming across in the article, you should have made it clear that your "unofficial" role-play server is for the American version and that Laurelin is the official European role-play server.

Posted: Mar 5th 2010 12:51PM Bhima said

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As a 5 year WoW vet I have to admit, LoTRO was the ONLY free trial I played that got me extremely close to buying another sub. (but the wife wouldn't let me have 2 sub games at once). The game environment feels very polished and all the details regarding lore, and unique items like musical instruments will excite most MMO players that enjoy story. The game play is good overall but doesn't quite feel as tight to me as WoW. Maybe this is also because the character animations aren't as exciting as the rest of the world is. Another minor quibble: The skill icons are waaaay too detailed. It can be hard to differentiate one skill from another because there is just too much going on in just a 60x60 pixel image. Truly small issues though for an otherwise great gaming experience. Either way, if you haven't tried this game you absolutely should.

Posted: Mar 5th 2010 12:52PM (Unverified) said

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Well, you can't fault a brother for living in the US and speaking from that point of view :)

Posted: Mar 5th 2010 1:02PM (Unverified) said

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LOTRO is currently the best MMO out there, period. When was the last time you were actually moved by an in-game cinematic or sequence? When was the last time you saw landscapes so impressive they literally stopped you in your tracks? When was the last time you played a Boss encounter that wasn't just a hackfest? LOTRO is simply outstanding in its execution and development. And Turbine are without a doubt the best MMO developer AND supporter out there.

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