By Jay "
Ten Ton Hammer Community Member
While we sit in the doldrums of the spring waiting for nicer weather, style="font-style: italic;">Age of Conan, Warhammer Online,
Wrath of the Lich King, et al to be unleashed, I thought
it would be a great time to jump back into style="font-style: italic;">Lord of the Rings Online.
By the way, in case you haven't been keeping up, Turbine has provided
new LOTRO content to the tune of almost monthly since it launched. So
the world is definitely different than when I last dove into Bree-town.
Waiting for the
balmier days of spring? Fire up LOTRO to pass the time!
First question, why did I leave a level 12 minstrel and a slew of level
6-8 characters within 2 months of the original launch? Fair enough, I
went back to WoW. I know, that’s a total shocker. It really
was a case of playing where my friends play. They were playing WoW and
I wasn't. I was left out and falling behind, so I went back. Well now
we are all twiddling our thumbs in Azeroth wondering if beating our
heads against the wall for badges, honor, dailies, etc. are really
worth that gear which will provide me with +.002 more hit rating. And
yes, we've seen all of the new content minus the 25 man stuff that I
haven't seen since…well I've never seen any 25 man stuff.
I'm at a point right now that I can leave WoW until Lich King comes out
and not be behind my friends at all. I can jump back in anytime. So
it’s a perfect time to dive into another game and give it a
go - and LOTRO won.
Without further ado, my second impression of LOTRO:
I started a Human Champion this time on the Landroval server (stop by
and say hi to Medeor). He likes long walks on the beach and hates rude
Typical game reviews seem to start with visuals, but I could give a
rat’s backside about that - I want to smack things in the
face and see what happens. LOTRO's combat system is not WoW. And this
time around I like it. By level 4, I had an aura to keep up, an AoE
attack, and certain combo attacks that required fervor (similar to a
rage style system for warriors in WoW). You use the lower grade attacks
to build fervor and then you pick between damage attacks or buffs to
spend your fervor points on. The buff lengths are different and provide
defensive and offensive benefits so I find myself constantly evaluating
during a fight which to fire back up. At the beginning of a fight it is
pretty straight forward, but as you get into the fight it depends on
all of the variables like - what is the health differential between me
and the mob, was there an add, etc. This is all before level 10 which I
would say is pretty unique. You can still hit auto attack and just
cycle through the attacks, but I really enjoy this strategic play.
The other difference in combat is the queuing system. You queue up
spells while cooldowns are occurring. I’m still working on
this mechanic. I have not perfected exactly how it works, only that it
The combat animations are decent and you can see the effects, but so
far they seem a bit limited (of course my level 10 combats are
limited). My biggest complaint is that debuffs put on you by mobs are
put in the same bar as your buffs and on my screen (a 24”
monitor running at 1440x990), and those debuffs are the size of a dime
so I spend time hovering over them to see what they are, how long they
are going to last and what their effects are (maybe I can change this
in settings, I’ve yet to really dig too deep into the
options). The time this was frustrating was when I was apparently
stunned but couldn’t tell until I tried to swing back.
The community in
LOTRO was very helpful to Medeor.
Community and Chat
The community has been surprisingly nice, helpful and even a bit fun.
Bree is a long ways from the Barrens. I’m sure there are
wingnuts, but fortunately they haven’t played (or they have
kept quiet) when I’ve been online.
The chat window is actually very good. It operates pretty simply, with
one really nice feature. There is an “IMs” window
that shows a button for recent people you have had private
conversations with so you can just click on their button and it shows
you just the chat info for your conversation with that person. A very
So far I would have to give the mapping a failing grade. While ornate,
the maps are close to unusable to actually see how to get where I want
to go – it shows general directions but not much more. Maybe
I will get used to it and I’ll retract this statement later.
Quests and Log
Forty quests in a log – Woot! and Ugh! all rolled into one!
Being a completionist, enabling me to have 40 quests is like dumping
the sunflower seeds in front of a vampire (see X Files archives for
more info). I can’t move on until I have clicked all of the
“done” boxes. The quest log has a nice segmentation
between the different quest types and so far the quest log itself is
The quest text is very well written in my opinion. I can find what I
need to get and then where to go next – my needs are simple.
Deeds and Titles
The graphics in LOTRO
- in Medeor's opinion - are decent.
I remember thinking “meh” when I first saw the
titles and deeds at launch. Now I find myself killing a few extra
spiders so I can get that title of Spider Hunter. Not a primary driver
in the game, but a nice to have feature. As you unlock these titles or
complete deeds you also unlock traits which are yet another way to
increase your characters abilities. I’m still figuring these
out (so far I have one and it increases my resistance to name a
I’m typically not a fan of the photo-realistic games because
all I see are flaws. It’s much easier for me to lose myself
in space or cartoonland type graphics, maybe I’m odd that
way. The graphics for LOTRO are good and so far I like the animations,
however my one major issue is that when I use the WASD keys to turn
while running forward, my character turns like he is a bus –
it is a lazy turn versus using my mouse to turn which makes nice crisp
turns. Maybe I can sharpen those turns through the options, which again
I need to check into it.
Being able to shelve my WoW-centric focus and really check out LOTRO
has been a fun change of pace for me. Whether or not I will keep
rolling through their next expansion is yet to be determined, but I
would like to see the Mines of Moria!
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