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The Lord of the Rings Online: One Review to Rule Them All (Page 2)

Updated Thu, Dec 02, 2010 by Medawky

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Multiplayer

82GoodLotRO was, by its very design, meant to be a game with a heavy emphasis on group play. However much like the proverbial horse, just because you lead your players to water it doesn’t mean you can make them cast out a line and fish (or maybe it’s you can’t make them drink, I’m notoriously bad at analogies). With the relative ease of the early game, most players will opt to solo up into their 20s if not farther. Groups, known as fellowships appropriately enough, are easier to form in LotRO than in most MMOGs – needing only 3 people to get underway. Content scales up for larger fellowships as well; including full on raid instances which rival those of World of Warcraft and EverQuest in terms of complexity and fun.

LotRO

Getting in with a good guild will go a long way towards improving your multiplayer experience. Another advantage here is that the community is among the best in the genre, with tons of knowledgeable folks who are all too happy to help – but do your research and find an established server with a large playerbase.

Value

97ExcellentThere is a multitude of content available in LotRO for every subscriber level, and free-to-play players can get more than just a cursory glance at the world before they need to open their wallets. While an expanded backpack or a permanent steed are both highly advantageous and priced well, one could conceivably level all the way to 20 or 30 without spending a red cent. For part time players or folks who aren’t smitten with the story and lore of LotRO, it’s the perfect downtime game where you can log in for a few hours here and there and still have an enjoyable experience. For the most dedicated however, subscribing is the way to go.

Yes, you can still be a subscriber even though the game is now free-to-play. There are three tiers available; Free Player, which grants you the most basic of access and features the most account restrictions – such as only a single character slot. Premium Player is the next step up and is automatically granted to any player who makes a Turbine Point, the games microtransaction currency, purchase. Premium grants you two additional character slots, better login access (which isn’t much of an issue on most servers) and 30 days of customer service from the time you make your point purchase. VIP is the final level of access and it opens up most of the games features, including the Monster Play PvP aspect that I spoke briefly about in the gameplay section, but comes with a monthly fee. In addition to Monster Play, VIP subscribers are also given 500 Turbine Points each month to spend in the item shop – but all three levels will need to purchase both of the games existing expansions to gain access to the Rune Keeper and Warden classes as well as the extended level caps.

The item shop is among the most well stocked in any free-to-play game and prices are very reasonable. For 15.00 USD you could purchase a skirmish, a permanent mount and a bag upgrade giving LotRO an outstanding grade in the value department.

Lasting Appeal

82GoodThree years and two expansion packs, with a third recently announced, are a good indication that the final battle at Mt. Doom is still a long ways off.  The biggest factor in a player’s long term attachment will be their group of friends and level of devotion to Tolkien’s Middle-earth.

Many of the established players that I spoke with were very happy with the transition to free-to-play and had been using their monthly deposits of Turbine points to outfit alts, adding a nice replay incentive to those already most familiar with the game. Past performance indicates that Turbine is not one to rest on their laurels, so it follows that we can expect more enhancing and tweaking of the game to help keep it fresh and interesting for years to come.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  •     High immersion factor, lifelong Tolkien fans will feel right at home.
  •     Huge game world with tons of content.
  •     Multiple gameplay modes will satisfy almost every type of MMOG player.
  •     Scalable content allows for greater flexibility when forming groups.
  •     Extremely polished game with high production value.

Cons:

  •     Episodic content can leave new players feeling out of the loop.
  •     Transitioning from one quest hub to the next isn’t always a smooth process.
  •     Pacing will feel slow to players used to some newer MMOGs.
  •     Pricing structure can be a bit confusing.
  •     Free-to-play limits can feel overly constricting


Conclusion

One of the deepest and most complete MMOGs to ever be published, The Lord of the Rings Online offers nothing short of a premium experience at a free-to-play price point. Much like the books and movies that serve as the inspiration for the game, the buildup is a little on the slow side but well worth the investment if you enjoy a long term relationship. 

Medawky Review at Ten Ton Hammer

  • Game Name: Lord of the Rings Online
  • Review Date: December 2nd, 2010
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