When it comes to dungeon crawling, I can't get enough and I was
intrigued when I heard that href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/65150" target="_blank">Turbine
was releasing a Mines of Moria expansion for href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/65099" target="_blank">Lord
of the
Rings Online. Unfortunately, I joined the party late in the
game, but I finally grabbed the title this past weekend and have to
admit I've been pleasantly surprised.

style="margin: 10px; border-collapse: collapse; float: right; width: 200px;"

href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/65153" target="_blank"> alt="" src="/image/view/65153/preview"
style="border: 2px solid ; width: 200px;">

Look Ma, I'm

Since I couldn't play any type of evil character, I decided to play a
grizzled, stocky dwarf. Looking through the classes, I realized I had
to play a target="_blank">Rune-keeper.
Sure some of the other races can play the class as well, but honestly,
they're nothing but posers no matter how they try to argue it. Dwarves
are the caretakers and shapers of the earth itself, so if I had to play
a good guy, there was no way I could go with someone that was
short-lived (weak humans), frilly (yeah, that's you elves), and weighs
less than fifty pounds soaking wet (start bulking up hobbits!). The
character customization process was reasonably fleshed out, enough so
that I didn't feel gypped when I hit the Create Character button. Thus,
Dalmarus, Rune-keeper of the Blue Mountains, was born.

From the moment I stepped into the game, it was obvious the development
team wanted you to immediately feel as though you were an important and
integral part of the land. Upon character creation, you're dropped into
a small instance to learn some of the basic mechanics of the game.
Within the first ten minutes of playing, I could easily see the team
had taken great care to avoid a number of mistakes made by other
companies in the past.

Normally, I absolutely hate escort quests. Why? Because invariably the
NPC you're supposed to be following is a complete moron when it comes
to keeping themselves alive. They'll rush ahead, lag behind, and never
quit for breaks. This couldn't be further from the truth in the Dwarven
initial instance. On top of being smart enough to keep up with you and
go at a pace that wasn't too fast and wasn't too slow, this NPC could
actually fight. He wasn't just an extra pet that was there with the
sole intention of soaking up damage waiting for you to finish beating
the mob down. On one occasion, he actually saved my hide while I was
trying to figure out what one of my skills did. It was an amazing

My favorite parts of the instance though were the breaks my companion
would take. Rather than just standing there for a minute, he'd tell me
a very brief story, or say how he was out of practice and needed to sit
down for a rest. I know it sounds like really small touches, but like
they say, the devil is in the details. By combining so many small (but
important) touches, the team succeeded in bringing you into the world
(and thus the game) more quickly than virtually any other game I can
think of right now.

Immediately upon exiting the instance, I noticed another small stroke
that actually shocked me. I could see my breath. Standing there, on the
slope of a cold mountain, surrounded by snow, I could see my
character's breath puff up and hover around his face as he breathed. I
couldn't believe it. Once again, such a small detail had an amazing
effect on me and my investment in my character. He wasn't just some
group of polygons to be dragged around, but was becoming a living and
breathing extension of myself in a new world. It was a great feeling
and at this point, I finally started to get over my grumbling about not
being able to play an evil character. I was ready to move on and
discover more about this new land I found myself in.

style="margin: 10px; border-collapse: collapse; float: left; width: 200px;"

href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/65154" target="_blank"> alt="" src="/image/view/65154/preview"
style="border: 2px solid ; width: 200px;">

Dwarves must
be from Texas... nothing is small!

Like some other more recent games, questing is the name of the game. I
don't see any reason why you couldn't grind your way through levels,
but I just couldn't do it without clawing my eyes out first. Questing
in LotRO not only has the normal benefit of getting you some sorely
needed levels in a relatively short period of time (at least in the
beginning), but it also serves the secondary purpose of kicking you out
of the nest. Initially, I'll admit that I was a little annoyed that
everywhere I went, I seemed to be blocked off. It wasn’t
until I realized that after you're dumped out of that first instance
you're not quite out of the woods yet. You're in the same land area you
would normally start in, but in what appears to be an earlier time
frame. Once you complete a decent number of quests to get you between
levels five and six, you do another instance that finally href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/65104" target="_blank">allows
free reign in your travels.

One of the coolest things I discovered early in the game was the
ability to not only take a horse from one city to another, but the
ability to jump off that horse at any time. Once again, it may sound
small, but how many times have you been on a mount (land or air) and
halfway to your destination realize you're right beside a mob area you
need to hunt, or that you're currently flying over a rare resource
you've been searching for. The ability to hit a dismount key at any
point during your trip is nothing short of brilliant. It's just more
proof that by taking a close look at the details of everything we're
already used to that a game can begin to rise above the rest.

There's so much more to LotRO than the brief look I've given here so
far. As of this moment, it's safe to say that href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/65117" target="_blank">I'm
impressed with what the Turbine team has done so far. It's
been a very long time since any game has made a concerted effort to
grab my attention right off the bat. Maybe they have tried, but in
comparison to LotRO, the majority of the others have failed and failed
badly. I know you're begging for more information right now, but don't
worry. I won't leave you hanging. I'll be back next week with part two
of Lord of the Rings Online: A Journey to Mount Doom, so
stay tuned!

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Lord of the Rings Online Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016