Lord of the Rings Online - A New Player's Review
I’ve always wanted to check out this game, but life and too many other options with Gaiscioch over the years made me skip it until now. During the twelfth anniversary celebration, I finally jumped into the game, along with other Gaiscioch. Better late than never!
Having bit my teeth first on Everquest, I actually enjoyed the grind of the never-ending questing throughout my exploration. Of course, you have to do the story quests. I became a fantasy fan, all because of Tolkein around the age of 12 when I read the books. I like how the lore has come alive in this game. You can find Gollum’s cave in the Misty Mountains and Gandalf’s hat deep in Moria, let alone tons of other things.
I decided to make my first character an elf minstrel. I’ve really enjoyed this class and she is still my main, despite the five other classes I have tried. I always have a horde, because I really dive into games I like to see how everything works.
Being a long time Gaiscioch, I did test out the fall damage in this game. My minstrel never achieved no death’s before the tenth level because I daringly jumped off a platform at Duillond. I received three messages about how that hurt me and made me succumb, due to my injuries. If you fall and survive you will hear the wonderful sound of something breaking and hobble along for a number of seconds, based on how badly you hurt yourself.
Questing and Deeds
There are a great many reasons to be thorough when exploring the world. The quests lead you through the areas and give you the reputation with the people living there. The deeds will also give you a great deal of rewards, including reputation, marks, and LOTRO Points (LP). LP earned in the game is a great way to acquire more things, like the expansions, more inventory space, some of the more specialized classes, buffs to help your character level faster, etc.
The quests are primarily area oriented and there are the continuing story quests. The story flows along with the actual Lord of the Rings books. You get interesting things to do to help out the Fellowship indirectly in the area. I have not been disappointed by how the story is portrayed in the game and the graphics fit well with how I visualized the world when reading the books.
Now the great thing about the story quests is that they are split up into chained chunks. Many times you can have several books of the story going at the same time. I did notice now and then that one book will lead you to the next, like Vol I Book 1 has to be completed to get book 2, but once you move on you can pick up the story books, based on where you are many times.
Deeds are a variety of things and are organized into several categories and by location. Starting off I was primarily checking out my class deeds and the location deeds. Each race and class has a set of deeds, based on using your skills and destroying the main enemies of your race. For instance, the elves have you starting off with Enmity of the Goblins and it goes through three stages. As you level you gain new enemies to fight. An example of a class deed for a minstrel is Strength of War, where you have to use your Anthem of War a certain number of times to complete the deed.
Deeds for an area include exploration and slayer mostly it seems. The slayer deeds are in two stages of regular and advanced, where advanced is double the number to kill. Sometimes these can seem tedious to complete. especially if you don’t kill enough of them simply by doing quests and exploring. As you move on to higher areas you get the joy of having to kill a higher number of enemies to complete the deeds. The slayer deeds are way more fun and faster with a fellowship (group). Gaiscioch has deed runs regularly to help get LOTRO points, experience, and just to be sure we get it completed, or at least put a good dent in the number left to kill for people.
On the other hand, the exploration ones are finding the location and most are found by doing the questing. A few will make you have to go and look for them, which can be both frustrating and fun. Some explorations are not points of interest, but finding a set of items to interact with around the map. I think the first one of this type that drove me nuts was the Flowers of the Old Forest in Bree-Land. The place is a maze to figure out, though after you get lost in it a few times you learn your way. It’s appropriate you get lost because it fits Tolkein’s storytelling of the area.
Completing the deeds has allowed me to buy the Moria expansion, add to my bank and bag space, and get a quest pack for an area after Moria, though at the time of this writing I have a lot of Moria to figure out yet.
Flow and Looks of the Game
Despite the game being twelve years old I found the graphics appealing. They finally came out with a 64-bit version and with a patch around the end of June, it is far more stable though still in beta. It makes the game look far crisper than the 32-bit version. Unfortunately, the intro of 64 bit in May had a lot of crashing when in certain areas and more often when in fellowships. Thanks to people reporting issues with it, they have solved quite a few bugs and are working on the remaining ones. I can say I have enjoyed the better graphics and have not crashed once since the fixes were patched in.
I like the fighting flow of the game in how it works. You see the melee and all the fun spell effects without it being too much of an overkill. Actually learning my character’s abilities have helped me learn to get her skills off more efficiently and to understand how they balanced out the fighting. With a combo of building it up with other skills you can use it or time gating, you are slowed down to think. Key bashing is not going to work well. I like games that challenge me to use the skills given to my class and don’t feel like I can mash one or two keys to get it all done. Sure there are two I use the most on my minstrel, but they are timed in use and one builds up a third that allows for yet another heal as needed.
The fun of exploring is running into mobs that are not so easy to kill. The way they did this even makes sense to me. You arrive at a huge area of the enemy and you will find the weaker ones around the edges and as you go deeper to discover the Signature and Elite mobs. There are rare elites that can make you feel like a wimp when you find them at level, or even a bit lower than our character. The only random ones I’ve seen are some fun level 100’s they have thrown out into the world, even in areas where the normal mobs are high 30’s. So expect to have an oops with one of them at times, but mostly you will find the tougher mobs ruling over the weaker ones.
Even the flow of quests makes sense and weave a story. I will note that hobbits have you running around doing the most menial things they really could do themselves. However, that adds flavor to the game, even if I want to drag the hobbit along to show him how close his neighbor, I had to talk to, really is.
And don’t worry. You can get a horse at level 20 fairly easily with a little riding test. Also, there are stablemasters you can pay to give you a ride to where you want to go. You can’t always get directly there, however. The more out of the way places might take more than one horse ride from one stable to the next. Also, once out of the main areas of the low-level zones, you have to first find that stablemaster to talk to him. If the stablemaster has a blue icon, rather than a tannish colored one over his head, be sure to talk to him so he is included in your stablemaster network.
You also get the ability to set a milestone, so you can return to an out of the way quest hub when done in town. You will get a port to your home, to Bree, and over time a few others on any class, that have one-hour cooldowns. A hunter can take whole fellowships to any place they have acquired a guide skill for, many are based on level, but some are based on the reputation they have with an area. So with these and the horses, you can get around the world quite well.
Crafting and Legendary Items
Crafting is pretty easy to figure out as you level up. The hard part entails deciding what professions to take to cover all the crafting, if you are into it. Every profession can do three crafts and usually has at least one that allows for harvesting of ores or wood, or it will have farming. You will get repeats of some crafts working, on filling them out. On a good note you will get several that can work on Prospecting, which isn’t a bad thing since heavy armor, weapons, and jewelry all need metals of some sort. You get gems for the jeweller, not only from mob drops, but from mining.
Harvesting can get annoying if several people in the area, because only one person can harvest a node. If grouped up and allowing for time to harvest, it is usually arranged in turns so everyone acquires a fair share. Thankfully nodes respawn in several minutes, so if running around an area doing quests and deeds, you can hit that node more than once.
Of course, if you are into crafting this makes the inventory issue explode, because rather than selling the stuff, you are hoarding it. It helps to have VIP status because you can mail to your alts or friends who want the items from anywhere to clean the bags out now and then. Not only do you get all the materials, you also get recipes. Thankfully materials stack to 500 and the recipes will stack by profession and tier until you open them. Then, the fun part is the single-use recipes. You will want to keep the extras so you can make more than one, especially with jewelry, and for all your alts.
Now the great thing about crafting is you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to. There are plenty of items from quests and trade vendors to help keep your character properly equipped. I usually wind up in a mix.
Of course, they throw in the quest for legendary items as part of your intro to Moria and your quest to even get in it. Once you have this going you will find even more things to sort in your inventory. Some things won’t even be for your class, since they are random drops. Each character can only use two at a time, but you have four more slots (more slots can be added with LP) for leveling other items. The extra items must be in your inventory. I’ve been working on leveling six items, so I can break down four for items that can be added to legendaries. As you level you get better legendaries you will want to swap to.
It’s probably one of the more confusing things to track, since there is a lot to do and you can rank up legacies on the items. Each legacy works with a grouping of skills or a specific one for your class. Some are useless because one of the other great things in the game is the option of three trait trees to level. You will not acquire all the skills your class can do, so be sure you rank up skills that you have.
To add to this, you can craft things to be used on legendaries, but you must have joined and increased your reputation with your guild (such as scholar for example) to acquire the recipes to do so.
Overall crafting and legendaries help your character have better quality gear to survive the dangers you will encounter.
This game has a great deal more that I did not discuss that includes raids, dungeons, skirmishes and housing, as well as some of the other things that flesh out the game. I actually have a small house with some of my acquired trophies decorating it, though a troll head isn’t there for good looks.
If you have not given this game a try yet, but have been thinking about it. I encourage you to do so. There are still plenty of people playing it and there are plenty of things to do. It is free to try and you can get a good feel for how the game mechanics work and how quests flow. Then, like me, you can decide if you want to spend money on it.
About the Author
Althea "Briseadh" Damgaard
Althea joined Gaiscioch back in October of 2009 and has been here ever since with only a few month hiatus between Warhammer and Rift. As soon as she knew they were in Rift, she jumped ship to Faeblight and has followed them onward through every chapter since with a few side games thrown in for spice.
She has been an avid player of RPG style games since 1980 when she first played Dungeons and Dragons. Since then she has created her own tabletop gaming world used with various rule sets as D&D progressed. Once she could get online she played MUDs. Her MMO days started with Everquest and have moved through over a dozen games with some lasting only a month's time in her life and others going for years. She has tested several games from the perspective of a disabled gamer with hand issues due to her multiple sclerosis.
When not writing about or playing games, she can be found writing novels, reading and doing various art projects. She also writes items based on her faith and is working on publishing a novel. She also does editing for a gaming developer.
About Lord of the Rings Online
In The Lord of the Rings Online™, join the world’s greatest fellowship of players in the award-winning online re-creation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s legendary Middle-earth. From the crumbling, shadowed ruins of Weathertop to the ageless, golden wood of Lothlórien, immerse yourself in Middle-earth as you have never seen it before. Visit the peaceful, verdant fields of the Shire, brave the dark depths of the Mines of Moria, and raise a pint at the Prancing Pony in Bree!