Monday, February 12, 2007

Lord of the Rings Online Beta Impressions

So the NDA is lifted and now you'll start hearing all of the reviews/previews/opinions of what this game is really all about. I've been in the beta for about 1 or 2 months now and in that time I got a character to is level 19...so keep everything in perspective while you read this. I haven't played much since the last character wipe about 3 weeks ago and for a reason...I don't want to spoil this game any more than I already have.

Again...I'm not going to give LoTR Online any score what so ever. Scores for MMOs are useless IMHO as they are truly an evolving and living piece of software. Regardless, this review is a wrap up of my experiences with the beta.

So, without further delay....here we go:

My System

AMD 64 3500+ Processor
nVidia 7900 GT Video card
1 Gb RAM
...yadda...yadda...and yet again...yadda

First Impression - Being a Noob in Middle Earth


The first thing you're going to do with LoTR is create a character, and you're left with some decisions to make. You have a choice of a few races: Elf, Dwarf, Man and Hobbit. Of course you can choose male and female of each race. No...we won't be getting into the whole Dwarf female debate here. As I usually refuse to create any characters under 4 feet tall, I created a Man (sorry ladies...I guess political correctness has not hit middle earth yet. Burn the bra I say!!). You're also left with some classes to choose: Champion, Captain, Minstrel, Lore Master, Hunter, Guardian and Burglar. There is lots of coverage of what each of those classes are, so I'm not going to go into the specifics here....suffice to say, I picked a Capitan to begin with.



Once you enter the world you are brought into your own instance to follow the first story line of your adventure. No, I'm not going to give the story away, but this instance serves as a nice tutorial. You do meet your first Nazgul here, so score one geek point. The story line itself gets huge points from me for immersion factor. After the instanced introduction, you're off and running.

For a noob experience, this was one of the best I've experienced hands down. I don't think I've been as drawn into a beginning story line as I was for this one. In most MMOs, I find myself clicking through most quests stories just to get to the meat of the game....not with LoTR. I think everyone will truly enjoy their first hour in LoTR.

Graphics

Fantastic...gorgeous...flawless...beautiful...awe inspiring. Any questions??



Ok...obviously I need to go into more detail on this one. When you step out of the first town you'll be hit in the face with how sharp and colorful the world is. If a master painter where to visit your home and paint a beautiful landscape on your monitor, LoTR Online is what it would look like. I would dare say that LoTR Online's graphics are a kissing cousin of Oblivion's. Yes...you read correctly. They aren't of the same caliber, for sure, but man are they ever close...AND, they don't kill my computer to get there ( /emote Darren looks in Sigil's direction).



I've got to tell a quick story regarding the graphics that will bring it all home to you. There is a logging camp between Bree and Buckland...can't recall the name off hand. Anyway to the left, if you're facing Buckland, there is a road that goes to the Old Forest. To the right...wayyyyy up of a hill you see a very large old ruin structure. It must be about 1 or 2 miles away. I had to stop everything I was doing and go see the ruins. The whole game experience is like that. You'll see something out in the distance that just begs you to come and explore it. LoTR Online brought back the explorer in me...and what a refreshing feeling that is. To want to go places because they attract you to go there, not because you were led to go there by a quest. Of course, I won't tell you what I found...so I'll leave it up to you to go take a look see.



The graphics very well on my machine. Of course, crowded towns like Bree were a slide show, but that has been improved with each patch and as they've rolled out more servers. Great job all around in the graphics department. I have screenies at the end of this review...take a look.

Sound

Funny, the music from the movies is not there...I was kinda hoping they would be. What they do have there for music gives you a good sense of where you are. All of it has a very "Middle Earth" feel to it.

Another story regarding the sound. There are these undead things roaming around a zone called the Barrows. These things have a kind of fear debuff (I believe) and what they do to put this debuf on you is let out a huge, bloodcurdling roar. I mean, when this first happened I actually felt that my character was going to die...the sound got to me that much.

Crafting

Crafting isn't really that complicated and follows a similar formula as WoW does. You have a recipe, you gather materials, you click a button and you wait for the progress bar to tell you that you're done. Thats it. There are varying tiers and/or levels within each profession and as you increase in tiers, you get to craft better stuff. There is no counter-reaction system like you find in EQ2 or Vanguard...which is kind of a let down. I was kinda hoping that LoTR would take a different take on crafting than the other MMOs on the market. There may be some twist to my impression in later levels, I really don't know.

One thing I did notice about crafting was that I can actually make items that I can actually use. I picked a weapon smith the first time around and I was surprised to find that I was making swords that were relevant to my level...nice.


Monster Play

I only got to play this one evening when it was first introduced...so there may have been some changes since I last visited this implementation of PvP. Its good actually and I really enjoyed myself. For any characters level 10 or above, they can be transformed into a level 40 Monster of their choosing to go and fight other PCs level 40 and above. These Monsters grow in level and unlock various skills as they go. As a monster, there are quests to do, just like in the PvE areas but there are also conflict points for you to fight over. The only PvP I did was getting killed on the way back out of the PvP zone....the rest of the time I was grouped with other Monster players taking down some dragons and such.

Questing

Questing is very much like WoW...you know kill this, get that, etc. One difference though...you're in Middle Earth doing these things. The quests to kill this and get that while the whole "Ring thing" is going on gives you a sense of belonging to the world. There are main story line quests that are divided into Chapters. These quests are either directly or indirectly related to the adventures of Frodo and the Ring.

Atmosphere

I've been giving my impressions on atmosphere of LoTR Online in the other sections...so I think you understand where I stand on this subject by know. To some it up...they nailed it. I really think they nailed it. Sure, there are the Tolkien purists out there who are screaming to the wind about how they didn't nail it. Wake up call....the average MMO player did not read the LoTR books 25 times. They just want to be immersed in a world in which they are the hero, and Turbine did that....end of story. If you liked the movies and enjoyed the book or relate to the characters at all, you'll like this game.

The Future of LoTR

This year, and in 2008 there are a boat load of MMOs coming out into the market. Will LoTR stand out? In a word, yes. Turbine has THE fantasy IP in the palm of their hands and the ball is clearly in their court on how they proceed. Right now, they have got a solid foundation on which to build. Honestly, the game could have launched when I got invited to beta...thats how stable it was in January. What will make or break this title is their first expansion. Where will they take the IP? How will they expand IP? Will they make this WoW in Middle Earth or will they beat their own path and give us something new? Time will tell...but for now, I really like what they've done.

Big question. Will I drop WoW for this? Yes...I think I will. With BC, WoW really brought nothing new to the table in terms of evolving the world. The idea of exploring this world gives me goose bumps. To see Minas Tirith, or the Mines of Moria, or Mordor, or Helms Deep.... /shiver. I for one want in on this from the first day and will be pre-ordering as soon as I can.

Thats it. Hope you enjoyed the read. Below are some screenshots for you to enjoy.

D out















D out

8 comments:

Stargrace said...

Absolutely beautiful graphics, if it wasn't for EQ2/Vanguard/WoW already cluttering my play list I'd have to give it a try just to wander around looking at everything.

Anonymous said...

Quick question since I assume you've spent some time there. How are the names handled? Are we going to see hundreds of "1eg0lu5" clones? or do they not all that stuff?

darrenl said...

Anonymous... first for the love of gawd...please get a real name :)

Second, when i was in the beta, I did not see that much in the way of "leet" names...nor did I see names taken directly from the novels or movie. I think Turbine will have tools in place to filter out names from the movie...so we're covered there.

That being said, I don't think turbine is taking any extra steps to stop people from choosing "ILikeDwarfLovin" as their name. So, like every other MMO, we're going to have to ignore the usual tools that we see very once and a while.

Lorra said...

I am not the fan of the computer games, but this one looks fine to me, I like the idea of The Lords of the Rings itself, the graphics looks pretty good to, I think I will give it a try and buy this game.

Lorra said...

I am not the fan of the computer games, but this one looks fine to me, I like the idea of The Lords of the Rings itself, the graphics looks pretty good to, I think I will give it a try and buy this game.

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