I have been playing The Lord of the Rings: Shadows of Angmar for a few months now and I have to say that I am really enjoying myself. I have become a pretty casual player these days, logging in for just an hour or two per setting and not even every day. It is working out perfectly for me and this game.
I have three characters that get rotating play time as I enjoy them each for their own reasons. I have a level 12 Man Lore Master, a level 15 Hobbit Minstrel and a level 11 Dwarf Guardian. I have joined the Vindicators on Landroval (led by Scott Adams). It is a nice group of casual players with many doing light role play and I am enjoying their company.
The setting is the number one reason I am enjoying the game. I just can’t get enough of the scenery. In fact, it is so good that is pulls me right into the game. I am constantly stopping to take pictures or just sit down and watch the clouds roll by. Breath-taking really. Most of my time has been spent in the Shire and I love it. The quests are enjoyable (I read them all) and I even went after some fun titles like Shire Brewmaster.
The character models are love/hate for me. Some of them I can’t stand and yet others win me over quickly. My Lore Master just clicked for me. I really like how he looks. Of all the Lore Masters I meet, mine is one of the few without a big beard and pointy hat. In fact, I have yet to find a hat I like in game. I turned them off altogether on my own characters. I don’t care much for the design of most of the clothing I have seen so far either. Turbine could really use some better designs for things like clothes and hats. My Hobbit looks fine for the most part, but something about him bothers me. I’m not sure if it is his giant feet or his short legs. The Dwarf looks good to me, although again I run without a helm displayed.
The combat is possibly my number one complaint. I know there is some concern with the setting and trying to be as true as possible (Heartless Gamer will argue this point forever) but still, the combat so far is rather dull to me. The Lore Master is getting better as he has some flashy effects, but it still leaves me wanting for more. Perhaps it gets more exciting as the levels progress, but I have yet to see that.
The Lore Master combat typically consists of sending his raven in first to get the monster’s attention. He then follows up with several debuffs and throws a ball of burning embers into the fray. He can call up some wind to do some additional damage as well as cause further debuffs. If he gets too many things to fight at once, he can blind one of them until he finishes with the current battle. I play my Lore Master the slowest as he is an explorer and he likes to study everything he sees. He is often well off the path of his intended quest goals. I guess it’s just his nature to go and see whatever that thing is out in the bog. Recently he was skulking about in the Blackwold Headquarters taking on three bandits at a time without breaking a sweat, feeling all-powerful and supreme. On his way back to town he ran across a pig and in about 10 seconds the little pig beat him and his raven to a pulp. He can now be found crying tears into some ale at a nearby tavern.
The Guardian is fun in that he can wade into a group of creatures and often be left standing as the bodies are all on the ground around him. Still, it’s pretty typical tank combat with shield bashes and stuns along with wearing good armor. My Guardian frequently finds himself in the middle of a crazy battle and defeat is not unusual. He has no interest in anything but battle. His entire existence is to charge into a fight, victory or defeat unknown.
The Minstrel is something totally new to me. He plays a lute to “lower the morale” of the enemy or “raise the morale” of himself and his party members. Basically he is a healer. Healing used to generate too much threat in my opinion, I think they have reduced some of that in the last patch. With good range and some instant damage songs, he finds it very easy to pick and choose who he wants to fight and when. The downside to that in my opinion is that you sometimes grab a monster that a burglar was sneaking up on. I don’t like to do that, but really there is not a lot you can do about it. It’s not like you can see them. The Minstrel has been the easiest to level for me, in fact he has yet to be defeated. He is often found in taverns, singing songs and smoking a pipe by the fire.
Monster Play is something I have only dabbled in and it was very early on so there really wasn’t any “freeps” to fight (free people = freeps). I created several different monsters and I hope to spend some serious time playing there soon as I think there will be players to fight now. For those that don’t know, the monsters are level 50 so it is something that needed to wait for players to get over level 40 to even have a chance to fight them. There are quests to do on the monster side, so it’s not as if opposing players are required to play, but that is sort of the whole point of it. I do like playing my spider, but he gets squished so fast it’s not even funny.
I have not spent much time with crafting, only choosing to mine ore and harvest wood to sell. Since I do not play a lot, I prefer to focus on things other than crafting as it can be a big time and money sink. Time better spent adventuring in my opinion. If I spot an ore node on my way, I stop for a few seconds to swing the pick-axe and then back on my journey.
A recent concern of mine is the addition of raids to the game. I’m not a big fan of raids and would prefer to just see more content and more levels and leave raids as a very minor addition, if an addition at all. Obviously the raiders out there would disagree. Hopefully Turbine will not spend a lot of time making raids.
The rate of content being added so far is fantastic. They have already added a large content patch which included more land mass along with many new quests. Another few months and there will be a Summer Festival. A few months after that is the Monster Play update. A few months after that has housing planned. At this rate they will have housing before Blizzard puts it in World of Warcraft. I call that impressive.
The servers seem to have plenty of people playing, the world is always populated well. It does seem that the groups of people I play with all seem to be in no rush to level as we are all under level 20. I find that refreshing.