A Few Months in the Shire

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.

– Ethic

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I own this little MMO gaming blog but I hardly ever write on it any more. I'm more of a bloglord or something. Thankfully I have several minions to keep things rolling along.

33 thoughts on “A Few Months in the Shire”

  1. I went back into LOTRO last night after a 3 week hiatus. It’s definitely one of the most scenic games I’ve played. It reminds me a lot of Guild Wars with the exception that in LOTRO, if you can see it, you can likely go visit it too and it’s not just some fancy skybox texture.

  2. The devs have stated that while there will be raid content, it won’t be mandatory in order to progress through the story. They want to focus on the small group experience.

    Also, if you’re on Landroval, you should add me to your friends list and say “hi” if you see me on. I’m Aelryn, human Champion of Rohan. Let me know if you need help with a quest or anything… I’m in my mid-twenties. ;)

  3. Once you get out of the Shire, everything except Rivendell is different degrees of crap. The game is true to the books even in that aspect ;)

    I’m glad you’ve found your fun, E. I wish it had happened for me, because I’m reaching a point where I’d most likely just drop it and be glad I didn’t drop a couple of bennies for the lifetime deal.

    The game just started to feel way too bland, way too flat, way too fast for me. I usually don’t mind these things, because I know content is not infinite nor it can be. But I feel it’s specially painful in LOTRO as you start gaining levels and realize the last fun, original thing you did was 20 or 30 levels ago. It was fresh then, but stale now.

    Like you, I’m having the love/hate going with the models (uncanny valley 4tw). A few pieces of armor and clothing are eye-catching, but most are bland and repetitive. Colors, texturing and design I guess were all spent creating the beautiful environments to the point there’s little left for wearables and items. The models themselves are detailed well enough, and you can see there’s a lotta-poly in there, but still feel a tad stiff and lifeless. It’s the animations, I guess. Bit lacking there.

    As far as gameplay itself, I’m even less convinced. I think the Virtues system was a nice thought initially, but unless Turbine makes each virtue worth a damn and have more ‘weight’ overall, I can barely see a difference in my character’s effectiveness unless I pack all morale/vitality virtues. Same with the Deeds. It’s not a bad system, but it feels as if it has no weight at all. Again, unless you’re packing morale/vitality, getting a lot of them or getting none doesn’t translate to much difference in or out of combat. I have no major beefs with combat itself, though I wish it was more responsive. Many time I’ve tried to cancel a shot induction, or to drink a potion in the nick of time and had to wait 1-2 seconds until my character finished her previous actions. Sometimes those 1-2 seconds cost me a repair bill.

    As far as the setting? It’s the game’s blessing and curse, all in one. Blessing, because it’s deep and it’s Tolkien and there you go. That’s about it. Curse? Because it’ll always be that. I think the setting, and being as faithful to it as you can (except a few things here and there), really backed Turbine into a corner as far as how they could build their world.

    If you know the setting, few things if any will really surprise you. The setting is quite static and that feeling of something being fixed and without change dripped down to the content itself. I’m absolutely sick of killing bandits or goblins in ruins. I’m tired or ruins, for that matter.

    Archet – Bandits in ruins.
    Chetwood – Bandits in ruins.
    Lone Lands – Bandits, Goblins and Orcs in ruins.
    North Downs – Esteldin is a ruin, ffs.
    Trollshaws – Wights in ruins.
    Angmar – Hillmen in ruins (except Donnvail)

    So I download Evendim… and what’s the very first encounter I have on the very first minute of the very brand new area and content? A bandit that attacked me from a ruin as I entered. Come on now.

    Yes, there is other content. Just as FPSs are not all about crates and containers. However, “Time To Crate” is an effective, humourous comment about FPSs. Do we need a “Time To Ruin” or “Time To Bandit” for LOTRO already?

    The environments are stunning and gorgeous. And by that I mean they’re very well done, look pleasing to the eye and are well-built. Still, there’s no variety is there? Bree, grasslands with low hills. Lone Lands, arid with low hills. North Downs, grassland/arid with a variety of hills. Trollshaws, forest with more serious hills. The only thematic difference comes when you go to more environmental extremes, like Misty Mountains (or Ered Luin), Angmar or Evendim. But even Evendim feels like something you’ve seen earlier, only with a lake in it. The feeling is the same.

    Even if they were not as beautiful looking, there was much more environmental and zone variety in WoW, for example. Hell, I started playing GW: Factions saturday and I’ve already seen as much variety in the starting island and the city that comes right after it than in 3-4 months of LOTRO.

    I’d say unless they start making huge changes, I’ll end up dropping it, but that’s just the thing: They can’t make huge changes without throwing their setting away. And they won’t do it.

  4. I’m on Landroval as well, Iosef, level 14 human Captain. I’ve also got a few other, samller characters, but nothing over level 5. Not even Legomyeggo, the elvish hunter. I’ve found Captain to be very easy to play, but not in a “so easy it’s boring” way, like I did with the Warlock in WoW. It plays a lot like a Paladin/Hunter mix, which is a lot of fun for me.

  5. I take your point, Julian, and find it hard to disagree with. It is all the same. But as much as you can say each zone is identical, it’s ignoring the fact that the zones as they are at the moment are all part of one region – Eriador. I noticed last night that they’ve restructured the tabs Deeds window to show this better – Eriador is now one tab and there’s room for quite a few more.

    That being said, I do get the impression that Rohan, Gondor and so on will be pretty much all the same. What I’m ultimately looking forward to is being able to visit some of the less ruinous landmarks – the Mines of Moria, Lothlorien, Isengard, The Golden Hall of Meduseld, Helm’s Deep, Gondor, Osgiliath (which, admittedly, is a ruin). Perhaps they’ll even expand the game north and we’ll get to see Mirkwood, Dale and the Lonely Mountain. Like you said, Rivendell is apparently impressive (haven’t got that far – I’m still in awe of Weathertop) and we’re only really half way through the Fellowship of the Ring so there’s plenty more to come and some potentially very impressive locations to visit.

    Will the encounters be any different? That’s a problem area, definitely. There’s going to be a lot more Orcs, that’s for sure. And after the Orcs? Well, probably more bandits with the Return to the Shire and defeat of Sharkey’s men. I can see both sides of the argument but I find the game appealing enough generally to stick at it.

    This comment is turning into a post of its own. As there’s not much point to it, I’ll hit that friendly looking Submit button and have done with it.

  6. I also cringed reading the notes especially where it said “armor sets” augh just take the worst parts of WoW why don’t they? The people that enjoy raiding and collecting armor sets aren’t leaving their games that have this already. I actually think you can’t have vibrant raiding and small group end-game content in the same game without making some people feel left out.

    As far as traits go, the recent buff to wounding mobs actually caused me to change mine to add more wound resistance. I haven’t really noticed much being only 24. I used to have a set of soloing traits and a set of tanking traits on my guardian, but lately I end up only using the tanking ones and just grinding slower, since there are so many group quests I get dragged into when I don’t expect to be grouping.

    At this point I still find the ruins charming. The funny thing is in WoW I was an achiever, but in LOTRO I’m an explorer. I am always wandering around, even to higher level areas. I never felt like exploring in WoW – the lore did not really pull me in for the most part. I got excited about bringing Thrall back to visit Nagrand, that’s about it. (And I don’t want to fight Illidan I want to fight Malfurion :) )

    Yunkor, 24 dwarf guardian of Landroval.

  7. I too became quickly disillusioned by this game, it just wasn’t deep enough for me and too much like WoW. I also hated the hotbar and the overall interface. Not a bad game, and certainly more toward my liking than WoW since I love Tolkien, but the game was just meh after a while and it didnt feel like anything special anymore. I was also bored with the classes and the gameplay.

    I will check it out again sometime though I am sure.

  8. I’m curious. Of those saying they lost interest quickly in LotRO, how many of you played a lot of WoW? I’m just wondering if there is some sort of “more of the same” problem going on here. I didn’t overplay WoW and perhaps that is part of why I am not tired of LotRO yet. I’m not saying LotRO is a WoW clone, but the quest-driven gameplay is certainly related.

  9. I’m sure I’ll burn out within a month or two, and, yes, I did play WoW. I’m just kind of tired of the concepts of fantasy MMOs. It is, however, still shiny and fun, and I do like their spin on a lot of character classes. I also really like that being an explorer is actually rewarded in this beyond some token XP. That’s probably been the most interesting part of it for me, but, of course, it’s only interesting as long as I refuse to look at wikis and guides.

  10. It’s not just the quest-driven gameplay. I don’t think I have any problems with it (other than the huge hole of solo quests in between North Downs and Angmar, theoretically solved by Evendim now). They’re lifting little things every now and then, here and there, that are verbatim from the WoW design.

    Which I don’t think is a bad thing in itself. However, I’m getting the “design vibe” (if there’s such a thing), that LOTRO is the first game post-WoW that effectively tells you between the design lines “Okay, WoW was the new design paradigm for the next 5-7 years, and we’re gonna do it their way”. They most certainly improved it a little, again here and there, but the WoW feeling is evident. Again, not a bad thing I don’t think. And neither do I think that this is what’s turning me off.

    I mean, I’m not saying “This is like WoW, *so* I’m not having much fun”. I’m saying “Okay, this is like WoW *and* I’m not having much fun”.

    My problem is not that LOTRO is more of the same. My problem is that this more of the same is ultimately light and bland. It seems at some points in LOTRO that nothing matters: Stats are way too soft, so unless it’s a huge item disparity there’s no sense of satisfaction in acquiring any single item, nor you will ever see that item making a huge difference equipped or not. Character and wearables design, as we all seem to mention, is bland and puppetty. The majority of virtues don’t matter because not only they’re based in the same soft stats, but also the increments from rank to rank are ridiculously small, so you’ll never have a sense of achievement there (for example, I’m at a point that to advance to my next rank of Justice/Valour -can’t remember which- I have to kill 720 worms in Angmar. My reward for that? About 40 morale more, which is less of your average mob hit in Angmar. So what’s the point). Crafting is pointless, but so was WoW’s, so I’m not even going there. Common design malady.

    Ultimately, what it boils down to for me, is that I play WoW for over two years until I stopped to take a break/stop raiding/there was a RL move involved/etc. I would come back to it if I feel like it. However, I can’t imagine for a second spending over two years playing LOTRO as it is now. Evendim included.

    Two months into WoW I had my main already to 60 (hardly something heroic, but there it is) and a menagerie of alts, some getting more there than others. Two months into LOTRO and my main is still 43, another alt at 30 and three others below 20. Two months in, I wanted to keep playing WoW. Two months in, and I’m already not logging in as much to LOTRO. That’s the difference for me. One was fun, this one isn’t as fun. Simple as that really.

  11. I also played WoW since the beta, lvled 2 chars, raided, BC, raided some more, ect. till I tried LotR. I really liked it at the beginning, but it just wasnt enough to KEEP me interested. I also agree that stats (deeds, equip, virtues) dont seem to really matter that much. You never seem to notice the difference in combat. I also dont think you get nearly enough abilities to play around with. Should be some stuff to choose from as to what abilities fit your playstyle and allow you to be different from others of your class. A lack of talent trees (way to make yourself different) also really disappointed me.
    It’s not that the game is not as good as WoW, it’s that its not as good (design wise) as a lot of MMO’s that have come before it. Dont get me wrong, I think its a very pretty game, and the lore can’t be beat, but it needs more to keep people interested for long.

  12. Conversely, I enjoy LOTRO and I don’t play WoW.

    I made a point of avoiding WoW because of the raid-focused endgame. Had just broke away from a similar raid-focused achievement-oriented endgame MUD and didn’t want to repeat more of the same rat racing.

    Took a loong break in fast, fun, furious combat and monty haul City of Heroes/Villains. But after two years, the explorer in me started itching for a more immersive (and dare I say it, time-intensive) environment. Spoiled by CoX, I also wanted to solo well, and join pickup groups only when I felt like it.

    LOTRO, surprisingly, appeals to me. I suspect it has stolen most of what works from WoW (and practically every other MMO in existence – deeds/accomplishments remind me of CoX’s badge system). This yields a very polished system. Nothing innovative, but game theory-wise, works smoothly as a result of having been done before.

    The culture of its population is also more casual. Sure, there’s always the hardcore raider-types about, but they’re not getting the lion’s share of the attention, just a few goodies here and there. I’ll be staying as long as they cater to all playstyles, not just raiders.

    Exploration in LOTRO’s lushly detailed photo-real environments just have a stronger personal appeal than WoW’s cartoony art style. From screenshots, WoW’s world looks more open and ‘barren,’ if stylistically unique. LOTRO seems to have a hefty helping of interesting things to look at, in a smaller space.

    I’m enjoying the Guardian’s reactive style of combat. It’s different enough from CoX gameplay to be intriguing, but similar enough in tanky role to be comfortable with. Fellowship maneuvers are also similarly fun. I like the idea of hitting the right keys in a certain order within a certain time to pull off something cool.

    And I just recently obtained my new favorite skill at lvl 36. Turn the Tables – when stunned, dazed or knocked down, hit the skill button within a certain time, and you come out of the mez and inflict it on your foe instead.

    Having suffered through endless quantities of thumb-twiddling mez downtime in both CoX and LOTRO, this simple little trick makes me cackle with glee every time I use it.

  13. I have never played WoW, but for awhile I kind of hit a wall too at level 42/Champion. Even though I can do many Angmar quests, they’re not all solo-able or novel in any way (kill ten fire-worms). I’ll echo the comments about the bland combat (many is the time I have walked away in the middle of a fight for some pressing issue, and found that my champion had defeated the orange mob handily, with auto-attack). Crafting doesn’t allow for any creativity, really, though my armor is more visually pleasing than my lower level gear (whether it actually does anything more for me is a dubious issue).

    In my experiences prior to LOTRO I was definitely an achiever type; DAOC I leveled a paladin/sorceror/infiltrator to 50 as fast as possible for RvR. The whole raid for 10 hours to get a Trials of Atlantis Master level though is what turned me off and probably what kept me from trying WoW.

    Not that there isn’t already stuff like that in LOTRO. A lot of the later quest series in North Downs and stuff can be done with a good group in 5-8 hours, over one or two nights, but looking at my quest log, I still haven’t done the last Dol Dinen, the Fornost instance is only half done, I’ve never killed the Red Maid, and Great Barrows quests…gray.

    When I was younger and feckless, I would sacrifice entire weeks of free time after work to get to the ‘endgame’, or get just a few more levels (in Anarchy Online) or stand and guard a radio in WWIIOnline for hours in case someone tried to sneak behind the lines without blinking an eye. I think, had I hit this point even 2-3 years ago, that would have meant cancellation for me.

    I think this is where age (ok I’m not *that* old, just older than I was) and LOTRO are a good conjunction, for me. I can log on for an hour or two and help a guildmate out with a quest they just can’t find a group for, and as long as grouping with someone twice their level doesn’t ruin their fun, they suffer no penalty for it and I can have fun too. I can just roam around and it is enjoyable: first thing I did after downloading Evendim last night was go swimming around the lake, after getting jumped by the tomb bandit.

    Things I wish were a bit different: roleplay is kind of bland. Run into some hobbits, they’re chattering about how much I like pie. Other people sitting around moaning ‘Woe is me’ about Mordor, like the NPC’s in the game. Reminds me of when my Dad made fun of me for spending hours on a dial up BBS in the early 90’s. “What the **** do you guys talk about anyway? ‘Hi, how are you doing?’ ‘I’m fine, how are you.’ ‘I’m fine too, are you doing ok?’ ‘I’m doing ok, how are you?’ ‘I’m fine…'” I had a Twilight Zoneish experience of running into the room with the loremaster trainer in Bree, where four characters sat around in silence, emoting. X shrugs at Y. Pause. Y raises a drink to her lips, hiding a smile. Z smiles wryly. Pause. X pouts. Z raises his drinks to his lips, hiding a smile. X smiles wryly.

    PvMP I’ve played for at least 12-13 hours total, I question the long term viability of the setup, unless they put lockout timers on side switching, and find a way to retain the interest of those who just found out 3-4 not even level 50 freeps just wiped the floor with over a dozen creeps.

    I do like that up till now, the old achiever part of me could log on for an hour or two and do a quest or two and feel I got something done. These days though, I do it kind of vicariously.

    If you need a hand and you see me on, give me a shout- Cathelion and various alts on Landroval. As it turns out, I’m in your guild (I’ve been away for about two and a half weeks).

  14. I’m personally in an interesting pickle. There are two games I’m playing right now, LotRO and EQ2. Both are very similar, having each borrowed from WoW but given certain things their own flavor over time (EQ2 has become one hell of a game in it’s 2.5 years, btw if you didn’t know).

    Anyway both games are drawing me in, both games have my friends in them, but I only have time for one and barely for that. Because of school and work stacking up on me, my time at LotRO Vault is coming to a close for now, and I’ll certainly not be obligated to play LotRO anymore.

    But the hooks of it are still in me. I want to see the end-game and how the world unfolds. It’s early and lots of things about the game are likely to change between now and Mordor.

    Makes me almost wish I would have bought the lifetime sub now.

  15. My wife and I and a couple of our friends all play LOTRO and I have been having a great time so far.

    I agree with you on the point of the clothing. Some of the shoulder sets are completely hideous and I know more than once I have chosen a lesser quality piece of armor merely because of the looks.

    The loremaster is a great looking class, but one I have yet to try. The fireball(?) that they cast reminds me of the mage in the WoW intro movie. Just the animation of it is great. Also, that thing they do with the staff and slamming it into the ground is downright cool.

    Stick with the story and if you are a fan of the books, atleast follow the epic line til book 3.

  16. The comments of Julien et. al, in this thread echo my exact sentiments of this game in Beta. Basically “Its a solid game, well crafted, creative, cool setting, but I don’t feel like playing it much”

    Now, I am the type that will Beta something absolutly terrible for a good amount of time just because I got invited and its shiney and new…

    I put less than 20 hours into LoTRO before the shine had worn off, and I started to think about all of the things I had to ‘get done’ on my WoW charachters.

  17. “Its a solid game, well crafted, creative, cool setting, but I don’t feel like playing it much”

    That is how I have been feeling. The comment Julian made regarding stats being too soft is one of those things that make the gameplay unexciting for me. That combined with the money sinks, rather than feeling like I’m getting ahead as I level, I’m just keeping up.

    The one thing I do enjoy though are the classes. The Loremaster is a heck of a lot of fun. But then I always seem to gravitate toward classes with animal pets.

  18. I’m already looking at other games to play. For some reason, its just not doing it for me anymore. I was excited about the game up to about 35, then it just got to feeling more of the “same ole’ same ole'”. I find now I’m logging in to check my mail and the AH, say hi to a few guildies, and maybe grind for an hour. I did hit 50, so I have seen the game all the way to the end, including the bugs that are keeping people from finishing book quests.

    I’ve become more fustrated with it as well. For example, I logged in last night, thought I would go work on a quest (Book 9, Ch 1/2). Well, you make your way and when you click the mob you enter a solo instance. I’m thinking “Great! A solo quest!”. Then there comes wave after wave of groups of 4 mobs spawning, I get killed. There isn’t enough time after defeating each wave for me to get healed back up. I get through 3 waves before going to my maker. But yet, where do I appear ? Not at the beginning of the instance or close by, but friggin’ all the way back at a rez point near Gabilshather (i.e. long way away). I just log out in utter fustration, and went and played Star Wars Galaxies (just started playing a few days ago).

    So, welcome to the end game of LOTRO. Numerous fellowship quests that are broke/bugged, impossible, or utterly not worth the reward. If a game is going to have some staying power, it has to be fun for the players. So far, its not, and my wife and I are already talking about going back to WOW or starting to play EQ2.

  19. I played WoW obsessively for two years and hit burnout about two months after my casual guild decided to morph into a raiding guild. I bought BC when it came out but I think partly because I was already in the LOTRO closed beta at the time, it didn’t hold my interest for too long. I’m a Tolkien fan (not a fanatic mind you), and the charm that LOTRO holds for me is the fact that it’s set in Middle Earth. Everything else, you can find in other MMORPGs.
    I have yet to reach level 50. I’ve been taking it really slow, playing only when my friends are around, experimenting with various crafting trades, and so far, I’m still enjoying it. I think pacing is the key. LOTRO is a beautiful game and as a Tolkien fan, I appreciate the effort behind making it faithful to the lore. But if I played it as obsessively as I did WoW, I’m afraid I’d be where Julian is now – burned out – and I’d be upset because I want to and can’t see the lands beyond the Misty Mountains. Unlike others though, I’m glad I went for the lifetime sub, because I mean to see ALL of Middle Earth and I don’t care how long it takes Turbine to do it. I will be there.

  20. The thing is, I don’t know how much slower I can really take things before starting to feel that I’m forcing myself to play the game in a way that is not fun to me from the get go. Does that make sense? I think each player has its own internal clock and speed regarding how they play the games they play. In my case with LOTRO, I can’t see how I could possibly take things any slower and still be within what my internal clock tells me is fun.

    My case:

    – My main is in a RP guild. Which means many times I log in I’m usually heading to a tavern, outing, sit-down and talkie, etc. Every saturday night is storytelling night at the Methel Stage, and there goes the whole night. So no xp gain there.
    – I don’t craft, because I don’t find it fun. If I were to start crafting seriously to pass the time, I would find it severely un-fun.
    – I like to explore, but I’m one of those that tends to ‘get’ everything on the first pass. Coming back to a place, nook or cranny just to see it again does not tickle my explorer’s bone. I’ve already been to most POIs in the game, and half of them happened while I was playing normally. The only part of the map I have unexplored is half of East Angmar, but at level 43 that spells aggravation instead of thrill.
    – I can play alts, and I do have alts all by now between 20-30. I can’t explore with them, because I can’t get over the fact that my main (and by extension, the player behind that main) has already explored everything. I can’t craft seriously with them, because I don’t enjoy it, period. After level 15 they all get funneled to Bree anyway, one way or another, so it’s not that I can enjoy a lot of different content for each race after that point.
    – I’m not going to start collecting/completing deeds that I know I won’t ever use or need. Feels like wasting time to me.

    And that’s my point. I haven’t, by any possible interpretation, played this one as obsessively as I played WoW back then. Not even close. At the height of it, I was having day-long sessions often. now it’s rare that I have the time to do so.

    So yeah, taking it slow and making sure you chew your content before swallowing might help for many people. But what do you do when you chew as slow as you can bring yourself to chew, you swallow it properly, and you still don’t find it filling?

  21. I think that is the whole point. My pace is much slower than yours Julian. You can’t go slower, and thus the game isn’t working for you. At my pace, I really don’t see me getting tired of it at all. At my pace, I have reached level 39 in World of Warcraft now and I’ve had an account since day one. Granted, I’m probably an extreme case, but whatever it is – LotRO works perfectly for me. I really don’t care about leveling at all – I just love going into the world and I need nothing more than that. I don’t even do any crafting. I play LotRO less than 10 hours per week right now and that is perfect for me and my life at this time.

  22. Brad, Im definately sorry to hear that and when I am listening to your casts I am always way below where you are in terms of level.

    I believe I’m on the same page with Julian and alts, I found myself only making one now and then to help new players joining our ranks. I have two specifically that are for two different players when they are on. I cant say that I’m having more fun on them than I am with my main because he’s right, you do just get funneled to Bree and from there on the content is the same as your main character. However, around mid 20’s it seems that classes really start to get interesting and I plan to try all to atleast 25.
    I think Turbine is great with content updates and that if you dont have a lifetime sub then maybe wait for the next announcement of content and the timeline. I think last I heard it was fall.

  23. The “pick it back up next content update” is what I plan to do when I finally run out of things to do. The only class I enjoy is the Champ right now, so if I ever do manage to run out of things to do, I’ll just be picking it back when the next section opens. Gotta love that business model. I already know I’ll keep coming back. :)

  24. > “Its a solid game, well crafted, creative, cool setting, but I don’t > feel like playing it much”

    This is an excellent observation, I had a lot of fun in the game till about lvl 20, when you’re going into the lone lands and north downs. Then the game turns very repetive and just plain boring. Both regions are almost identical and the quests arent anything to write home about.

    My highest lvl character is my minstrel at lvl 28, and most quests in my log are too hard to solo, or are fellowship quests. The quests that are just about my level are doable, but the minstrel kills so slowly, every fight is just feels like a chore. I think what wow did very well, is that you had always something to look forward to. A nice new staff to go for at your next level, a cool new skill or some other piece of gear. I totally miss that in this game.

  25. Ethic: Points well taken, all of yours. I’m just a little sad (not bitter, though), because I had a little bit invested into this one pre-launch, as you well know. I’m sad it didn’t turn out to my liking, but hey, nothing wrong with that really.

    Gotta find me a new home. Hopefully something involving pirates, around the end of the year. That should do it. ;)

    Eric: Another thing that WoW did well, I think, was that it tried to avoid tying your character down to one specific area at any given level range from the early mid-game on. A WoW character, say level 30-ish, will have the option of catching the high end/low end of Arathi, Stranglethorn, maybe even Hillsbrad or Wetlands, depending on your quest spread. Later on, say in your 50s, you also had the option of Winterspring, some of Blasted Lands, or the high end/low end of Tanaris, Un’Goro, Western Plaguelands, etc.

    Maybe it will get better as more content comes along, but suppose I’m a LOTRO player in my level 30-ish that is done with whatever quest I can realistically do in the North Downs. Suppose I can’t stand Evendim for some reason. I don’t like how it looks, I don’t like the mobs (same old mobs as elsewhere, but that’s not the point), I don’t like the quests. It can happen. We all like some zones more than others, and flat out hate or love some.

    If I don’t want to do Evendim, I’m basically boned. Common example that I used to see every time I logged in was players that did everything they could in North Downs, could not find a group to finish the remaining fellowship quests there to save their lives, and were too weak for the Trollshaws. Sure, Evendim solved it theoretically, but it’s a sign of the design I think. The funneling is just too hard and there are little alternative areas in which to find quests/do something else/get a change of scenery at least.

    WoW was more gentle because, despite having a clear progress path as well, it didn’t start really funneling you until the mid-late game. And even then, you always had an option. Sometimes, more than two or three, depending on how you got there and what you had left.

    I don’t likes the funneling too much, necessary as it is.

  26. Funneling is definitely apparent. I think the problem is that there’s very few zones right now, and the ones they do have are massive, often dealing you through 10 levels at a time. That’s a lot of time to be stuck in one zone in the post-wow world.

  27. I am like Ethic and Trinity. I have gone fast and furious so much in so many games. This time I’m being laid back about it. My Guardian is 27, my minstrel 15, both started back during Founders week, and I’m having lots of fun.

    Two months and having a 43, or a 50, is pretty fast leveling I think. I don’t see how someone can say they have a 50 and have “seen the content” if that was their only character. Maybe the game just doesn’t work when you play it that fast – even if for you it is slower than in other games.

    I am just saying I wonder if it’s more of a style thing, what people prefer, than a good/bad design thing.

    This is one of the only games where I actually read the quest text and try to understand the story (except the kill 10 rats quests of course). It bugs me when people click accept in group quests and don’t give me time to read.

    There are a lot of things I wish were better, of course. The combat is rather boring, and I actually have fallen asleep twice while crafting.

    Maybe it’s more me, and my attitude that makes the game work well. For instance Comcast keeps inexplicably shutting off my internet access and when it’s off I play Railroads! which would never have appealed to me 10 years ago. Maybe they designed it so just hanging around is indeed part of the game and we’re playing it as they intend.

    Maybe if the game appeals to more casual players, maybe that is good, or maybe not.

    Maybe I could draw a conclusion instead of just saying “maybe” :) but for now it’s lunchtime and my brain won’t work properly.

  28. It’s definately a very casual game, moreso than WoW I’d say. I’ve made nearly level 30 in just over 48 hours played. But the one thing that I find solace in? I know that there really is no end-game in LotRO.

    We keep referring to “what is there to do at level 50?” But I don’t think that’s the point. This won’t be like WoW where one has to wait 2 years for something other than raids and BGs to play in.

    We’re very likely to see new zones come into the game every few months, and that’s an exciting thing really. Now, I don’t expect a new area like Evendim in every content update, but one can’t deny that the prospect of having Harad, Moria, Mirkwood, Lorien, etc unfold as time goes on… that’s an exciting thing to think about, really.

    Maybe not for non-Tolkien fans, but for me it’s the reason I keep playing. And the reason I’ll keep coming back when I finally do cancel.

  29. Im level 28 now and have just picked up 18 quests at a place called Esteldin in North Downs. They run the gamut from light blue to red in difficulty and 4-5 are fellowship. Thats pretty good.

    While I agree that they do somewhat limit you to zones, there is potential for the future here and that is why I am not rushing either.

    However…. I was a little frightened by the content update. I have picked up 4 quests in Evendim and 3 have had typos in them and one didnt even list the quest rewards. This may just be Turbine pushing the first content out the door to keep the resubs going, for that I don’t really blame them. I do hope they work harder on this next update as it will most likey come before the beginning of winter, a tough time for all games.

  30. well, i’ve played WoW, and am finally sick of it. I’m a tolkien fan and absolutely love LotR. After reading all of the above plus looking elsewhere at game reviews etc. i think this would be the perfect game for me. I tend to take it slowly and explore rather than lvl, and as this is set in a environment that i can relate with i think it will be even better. Now all i need to do is get the game!

    ps. anyone got a buddy card so i can try before i buy?!?!? worth a try i suppose…

  31. ..~~~~~~~~~~~~~#LOTRO#~~~~~~~~~~~~~..

    When WOW first came out, I was like I’ve got to get that game but before I did I waited for my friends to get it first so I could have a turn on their accounts. I liked it a lot but some reason I didnt get the game…(I think I could’nt support myself with money wise)…..so I thought I could hold my temptation for a little while and wait until the time is right to get the game. A Couple of years later I still don’t have WOW but I am glad I didn’t get the game.

    You gamers might think I’m crazy not to get WOW myself..LOL.. but I was mainly waiting for LOTRO to come out. Been a player in LOTRO is great…I am taking my time leveling up. I reckon my dwarf looks really good and he is strong, and my Hobbit well he is on a really low level I more use him as a traveler, I take my little hobbit around places, mostly I use my hobbit for site seeing.

    I am getting annoyed with the bugs but I guess i haven’t hit the 30’ties yet..(taking my time)….

    My friends are still playing WOW (well the ones that are not burnt out yet-) They haven’t got LOTRO yet cause they are trying it out on my account. (kinder like when they got WOW and I tried it out on their accounts) I am waiting for them to get it so I can do the fellowship quests with them.

    I love Tom Bombadil, he is so peaceful…..Tom and my hobbit are like buddies, My hobbit’s home is Tom’s home. but I am havin’ trouble with my hobbit’s level, you do need to get your level up, so you don’t die in The Old Forest.

    Come on Turbine fix the bugs before I reach the higher levels!


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