Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Played Lately: Lord of the Rings Online

  • If it hasn't become perfectly clear, I've recently become disillusioned with World of Warcraft. After a year and a half of any game, it would be hard not to look toward greener pastures. As of late, the grass has been kind of green over in Lord of the Rings Online.
  • I tried playing one back in December and had a decent time, but all the running around back and forth for quests was driving me crazy. I don't know what happened in the meantime, but Turbine tightened up the game enough that the early leveling experience is very smooth. I started over at level one with a human champion, wanting to try out the pure melee damage dealer that I've never played in WoW. I actually found the play mechanics well polished. And as befits the license, the storyline is interesting to follow. Yes, I know I'm a side character in the main story, but they make you feel an important part of a larger world.
  • Another aspect of the game I've found myself interested in is the crafting game. Crafting is only a little bit more involved than in WoW. You have to construct base components before you can make final products, earning points toward proficiency to mastery of a crafting ability level. Once an crafting level is mastered, you can get critical successes while crafting, resulting in additional components or higher quality items. High quality recipes can be found just by adventuring which is a great incentive. Although I understand the decision, I wish LotRO allowed you to choose individual crafting abilities instead of bundling them into professions. Just about every profession has two abilities that are really great with one that is dead weight. Overall though, crafting is actually useful in the game and doesn't seem like the time filler it's become in other games.
  • One of the things I'm not a fan of is the death penalty. At first, being defeated meant teleporting to somewhere safe with a minor debuff. Now that I've progress sufficiently, that debuff has become harsher. Harsh enough, even, that I actually log out of the game any time I am defeated to do something else while I wait for it to expire. Turbine gets paid whether I'm logged in or not, but do they really want people to decide it's better not to play their game at all?
  • While I can't universally recommend LotRO, I think there is enough of a game here and a good community that gamers may find something that is comfortable. I've enjoyed my time already and I look forward to many more hours in Middle Earth.

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