Sunday, September 6, 2009
Me and LOTRO
I played the game at launch until I got a 'monster player' and then did that for about 6-7 months then they changed it and made the good guys too good and so I got bored and wandered off before starting again with one of the good guys so I could explore all the end-game stuff. Then I got a lifetime sub, then came MoM which I shall cover later.
I liked it as it was like most mmo's with the point and click interface, the computer does most things for you and most of the skill involves running into or away from the foe at the right moment.
The Starting Areas.
These are actually really interesting (especially after the revamp) and to anyone who like Tolkein and his works all of the starting areas are pretty interesting. The graphics here are no more beautiful than the entire game, in fact I would go so far as to say that graphically the game improves as your character does.
The storylines are quite immersive and it is easy to get a few levels and a few interesting skills which not only provide more things for you to do other than 'hit with sword', but also give you an insight into how your character works as the tactics you use now in pve, are almost exactly the same as later on.
The bad guys are pretty pathetic and can be downed easily in a solo-play fashion so you don't need to wait for people to come along to finish the introduction which is always good.
The landscape of LOTRO
This is beautiful, one of the best MMO's graphically. The waterfalls near the last homely house really pinpoint the contrast between the power and the delicacy of the elven race. The misty mountains are amazing; you feel like you are hunting wolves on the downs of the alps. The sky of Forochel at night is a beauty to behold as they have worked in a 'northern lights'-esque visage that plays itself across your screen every night. Even the dark dinginess of Moria is truly stunning when you aren't being mobbed by thirty incredibly hungry goblins. Even the balrog in the rift is quite beautiful even though it is five times your height and willingly capable of rending you limb from limb.
Gameplay - levelling
Levelling goes at a nice pace; the casual user can get to max (60) in about three months and there are a lot of nice quests to help you along the way. The 'epic' quests are a good way of telling players which area they should visit next to level up and get some good kit for your level. The quests are a little familiar as they generally revolve around 'pick 6 plants', 'kill 10 gobbos' then 'kill the goblin boss'. I spend a lot of time sighing at the NPC telling him that 'you could have told me to do all that the first time I went there' but the NPC's never listen and insist on sending you into the same ruins four or five times to complete all the quests there.
They tried to make it a little more interesting with Moria but unfortunately it appears that only one of the story writing team was embracing the idea of interesting quests whilst the rest hammered out the same old theme.
Gameplay - not levelling
My clever section title is a catch all for crafting, fishing and traiting. A trait is usually gained by players seeing up to twelve locations or killing up to 360 monsters and that trait can be equipped to give a minor boost to some stats. If the trait is maxxed (doing the same thing in different areas of the game) then that trait gives quite a significant boost. The exploration traits are really cool and make you go across the entire map and discover all the cool little locations that they have made for us to see. Unfortunately the 'kill monsters' traits tend to be the better ones and require the death of up to 360 monsters of a single type in a single area. This is really boring, takes most of a day and really doesn't enhance the gaming experience.
Crafting is much the same unfortunately. It is really nice to be able to kill something and turn it into a suit of really nice leathers, but you have to kill 500 odd things (most of which are not for quests or traits) to get their innards or coverings then process them then turn them into rubbish stuff that is worthless THEN you have a chance of getting the really nice leathers. This is pretty pointless as you can probably get something better with a group of friends and half an hour in an instance.
Fishing, again, requires you to level up your fishing skill by doing it over and over again in an end-game pool, (if you want to be a GM fisherman wait until you are going into an instance and fish near there whilst waiting for people.), the problem again is the only reward for this is some nice stamina (power actually) boosting food and some fishing trophies (that are only fish, nothing interesting here)
Housing is really only for storage. I went to town decorating my house after some wheeler dealing in the auction house, but nobody really saw it as the homesteads tend to be dead.
I liked the area outside moria, It was really nice and well thought out and the quick travel to every hub there was a genius idea BUT, moria was over too quickly for me. You shouldn't be able to gain the last ten levels (50-60) of the game in a fortnight even as a casual user when 40-50 took a month or so and there was tons of cool stuff to do after that. I am a fan of Tolkein so was horrified at the dark jedi-esque powers of the rune-keeper, gandalf-alikes may love the idea of hurling lightning at people but power over lighting was never even mentioned in the books; there were about three references to fireballs but that was it.
Legendary weapons were a really nice idea apart from the fact that in order to get the really cool settings you need to get tons and tons of the lower level ones and then mash them all together at an npc to get a really nice one. I think I worked it out at 2,000 odd drops from monsters to get a tier 8 setting, again this is a bit grindy. Plus the fact was that to get the best (a 2nd age legendary) you had to kill the watcher and then the stats that came on the item ( as they are all random) could be worse than a fourth age weapon for your class.
PvMP (pvp but the bad guys are REALLY bad)
As the title of this section suggests there are inherent problems that come with setting up pvp where one side has a pve area and the other doesn't. Monsters exist only for pvp which is all well and good, but their main power comes from ranks which are gained by killing other players. They get minor traits which are gained from killing npc's and again provide a moderate boost to stats but the main traits are gained by killing other players. These 'major' traits are restricted by rank and they are absolutely crucial to success. A 'green' monster cannot solo a level 50 player (even though autolevelled at 60) as the level 50 player has spent a lot of time getting really cool kit and really cool traits which make them far superior. Unfortunately the converse is true in that a 'red' or rank 10 monster can pretty much solo any level 60 player. My spider got to rank nine before i got bored of that and after being able to root a player with webs then send three spiderlings to kill him whilst slowly poisoning my foe made the job a little too easy.
The main problem is not the soloing as it is quite rare and fights revolve around massive raids of 24 people (most nights theres two to four of these on both sides causing massive lag but much fun) it is again (you guessed it) the grind. To get to rank 15 (maximum rank) it had been predicted that you need 2.5 million renown points. Thats 250,000 kills within a raid (as the average is 10 points of renown per kill if grouping) or 40,000 solo kills. This will take more than 6 or seven years and what do you get for it;
monsters get a special trait that for some classes is pretty much a god-mod and for others just really cool, both of which get boring after a couple of weeks of play. Players get a special item that allows them to instantly recover from stuns, roots and traps and be immune to them for 15 seconds (with a cooldown of fifteen minutes on it). Not really worth 6 years of gaming hell.
Really nice graphics.
Really nice intro.
Quite nice story quests.
Nice enough quests.
Grinding the Crafting proficiencies.
Grinding legendary settings.
Grinding instances for epix.
Grinding pvp for little reward.
Grinding social activities for little reward.
For a PVP gamer 4/10 for a PVE gamer 6/10 and for a roleplayer 9/10.