Lord of the Rings Online Review
Lord of the Rings Online
Publisher: Warner Bros
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Middle Earth was once confined to those that wished to pay a toll, but on June 4th, 2010, it was announced that Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) would become a free-to-play game and in early September the gates were re-opened to the new swarm of thrilled players. This journey-filled free MMORPG features one of the most in depth and compelling worlds that has ever been created and developed, but this is only to be expected.
Lord of the Rings Online gameplay
Since the original J.R. Tolkien novels were released, many additions to the epic tale revolving around the Lord of the Rings have materialized in all forms, carrying on the tradition of adventurism and fulfilment of quests that those residing in Middle Earth must partake to continue living in liberty. Lord of the Rings Online directly involves players in the world in a variety of ways, providing one of the best possible multi-player experiences available. As the game is now free-to-play, there has been alterations to the game allowing for various pay-to-play features. The three classifications of players are Free Player, Premium Player and VIP. Premium players are determined as such because of investments made into the game to increase various aspects of ones character and their game-play, where as VIP members will pay a monthly rate which gives them the highest benefit rate. There is definitely a fair balance between playing for free and paying to play, thus giving a fun experience for everyone.
Possibly the best aspect in itself is the vast and elaborate world that is offered to players, which of course is Middle Earth. The lands of Eriador and Rhovanion are the only ones available at this time, but there are several familiar regions for players to explore, such as Angmar, Bree-land, Mirkwood, Moria and The Shire. There is quite a bit of detail implemented into the features existing throughout each specific, region, area and settlement. From the rolling hills and mountains, to the plants and trees, and to the structures and buildings found all across, every aspect provides visual appeal to the gamer which only increases the enjoyment of the experience.
Unique Starting Locations
Further adding to the already vast intrigue of the world, LotRO gives each of the four races unique starting locations, relevant to their proper origins. The Humans arrive in Archet in Bree-Land, the Hobbits in Little Delving near The infamous Shire, while the Elves begin at Celondim and the Dwarves in Thorin's Gate, both within Ered Luin. The development of these races within Lord of the Rings, with the back stories and involvement of each throughout history, creates such intrigue that the selection of one is a difficult one. Travelling throughout the world, there does seem to be quite a bit of equality with not one race overwhelmingly outnumbering the rest. Something that also keeps in line with the traditions of middle earth is that of some races requiring names to have certain endings, that are relevant to their races usual naming patterns.
9 Classes in total
As for the classes, there are several available to players, each with unique traits and abilities. There are a total of nine classes, which are as follows: Burglar, Captain, Champion, Guardian, Hunter, Lore-master, Minstrel, Rune-keeper, Warden. There is a nice contrast to the large selection of classes available, as some are only available with the selection of certain races. For example, a player can only be a Burglar if they wish to be a Man or a Hobbit, but only Dwarves and Elves can be Rune-keepers. Interestingly enough, the only class that is specific to one race is the Captain class to Humans.
With already such a wide variety to divulge into in this game, the amount of quests and tasks are nearly overwhelmingly extensive. Each race begins in their area and are given quests which correlate to their race and location. Earlier on, much of the players quests are to provide insight into their class, race and the areas around them, while also some fascinating historical information is given as well. Once a player begins to explore more of the world, the door is opened to a wide variety of options. Players can completed Regional Quests, Raid Quests, Epic Quests, Class Quests and Fellowship Quests, some can be completed alone whereas others specifically require the participation of more humans, providing for engaging and gratifying interaction. Out of all the quests, the most enjoyable ones are certainly those that involve the participation of others, as the various “fellowships” can help each other complete various individual or shared quests, or it can take them on journeys through the epic story-line, pitting them directly into the depths of the story. Although any player can join a fellowship and tag along for quests, the ones that are accomplished together, with only the participation of others, those are the most epic. The fact that players play a direct role in the outcome of Middle Earth is definitely intriguing, but to involve other players and battle together, accomplishing for the greater good, that is highly appealing. Another very appealing facet of LotRO is that you will never run out of quests and tasks to bestow upon, as there are frequent updates made to the game with new “chapters” add to continue giving players more options and extend the story along.
Another nice concept is that of Kinships, which is similar to guilds and clans in many other games. Kinships are formed for various reasons, the most common of which are for similar levelled players to completed shared quests, but also the fellowship quests, which are of the most prominence. In order for a Kinship to continue being in operational it needs to have a minimum of 8 members within its first 24 hours. Players may only be in one Kinship at at time, but when players are playing live with each other they can form fellowships, which are only operational during that single gaming period. Players can re-form and join fellowships at any time, but will always remain in the same Kinship until they leave or are forced to resign. A nice touch made that keeps things well aligned is the option of making a kinship specific to a race, which makes some of the ranks relevant only to that races title. The option of also keeping it a mixed kinship, to allow for generic titles is also available. The are 5 ranks are: Founder, Leader, Officer, Kinsmen and Recruit. An example of race specifics would be as both Hobbits and Humans use the Founder title, Elves use Einior while Dwarves call their founder Father.
Weaponry is an aspect that gives players considerable choice, although there are certain arms that are only available to certain classes. Some classes, such as the Hunter class, have ranged weapons as their primary and melee as their secondary, whereas other classes require on their special skills and abilities to perform under combat. As for the actual weapons, there is a wide range available from short swords to powerful swords, axes and a large selection of other medieval-style arms. There are numerous specified weapons available to players as well, some boosting attributes and skills, whereas others are forged for specific purposes. There are also weapons specific to some quests. As for the forging, that is another aspect that brings great intrigue and boosts largely the economy within the game.
Crafting plays a massive role in the games entirety, from players being able to craft their own weapons, armour, clothing, items, to having the ability to produce these for fellow kinsmen and other players. Each player is given the choice between 7 different vocations; Armourer, Armsman, Explorer, Historian, Tinker, Woodsman, and Yeoman, each of which contain 3 professions. In total there are 10 professions, thus there are some overlapping professions that are associated with their vocations, although most of them are specific to the vocation. For example, an Armourer has Metalsmith, Prospector and Tailer as its professions, each of which pertain to what an Armourer does. As the forging and crafting progresses, and players become involved in their trades, making their way from an Apprentice all the way to a Supreme Master, crafting becomes an ever present necessity to the game-play, thus adding to the other captivating aspects of LotRO.
Some have said that the move from pay-to-play to free-to-play is the best move possible, and with the changes and implementations that Turbine have made since their involvement, the game is surely on the rise. As the game is free-to-play, their is still much potential for players to invest into the game to further enhance their gaming experience. It is definitely not a necessity nor a requirement to make any purchase to play and their is till a high level of fun and epic adventures available for free-to-play players. Lord of the Rings Online is a highly recommended game for any player, as this is a game most players can easily enjoy. Even if you do not enjoy the enchantingly epic tales of Lord of the Rings, the game is so vast and vivid that it will provide a riveting experience in one form of another. There is never an end to the LotRO journey as it is continuously updated with expansions and players are constantly given new endeavours to take throughout the fascinating Middle Earth.
Overall: 9.0 / 10
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