The Lord Of The Rings Online
State Of Play
USING SOME OF the most controversial source material possible - the much-loved and fiercely-protected Lord of the Rings -Turbine have managed to craft the most story/quest-driven MMO in existence. Lord of the Rings Online has, since its release in April 2007, been one of the few games to deliberately funnel players down particular narrative-driven quest chains (apart from Turbine's own Dungeons & Dragons: Stormreach), rather than throw them into a rather intimidating world and say "go nuts". Some may call it linear, but the story-based structure of LOTRO is what gives it its power.
While most State of Plays gloss over the fact that many MMOs fail to provide regular, free and substantial upgrades to the gameworld, LOTRO prides itself on a regular influx of new content. Since its release, there have been seven large-scale updates to the game amongst the regular balance and bug-fix updates that not only added to the game, but continued the game's "epic storyline. This is a long-term quest that spreads over the course of LOTRO's (first) 50 levels, leading up to the conclusion of the game's first Volume, The Shadows of Angmar, finished in Book 15: The Daughter of Strife. These updates were (and will continue to be) sizeable, adding more quests, areas and content to the already rather intimidating LOTRO world.
The updates (books) are sent out once every two months, and history has proven that Turbine are reasonably loyal to these timeframes. Tine first, The Shores of Evendim, added over 100 quests, new raid areas and items to raid for, and set the scene for most of the rest of the content. While the original game encouraged grouping and really experiencing the story-driven content, Turbine have released more hardcore/raid content, including the battle with a balrog. Please note - this is a balrog, rather than the Balrog, that you can fight in The Mines of Moria's historic raid. The important (and slightly different) thing about the aforementioned subterranean expansion is that the best of it is found from being the highest level in Anginal's content. This isn't just because you'll have more content to grind through, a la Wrath ofthe Lich King, but because the storyline relies on the fact that you'll have a group of buddies to thrash through the higher level content with. Much of the latter parts of LOTRO relies on the player having a few good men to bother the various monsters on the way to level 60. While this is where the multiplayer part of MMO comes in, it can be frustrating having to rely on having made reliable friends to advance through the content.
All the same, LOTRO currently has some of the finest dedicated storytelling in MMOs, and continues the rich tradition of whisking the player off on a wild adventure. Where Northrend fails to engage, the new content in Moria will win over anybody who left LOTRO at a reasonably high level. Failing that, those willing to rush to level 10 will find a slew of PvP content in Monster Play and The Ettenmoors. If you want to, you can battle against level 40 and higher players as a monster, leveling and gaining deeds as you go - it's a great distraction from the main game when it becomes a tad stale.
The only problem with LOTRO is that, in this industry, it's not stunningly different from WOW or Warhammer Online, other than its environments are made with bit more care. The source material is lovingly developed, but the I game itself can tend to be repetitive and just not as tight as its competitors. Nevertheless, it also tends to be more satisfying, especially considering how much story-based content there is for both new players and those returning from hiatus.
The Mines of Moria is a worthy expansion, and the LOTRO world is worth a bash even for newbies, and definitely deep enough to spend more time with if you were initially impressed. The Rune Keeper and Warden classes add a bit more soloability to the game, and the storyline is one of the better ones in PC gaming, even if it does err on the cheesy. Tie new raid encounters will sate the wannabe hardcore generation, and even the more casual player will enjoy a jaunt into the earlier content.
Whether or not you return is mostly up to how well you ingest the Lord of the Rings content. The high fantasy nature of Turbine's work hasn't changed, and it's not set to. But on the upside, it will grow and evolve over the next few years.
Download The Lord Of The Rings Online
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP