Previously I talked about the world of The Lord of the Rings Online and what it means to be a Hobbit, so you already have some idea about the unique atmosphere of the game and what makes it so special. But what about gameplay?
Moreover, how has developer, Turbine, changed the game in order to give it away for free? It has to have changed something
, right? I mean, they wouldnít give away a game that cost money to buy, and more money every month to play - they wouldnít just give it away.
At its most basic LOTRO
is an MMORPG like most other MMORPGs. You kill things, complete quests, get experience points, level up and get new skills and equipment so you can kill slightly bigger things. Combat is a blend between real-time and turn-based: every special attack has a cool-down period, so after using it you have to wait for it to recharge before you can use it again. Characters also have basic attacks which engage automatically whenever you enter combat.
Each character class in LOTRO
builds attacks in a slightly different way. A Bardís spells and attacks are grouped into tiers; a Tier One attack must be in effect before a Tier Two attack can be unleashed, a tier two attack can lead to a tier three attack, and so on.
A Championís attacks, on the other hand, are fuelled by Fervour points, which are accumulated with low level attacks. Save a couple fervour points and you could spend them on a better attack; or you could keep your attacks at a low level, fill up your fervour point gauge and really unleash hell upon your opponent. Though itís easy to get into a simple key-pressing rhythm when fighting, the depth of the combat system allows for tactics to be switched on the fly, which youíll definitely need to do when facing certain more difficult enemies.
Quests also follow a similar routine to most other MMORPGs - you will
be asked to kill ten wolves/bears/bandits/squirrels and collect 15 ďWhateversĒ from their corpses. Some of them wonít have whatevers on them, even if their whatevers are hearts or hooves, or something else youíd think a monster might need when itís going about its business. Youíll also be asked to travel large distances to deliver letters, packages and pies to someone whoíll give you a slightly shinier dagger or some morale potion for your troubles. As enjoyable as sight-seeing in Middle Earth is, traipsing back and forth between locations can be extremely dull.
The Paperís Torn and Gone
Letís face it - by now you already know whether or not you want to play LOTRO
. Itís a very traditional, very typical MMORPG itís true, but itís wrapped in Christmas present paper too beautiful to discard. You know the feeling you had as a kid, sneaking into the living room in the dead of night, seeing the tree blotted out by towering spires of presents? The gifts wrapped in red, gold, green paper, glistening like immense jewels, sparkling with promise?
Beneath the lustrous exterior are toys and games, the same things youíd find in any toy shop, in any bedroom across the country. Once the paperís torn and gone the presents are never the same, but for that single wonderful moment while mum and dad are still in bed, the presents are mysterious and magical and gift-tagged to you.