LoTRO Beta Stress Test Review

Lord of the Rings Online now has a free trial! (EU Customer link here.)

Edit Note: Please also see my latest post on LoTRO. Also I’ve been noticing an increase in hits on this old post. Please remember this was in Closed Beta back in February 2007.

lotro-wildlife.jpg I’ve been very curious to see how Lord of The Rings Online is turning out. I’m a Tolkien fan and a gamer so it has great potential to capture me. In all the years of fantasy RPG’s, all of them can trance back to Tolkien.

Fans of Tolkien wanted to experience this world he created so Dungeons and Dragons was born. From D&D a multitude of RPG video games came about. I’ve played many of them, too many to list all of them at once. For the die hard D&D player, I’d have to say that BioWare’s Forgotten Realms series is definitely for them. Unfortunately they didn’t make a MMORPG. They did make Neverwinter Nights into a fully modifiable game with server support for people to host their own games on there, complete with a game master to oversee the players. I’m just starting to scratch surface of that old game some. It’s still supported even with NWN2 out.

On with LoTRO; my first few hours in game were really like every other MMO out there right now. Since I have years of MMORPG playing experience it was really hard not to compare the game to Everquest or World of Warcraft. There are many similarities between all the games of course. I would have to say that Everquest did set the bar on game play and has stayed there ever since. Yes, I could bash EQ or Sony Oneline to be more specific for corrupting the game after the expansion release of Planes of Power, or to go back further for even buying out Verant and chasing away many of the original game designers, but it’s water under the bridge now.

lotro-elvish-town.jpg I created two characters, an elvish lore master and a human captain. I was curious with both of these classes. The lore master seems to be a mix of the EQ enchanter and the WoW mage. I played that class a little more since I do love pet classes, it’s also a crowd control class for those pesky adds. (My main character in EQ was a level 68 shadow knight that had a wimpy skeleton pet to use as bait and my main character in WoW is a level 64 hunter that has a choice of taming different beasts in the wild for a pet and I have a level 60 warlock that I like to play around with also.) The captain class seems to be a mix of a paladin and warrior from WoW. It’s an interesting class that might lend itself to be useful for groups.

lotro-hobbit-minstrels.jpg lotro-the-shire.jpg I got up to level 11 with my lore master character and did more exploring before the stress test ran out. (Current level cap is 50.) At first I only saw a few strands here and there related to LoTR books. The graphics were ok but then again I didn’t realize that the game default is set to low so lower end computers can run it. I didn’t take as many screen shots as I should have I only have two here that I took and the others I grabbed from their website. So my very first impression was that this game was like the rest with a the LoTR name added and that really disappointed me. But like the rest of the games I also knew that you don’t get to see the full potential of a game till at least level 10 and I was right. Once I hit level 10 more of the story was opening up and I got an alert telling me to head on over to the town of Bree so I could experience “monster play”. Ok, so I was wondering what in the world was “monster play” and only read on the OOC (out of character) channel that it was some sort of PVP (player versus player).

In order for me to get to Bree I had to make my way from Ered-Luin to The Shire then to Bree-Land. Once I was in The Shire, I had a “OMG” experience. The hobbit houses and towns looked just like movie and like Tolkien’s drawings! Finding Bag End was just exciting. Also the quests there were much more interesting than the “go kill 10 whatever or go collect 10 whatever” quests. There are delivery quests but with a twist, you had to avoid certain NPC’s or it would fail. Plus the quests started to follow the path Frodo took to go to Rivendell. For the Tolkien fan, you start to feel like your are inside the books. Tom Bombadill is even in this game! The guy that gets cut out of every retelling of The Fellowship of the Ring. So the buildings may look like they are from the movie, the story is actually following the books. They only have part of Middle Earth opened up in beta right now and probably will be the same in the release to allow for future expansions.

lotro-wargs.jpg I did finally reach the town of Bree and tried out the “monster play”. This is a great idea! I wondered about the lack of “evil characters” to play in the character menu but the reason for it is monster play. What happens is you create a evil character after choosing from a menu of three different orcs, a spider and a wolf (aka worg). You start off as a level 50 character and get quests to go out and wreck havoc on the Free People of Middle Earth. You are however restricted to only one zone, which is apparently the pvp zone. I played a worg which is a lot like the druid cat form in WoW. (Yeah, I have a lot of alts in WoW.) It can stealth and has sprint, the bite and claw type attacks can DoT (damage over time) your target. There are separate quests for your monster and you get different type of cash to train up your abilities or buy other options for your regular character. Such as double experience bonus for an hour.

There are also quirky animations such as smoking a hobbit pipe or playing an instrument. Speaking of instruments, you can really play them. There is an 8 note scale with upper and lower pitches, so you have 24 different pitches total. The different instruments are a clarinet, horn, lute and one more that I forgot about. It seems that each class will be able to play one instrument and I’m assuming that the minstrel class will be able to play them all. There is also a little thing on the mini map that shows your character’s state of being, most of the time I had “hope”. In the presence of evil your character will be in “fear”. Both states of being have a +/- factor for stats.

Now with all that said, would I opt for their Pre-Order Founder’s offer? Yes, I think I would. The offer is for $9.99/month or $199 for a lifetime membership that comes out to be 20 months prepaid. Do I recommend this game to others? Yes, I do see a lot of potential for this game. Although for a non-Tolkien fan, I’m not sure they would get as excited about being in Bilbo’s and Frodo’s house as I was. So I am not so sure of the retention rate for someone not into the LoTR legacy. I do wish I had a week to fully get into the game and to explore more of it. Hopefully I’ll get excepted into their regular beta program.

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~ by Kittenanne Mousehold on February 26, 2007.

11 Responses to “LoTRO Beta Stress Test Review”

  1. Sounds very good, for such a Tolkien Fan like me. The screenshots are very nice, too. I think i should informe me a little bit more about the game.

  2. I only wrote about my own experience in the Stress Test Beta, which ended Monday morning.

    For more information on the game itself I suggest browsing these sites that I found.
    The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar official site
    Allakhazam’s Magical Realm: Lord of the Rings Online
    Lord of the Rings Online Vault

    I really need more time on there to fully know all the nuances of the game. It’s definitely a game that you need to spend time with and dig around in. There are many “bonuses” you get from discoveries, killing different mobs or completing quests. After you achieve getting those you manage them at a bard npc. The ones I received were for +1 bonus in different stats. Not much but I believe that goes up over time. I think a week trial period on there would give enough of an impression of whether or not the game is for you. I do not know if they will be offering up a trial or not. Right now they are only offering a pre-order deal.

    There are still small things that need to be fixed, such as running animation; but this is still in beta and the release date is not till the end of April. So I can over look those small things. They also put in an auction house system that is same as the one in WoW. I am happy about that and that they are not opting for the AFK barter system in other games. They also have a mail box system, which is the same as WoW. There is a mini-map with legend markers. Only annoying thing I found was a floating text over NPCs and anything that you can interact with. I did find out that you can turn that off in the UI prefaces. I also made a suggestion in their forums to limit where that text is.

    If I get an invite to the closed beta I will make another post with more information on the game. Right now I only have those websites for information.

  3. I just got the pre-order an i am waiting for it to currently update it. This review really helped me get excited about lotro. I am a huge Tolkien fan and loved all his books. I always wanted to live in middle-earth and this is the closest I will ever get. I am a slight bigger fan of The Legend of Zelda though. They need a Zelda mmorpg too. That would really make my day. Thanks for the great review it really helped.

  4. I ordered lord of the rings online and played up to level 6 on a hobbit hunter. Needless to say that I was highly disappointed in the game play. I have to say that Lotro will soon be the next mess up from turbine just like dungeon and dragons online was, many fans are going to be very angry. Some of the many problems are ugly yet tedious battles, Idiotic and uninteresting quests, LAG 24/7, classes you can choose from are boring. Some of the good things would be you can customize your guy, umm… thats it. If you also bought the beta then you wasted money just like me and if your thinking about getting it then just don’t, just don’t.

  5. There is a key code for Open Beta available for LoTRO. Both PC Gamer magazine and GameSpot are offering an Open Beta key code. So check out the game for yourself before pre-ordering. Opinions on games are as subjective as opinions on art. Therefore, I rather have you all judge for yourselves instead of going strictly by what I or anyone else says about LoTRO.

  6. beverley knight video

    Man i love reading your blog, interesting posts !

  7. Right.
    Lance. Guess what. A level 6 HOBBIT hunter is so not giving you a true view of the full world that Turbine has created. Lag 24/7? What kind of a computer are you on? What graphics are you on? Obiously it is going to lag if you are playing on high graphics on an old junker of a computer. And, what server are you playing on. Yes, the quests are fairly boring until about level 10. And the beta was not even worth playing. They have added lots of content update since then. Dungeons and Dragons, I agree, was a mess. How are the classes you can chose from boring? Have you ever played any other MMORPG’s before? Thats basically all the classes you will get in any game. Some are named differently. In WoW Mages are like Lore~Masters. Warriors are Champions. EtCetera. You obviously have not played many MMORPG’s before. Please don’t talk about stuff you don’t know anything about.

    Cheers,

    Keaton. aka

    Friador Wazzilweb
    Bane of the Barrows
    Order of the Tower Guard
    Level 21 Elf Lore Master

  8. Wow…..So this year old post I made is still getting comments?!?

    Btw, Keaton….Lance will probably never see your reply to him. Yeah, I’ll have to say he never got out of the tutorial part of LoTRO since he never made it past level 6. Plus the lag during closed beta did get pretty bad there when Turbine was trying to tweak the game. In many instances people would crash over and over in towns. Yes, it was usually older computer that suffered from coders extremely bad memory leak. This was all during closed beta and I’m almost positive that is all fixed now.

    As for me, the owner of this small blog, one day I would love to go back to LoTRO especially since they have added many new things in there concerning gameplay, making more of a unique MMO.

  9. Yes. Exactly Kitten.
    LOTRO has just announced a new expansion which will enhance the gameplay and give three new areas including the Mines of Moria. (www.unlocktheminesofmoria.com) and for reference (www.lotro.com) This will also boost the level cap to 60. Yes. The tutorial is th emost boaring part.

    I hope you join Lotro again.

    If you do, and me to your Friends list.

    Friador.

    Cheers,

    KG

  10. […] blog and found something that’s just very irritating. Some gold seller has posted my entire review for LoTRO, everything including all the comments for it! Didn’t bother to do a simple link back to the […]

  11. Indeed i have a lvl 50 hunter and for me lvl 50 is where the fun starts, for the ettenmoors (pvp area) is the best part. then the rift and Carn Dum is just as exiting oh and BTW you sayd about music (there are also a harp, bagpipe, and lots more) but you forgot the crafting! it is a fun way to make money and to improve yourself. They also say that in the mines of moria there will indeed be a new class and lvl 60 cap (dont know his name). Monster play also changed now you just log to your character screen then you can play as a monster, a new class also opened after bok 13 (defiler) it is a very fun healing class and hope you enjoi :))

    (oh and btw if you start again be shure to play on server evernight kitten ^^)

    Jeaniolas Greenleef
    light from the shadows
    warlord of angmar
    LVL 50 hunter

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