First Impressions, LOTRO!
So far I’ve played 20 hours, give or take 2 or 3, of LOTRO. I’ve managed to get my Hobbit Burglar, Gweona, to level 14 and my Human Captain, Dalarin, to level 10. I am really enjoying the Shire and my little Hobbit a bit more than the last time I tried LOTRO, which was on a guest pass at the end of last year. The music at that time just annoyed me like crazy, now I couldn’t live without it. lol
Lets take a look…
The game looks fantastic, which isn’t anything different from any other review. The amount of detain is just awesome, the clouds cast shadows over the landscape, the high grass waves under the gentle breeze and lets not forget the rainbows.(see below)
I have not made it to a large populated area, so I don’t know how the lag will be with lots of people running around, but I’ve got the graphics cranked to Very High and I’m not having any issues currently in the Shire.
The only graphical problem I have come across is the way trees, bushes and other foliage start to appear on the screen. As stated, I’ve have most graphic settings set to Very High, but when a tree comes into view, it pops around into several different positions as I get closer to it, rather than popping in and staying in a stationary position. I can’t really explain it any better, but lets say the effect is annoying. I’ve even tried playing with the settings, going from Ultra High or down to Low and I still get the same effect. For some reason, the objects just keep getting redrawn as I move closer to it.
I wouldn’t think there would be any reason for this, I mean, once you see a tree, the branches aren’t going to rearrange their shape as you get closer, they may sway a bit in the breeze, but nothing like I’m currently seeing. Course, I should just be happy that I’m not having problems like Ancient Gaming Noob, Whilhem, is having. I wish him the best of luck.
The music just makes this game. It has the right feel in all the right areas. The Shire has probably some of the best music in the game, but remember, I’ve not gone out of this area in 14 levels. Course, this only proves that people can change their minds for the better. One of the reasons I didn’t turn my guest account into a full account was because the Hobbit music just seemed to get on my nerves. Now, I’ve grow to love that same music. Even in the Shire area, there is different music playing in each of the little towns, so you don’t seem to get the same music over and over again.
The game effects are also great. I was running down a road at night the other day, and I heard crickets chirping as I moved along. There are also several very loud and beautiful waterfalls in the area as well, all of this makes for a wonderful gaming experience.
Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention under the category of sound the ability to play instruments. I have tried the clarinet, but nothing I would brag about. But I did happen upon two other people playing “Vacation” by The Go Go’s. I have to say, it was pretty good. The sad thing is I had that song running around in my head for several hours after my encounter with them. lol
Being a WoW player, I didn’t have too much trouble figuring out the interface. Everything is pretty standard. I think they could have done a better job with the color scheme and the lettering on some stuff. The auction house interface, in my opinion, is very cluttered and hard to read at times. From what I have observed, Turbine choose to put most of the lettering on a black background and being a person that works with people that make bad power point shows, solid black backgrounds are always a bad idea. I haven’t looked yet to see if that can be changed, if not, that would be an option I would like them to add.
I was able to unlock the different aspects of the interface and move them around with out any trouble. This is always a plus in my book, something that took WoW a long time to figure out.
Somethings are different, if you want to link an item in chat, you have to drag the item to the chat window. This can be annoying if you want to link more than one item, you have to drag, drop, drag drop, etc. Also, you can’t use this same function to look up items on the Auction house. If I want to look up Dirty Spider Eye, I have to type it in. A quick way would be to link it on the search line, then all you have to do is press enter. WoW must have spoiled me with the ease at which they make things.
Now something I really like, Crafting. I have to say, being able to farm, may sound silly, but its really a lot of fun. The only thing I would change would be to put up signs in the farming area, so you knew which field was for which product. Tobacco has to be grown in a separate field from veggies, so you have to hunt around with your crafting interface open, walk around till the requirements turns from red to green, so you’ll know your in the right farming field or not. Again, new to the game, so if there is a better way to know what field is what, let me know.
Cooking is also lots of fun. I just wish it wasn’t so expensive to get started in a producing craft. I have to say, being able to pick a major crafting profession, which have three minors already built in, and not having to buy a single tool to get started, is pretty nice.
Questing is also very different in LOTRO, its actually fun. I find myself reading more information in the quests here than I think I ever did in WoW. Just about every quest is a chain of some sort. You go to one NPC to get and item for another NPC, but they won’t give it to you till you do a little job for them, and so on. I use to find this annoying, but for some reason, its not in LOTRO. Its actually entertaining. I didn’t have to look outside the game for quest hints until yesterday, when I reached level 14. I only did that because I actually missed a step, which prevented me from completing all the mail deliveries in the Shire.
And that brings me to another great aspect, DEEDS. The ability to get something other than a quest reward for your grinding is great. It just is. In other games you would kill, 40 wolves just to get the 10 items you need off them, in LOTRO, you still do, but for your effort, you get the title of Fur-Cutter for your character. If you have to kill more wolves after that, you get a trait, which can be added to your character by a bard. The system is wonderful. Grinding is now worth the effort again. Besides, turning in quests nets you way more XP than grinding ever will.
The last thing I will add, is travel. Until recently, I did all my traveling on foot. I know there are quests at the upper levels for horses, but its really not bad traveling by foot, or in the case of my Hobbit, large feet. lol. In the Shire, you can pretty much get to all the areas you need in a short amount of time, or like me, you can spend Destiny points to increase your movement speed for a little while. But there is a faster way to travel, if you don’t have your own horse, you can rent one.
Its a little on the expensive side, considering the fact that each level you have to purchase either an active or passive spell, which do get considerable more expensive as you progress. That being said, it was a cool ride. Not as impressive as the griffins in WoW, but it was fun.
The game is a great diversion from WoW. When I’m playing WoW, I find myself wishing I was in the Shire. I have not had the reverse feeling. I’m probably going to see how far I can get in the game. So far, solo play is all I have been doing and I’ve not found that boring yet. Lots of wonderful quests to keep me busy and entertained. Other than a few graphical glitches and a few bits of lag, the game runs smooth and is lots of fun.
Lots still to explore like Fellowship maneuvers and working towards the epic quests.
I’ll keep everyone posted, but so far, I have to give LOTRO a Dwarven Thumbs UP!