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…

GRAPHICS

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.

 

SOUND

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

 

GAME PLAY

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.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

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!

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~ by oakstout on April 14, 2008.

15 Responses to “First Impressions, LOTRO!”

  1. Nice post. I started LOTRO close to release, and while I liked it, it was kind of ho hum with large gaps in between certain levels where you would be hard pressed for quests & XP and way too many necessary group quests that pile up in the log.

    Recently returned and boy what a big difference. The gaps in XP have been filled in. Great, relevent quest rewards and XP at higher levels. Enough quests that a person could simply ignore most group quests. Fantastic graphical improvements. A lot of fluff. More things that I can do at my own pace (and the fluff has added a whole dimension to my personal role playing of the game).

    For instance, I bought a house and found myself devoting 2 weeks to doing it up. I mean I stalled my XP gains, everything. Leveled up my crafting to be able to craft som enice housing items. Went to do reputation grinds, which compared to WoW is very easy and quick, for craft patterns. Farmed materials etc… By the end of it, I realized that I had done ALOT of actually playing the game, gotten a ton of XP and was very close to dinging 50 and my house was looking spiffy. AND my crafting was complete (except for mastery). Brilliant.

    Ever since then, I’ve been doing a lot of things other than simply questing or grinding, with a lot of that being fluff related/cosmetic. And I’ve discovered how accessible most things are to do for an individual player at the higher levels. With a little effort, most things can be achieved by yourself and has allowed me to log in or out at will without having to commit blocks of time beforehand.

    For us aging gamer types, it’s been really good. Lately I’ve been working up another craft on an alt and simply exploring the whole of Middle Earth as a screenshot tourist. You’d think a person would get over that in a day of that acivity but surprisingly, it’s been a very enjoyable, very relaxing, very casual activity that has netted me some amazing screenies for future rememberance sake.

  2. My lore-master is also a Historian, which includes the Farmer profession. If I were at my desktop now I’d check, but I think if you show farms on the main map and mouseover, it will tell if it’s a vegetable or a pipe-weed farm. I know it definitely does when you mouseover the farm icon on the minimap.

    Definitely get going on the books! Each start zone (Archet, Ered Luin, Shire) has its own Prologue, which is heavily scripted and starts to intersect your own adventures with that of the Fellowship, similar to how you leave the tutorial world and enter the ‘real’ Eriador.

  3. I am looking forward to doing the books. I keep seeing people shout for help on certain book quests and can’t wait to get involved.

    I’m slowly starting to understand certain aspects of the game, which only makes me want to spend more time there.

  4. I agree Wasnsai, the game is a screenshot adventure. In the short time I’ve been playing, I’m slowly catching up to all the screenshots I’ve taken in WoW over the last couple of days. Every day i discovers something new about the way the world looks or sounds. As i stated in my post, I just discovered how realistically loud the waterfalls sound when you pass by them, not to mention how great they look.

    I’m actually looking forward to casually playing my way to the top of this game. So far, I’m not been bored like i was in CoH. That game just had such a repetitive grind to solo play that it wasn’t even worth the effort to log in, which is why I cancelled it. Tabula Rasa was different but again, shooting aliens over and over can get a little boring.

    And sorry it took so long to approve your post, you know us old people.

  5. Glad you’re enjoying it! Interesting that many of your comments echo mine around launch and shortly thereafter with the exception that some of the things you note are now more fun or at least much less of an annoyance as a result of refinements by Turbine.

    The AH has gotten much better (e.g., you can now tab between fields and the taxonomy is much more logical), but searching for items can be a pain, especially when the item title involves extended ascii characters like many due.

    Searching for “Dunedain” in the AH will get you nothing unless you add the accented characters… Still a vast improvement over launch.

    AFAIK, the foliage popping into view is just the way their engine works.

    I mentioned it a while ago http://potshot.wordpress.com/2007/02/27/lotro-some-visual-contrasts/ and even with a new 8800 gt, the problem doesn’t go away no matter how I tweak the settings.

  6. Are you talking about the way certain terrain fades into view (and they do need to give us more scaleable viewing range options) or when it changes from the distance imposters to the actual models? (You can disable the distance imposters, btw though it makes the background world look a bit dead)

  7. I think you picked a good time to pick the game up actually. They are adding fishing and a new area this month in book 13 and the pvp area has heated up quite a bit since book 12. Also if you had gotten into the beta like me and had been playing since then you would probably have gotten tired of waiting for new stuff. But, as things are for you, by the time you are max level and have explored Eriador the expansion will be out so bully for you 🙂

    As far as the trees go talk to turbine in a ticket about it they have been very friendly in customer service to me and my brothers. Make sure to send them screen shots. The main map will always tell you where the good farming spots are but you have to remember to select “show all” or you will miss a lot of stuff.

    Other than that I recommend taking it easy as you have done and smelling the daisies, especially since there are lots of them. Also, only work on the traits you care most about and resist the urge to do the pokemon “gotta catch em all” thing cuz that will burn you out and you can only slot five of the grindy traits anyways.

  8. The trees are already in view, but as you move towards them, their branches move from one angle to another angle, or disappear and reappear in a very different spot.

    When your right up on the trees, they stay still, its only as you move from say 1 hundred feet away and move closer. Its not the distant horizon view, I’ve actually turned that off before and it doesn’t many difference.

    This maybe something that can’t change, but it would be nice if they did something to fix it.

  9. Ok I went through lots of trees today. I’ll see the low-quality tree model fade into view then as I approach it changes to the higher-quality model. Terrain textures do the same thing, it’s especially noticeable on mountains when at a distance you see the very blurry low-resolution texture then it suddenly becomes a detailed bit of terrain.

    I do hope they continue to not only tweak the engine (sounds like goodies are coming with the expansion) but also give us more options to tweak things too.

  10. I’m DX9 btw, not sure if you’re seeing even more model and/or texture shifts with DX10…

  11. I’m using DX9, I won’t go near Vista and yes, I use it at work, but it has failed to impress me.

    What P0TSH0T said about it being part of the game engine is very true. I think the game just renders things in this fashion. I was playing on line with a friend last night. He experienced the same effect and cursed me for showing it to him, because he hadn’t noticed it before. Now he sees it all the time lol.

    By the way, Champion and Burglar is a very fun combo to run around with. Things don’t stay alive very long. lol

    I truly have not found a character that wasn’t fun. I started a Champion and Hunter on the server my friend has his mains. Both classes seem to be very fun. I will probably end up trying all the classes, before I pick one that I just can’t live without. So far, my favorite is the Burglar.

  12. I love my lore-master, which is interesting since I’ve never enjoyed “caster” classes before, especially the squishies, but I do enjoy hybrid classes and the lore-master certainly seems to fit that bill.

    I’ve had my captain for nearly as long, though I don’t play him as much. Just got him to 28 yesterday, mainly because my lore-master needs rich iron. I love being able to buff though, and the captain excels at that. I hear raiding with captains though can be a bit boring – you’re down to a single attack or so and mainly acting as a buff-bot. I plan to raid with the lore-master though.

    Hunter. I’d waited this long to make one because, as in every MMO, they’re over-populated. But damn are they fun! I’ve kinda been twinking mine — making him weapons as soon as he’s eligible, my kinship makes him crit armor for his level, my captain makes him +agility food… it’s a wonderful thing! I’m still learning group dynamics with him though.

    I’ll probably just stick with these three, the LRM and HNT being the most-played, until Moria comes out and I’ll check into the new classes. Unless I’m able to talk my girlfriend into being a Hobbit with me, in which case I’m all over the Guardian…

    I actually don’t notice the trees shifting so much as the terrain itself when I get close enough for the high-res version to suddenly *pop* in. I understand the mechanics and why it’s that way (it’s that way in most 3D games) but it could certainly stand some tweaking to make it less conspicuous. What I do find strange is how some things will render models further than others, especially when it comes to buildings or huge ruins suddenly appearing when I’m already rendering things further away.

  13. I think you definitely picked a good time to get back into the game. Turbine has done so much in the past year to add to the game.

    In fact, I was so impressed when I returned to LOTRO that I got back into DDO (D&D Online, also by Turbine). Coming from someone who villified that game after it’s release, I was pleasantly surprised to find it has also been heavily filled-out. Now I would say it’s a top-notch MMO and I’m a even a bit addicted to it.

    I’d say Turbine is doing a fantastic job on their MMOs for most part. I’m almost tempted to give Asheron’s Call (Turbine’s first MMO) a shot. But with LOTRO and DDO, my hands are definitely full!

    Also, don’t forget to give the LOTRO in-game music-playing a shot. You can actually play your keyboard like a musical instrument with I think two full octaves of notes. It has to be the most ingenious feature I’ve seen in an MMO to date.

  14. I’m glad to see lots of other people enjoying Lotro as well. I played for a month or two, and while I didn’t continue in Middle Earth, it wasn’t because of the game. I’m pretty burned out on mmorpg’s in general, so I decided to take a break from everything for a bit.

    I do think that Turbine’s done a great job with the license, and I don’t know if they get enough credit for what they’ve created. The Shire is a great zone,and I enjoyed the area around Weathertop too. I had a lot of luck finding people who wanted to group…err, join a fellowship, and I enjoyed the storylines and the instanced quests. If I wasn’t so burned out after 9 years of leveling in game after game, I think I would have stayed longer.

  15. […] The game has been pretty rock solid since I started playing. I’ve only encountered a few issues, like, when exiting the game I get an error, which causes the game to rescan all the files before I can log in again. There is also the nasty, getting stuck in the foliage effect, which if they don’t fix soon will really start to piss me off. lol I have also noticed a few graphic glitches, like my character becoming bald while swimming in water and when putting on a frayed head cover my character looks like she’s wearing a white cat on her head, which would be nice if my character had white hair to start with. Over all the graphics respond a lot better than in this game. Basically the trees don’t move while all the extra textures are being rendered, as they do in Lotro. […]

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