For the past 10 years fantasy MMORPGs have been becoming more and more popular. Each MMO is different; some more than others. This 3D Free To Play title may have a massive franchise behind it, but how will it fare against its online competitors? If you’re a fan of fantasy games and legendary stories, stick around because I think you’ll like what you are about to read.
In 2007, Turbine released The Lord of the Rings Online as a subscription-based game. Shortly thereafter, Turbine re-released Dungeons and Dragons as a FTP. After realizing much success, and to the delight of online gamers the world over, Turbine also released The Lord of the Rings Online as a free-to-play MMO. You may remember Turbine from the older MMORPG Asheron’s Call and the very well-known Dungeons and Dragons Online; which, by the way, has also gone to a FTP format.
A Game with a Real History
For those unfamiliar with The Lord of the Rings, the entire empire dates back to the classic fiction fantasy books written by legend J.R.R. Tolkien. With that being said, it isn’t necessary to be familiar with the storyline to enjoy this FTP. If anything, playing this MMO may encourage you to investigate the books or movies—or both.
Over the years, following the release of the movies, various licensed video games were released, enjoyed only mediocre reviews, and were soon forgotten. The Lord of the Rings Online has proven itself over the years by being the most successful Lord of the Rings game to date.
A Hefty Download
One thing to note, before you jump on board this Middle Earth train, the download for this game is substantial at 6.6 GB or a whopping 9.5 in high resolution. Depending on your PC, The Lord of the Rings Online graphics have the potential to be breathtaking… or otherwise downright disappointing. If your computer has the capacity as well as the capability, I would most definitely recommend that you download the high resolution version. It’s really quite amazing how the graphic resolution can drastically change the ambiance of the game; and thus, your overall gaming experience.
After you’ve successfully downloaded The Lord of the Rings Online, you will have to endure the installation and timely patching process. So before you download this bad boy to your PC, pull up a chair and grab a snack, you’ll be there awhile. In fact, I’d recommend that you set it up to download before you go to bed and just let it run overnight.
Time to Create Your Legend
When creating your character, you have the choice between free and good races. However, you are not given any evil race options. The races—both free and good—include Dwarves, Elves, Hobbits and Humans. Humans are referred to as Man while Hobbits are able to play as monsters in particular PvP battles. A neat feature in The Lord of the Rings Online character customization process is the option to watch a short introductory video about each of the four races. It really gives you an idea of what you’re getting into if you’re new to The Lord of the Rings Online.
Character classes are:
- Captain – While controlling pets, tanking and buffing, Captains have access to an extensive variety of weapons and armor.
-Man is the only race.
- Guardian – Being the main tanking class, Guardians have access to most every weapon and armor. They are good at absorbing damage and inflict moderate damage.
-Races are Hobbit, Dwarf, Elf and Man.
- Burgler – Similar to rogues, Burglers are experienced with the dagger and are skilled at crowd control and really pack a punch when it comes to DPS.
-Races include both Man and Hobbit.
- Champion – Champions dual-wield tanks and can inflict a lot of damage. They are a melee DPS class.
-Races include: Man, Dwarf, and Elf.
- Lore-Master – Casting spells from afar, Lore-Masters are capable of crowd control as well as summoning pets.
-Races are Elf and Man.
- Hunter – Hunters are talented archers and inflict serious damage with their bow and arrows. While they are dangerous, Hunters have lower health and defense.
-Any race can be a Hunter.
- Rune-Keeper – They are talented spell casters and can cast powerful offensive spells as well as heal their teammates. However, they have low health and defense so they must be carefully guarded.
-Races are Elf and Dwarf
- Minstrel – Minstrels comfort their teammates with enchanting songs, say powerful chants, care for their wounds and in doing so boost their fighting potential.
-All races can be a Minstrel
- Warden – A well rounded melee class; Wardens use several weapons and dish out some serious damage. They are also talented javelin throwers.
-Races include Man, Elf, and Hobbit.
Customizing your characters look and style is very in depth. When developing the aesthetic aspect of your character, you may choose from different face, lip, eye and hair styles and colors. There are several variants offered for each race. Characters that are from different locations but of the same race have variations in eye color and hair choices. This really adds variety and keep things unique. Character customization is something that Turbine has done well in all their games, LOTRO is no exception.
Following the Storyline
Upon sign in, you are greeted with a video catching you up on the story. The Lord of the Rings Online actually takes place when the Fellowship is traveling to Mount Doom. There is a war raging between the Witch King and the forces of Angmar and the Free People of Middle Earth.
The WOW Factor
No I am not talking about World of Warcraft. I am talking about the fact that when you log in your will say WOW! Because of this I have to discuss the visual and audio aspects of this game. Not only are the graphics superb, but the musical scores are also amazing. It’s been said that The Lord of the Rings Online soundtrack is a masterpiece. Once you hear it, you’ll agree. After hearing it, you’ll also understand why Turbine created a sixty-one track OST which is available as a free download. So to say that LOTRO is an assault on your visual and auditory senses is quite the understatement.
Time to Start our Journey
Now that you’ve created your character, it’s time to get started. Each race begins in a specific location and offered the choice of going through a tutorial. The tutorial is rich in storyline and very helpful. I love a good tutorial and this is, in fact, a good tutorial.
Gameplay is quite dramatic and deep in storyline. You won’t even encounter a NPC without experiencing dialogue that is genuinely related to the storyline. This is a rare find among MMOs. The Lord of the Rings Online really advocates teamwork. In this game, groups are referred to as Fellowships and the proper name for a guild is Kinship. A perk given when playing in a group setting is the ability to perform novel moves.
Each player has the option to train for new skills at each level by traveling to their trainers in Middle Earth. This particular aspect of the game really ensures individuality. Each player not only has stats and skills, but traits unique to their race and class. By participation in a PvP, completing a deed or just reaching a certain level, you can obtain a trait. These traits include Legendary, Virtue, Racial, and Class.
The best aspect of The Lord of the Rings Online’s game play is knowing that if you have no prior knowledge of the Lord of the Rings storyline, you will still have a blast playing! There is so much to do and the world is so extensive, you’ll be hard pressed to get bored.
Cash Shop Balance
The Lord of the Rings Online cash shop strikes a perfect balance in its FTP version. Premium features can be bought ala carte along with a wide variety of other goods. But since this game has been released as a free-to-play game, it can sincerely be played and enjoyed as such. You don’t have to pay a single dime. What’s more, wallet warriors will find no place here.
The Final Word
The Lord of the Rings Online is a very welcome addition to the FTPMMOG world! This game is loyal to the original storyline and drives that fact home with its story-driven quests. As I mentioned before, you’ll be hard pressed to get bored; there is always something to do. If you’ve decided to take a break from questing, then you may set out to accomplish some deeds. If you then require a change of pace, there are always new areas to explore and new people to meet.
A free-to-play with genuinely awesome production is a rare breed and is not something that should be ignored. By all means, if you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, or simply interested because of your MMO addiction, check out The Lord of the Rings Online. I can assure you, you won’t regret it. Don’t miss this Middle Earth Gem! Until next time, game on!
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