Lord of the Rings Free2Play Beta Impressions

By Kieron Gillen on August 2nd, 2010 at 6:25 pm.

Cargul, that you dye everything red doesn't stop me suspect you're biting someone's style

Kieron: Hello Phill Cameron of the land of the north. How are you today?
Phill: I’m fine, although I’m still recovering from chicken-apoplexy.
Kieron: The chicken is the angriest of the fowl. I too have been thinking about Chick… wait a sec. Have you been playing Lord of the Rings Online‘s Free-to-play Beta?
Phill: I have! Or, as I like to refer to it: Watership Down-but-with-chickens.
Kieron: I think we should probably go around the back end to talk about that. You ever played the original version?
Phill: No, I’m a LOTRO virgin. But you have, I gather?

I'll admit, finding Hobbiton actually makes me smile. Because I'm enormous geek, obv.
Kieron: Yeah, I played it when it came out enough for that first-impression sort of review. So we’re kind of an interesting compare-and-contrast case, I think because this is LOTR getting a second bite at the public. Not that it was a failure by any means, but in terms of following its stable-mate D&D Online into a microtransactions model, it’s hinting at a fascinating future. D&D was its own thing – the heavily instanced nature perhaps leaned it closer to Guild Wars, so it gets rejected as a “real” MMO by some. Which is something that can’t happen to LOTR. It’s as MMOy as any MMO that has ever been built, yes?
Phill: Well yes and no. Although I didn’t find it so much with the hobbit stuff; when I was playing a dwarf there was lots of odd instanced stuff. I think they called it ‘dynamic instancing’, where you’d have two people in the same area, in different instances. So they can see one another, but the world they see is different. But in essence, yes, it’s much much more MMOy. It’s the MMOst.
Kieron: I don’t remember that back in the day – though I played primarily humans.
Phill: It was mostly in its own instance. Like I’d be attacking a goblin mine, and halfway through the goblins would become militant and start attacking in hordes; for everyone else in the mine, they weren’t attacking.
Kieron: Rightio. But I don’t want to give the impression it’s Guild Wars here.
Phill: Yeah, it’s definitely not.

He's not Underhill! He's Frodo Baggins! It says over his head! I will be your loyal servant, Sauron! Let me serve you! Only you!

Kieron: It’s notable in that it was one of the first next-generation after World-of-Warcraft MMOs. When it came out, I thought of it as a decent 8/10ish sort of thing – efficient, quietly atmospheric in using stuff like instances in the big events to reach for Lord of the Rings grandeur but – generally speaking – far to conservative for my liking. Oddly, I think the passage of time has rendered it more original looking, if you see what I mean.
Phill: That’s one thing that seems to be gone now; there’s a lot of really strange, really unique stuff going on that I really wasn’t expecting, and I’m quite glad they’re there. I mean sure, it’s got somewhat run of the mill stuff in terms of format and the way the combat works, but there are these flairs and flourishes that are somewhat unexpected, and really rewarding.
Kieron: Yes – and we’ll get to them in a bit. It’s the stuff like its page furniture and accessibility stuff being very WoW which tripped people – or at least me – up… well, that’s all standard now, so you see past it to what else it’s up to. Anyway – as someone who’s played every MMO in the world, if only briefly, what did you make of it?
Phill: Hah. I think I’m holding it up to a bit of an unfair, purely speculative yardstick here, but if we’re going to treat this like a new release, it does feel somewhat dated in how it operates. The whole ‘go here kill that collect reward’ mechanic is really quite dull now.
Kieron: Heh. Yes, that is a bit unfair. Unfair, but natural.
Phill: But at the same time, there’s lots of stuff that I wasn’t really expecting and really works, but also makes the boring stuff even more obvious. Things like meeting Gandalf or Strider within the first five minutes, and doing something cool and story-driven. And then you come out and get told you’ve got to deliver some post for Postmaster Potsworth.
Kieron:You kept on saying how much you were doing something, aware of how Guild Wars 2 is going to do it. Or at least, try to do it.
Phill: Yeah that’s the thing. When you’ve got Guild Wars 2 talking about how they’re going to create these dynamic, but scripted, events that will make it feel like you’re actually having some sort of impact on the world, having no impact at all for the most part here is a little disheartening.

It really is like Zelda.

Kieron: At least with the post-delivery shire missions there’s a few spins on it rather than just a straight carry quest. Very basic stealth stuff. Actually a carried item. The sheer ludicrous silliness of the Shire. It just kept on reminding me of the opening section of every Zelda game ever.
Phill: God yeah… the Shire is mental. Completely batshit insane. I guess they realise that anyone crazy enough to play a Hobbit is going to want crazy.
Kieron: I never wanted to leave the Shire. I just want to stay there and collect beet. And get on that smooth pipeweed high.
Phill: Blow yourself some pipe-boats.
Kieron: And then of course, there’s our long-eared friends…
Phill: What on earth were they doing moseying around the Shire anyway? You’ve got random level 30 and 40 guys just riding around offering free stuff to little people. I haven’t had a go at creating an Elf, but I’d like to think they dial the melodrama to melodramatic, and just make you save the world a few times in the tutorial.
Kieron: Or sit around composing free-verse
Phill: Or both at the same time.
Kieron: The bastards. And… LET’S TALK ABOUT THE RABBITS
Phill: That’s one thing I’ve been quite impressed with; each race has a really unique feel to their starting area. The Dwarves is all about mining and being the biggest, strongest short guy in the mountain.
Kieron: RABBITS!
Phill: You mean the chickens.
Kieron: Oh yeah.
Kieron:
Kieron: LET’S TALK ABOUT THE CHICKENS!

It's an Elite Mound of Dirt. Be careful.

Phill: Clearly they’ve scrambled your brain. That was an egg joke.
Kieron: I think it’s because we started describing the section of the game as Watership down.
Phill: Yeah, that’s definitely it. Not the fact that we had to play mastermind with chickens and eggs. Or hide from surly roosters.
Phill: I mean, seriously, what the fuck was that farm all about?
Kieron: It just seemed to be a section of the game solely created for Quinns to write about. There wasn’t even any iron, so making it perfect for him.
Phill: It wasn’t just putting eggs in the right nest, or stealing eggs without getting caught by the rooster, it was the fact that one quest line turned you into an ACTUAL CHICKEN. We talked, as a chicken, to OTHER CHICKENS. And then we went on life-affirming quests! To save CHICKENS.
Kieron: Basically, all the missions were about just legging it across the countryside as a tiny chicken to try and get help to save the really little folk of middle earth I wanted to see if I could get all the way to Mordor. You could ring a chicken’s neck!
Phill: Haha. Cast the golden egg into the fires of Mount Doom? Did you notice that as we did more quests as a chicken, we became better chickens? Like we got more skills, as a chicken. Chicken-specific skills.
Kieron: The paranoia skill which didn’t appear to do anything but assured your chicken that “something was wrong” was my fave
Phill: I activated that, and I’m sure I felt something change. I’m certain of it.
Kieron: Googling reveals that it gives you greater awareness of bad guys.
Phill: OR DOES IT?
Kieron: I think your paranoia ability is still in play. It’s terrible to think that even in this threadbare state, it made me want to play a fully developed speaking animal MMO. Like the Endless Forest, but with speaking animals and less sinisterness.

Why did the Chicken Cross the Shire? To complete the Fedex quest.

Phill: I think we should talk about the micro-transactions. I think we should mainly talk about my pumpkin hat.
Kieron: Yeah – let’s talk about the key thing, which is actually how the paying for stuff works. Go!
Phill: Ok, um.. you’ve got an ingame store you can bring up at any time, with lots of stuff ranging from new content to cosmetic bits of clothing, and you just buy them and they get deposited in your inventory. Or, in the case of new content, that’s unlocked. I developed a dangerous addiction to buying new pieces of headgear. Although it serves much more practical stuff, like when I wanted to play with you, I needed to buy another character slot. So I just clicked ont he button and suddenly I had another one. It’s all very user friendly.
Kieron: How much per hat?
Phill: I think it was about 300 points per hat. So not exactly cheap.
Kieron: Yeah – how much does everything abstractly cost then? Assuming that the Turbine points cost the same as the D&D Online turbine points.
Phill: Well if that is the case, then it’ll be about £15-17 for about 2000 points. Fewer points will be more expensive, relatively. And 2000 is about the cost of anything major, really. New content, new classes, etc etc.
Kieron: New classes weren’t that bad – it was 750 for the Warden character I was playing. Which was on a 10% off sale, so cheaper than that. The Warden being one of the two characters in the expansion pack – so I suspect you get him if you buy the whole expansion pack in one go.
Phill: Oh right. That’s better. Although it’s worth noting that they don’t exactly cripple you at all. You’re only unlocking stuff for greater freedom. There’s a tonne of game here for free.
Kieron: Yes. You pay for extra convienience and extra stuff. It’s a massive last-generation mature-tech stable MMO. And it’s basically slapped on the table for you to play. Yay, etc!

The shop, just to be useful.

Phill: Do you want to talk about the Warden a bit? He (or she in your case) seemed pretty interesting.
Kieron: Yeah – the Warden was an interesting one. It’s a complicated class to play in that they only have a few basic attacks, but you chain them and prepare a gambit attack. So if you do a couple of basic stabby-stabby you unlock one gambit to fire off – and if you do a defendy then a stabby-stabby you get another. At the start of a combat, you’re thinking what attack you want to make in two attacks times. So if I’m going to be in the middle of a mob, I may get my best defense gambit running, and then prepare an area-effect fear gambit or something.
Phill: Did you notice that when you’re picking classes they all have a difficulty rating? I thought that was a nice touch, even if it did all but lock all easy characters for me. I’m not having my MMO-manhood insulted by playing an easy class.
Kieron: So to be properly manly in the game… you played the minstrel character. So macho, Phill.
Phill: I think the fact that I out-DPSed you with my tasty licks and power chords is testimony to my copious amounts of testosterone.
Kieron: Who died every single instance we went on?
Phill: Both of us.
Kieron: Who died first.
Phill: The person who was healing you.
Kieron: You’re as bad as Walker as a healer, you.

You currently get given a horse almost immediately in the starter stuff for new players which unlocks every level. First actual nag is available in Bree, which is only a little way along.

Kieron: Sorry That was harsh.
Phill: That was mean.
Kieron: Sorry.
Kieron: Er… we probably should wrap up.
Phill: Yeah, we probably should. Although I think the water should get a mention. It’s completely unnecessarily pretty.
Kieron: It’s always interesting to see higher-tech stuff put into a game which is generally working on lower-tech.
Phill: It’s also somewhat evocative of the rest of the game; standard MMO fare with odd moments of cleverness and brilliance.
Kieron: And it’s certainly very Lord of the Rings, at least half of the time. I think it’ll end up doing quite well – and, indirectly, with this available as a free-to-play model it does two things. Firstly, raise the bar at what you should expect from a free to play MMO. Secondly, raise the bar at what you should expect from a subscription MMO.
Phill: Certainly; anything new that comes out and expects you to pay has to be at least this good. Otherwise there’s no point. It’s a big fat glove slapping the face of all the other MMO developers. Let’s see what you’ve got, etc.
Kieron: Totally. And as a free-to-play game… well, it certainly makes me wanting to step back into a game of hobbit-esque adventure occasionally easier. Looking forward to the full release, I think.
Phill: Yup. Is this the bit where we tease a full feature on release?
Kieron: Let’s not make promises we’ll almost certainly forget to fulfil.
Phill: Isn’t that the RPS way?
Kieron: Truth.

Only chicken truly understand nature's majesty.

__________________

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51 Comments »

  1. Vinraith says:

    I got into the beta for this, but never got it installed. The downloader insisted on installing Pando Media Booster, which proceeded to seize all outgoing and incoming bandwidth for its own purposes whether I was actively downloading the game or not. It wouldn’t let me download or install without the stupid thing, and ultimately I decided that price for a “free to play” game was too high.

  2. Xercies says:

    I’ve heard from other people that actually the free bits aren’t actually that massive and once you get higher up in the levels it becomes more and more noticble that to continue you have to pay for it. So really dissapointed that this game went that way..i loved it as a subscription thing and unlike DDO because that was instanced i don’t think this would easily go into the micropayments for quest and areas really.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Didn’t DDO have a subscription option that gave you everything?

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      DDO does indeed have a sub option that gives you everything.

    • The Great Wayne says:

      Lotro does too. Pay the sub, get everything like before. Zero change for the guys who are ok with the old subscription model. Please stop with the delusional statements

    • Xercies says:

      Except for you know…that micro transaction stuff.

    • ExplosiveCoot says:

      If you subscribe you get all the microtrans quests and areas included with your sub price so I don’t see what the issue is? Plus they give you 500 “Turbine Points” to buy whatever you might want that isn’t included in the sub price. If you want to rage about a stupid free-to-play implementation, look at what EQ2 is doing. There you still have to pay to unlock the majority of the game’s races and classes, even if you pay the top subscription option ($200/ year, which is what Turbine sold lifetime subs for…)

    • Eric says:

      Yeah, from my point of view they’re really doing this in the best way possible – those who want to keep paying a monthly fee get all the content at no extra cost, and a regular stipend of points for the convenience items so they can still use the store. Those (like me) who won’t play the game enough to make it worth a monthly fee but who still might enjoy hopping in every once in awhile can do so for free and just toss them a few bucks here and there when it seems warranted.

      As someone who used to subscribe to LotRO and let his subscription lapse but is now back in the free-to-play beta, I see this as entirely a positive move.

  3. Tei says:

    “Kieron: It’s notable in that it was one of the first next-generation after World-of-Warcraft MMOs. When it came out, I thought of it as a decent 8/10ish sort of thing – efficient, quietly atmospheric in using stuff like instances in the big events to reach for Lord of the Rings grandeur but – generally speaking – far to conservative for my liking. Oddly, I think the passage of time has rendered it more original looking, if you see what I mean.”

    Thats the general impression.
    LOTR is a good game to play with people that have watched the movies and seems to love it all. You could use your nerd powers, and quote long phrases from the books and the movies to impress these people. Is fun.

    What I mean, is that the LOTRO lore attract the “right” people if you want a familiar game. Too bad LOTRO graphics and styles is “far too conservative”. It could have been much more epic and amazing (like the movies). What I mean is that I like the LOTRO players more than the game itself.

    • Eggy says:

      I have to agree with this, with the addition that I like the world better than the core game as well. All of the incidental detail, the atmosphere, the sound design, the little social additions like the music system and seasonal quests are all superb, and I’ve never seen anything like them before or since in a game. Every game is better when you have friends to play with, but this goes above and beyond; if you have people to help you get through some of the humdrum standard quests to reach the storyline content and enjoy the world in general, you’re going to have a pretty amazing time in this game.

  4. FalseMyrmidon says:

    It’s worth noting that their adherence to the lore established by the books (not the movies) is almost slavishly accurate. It’s pretty impressive the way they manage to create new stories in the areas that aren’t covered by the books.

  5. Torgen says:

    If I have LOTRO preloaded bu unactivated, can I use that to enter my beta key into, or do I have to download the beta client?

  6. Trelow says:

    Lifetime sub for a long time. Almost never play it though. Fun game and all, just my attention span isn’t long enough for MMOs.

  7. Pardoz says:

    “Oh right. That’s better. Although it’s worth noting that they don’t exactly cripple you at all. You’re only unlocking stuff for greater freedom. There’s a tonne of game here for free.”

    Well, at least until you finish off your racial starting zone (around level 20, which I rather get the impression neither of you did), at which point your choices are

    a) subscribe,
    b) grind mobs for very little XP, or
    c) get out your wallet and buy a “quest pack” – ie. playable content that doesn’t just involve killing endless numbers of boars until you hear a ding. (Well, it still requires killing large numbers of boars until you hear a ding, but fewer, since you’ll be getting quest XP for your boar-killing, and you’ll also be buying the privilege of running halfway across Middle Earth to talk to some elf who sends you running back across Middle Earth with his reply, only to have the person who asked you to go talk to him in the first place demand that you kill a bunch of boars then deliver them to a dwarf halfway across Middle Earth the other way so that the dwarf can send you back to the elf to get the proper spice for boar steaks, which you’ll have to return, only to discover the boar meat has gone a bit whiffy, and would you mind terribly going and slaughtering a few hundred more boars for fresh steaks, please?).

    • Torgen says:

      I never had a problem ponying up for adventure packs in DDO, and in fact prefer this method to the “pay every month” method. You don’t have to pay in the early levels, and don’t have to hassle about subscribing, unsubscribing and resubscribing if you;re a casual player like me. I know that the $7 I spent on a dungeon hasn’t been lost, it’s right there waiting on me with no additional cash outlay.

      Also, you can wait for sales to pick up a dungeon pack, and get opinions on whether it’s right for your class/level.

  8. clive dunn says:

    @ Pardoz

    Will we look back at the ‘Great Age of the Grind’ and wonder wtf we were playing at?

    • Pardoz says:

      More than likely, yes. (NB: I don’t mean to single out LotRO here in particular – it’s far from the worst offender – but the first ‘quest pack’ you’re likely to hit, the Lonelands, is sufficiently full of ‘Collect 10 boar heads’ quests – which generally involve killing more like 40 or 50 boars, which leads one to wonder about the apparently large population of acephalic boars in Middle Earth – that the devs actually parody boar-killing quests in later content).

  9. Ubernutz says:

    I always enjoyed playing LOTRO, but it was more from being in the world than any enjoyment of the game itself. I’ll definitely check this out, as it’ll give me the chance to be a hobbit again, pottering about the Shire, without having to pay for all that combat and questing stuff.

  10. wedge says:

    ahhh WOW/Final Fantasy grinding days. I lost 8 months of my life to MMOs and I spent countless college nights grinding away. What a waste of time, lol

  11. Seth says:

    So the way I understand it, you can get to level 20 for free and then you have to either pay or stop playing. That doesn’t much sound like free-to-play to me – rather a free trial. Which is really nothing new, LOTR or not. I think I’ll pass. Shame, the article made it sound so quaint.

    Why can’t there be a decent, Western, free MMO? For all their faults, the Eastern model seems to have it down. All the content is right there ready for you, but powerful or cosmetic items (or some other thing that’s not essential to enjoying the game, like extra races or classes) are purchased with real money in a cash shop. It seems to be working pretty well for them financially. Are Western MMO developers afraid (perhaps rightfully so) that none of us civilized English speakers will fall for a scheme like this, or what?

    • Wulf says:

      Frankly, I prefer Turbine’s approach, and even more than that, ArenaNet’s approach.

      The trick is in how fun the game is. So, I play an Eastern MMO… and the grinding, forever with the grinding, the ceaseless hamster wheel. To lighten things up, I buy an XP scroll, and then I have to buy another, and then another, and it gets to the point where I need to put out money on XP scrolls to even get decently far into the game.

      My studies of free-to-play Asian games have uncovered the con there, and it really is a con. I much prefer an honest transction; up front, this is what you pay, and this is what you get. This is why I love ArenaNet. ArenaNet offers a campaign, in a box. You buy the box, then you play for as long as you want, and you don’t have to put out any money on anything ever again.

      The LOTRO approach is similar, but in reverse. At least as far as I understand it. They give you a chunk of the game for free, and then split the rest up into transactions. You buy the bits of the game that apply to you. If you have the class you want, and you’re happy with everything, then all you need to do is pay for content. I do prefer the upfrontness of Guild Wars, I like paying once and then not having to worry. But at least the LOTRO system is transparent.

      The nature of Eastern MMORPGs is not transparent, optional things do exist on the item shops, but so do completely necessary things, such as XP scrolls. They design their game so that, yes, you can play it like a sadist for half of your life and get somewhere, or you can buy an XP scroll and get to that point in a number of weeks. I just find that intrinsically dishonest.

      Given the choice, I’d opt for ArenaNet’s method, and to only a slightly lesser extent, Turbine’s method.

  12. Frye says:

    Oh dear, so different people in the same place see different things on their screen? So is this all fragmented and instanced? As in: you walk through the main gate of the city with 10 people, the game starts loading and everything is different? Poof! here goes immersion.

    Kind of defeats the purpose of playing an MMO in my book. The strength of WOW was the possibility of a ganker in every bush who could be wearing any kind of gear. Instances were done only to lock off areas for your party so you could kill your boss in peace. Not as a method of preventing to meet others randomly. One big world or nothing in an MMO for me.

  13. Jimmy Z says:

    “Free to play”, is something of a misnomer here. Even the community liaison admitted that it’s little more than extended trial. You can get to about lvl 20 without paying anything, but after that you’re pretty much forced to fork out some cash or be subjected to insane amounts of mind-numbing grind. But after that, the free account is very limited in many ways.

    Then again, if you do throw some cash at Turbine/Codies, you can get rid of the the most annoying limitations and then buy a quest pack and play through the content at a leisurely pace, coming back for a session of fedex and “kill ten rats” every now and then, without having to worry about getting your money’s worth by playing a lot, like subscriptions tend to do. Who knows, it might actually work.

    Too bad this whole F2P malarkey offers very, very little to me, as an existing long-time subscriber and endgame oriented player.

    • Torgen says:

      Too bad this whole F2P malarkey offers very, very little to me, as an existing long-time subscriber and endgame oriented player.

      Except more people to play with and healthier financial status for the developers. IIRC, Turbine announced a jump in paid subscriptions shortly after F2P was introduced, as well as the item store TRIPLING income from DDO

    • Xercies says:

      Actually i don’t know about that…you will have more people to play with 1-20 level(which to be honest in all my playings was never a problem in the first place. But some people may have an aversion to paying for stuff so you may have less population in the paid for areas. They do say only 5% of people pay for microtransactions

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      To make a very obvious point, I imagine it depends on how large a population that 5% is of.

    • geldonyetich says:

      Psha, you make it sound like it’s worse than paying $15/mo. If they keep their current pricing structure, I’d say you could probably play reasonably comfortably after your first $50 invested, though you’ll always be tempted to spend a little more for some fringe benefits.

      (But then, I’m such an altaholic, getting level 20 is a major achievement for me.)

  14. Shadram says:

    Lonelands is much nicer these days. The boar-killing quests are still there (of course) but the flow of the zone is much nicer, and the whole thing has been wrapped up in a nice story spanning the whole level 20-30 range.

    Unlike North Downs, which does, and has always, sucked Oliphant nuts.

    • Shadram says:

      Reply fail. :( was a response to Pardoz

    • The Great Wayne says:

      Wasn’t there supposed to be an overhaul of the north downs coming with the F2P release ? IIRC I heard something about this few months ago.

    • Jannakar says:

      Well, North Downs is just huge and pretty much the only leveling option for players between 25-32. I found ND rather inspiring the first time through – Turbine really nailed the atmosphere and lore here. It was always a bit of shame that Fornost was mostly neglected by players quick-marching to the level cap; that still is a great instance.

      Until you have to deal with Dol Dinen. The core area of Dol Dinen is just jam packed with fast-respawning elites and the quests lead you further and further into the heart of the place. It’s just really hard for on-level groups to get through. Most groups would rarely start off with the same set of quests so there was a huge amount of to-and-froing between Est and DD (or the summoning horn, if you could be bothered to trek back there). Anybody who actually completed Master of the Black Tide on-level has my utmost respect.

      If you were lucky, you had a level 50 to help you through it. I still take great pleasure in blasting through DD with my champ beating the brown stuff out of Ongburz Combatants.

      Anything that makes Dol Dinen less of a goddamn nightmare is fine by me.

  15. Wulf says:

    The chicken thing was pretty much the only thing I really remember vividly about the LOTRO beta, that and how pretty the Shire was. The rest of it has just melted away into mediocrity (I really should try LOTRO again to see how it’s changed), but that… that…

    “It’s terrible to think that even in this threadbare state, it made me want to play a fully developed speaking animal MMO. Like the Endless Forest, but with speaking animals and less sinisterness.”

    Me too! ME TOO! A Watership Down MMO would be amazing.

  16. drewski says:

    I find it astonishing that a) people are complaining about getting 20 levels of an MMO for free and b) people are complaining that after getting 20 levels of an MMO for free they’re (shock, horror) expected to pay a small sum to access another ten levels of quality content.

    Have we really reached a point of such entitlement as PC gamers that we literally expect people to spend their lives coding complex games for us to enjoy free of charge? I really hope not.

    • Bloodloss says:

      @Drewski No, it’s just that when people see ‘free to play’ they expect it to be… free to play, and not a demo with merely the first 20 levels, which is something most MMOs provide or even surpass. People like F2P MMOs to offer cosmetic and convenience items for sale, and not things that are so literally necessary that you won’t be able to continue playing unless you take out your wallet.

      I was pretty interested in this until I realised it was more of a demo. I’ll still give it a try when F2P launches, maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  17. Joey says:

    I was a loyal subscriber till my wallet took a major hit about 6 months ago. The main levels I had problems finding people to quest for were late 40s to mid 50s. Probably should have just joined a guild, but I was pretty casual about the game in general. With that being said, I look forward to hopefully having a bunch of people to help out on the quest content so I can actually go through the epic storyline at those levels. Having bought all the expansions, I’m thinking I’ll have all the content unlocked, but maybe no longer have all my character slots. I wanted to do the beta, but I couldn’t figure out how to use my account with it, and I didn’t feel like starting another one.

  18. trioptimum says:

    You can play to level 50 for free, it’s just that the quest packs for the later zones cost points. You can still enter the zones and gain XP through killing, and you can play through the epic quest line as far as the start of Moria. And there are ways to gain points through in-game activities without paying — it’s possible to unlock the first non-free quest pack just by earning deeds in the (fairly substantial) completely free areas.

    Sure, they hold some content back, but this is way bigger than a demo.

  19. Konky Dong says:

    Thank god for the F2P switch, it’ll make getting people into the game a lot easier. I’ve been playing for a long time and I’ve been genuinely impressed with what Turbine has done lately. The endgame zones and content (from Forochel onward) are just so much better than the older zones, it’s night and day. Areas like Moria and Forochel are just so different than anything you’ll find in WoW or any other standard MMORPG, it’s hard to even describe to someone who hasn’t experienced them. LotRO goes from being a decent MMO to one of the best on the market with that content and hopefully with F2P people will stick around to actually see it. I was in the beta as well and I can tell you the new zone Enedwaith, aside from being huge and gorgeous, has the best questing structure of any zone in an MMO I’ve ever played. It never sends you to the same place twice, flows quickly and fluidly, has some of the best story moments in the entire game, and uses the games new form of phasing so you actually feel like you have an impact on the world. It would give Blizzard pause, I didn’t have a single complaint with it.

    And if you guys want to see another bit of weird brilliance, go check out the new Fall Festival event in the Shire. It’s a haunted house located in the cellar of Bag End and employs all sorts of cool tricks. It’s a labyrinth of hidden walls, surprises and oddities, like areas where your entire screen goes black and you have to wander through totally blind (it’s almost as if it was set up by Psycho Mantis). There is no level restriction so anyone in the beta can wander up to the Party Tree and check it out.

  20. DavidGil says:

    Didn’t Turbine say there’ll be ways of earning store points in the game itself, rather than paying for it? Like in DDO. There, it’s 25 store points for earning 100 favor, I think?

    At least I remember them mentioning that on their website.

  21. Pmeie says:

    don’t make me do it. don’t make me sink my life away. i’m not going to do it. NO.

    whew, close one.

  22. crooon says:

    I played four characters up to 50, was out for a year, then up to 60 (and now haven’t played for >6 months), and I have sunk a lot of time into the game, but I was in a great kinship (guild), and had a great time, so I don’t regret it. But that isn’t to say there wasn’t a lot of grind, because it was, but no more (actually less) than other MMO’s, and there really are a much higher percentage of good (and especially mature) people in LoTRO, surprisingly many. I imagine that might change when kids start playing for free.

  23. Chaz says:

    I’ve fancied playing LOTRO for quite some time now, so now it’s free I should probably give it a go. I just don’t seem to have the time these days though.

  24. killerwhatj says:

    the game can download on http://www.lotro-europe.com/?territory=EnglishUK
    so go in now and click on 14 free days hahahaha

  25. dtgreen says:

    I’m a former alpha tester on the EU server, played until just before the launch of Moria in retail, when I packed it in. F2P is making me consider coming back for a few hours a week at the weekends, but I must know something.

    “Or, in the case of new content, that’s unlocked.”

    What content do you pay for? Do you pay to access regions of the game (Angmar? Specific instances?) or do you just pay to access quest lines or epic book content? I’d be interested in seeing an article dedicated to this!

  26. Nerves says:

    I’ll give a brief rundown on it. Quest packs are per zone, so Lone Lands, North Downs, Evendim, Angmar .. etc etc will have their own quest pack at a price appropriate for the zone size. You can also earn Points to purchase quest packs and player upgrades, for example, if you complete all the deeds in the starter areas, you’ll have enough points to purchase the next zone. You can create more characters (even on other servers) to grind out some of the deeds as a source of Points as well. Most deeds reward 10 points. Which comes out to literally pennies worth of real world coin. So you’re faced with a decision – do I spend 10 hours grinding out 5 dollars worth of points to unlock the next zone… or do you drop 5 bucks on points and save yourself the hassle? You can literally unlock all the content without spending a penny (PvP aside, which is for subscribers and lifers only), but the grind required would be … massive. I hope this clears up some misconceptions. Technically, you don’t HAVE to spend a penny, but it’d be a lot faster to just pony up a little dough as you go.

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