Posted inGames

Lord of the Rings Online: One Game to Rule Them All

Lord of the Rings OnlineLord of the Rings Online totally frakking rocks!!!

Whew! I’ve been dying to say that for weeks now.

I was lucky enough to be invited to a beta stress test for LotRO about a month ago, which ate up more than 15 hours of my time that weekend. I have since been invited to participate in the remainder of the beta phase for the game, which is scheduled to be released April 24, 2007.

A Non-Disclosure Agreement prevented beta participants like me from discussing the game publicly… Until yesterday that is, when game developers Turbine announced that the NDA had been officially lifted. Yay!

So now I can tell you how much I’ve been enjoying this game. I’ve played a number of other massively multiplayer online (MMO) games and can already tell that LotRO is going to be one of my favorites. With two more months of beta to go, LotRO is generally as stable (possibly even moreso) than some other games available now. <cough>

Character creation doesn’t stray much from the standard MMO formula. You can select your gender, race, class, and name, as well as customizing your appearance. You get to play one of the good guys in the War of the Ring: human, hobbit, dwarf, or elf. Each choice you make is accompanied by all the appropriate Tolkienesque lore to get you into the spirit of the game.

The newbie instance demonstrates immediately how much time and love the developers have put into the game. The graphics are lush and fluid, the sound is immersive, and the user interface is clean and attractive.

As with any MMO, the game is all about leveling, which happens at a satisfyingly swift pace for the first ten levels or so. The grind does manage to remain interesting, partially because you are running around in the same world as Frodo, Gandalf, and the rest of the gang. You even get to participate in the epic storyline in the form of special quests that come along every four or five levels. In fact, I already ran a quest for Strider, who I found holed up in the Prancing Pony in Bree. How cool is that? (Tolkien geeks are probably the only ones who truly understand that last sentence. ;-))

Of course, the game isn’t 100% solid yet and there are certainly some minor performance and design issues that I’d love to see addressed. But with such a terrific start, I can’t wait to see what else the fine folks at Turbine have in store for us.

Finally, any discussion of MMOs has to at least mention the 7 million pound gorilla that is Blizzard’s World of Warcraft. With that many subscribers and a major expansion published just a few short weeks ago, I don’t see how any other MMO is going to be able knock WoW off the top of the list. But if anything can, it might be Lord of the Rings. I know I’ll be doing my part to overthrow the evil empire. (Mordor, not Blizzard. ;-))

If you happen to be on the Meneldor server anytime soon, send me a /tell (“Deck” – level 16 Human Captain). See ya in Middle Earth!