The Lord of the Rings Online Approacheth

Lord of the Rings Online (Shadows of Angmar) arrives soon to a game-weary world. The official “probably won’t be pushed back again at this point” launch date is April 25, 2007, with a World Tour, aka cleverly named Open Beta, to begin April 6th — over a million tour invites will be given out. But there’s more!

Those pre-ordering the game will be called Founders, and besides the title, Founders can play NOW and roll their de-noobified beta characters (level 15 cap) into live when they will enjoy founders subscription prices: $9.99 a month or $199 for a lifetime subscription. I like $9.99 a month ALOT; the $199, not so much. It’s not an unreasonable price, but I don’t have that kind of faith in anyone.

Box prices: $49.99 for the ordinary box, which includes two in-game items, or $59.99 for the collector’s edition, which includes a total of three in-game items plus nerd bait.

I played the LOTRO beta and thought it was a nice little game. The lore can’t be beat and unlike the Warcraft series, I actually know a thing or two about the backstory. There’s some problem with a ring and a would-be god, right?

Principally, it’s appeal is: NOT WORLD OF WARCRAFT.

(Hell, I would have played Vanguard if the hardware requirements weren’t so ridiculous. Still might, but I don’t feel like replacing my video card just yet. Vanguard is a game that needs to age in the barrel for a while, I think.)

I have noticed a very curious thing in Le World of Warcraft lately: enemies on my Friends List haven’t been logging on much in the last few weeks. (Unlike most players, the people on my Friends List are players I like to keep my eye on, lest I fall victim to a public chat channel ambush. It’s a long story.)

I’d like to hope they’ve given up on gaming, or are working on a blood elf character … on another server. Worst case scenario, they’ve moved on to LOTRO.

Which brings me to today’s online gaming lesson: In a new online game, when confronted with “aren’t you Soandso from WoW and/or EQ (etc)?”, deny, deny, deny. I like to throw in a little roleplaying to further confuse, because then they think: 1. the real Foton never roleplayed, I must be mistaken and 2. it’s a goddamn roleplayer, I have to get away from here.

You have to use the tools available to you, and if crazy is your only tool, work it.

33 thoughts on “The Lord of the Rings Online Approacheth

  1. Principally, it’s appeal is: NOT WORLD OF WARCRAFT

    Heh I dunno about that. The game feels and plays almost exactly like WoW to me (was in closed beta for a while). The only difference is the back story which I admit is rather nice.

    I have issues with the way the game looks. The character models are god awful ugly, as well as the armor which tends to make any player look deformed because it’s too bulky. oh and as of right now it’s still somewhat buggy (nothing like a horse between towns running you straight off a cliff with nothing you can do about it)

    That said if there was no WoW i’d probably plunk the money down for it, but there is so I won’t.

  2. So does this mean you’ll be abandoning the long-running WoW-focus? Inquiring minds, Foton, inquiring minds! ๐Ÿ˜€

  3. Ugly character models? What are you talking about man? I think the character models look great and when you install the 1.8GB Very High textures pack the character models look breath taking. You can see every little link in a piece of chainmail. The reflections on the shiny marble floor in Thorin’s Hall add such a wonderful touch. Some of the models are supposed to look a little ugly. Dwarves are not supposed to be able to win the Miss America contest. However, elves are very beautiful. I fully expect female elves to be the most played character type :-P.

    I’ve already dropped my cash…. way back in closed beta. WoW account is being closed in a short while. People keep saying it’s WoW but I would like to know what is the same? The crafting profession setup is WAY different. The PVP system is WAY different (and pretty interesting if you ask me). It *ACTUALLY* has a storyline that follows *throughout* the game since you always have an Epic – Prologue questline which is unlike WoW where the whole missing King of Stormwind story runs out of steam pretty fast. The game has time-based areas… for example the starting area for Dwarves is around Thorin’s Hall but once you complete that part of the Epic – Prologue you stay in the same area but many years have passed and the place looks slightly different…. never seen that in WoW.

    The only thing similar to WoW is that there are magic spells, swords, and arrows. But that’s pretty much the definition of any fantasy MMO. This is based on a book written a long time ago so what did you expect them to do? Change it to spaceships and lazers so it wouldn’t “copy” off of WoW?

  4. I have hope for this game, especially if the crafting system pans out (all I did in SWG was craft). If it’s just another farm fest to get loot however, I might as well just stay in WoW.

  5. you’ll be abandoning the long-running WoW-focus?

    Much as I’d like to write intelligently about multiple games, I can only serve one master. I would like to serve a new master now.

    Warcraft is a spectacular game, who could deny that? But I’m weary of The Obligation to play and want to be a noob again somewhere. Being a server and guild celebrity is a lot of pressure. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    P.S. Raster, I won’t be at Karazhan tonight. Good luck with all that!

  6. I’m doing the Founder thing, that monthly rate makes it not too much of a risk and I’m pretty burned out on WoW atm. The level 15 limit is pretty low, and even with my average or below playtime I expect to have multiple characters maxed out. It’s actually nice to be able to try every class out without feeling like I’m being left behind by playing the field.

    As far as similarities to WoW – I’d say it’s rather similar. To say it’s not like WoW at all is to ignore the full scope of possibilities for how to make a game. This is an iteration on the diku high fantasy top shelf MMO with a solid world and backstory. Which fortunately is what I’m looking for.

    It’s not going to kill WoW, at least I hope not. Selfishly I’d like it to be popular enough to have robust communities and keep Turbine popping out content – but no more. There is a critical mass of idiots that inevitiably lowers the bar on acceptable behavior. For game communities I think the smaller the better.

  7. I would be trying the “world tour” if the damn thing played on a mac the way WoW does. As it is, I will have to wait until I can afford a new computer and can get boot camp and a Windows partition.

  8. I pretty much second Heather. I’d pay for the game and try for the whole Founder’s business… if it didn’t mean buying a new Intel Mac + a copy of XP. *Nix users are right out, too.

  9. I’m weary of The Obligation to play

    Thats me in a nutshell right there. Somebody last week told me that having 20 food, 10 elixers of so-and-so, and some wizard oil wasn’t enough and that I needed to spend more time farming. I was like, “Sorry, basketball is on.”

    So, migrating the significant other and I to LoTRO. If you have a chance, get a few people and run your characters up to 10 and try out Monster Play as a group. Its one of my favorite aspects. And the crafting seems far more preferable.

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  11. @saccia

    I stand by what I said I think the character models and armor are ugly. ESPECIALLY in the low levels, As an elf most of the armor you get looks way too large. I have a teeny tiny head and then these massive shoulders and chest. It makes me look nothing like an elf.

    Going to stick with the elf here, but no they don’t seem particularly elfish, they seem to be rather vapid and dead looking. They look entirely too much like the human models. And it shares a complaint I have with WoW. Everyone looks like a clone of some sort because you can’t really adjust the way your face looks beyond some marginal adjustments.

    All the PC’s, and NPC’s seem brighter than their surroundings

    Now the actual world, I LOVE the way that looks. Some of the views in game are truly great with awesome vistas.

    Change it to spaceships and lazers so it wouldn’t “copy”ย off of WoW?

    Try something new and innovative in game play maybe? I never said the story was anything like WoW. When I said too much like WoW I mean in game play pure and simple.

    Monster PvP is the only portion I give them a cool feature factor…unfortunately I could really care less about PvP in most any game.

  12. The very high texture pack is something that is supposed to be on the DVD. They didn’t want to make everyone download and extra 1.8GB for something that they might not use. However, if you preordered the game from EBGames/Gamestop, you got a special coupon for a free 30 days at that happens to have the entire 1.8GB file here. The weird thing is that now the file appears to be gone. I don’t know if they were told to take it down or what. I wrote a copy of it to a DVD so I could give it to friends. Maybe they want people to wait for the retail copy or something.

  13. Yep, Turbine told them to take it down. Oh well. I guess wait for the retail release. A few lucky ones got it. It has to be out there somewhere else because others had it. The file is called client_highres.dat so maybe its on a torrent or something by now.

  14. Well if you have it installed why don’t you take some screenies and link them or whatever? Because as is the character models=walking turds

  15. I’ve had chance to beta test this for the last 4 months. I must say I like it allot.

    Breif as possible review …

    Great graphics and atmosphere, good group dynamic but bad group make up (only one healing class anyone?). Really story driven questing, infact I think it’s one of the only games where I have actually read the quest text interested in what is going on. It’s a mix between EQ and WoW, not as noob friendly as WoW but not as ‘grind’ oriantated as EQ was but somewhere inbetween – you wont whiz through the levels like Warcraft.

    Combat system is quite familiar to anyone who has played most of the latest crop of MMORPG’s so no complaints there. The one thing that worries me about the game is the lack of end game content, one big battleground to get extra skills ect doesn’t seem like a well planned end game content to me, although I hear rumours of planned content on release which isn’t in the beta (there are places you ‘zone’ though because the connecting content isn’t released yet), so I hold high hopes that there will be a proper end game to aspire to.

  16. I’ve been playing TitanQuest. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Too much fun, and it’s like Diablo II with a far superior character system. I’m loving it, and it’s not an MMORPG. ๐Ÿ˜€

  17. Too WoW-like to my taste. Crafting is the same – the need to convert leather into something before making a vest does not make it anything new. Actually, the whole game reeks of second-hand to me, with several ugly design flaws.

    Exhibit 1: Any part of basic leather set needs the same amount of leather to make. 18 pieces for both vest (25 AC) and wrists (5AC).
    Exhibit 2: The mapping for quests. It sucks. It doesn’t allow you to find anything. In WoW, each area needed for questing was marked somehow.
    Actually, i think level design as a whole is badly done in this game.
    Exhibit 3: Heroic experience. I can hardly find any. I spent 5 minutes in tutorial before passing a cursor over the pointy-eared guy with ‘Elrond’ tag. It’s not that in WoW i was in the center of hardcore action all the time – i just wish Turbine used the IP more creatively. Looks beyond giving nametags and stuff. Learned a trick or two from Mythic and Warcraft, for example.

    I wait on PotBS. EVE Online done right, or so it seems.

  18. I don’t get why a file to improve the appearance of the game isn’t available. I don’t see the point. Can someone tell me what I’m missing?

  19. i love this site and im sorry if this comment is irrelevent but i love this site yay my emoness gets a hold of me

  20. I posted a bunch of links to screenshots available on the net but I’m sure the post got caught by the spam filter. So, until Foton approves the post go search for “LOTRO” +”Very High Texture” on google.

  21. @aradia

    Undeserved adoration is NEVER irrelevant.


    There’s the LOTRO problem right there. Man? Woman? Surely at high-def this shouldn’t be a question.

    I’m half kidding … but, in our virtual worlds, I don’t want the women to have man hands or the men to be as hairless as Justin Timberlake.

    All you young developers out there, hear us well: men need to be men, and women women. *Fixed: men need to be men, and women should be cartoon-enhanced.

  22. Exactly Foton, even with High Res textures the base model is just a fugly lil andro who happens to have really really smooth skin.

    And higher textures still doesn’t account for the way too bulky looking armor. Instead of looking like plain old blankets wrapped around someone, with higher textures they look like patterened blankets wrapped around someone.

  23. I did play LOTRO and found the graphics gorgeous — except for the character models and animations, that is. However, I’m not going to fall for the LOTRO hype, because I’ve seen it before and know it for what it is. It will certainly be more popular than DDO, Vanguard and possibly even more than COH/COV, due to its casual-friendliness.

    Single player instances remind me strongly of COH/COV and what DDO has begun to implement, for example. But it has nothing to hook a so-called “powergamer” who has an average of 30+ hours of play time per week, and wants to fill them all with gaming goodness. Right now I spend at least 40 hours a week playing a single player game, TitanQuest, which is more fun than any MMO I played in the past year. That’s somewhat backwards, until you think about how long people played Diablo II…

    Personally the games on my watch list are Age of Conan, Warhammer, and Aion. Soul of the Ultimate Nation is also there, but it’s supposed to be a free to play game, so I’m probably going to play it regardless. Graphically speaking, the best will be Aion hands down. The men will be big and bulky, the women will be lithe and pretty, and you can’t beat real wings that come out of your character’s back. How’s that flying epic mount? Can’t fight from it? Too bad. I can’t wait to try out fighting in the air and casting pew pew spells in the sky.

  24. Looking at those screenshots, notice one important thing… the building, landscape and clothes essentially got “less blurry”, but the character themselves remained largely unchanged. The ears did get more refined, but if the character was human instead of elf, would you notice? The skin gained no more skin texture, and in my opinion actually looks worse at the highest resolution because now its clear that item and object textures far exceed the quality of the face textures.

  25. @jason

    Aye the skin and facial features remained relatively unchanged. The armor did get more detailed as well. Though that is hard to notice the difference from high to very high unless one actually looks for it, and does nothing to change the actual armor model.

    The world of LotRO is gorgeous never said otherwise, the High Def textures make it even more so. As with Rose (by the by I just started playing Titan Quest myself…rather fun ๐Ÿ˜€ ) my problem has been the awkward characters and animations. Turbine apparently learned nothing from DDO where they had the exact same problem (though I do think they did a great job on the Warforged visuals) with normal humanoid PC’s. There is a disturbing similarity in visuals, and they all look “dead”. As much an issue as I have with WoW’s lack of character diversity, not once did I ever think a human looked like an elf, or a gnome/halfling like a dwarf without a beard. I also never got the feeling that I was looking in to a the face of a fresh corpse with dead eyes and slack features.

    I get ALL those negative things when I look at LotRO player characters.

  26. I’ll admit that LOTRO’s character models and animation stray near the uncanny valley and are overall not top shelf material. And I’ll admit these things may be important to the overall success of an MMO.

    Personally, though, I don’t care. The game looks nice and character models have nothing to do with long term playability. The time it takes for me to stop noticing character models altogether is measured in weeks. Turbine may miss those people who won’t play the game because their elf isn’t hawt enough, but I won’t. From my point of view WoW-level popularity is a liability, and I think it would be much more disruptive to Middle Earth than Azeroth.

  27. As much as I disliked giving my money to Turbine (still harboring AC2 hate), I did. LOTRO is a good game – it’s not great, but it’s also not WOW. I’m like really over WOW. I could probably eek a few more months out of it with some incentive. I’m about to be Kara keyed and I joined a new guild that’s heading there soon. If I had no other options I could drain some more life out of it for that, and one more reason I don’t want to mention just yet.

    I’d rather wait for War, am not so interested in Conon, but hell I need something to play now. I’m back to playing The Sims2, if you really need a visual on how tired I am of WOW. So LOTRO will suffice for now and might surprise me a last even longer. I love crafting and this is closer to a real crafting system than WOW ever had or will have. So if I’m going to go, I figured I might as well join in style as a Founder.

    I look forward to bumping into or reading about the adventures anyone has who’s been on WOW but giving LOTRO a try.

  28. And what’s with the animation hate? I think my Captiain’s moves are pretty slick. No, I don’t look hot like I did in WOW, but I didn’t look hot in previous MMOs either so, what’s yer point?

  29. Criticizing the animation? I thought the animation was good as well. Look at the swimming animations. In each direction you swim in, you have different swimming techniques: breaststroke, backstroke, and sidestroke. I thought they paid good attention to actually making the animation more realistic.

  30. I dunno, I think I’m gonna hold off for Conan. I’m getting sick of WoW, but LOTRO doesn’t look to be my style so far. Then of course when my true master comes calling I’ll be going to Warhammer.

    Blood for the blood god! Skulls for the skull throne!

  31. My only complaint on animations was when I was playing, running looked silly. Matching feet speed to travel speed is important to me. Feet sliding is ridiculous.

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