The Lord of the Rings Online

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Overview

The Lord of the Rings Online Overview

Lord of the Rings Online is a formerly pay-to-play MMORPG that is now free-to-play!  The game places a heavy emphasis on story and lore. Right from the start, players are thrown into the thick of things with interactive quests. Players are only given the option of choosing between the ‘good’ or ‘free’ races which include Humans (referred to simply as ‘Man’), Dwarves, Elves, and Hobbits but can play as monsters in special PvP battles starting at level 10. There are a total of nine classes available, though not all are available to all races. PvP in LotRO is a bit different than most MMORPGs; players fight in large battles either as special level 50 monsters or as their normal characters.

The 9 Classes Are:

Burgler - The rogue-like class of LotRO. Buglers fight with daggers and excel at debuffing and crowd control. They can deal heavy DPS as well but have now defense and health. Races: Man, Hobbit.

Captain - A class unique to the race of Man. Captains can use a large variety of armors and weapons. They control pets, have buffing abilities and are capable of tanking. Races: Man.

Champion - A melee DPS class that has several area of effect (AoE) moves. Champions can dual-wield and tank when they need to but are mainly concerned with dishing out damage. Races: Man, Elf, Dwarf.

Guardian - The main tanking class of Lord of the Rings Online. Guardians can use most weapon types and all armor types. They can deal moderate damage, but are most useful in absorbing damage for their allies. Races: Man, Elf, Dwarf, Hobbit.

Hunter - The classic archer archetype. Hunters deal heavy damage from a distance using bows, but have lower defense and health than the melee-oriented classes. All races can play as hunters.

Lore-Master - A multi-purpose spell casting class. Lore-Masters hurl spells from a safe distance, summon pets, and are capable of crowd control (CC.) Races: Man, Elf.

Minstrel - Minstrels sooth their allies wounds with enchanting songs and boost their fighting potential with powerful chants. Since they are the main supportive class in he game, the Minstrel class is available to all classes.

Rune-Keeper - The main offensive spell casters. They hurl powerful spells at their targets but are also capable of healing their allies. With low defense and health, they must be defended by their allies. Races: Elf, Dwarf.

Warden - A jack-of-all-trades melee class that uses medium armor and several weapon types, including throwing javelins. Wardens are mainly concerned with dealing damage, but can serve as off-tanks. Races: Man, Elf, Hobbit.

The Lord of the Rings Online Screenshots

The Lord of the Rings Online Featured Video

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Full Review

The Lord of the Rings Online Review

By Erhan Altay

The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy brought J.R.R Tolkien’s classic,  high-fantasy franchise back into the mainstream. Following the release of each movie, new editions of the books and licensed video game tie-ins quickly hit the shelves. Most of these games were short-lived and mediocre at best, but one lives on and continues to prosper. The Lord of the Rings Online was officially released in 2007 by Turbine, the same company behind the early MMORPG hit Asheron’s Call and the now free-to-play Dungeons and Dragons Online. The game enjoyed modest success as a subscription-based game, but after Turbine’s success with the free-to -play relaunch of DDO, it was announced that The Lord of the Rings Online would be converted to a free-to-play MMORPG.

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A Game of Epic Proportions

LotrO is still a relatively new game, but it has already gone through several patch cycles and had two expansion packs released. Astonishingly, the client download is at least 6.6 GB. I say at least because a high res client is also available at over 9.5 GB. Even after the download, players have to go through a long installation and patching process so be sure to start it overnight. After getting all that settled and launching the game, players are welcomed by a fancy cinematic that outlines the game’s lore. The Lord of the Rings Online takes place as the Fellowship are on their way to Mt. Doom. The Free People of Middle Earth are at war with the forces of Angmar, which is lead by the head of the Nazguls, the Witch King. Each of the four races (Men, Elves, Dwarves, and Hobbits) have a short intro video that players can watch during character creation. Each account has two free character slots though more can purchased via the cash shop. The game deviates from the movie/lore slightly by allowing caster classes (true magic users seem to be a rare and dying breed in the LotR canon) and making Hobbits powerful enough to compete with the other classes in combat. Players cannot chose ‘evil’ races, but can play as monsters in special PvP modes which we’ll discuss later.

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The Free People

Appearance customization is robust.  Each race has several variants; players can be a dwarf from the Misty Mountains or from the White Mounts. A human character can hail from the realms of Rohan, Gondor, or other famous locales. Members of the same race from different locations have different hair and eye color options, which gives the game extra depth. Besides the regional features, there are the standard compliment of hair, face, lip, and eye style customization. The total number of races is rather limited (four) but the nine available classes should make up for it. Not all races can play as all classes, so refer to the overview section for additional information. The Warden and Rune Keeper classes are not available to free players and must be unlocked through the premium shop.  After character creation, each race starts in a unique area where they are given the option of running a tutorial instance. I’d suggest accepting this tutorial only because it has story elements that help ‘immerse’ players in the game world. LotRO puts great emphasis on story-driven progression, as there are many ‘drama events’ where players watch as special events occur. Even the quest and NPC dialogue is well written, especially compared to most other free-to-play MMORPGs.

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Questing All the Way

The first generation of MMORPGs had quests as optional side activities with only a few being required. Since the release and popularity of World of Warcraft, almost all games have adopted the quest-centric method. LotRO is no different, as players have a quest log which can hold up to forty quests; almost every NPC in town is likely to have an errand for you to run. Grinding is completely discouraged, as killing mobs yields little experience. It is by completing quests and handing them in that players have any chance of leveling. Questing is further encouraged by the ‘deed’ and ‘title’ features. By completing all available quests, players accomplish deeds, which grant special trait bonuses and titles. Some deeds are simple to complete while others take many hours to earn. The emphasis on quests and story mean you’ll never be left wondering what to do next, but the trade off is that the game often feels like a single player venture.

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Training and Progression

Each level, players can train new skills (active or passive) at their class specific trainers located throughout Middle Earth. There are six stats in LotRO, but they increase on their own without player input. Besides skills and stats, each player has certain traits. There are several types of traits: racial, class, virtue, and legendary. These are obtained in a variety of methods, by completing deeds, reaching certain levels, or participating in PvP.  The trait system helps differentiate members of the same class and ensures that no two characters are identical. The experience rate is generally fast-paced; it took me around forty-five minutes to hit level 6 on my first character while goofing off. Originally, the max level was 50, but with the most recent expansions, it has been raised to 65. Starting at level 10, players can create a monster character that begins at the max level and fights against regular characters of level 40 or higher. This Monsters vs Free People PvP mode is one of LotRO’s more interesting and unique gameplay features.

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Tech Specs

The Lord of the Rings Online is a very flexible game. As mentioned earlier, there are two available clients (standard and high resolution) as well as a multitude of graphic options to chose from. This means the game works on a wide range of machines and can look quite ugly or beautiful depending on the available computing power. If your machine can handle it, I highly recommend getting the high res client, as it really is a whole different experience. The game’s soundtrack has also been hailed as a masterpiece. It received so much attention that Turbine has released a sixty-one track OST as a free download on their site. Fans can listen to all the tracks on RPGMusic.org

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You Shall Not Pay!

Overall, LotRO is what you would expect from the granddaddy of all fantasy franchises. It’s more story-driven than most MMORPGs, but still encourages grouping with dozens of high level instances. Groups are called ‘fellowships’, while guilds are referred to as ‘kinships’, which adds some unique flavor to the experience. Players can perform special moves while in groups, but it isn’t enough to entice early level group activity. You’ll likely play on your own until the very high levels. Players don’t have to know anything about Lord of the Rings to enjoy the game; it might even help to not be familiar with the franchise since that will prevent you from comparing your mental image of Middle Earth with the one presented in the game. Lord of the Rings Online went free -to-play in September 2010, but still supports an optional subscription. Players are also free to purchase premium features piece meal. Permanent stat bonuses, additional inventory slots, and other goods are all available in the cash shop. The game can be enjoyed without dropping a dime, but some premium items do give players large advantages. This isn’t much of concern in LotRO since it is mainly a cooperative, PvE experience. PvP plays a much smaller role than in most MMORPGs.

Final Verdict: Great

The Lord of the Rings Online holds true to the franchise and offers a very linear, story-driven experience. There are always plenty of quests to do, new areas to explore, and deeds to accomplish. The inability to play as the ‘evil’ races is somewhat made up for with the ability to play as monsters in special PvP zones. LOTRO is a full-feature MMORPG with high production value. Now that it’s free-to-play, everyone should check it out.

Screenshots

The Lord of the Rings Online Screenshots

Videos

The Lord of the Rings Online Videos

The Lord of the Rings Online Free to Play Commercial

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The Lord of the Rings Online Free to Play Trailer

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The Lord of the Rings Online Gameplay – First Look

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System Requirements

The Lord of the Rings Online Requirements

Minimum Requirements:
OS: Windows  XP
CPU: Pentium 4 1.8 GHz or AMD Equivalent
RAM: 512 MB Free
HDD: 7.0 GB Free
Graphics Card: 64 MB GeForce 3 or ATI Radeon 8500

Recommended Specifications:
OS: Windows XP / Vista
CPU: Pentium 4 2.8 Ghz / AMD Equivalent
RAM: 1024 MB or more
HDD: 10.0 GB Free
Graphics Card: 128MB Geforce 6800 / ATI Radeon X850 or better

The Lord of the Rings Online Articles

  • Lord of the Rings Online: Gondor Aflame Update Now Available - Posted on November 6, 2014
    Turbine Studios and WB Games has just released a new updated for Lord of the Rings Online known as "Update 15: Gondor Aflame". This new update includes a new class, a new epic battle scenario and three new regions.
  • Lord of the Rings Online – Gondor Aflame Press Preview - Posted on November 5, 2014
    Beginning with the first and most obvious new feature, we have the Beorning. Beornings, for those familiar with the works of Tolkien, will be the extended family (imagine them as a greater clan) of the famous Beorn, as descended from Grimbeorn.
  • Lord of the Rings Online: Update 14 and New Producer Letter - Posted on July 18, 2014
    This week, The Lords of the Rings Online has released Update 14, "Paths of the Dead," along with a new Producer Letter from Aaron Campbell looking at the state of the game for 2014.
  • LOTRO Update 14 Press Preview - Posted on July 7, 2014
    Once again, the charming devs of Turbine's Lord of the Rings Online have invited me to one of their press events, to debut the upcoming additions to the game in Update 14.
  • Lord of the Rings Online: Executive Producer Discusses Future Details - Posted on April 14, 2014
    Executive Producer Aaron Campbell of Turbine Studios has recently posted on the official forums for Lord of the Rings Online, regarding future updates for the game in 2014, 2015 and beyond.
 
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