Monday, September 27

Bounding Bear in Bree

My pet John, the bounding bear in question.

First off a bit of history with this game- I think it was Lani that managed to get me in to the early closed beta., I felt it had promise then but didn't hook me. I spotted the game + Mines of Moria and an additional 2 month timecard for the bargain price of £15 in total last year, I didn't play the three months and didn't get any character past level 10, for some reason again it just didn't hook me. After the announcement of F2P and a subsequent closed beta, this beta whore obviously wasn't going to stay away. This time though I noticed a change, something hooked me in, the work they carried out on the beginners experience had done its job nicely and I found myself looking forward to release.

I've been playing it solidly for just over two weeks now, the majority of those days have seen solid play sessions of up to 4hrs during the week and more at weekends, I have one character at lvl 20 and my second character (same class, different race so I could join a friend) is coming up nicely. 20 isn't high if your an end game chaser for that amount of time, but I'm not chasing end game.

I've found that LotRO has more to offer me than my previous incursions had me believe, I'm enjoying the quests, enjoying the graphics and feel charmed by the whole feel of the world they created, I don't think any Tolkien purist would be happy (the IP being one of the biggest hurdles for this game), but standing away from the works of Tolkien and standing in the world they created and feeling it for what it is, I am thoroughly charmed by it.

Any game with a half decent crafting system is always going to get my attention, in the scheme of things this isn't too bad. The system offers nothing new but is completely robust in as much as it does what is needed, at the levels I've played crafted gear is better than most drops and quest rewards, more so if you get a 'critical success'. There is nothing complex about the process except that you choose a vocation rather than individual gathering/crafting skills, as a weaponmaster you won't necessarily get prospecting within the same vocation. It makes for dependency on other crafters, or in my case the creation of an alt. I enjoy the process enough that it has provided a significant portion of XP through mob kills and my game plan at the moment is built as much around gathering the next mats, killing that rare beast and creating that awesome robe as it is following the storyline.

I won't say much more about the game because I know you've all probably played enough to get a flavour for it, I'll just talk a little about the monetary side to this 'F2P' transition.

I've played loads of F2P titles, far too many to mention, for that reason I'm looking at how the cash transactions compare to other F2P titles. I'm going to forget about the previous sub only model and any such comparisons. On the surface LotRO compares very favourably, if all you've played is F2P then you are going to be in for a few nice surprises, I'm seriously impressed by how much you get for so little. The things you'll notice immediately is two locked classes, a reduction in inventory space, the inability to sell at the AH and the need to purchase the riding skill (mounts can be bought with in game cash). The two locked classes are no big deal, you still have choices within the classic archetypes of warrior, healer, mage and rogue, the rest of those items are pretty crucial for a full, unencumbered experience of the game, so what's the cost?

I'm playing the Turbine version of the game, Codemasters are dragging their feet with the F2P version. Turbine points are bought within the game, you also earn them via Quests and Deeds (proficiency in a skill, completion of certain objectives or kill counts of certain mobs), no F2P title that I've played has ever let you earn RMT currency, if you're a completionist or not shy of grinding you can earn that mount skill, AH slots and extra bags just by playing. F2P players will be well versed in the grind and shouldn't mind too much if they really don't want to spend money. If you bit the bullet and decide to spend then a nice surprise will be that the bag you just unlocked for this character is also unlocked for all the characters on your account, FTP titles always charge for each character for inventory space. Things like the mount skill and AH sales access are each character. I can't remember the exact cost of items but I spent £20 on 2,500 points, so far I've unlocked one extra bag, got access to selling at the AH and bought the riding skill, I have 1,590 points left, 50-70 probably gained through play. My next purchase will probably be the riding skill for my alt, which will leave around 1,200 (plus what I earn through playing), I can mail stuff to the character with the AH unlocked so no need to worry about that and he already has the account wide unlocked extra bag.

The next costs I'm not so sure about, forums would have you believe that quests dry up at 20, so far I'm not at all short of them and in game chat says other wise. Unlocks of some quest content for lvl 20-40 costs around 400 points and is for the account, at my current point level I can unlock 3 quest packs, two would easily get me to max F2P content at lvl 50, from there I would need to purchase the expansions at roughly £20 each.

At the moment I feel like I'm playing a sub worthy title at less than the cost of a B2P model such as GW, compared to most F2P titles out there that's a bloody good deal.


  1. Server: Windfola
    IGN's: Nahkti and Vailare

  2. Bugger, you're not on my server.
    I'm not sure what mine was called but not Windfall... :-)
    It's probably mentioned in one of our posts about the game.

    I think all of us have been wise enough to avoid Codemasters and got the US LoTRO+Moria deal that one May. I know I got Phè a sub that time and had to wait ages and a resub before we finally briefly met up in Middle Earth...

    I don't recall getting you to try LoTRO during its Beta. In fact for a very long time I was reticent to try it myself being an old skool Tolkien fan. At AMP it was Grifter who was the LoTRO nut trying to get everyone to try it out.

    What I hear about LoTRO F2P is that it's not nearly as good as a F2P model as DDO turned out to be. Inherently the game isn't as well suited for it. Not having tried either yet I can't really comment on it.
    I do know LoTRO has become a lot more solo friendly over time and I think that's essential for a F2P model as there's less incentive to play regularly. And irregular play makes it harder to group up with anything other than PUGs.