Overall score of 6/10. Read below to find out why.
I've never really been a fan of F2P games. Most F2P MMOs tend to overdo or implement micro-transactions counter-intuitively or completely wrong (Rift being one of those exceptions). So I figured I'd give LOTRO a try and see how they did.
They failed. They are one of those examples of OVERDOING it. I realize companies' need to make money.. especially on a F2P model. But Turbine REALLY nickel and dimes EVERYTHING. The base game includes 4 zones (3 of which are primarily starting zones with 1 real adventure zone). You can travel to areas you haven't unlocked through the store but don't expect to do much. So many things you take for granted in other games (space, skills, etc.) beyond a bare minimum have to be unlocked. And they REALLY like pushing some of the boosts. Comes with the territory, I know. If you are incredibly patient, you don't have to worry about those things, but expect ALOT of grinding and expect to be incredibly sub-par others that are your same level.
And P2W (Pay to Win)? If you pay for the boosts and unlocks, you are way ahead of the power curve. Pretty much anything can be had if you drop down some money.
Thankfully, sales happen now and again where you can get deals on TP or, during weekly sales, can get things like quest packs or unlocks for half off. Coupled with the lotro store giving away a couple free boosts per week, there's hope if you willing to drop some cash on the game and wait around for a good sale.
The ONLY saving grace is the ability to obtain TP (turbine points) on multiple toons that you can use towards unlocking the MANY features/content available. It's still alot of grinding. But I've managed to setup farming alts and a setup where I can earn about 200TP in about 90 mins. 3 runs and you can buy a quest pack for a zone.Score: 5/10
(Middle ground score only because you can grind out the TP's if you really want something and don't want to spend real money, otherwise, the score would be 1/10 because of how overdone and nickel/dimey Turbine is about things)
The storyline is an epic one in the true tradition of Tolkien (NOT the movies). Which means it's dry, long and kinda boring (to me, anyways). The epicness of Tolkien's writing is not in the writing style but it's broad and intricate vision and LOTRO captures that well, at least. There's a big world to explore. And LOTS of things in it.
However, alot of that beauty is mired in meaningless quests for characters you care little about mingled with very boring writing. I'm a BIG fan of storylines, quests/missions, etc. and love to find out what's going on with everyone. But, for some reason, LOTRO quests are written so Tolkien'ish that the character dialogues seem overdone and I find myself not really interested and just skip reading it (for the most part). Additionally, there is no real feeling of storyline progressions (aside from the big main epic one). All the sub-storylines go all over the place and don't have real conclusive endings to them. Just an "I thank you for helping me, kind sir. Goodbye" with NPC audio chatter of "Oh won't you listen to my woes?" Score: 6/10
(Just for the fact there's ALOT of quests, at least.. not for the writing at all)
Graphics-wise, LOTRO is partially old school. Harsh, blocky edges (especially in notably older zones) and weird or cheaply done world animations (can you say Shire waterfalls?) and blurry textures/skyboxes plague the game. Characters, are overly, bland looking, lifeless and blocky. BUT
, despite all that, the world is really beautiful. Maybe it's because I come from the old school world of Meridian 59, UO, and EQ1. It may be outdated.. but there's still beauty in it. The way the grass shifts when you run through it or the gentle babbling of a nearby brook while you walk through a meadow neighbouring a dense forest. Newer zones and areas get an updated treatment with cleaner textures and more polys per object/models. So at least the graphics gets progressively better. But you can tell some TLC went into some of the earlier zones albeit old-school looking. Score: 7/10
Nothing remarkable about the sound. The background music is appropriately themed, albeit very looped and repetitive. There's some voiceovers (mainly for cutscene introductions) and NPC chatter. The NPC chatter voiceovers are.. annoying, in some cases. "Excuse me! How rude!" from a Hobbit lady I JUST helped. "Oh! Won't you listen to my miseries and woes?" from a human I just helped by saving his wife from being eaten by orcs. Maybe he DIDN'T want her returned? the voiceovers give a little bit of life to NPC's but they are rather short, repetitive and inappropriate.. hence..overall annoying. I'm spoiled by games like TSW that did voiceovers incredibly well. Score: 6/10
(what can I say? there's sound/bgm/voiceovers, at least)
Quest mechanics are your typical MMO fare. Fetch this, kill that, escort that. There's just ALOT of them. All over the place. And there's nothing more infuriating than a SLOW npc that you need to escort. It's an MMO staple. It works. But I haven't come across anything that stands out like a TSW puzzle or WoW NPC event. No world bosses for the community to band together and defeat (RIFT). No random events that pop up and surprise you (ESO). There' lots of quests, occasional instances (with the ability to vary the party requirements or the level of the mobs), skirmishes (repetitive scenario training grounds), epic battles (if you unlocked rohan for post 50), 100 levels worth of adventuring, the ability to play "bad guy monsters" called Creeps in PvP level 100 combat against regular players, etc. Lots of different features, not all incredibly exciting.. but there's something to do, at least.Score: 6/10
(for LOTS to do, but not alot of enthusiasm to do it)
Each server is going to be different. I chose Landroval (US-RE.. roleplay encouraged) and the world chat community is.. talkative. Helpful at times and immature/mature some times depending on the time of day or weekday/weekend. Community-run roleplay events tend to go on frequently with spatterings of actual roleplay going on in various populated areas. It's not bad. Most F2P games are packed with immature freeloaders. I can only suspect that the old style nature of the game and the nickel/dimey nature drove some of them away. That's ok. go play Archeage, CS:GO or Dota2, kids.Score: 7/10
Connectivity-wise, I don't get much in the way of lag. Ping times are ok, even during holiday events. Though, I do get some odd lag bursts that I can't pinpoint as network-related. One of my friends have severe issues with LOTRO's port switching tech which leaves her able to chat, but unable to move until she gets kicked. At which point she has to go through the hassle of editing the conf files to manual change the ports because the auto-port switching doesn't work quite well (we suspect her ISP is throttling/blocking some ports). Graphics-wise, I don't run into much lag except in heavily forested areas or scripted scenes with raging fires, overall, I'm running around with 40-60fps easy. I personally run into a SERIOUS issue with the LOTRO store. It's laggy, slow-loading, doesn't reflect your current TP's properly and sporadically I get an access denied and nothing loads in it. Ok.. if you don't want me to spending money, Turbine, you could just tell me.Score: 6/10
(for numerous technical issues)
LOTRO gets an overall score of 6/10
. It's not spectacular, but it's not god-awful either. Although it has some saving graces, I'm going to have to give it a thumbs down. Too many little things make this game not as enjoyable as it could be. Sorry.