Sunday, October 5, 2014

LotRO: Turbine's Other* MMORPG

Did you know that DDO and LotRO are related?  And, no, I don't mean because they are both produced by Turbine.

Most of the original 'lore' of D&D can be directly traced back to the works by J.R.R. Tolkien and his stories of "Middle-Earth".  Elves, Dwarves, Halflings (Hobbits), Orcs, Goblins, Trolls, Mithril...the list goes on.  Notably, for whatever reason, "Ents" became "Treants" - I think I heard there was a threat of a lawsuit, which wouldn't surprise me, but that could just be rumor.

Since both LotRO and DDO are produced by Turbine, you would expect there to be some similarities between them.  And there is, but there are plenty of differences so you don't feel like you're playing "the same game".

In LotRO, the game interface uses a lot of "right-click" interaction**.  Honestly, I'm not a big fan of it, but unlike DDO, you don't have a choice about it (as far as I have been able to find, anyway).

Now, I've said several times that DDO is my first MMO, but I've been told by others that LotRO is more like 'most' other MMOs.  That is, big, open, public 'wilderness' areas populated with re-spawning mobs that make up the questing area and/or you must travel through to get to actual quest instances.  Not always, though - the "Epic*** Story" arc often launches you directly from the quest giver.  Now, as long as there are a lot of people in these areas, this is fine.  But when you are alone, not another player to be seen, it can be a bit...oh, I guess "annoying" is as good a word as any.  Because the mobs continually re-spawn, you can make a swath through them to get to your objectives, but you'll probably also have to make a swath to get back out.  Avoidance is possible...sometimes.  Of course, if you're just out exploring (as you may be tempted to do because it is a big - and I mean BIG**** - beautiful world they have created) in zones that are much higher than your level...well, let's just say you have a low percentage of survival, should you agro anything and they catch you.  There is a color-code† scheme, so learn it use it - quickly.

Most of the 'private instance' quests do seem to have (mostly) non-re-spawning mobs, though.  So that's good.  But some "fellowship" quests - quests that recommend you run with others and not solo - do have re-spawning mobs, so you have to not only fight your way in, but also fight your way out.  I tried to run one solo at level; I bailed before getting too far.  I'm going to try again, once I'm a wee bit higher in level.  But if you want a real challenge, solo at (or below) level will put you to the test.

If you do any crafting in LotRO, you will be dependent on other players†† for some of your supplies.  And since it seems that most people are greedy...

The LotRO wiki is abominable.  OK, that might be harsh.  But when you see how well done the DDO wiki is (with links to related articles, good search results, good overview structure), the LotRO wiki is severely lacking.  I can't remember exactly what I was looking for this one time, but it took me forever to find it because the most obvious (to me) starting page did not link (directly) to the actual page I needed.  In searching, the results did not include the page, either.  I think I had to delve into multiple levels of links (i.e. link to one page that had a link to another page, and so on) until one of the links finally took me where I needed to go.  Reminded me of a company I interact with a lot for my real-life career as an electrical engineer - the information is there, but it's "buried" and you have to dig it out.  Frustrating.

DDO's search function is really good.  Many other sites' search functions are not, including LotRO's.  In DDO, if you're searching for something in the Auction House (AH), say, a "Flaming Burst Scimitar of Smiting", you could type in "flam scim smit" and get results for all items with words containing those letters.  In LotRO (and other MMOs - *cough* STO and NWO *cough*), if you're looking for "Lebethron Thin Boards", you would have to type "lebethron bo" as "leb bo" would return zero results (in STO and NWO, you would have to type in "lebethron thin bo" [if such commodities existed, in those games, which as far as I know, they do not - hehehe]).  In other words, you need to completely type out the 'leading words' in a multi-word search or you get no results, even if they are there.  (Very nicely done, DDO - everyone else needs to take a lesson on how to do proper partial word searches.  Now, if you would just let us search for words in the item's description and not just its name†††...)

There are a lot of things to do in LotRO, not just quests.  You can craft, you can go exploring; you can even take up the hobby of fishing‡ should you want to take a break for the day-to-day grind of adventuring.  But there are literally hundreds of quests.  I know that some of them are repeatable, but I don't know which ones, specifically.  They also have "monster play", which is their version of PvP.  VIPs can play as "FREEPS" (Free Peoples), while non-VIPs are restricted (I think) to playing "CREEPS" (Creatures, aka 'servants of Sauron'.  Now, why anyone would really want to be a CREEP is beyond me).  As PvP does not appeal to me (I much prefer PvE), I have not bothered with this feature.

There is housing in LotRO, both 'personal' housing and 'kinship' (guild) housing.  But it does require an upkeep fee (which I think is a weekly fee).  You can pay the upkeep in advance (though I do not know how far in advance), but should you stop 'upkeeping', your house will go into 'foreclosure' and if it stays that way for (I believe) 2 weeks, anything that was in the house is lost.  Since I dislike this feature I have not bothered with housing, either.

Overall, I like LotRO.  So if you want a break from some of the other MMOs you've been playing, give it try.

...or not.

As stated before, Asheron's Call (AC) and AC2, are "undead".

** From what I've read, DDO used to use a lot of "right-click" interaction, too.  In fact, if you want, you can go into the DDO options and make the "old" interaction type active.  Which makes sense - if you used it originally and was used to it, you probably kept it, even after the change.

*** In LotRO, "Epic" is used to identify which quests are parts directly related to the story of Frodo, Aragorn, Gandalf, et al. that is presented in "The Lord of the Rings" books.

**** Think the "King's Forest", "Underdark", and "Stormhorns" are big?  Brother, you ain't seen nothin', yet.  You pretty much have an entire continent (or perhaps "sub-continent") to explore in LotRO.

† "White" is same level as you.  "Gray" is 'many levels below you".  As you shift from white to green (passing through blue), you are higher in level; shifting to red (passing through yellow), you are lower in level.  "Purple" (or "violet") is 'many level above you'.

†† You can, of course, make another toon that has a supplementary crafting school to eliminate you reliance on the "charity" of others.

††† Not to mention being able to search 'brokers'...

‡ I understand there are supposed to be more hobbies coming, but so far, "fishing" is the only hobby available.  How you can actually pull fish out of a land-lock body of water (like in a quarry) or "spa", is curious, but you can.  However, you cannot pull fish out of the fountains that are in towns, such as Bree.


  1. Mizza Mizza Mizzawoo05 October, 2014 17:25

    As far as I can tell from various in game player sources, fishing is the only hobby turbine plans on putting into the game. Also, you can only go up 10 fishing "levels" per day.

    Grey enemies don't attack you so you don't HAVE to fight you. This seems to be unique to lotro(maybe wow I don't remember). In other MMOs with big open areas(swtor comes to mind first) grey enemies still attack you.

    As far as housing is concerned, if I remember rightly, you can pay up to 2 months of rent on a house. Also, when it "forecloses" you don't lose everything in it, it just goes to a magical place for you to claim. Or as far as I've been told that's the way it is.

  2. Mizz is right on the house. When your house expires, all of the contents go into "escrow" and will reappear whenever you re-enable your house.

  3. Secretly Mizz but not Mizz06 October, 2014 08:10

    Of course Mizz is right. Mizz is always right. She's Mizz.

  4. Yeah, I knew about the 'escrow account', but I was under the impression that the buyback was still of a limited duration. Meaning if you didn't retrieve your stuff from escrow after "how ever many days", it would then disappear. In any case, my post was unclear on the escrow, so thanks!