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Archive for the ‘Lotro’ Category

Lotro: f2p overview

After my post on Lotro yesterday I got a question by Caligan and one by email about how much Lotro costs and if there was a trial version. First of all, I want to say that Lotro is a free-to-play game now and as such, you can try it anytime without any real commitment on your part. If you want to get technical though, Lotro operates on a freemium model meaning that at some point down the road you will have to spend real money to make progress through the game.

So today I’m making this post to help out anyone wanting to try this great game and also explain a bit the different options of the store because I found the official website was a bit of a mess to navigate through and find the right info.

Before though I want to start with a bit of a warning. Lotro is a mmo built on the older model of MMOs (think Vanilla WoW) and is heavily focused on exploration and immersion into Tolkien universe. This means that it is way slower paced than what we’re used to and it aims to be as faithful to Tolkien as possible, even when it’s not to the player advantage. For example, if it makes sense for the quest to make you run through the whole zone three times in a row only to talk to some NPCs, then it’s what will happen.

If like me, you have a strong explorer vibe in you then you won’t mind at all the extra running around and the slower pace as it’s only more time to enjoy the sights. But, I know this kind of game is not for everyone.

How free-to-play is it really?

From the start you get access to all the races, all three starting zones(Ered Luin, Bree and the Shire) and all the classes minus two (Warden, Rune-master) which were introduced in the Moria expansion. You also have access to all the normal game features like bags, banks, crafting, housing and so on. Some of these might be more limited like no shared storage, only three bags or a gold cap but you can pay to have all of these upgraded.

You also get LoneLands which is the third zone (second if you play human) that you will visit. The reason is that Bree is a gigantic zone which can really be broken down into two parts. The human starter area(east) and the west area which all races visit when they’re done with their starter zones. All in all, you get content up to nearly level 30 which can easily amount to a month or two of playing and more if your into alts or if you want to complete everything a zone has to offer. Zones in Lotro are huge.

So bottom line, everyone gets around a two month worth of solid play out of the base game without even spending a penny.

Planning your purchases

Whether Lotro will be an expensive game depends on a few factors, the first being how much time you spend in-game and the second being how smart you are about your purchases. Lotro uses Turbine points (TP) as a currency which can be acquired in-game in small amounts by completing deeds in different zones. You’ll never be able to acquire enough to buy everything you might ever need but they do stack up and they can save you a purchase here and there.

Turbine is also often offering discounts, coupons or gifts that can amount to quite a few purchases if your good at spotting them. Finally, there’s also the possibility to buy different bundles that can be quite advantageous. For example right now, Turbine is offering the Mithril edition through Gamestop/EBgames which is quite a good offer for a new player who’s serious about playing.

Finaly there’s the subscription(15$) option that unlocks a lot of content as well as giving you 500TP a month.  The downside is that a lot of the content is only unlocked as long as you pay for the sub but it’s agreed by most that if you’re a heavy player, this is the best option by far.

For those wondering I’m not subbed and have yet to spend a single dollar on the game after a month of playing. I did have quite a few things paid because of my long account history but still, not a cent spent so far.

So, I hope this has helped some shed some light on the different options for Lotro.

PS: I currently play on Arkenstone server, look for Henin, a hobbit warden if you want to get in contact with me.

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It’s been a busy last week with us starting raiding in Swtor and the preparation that goes with that, the release of both Mass Effect 3 and Game of Thrones dvds/blu-ray and I’ve got a full plate. Still, I managed to squeeze in enough play time to finish up the Shire quests and start making headway in Bree-Land. Right now, my little hobbit warden is up to level 18 and just finished the old forest quests.

Being in Bree-Land allowed me to revisit the Old Forest, a rather iconic locale of Middle-Earth but one that was sadly left out of the movies. In essence, the Old Forest is exactly that, an extremely old forest that dates back to the creation of Middle-Earth, full of wonders and weird creatures along with the famous Tom Bombadil, a rather enigmatic character who is said to be even more powerful that Gandalf and even Sauron!

Well, the exact power level of Tom is still a matter of debate but suffice to say he’s incredibly powerful. However, the real charm of the Old Forest is in showing us what the world used to be. A place full of wonder and magic where nature is in harmony with itself. It can be dangerous for those who seek to harm it or benevolent to those who respect it. Of course, in Lotro, Sauron influence can be felt here as he tries to corrupt the forest and you need to set things right.

All of this to say its one of my favorite zone in Lotro and I’m a bit sad to have already finished it. I’ll be back a few times for the main storyline quests but I’ll miss that eery forest.

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Lotro journal: The simple life

There’s something special about the Shire in Lotro. All the reviews I’ve ever read, even most of the negative ones, have had positive words about the hobbits homeland. Not only is it one of the most picturesque and beautiful zone ever seen in a MMO, there’s also something really fun and relaxing about helping hobbits with somewhat simpler problems than what we’re used to seeing in MMOs.

It’s not my first romp through the Shire and I still love it. Saving the Shire from spoiled pies and making sure the post is delivered on time are important duties after all! Sauron can go rot in hell for all I care. There’s food, drinks and parties to be had first!

I’ve been taking my time with the zone so far. I’ve spent lots of time working on my cooking craft skill, getting deeds done and just being extra-thorough. The Shire is one big zone with a ton of quests and things to do so I’m not done yet but I’m getting close and should be heading to Bree-land relatively soon I think.

There’s something striking me as I play Lotro when I compare it to other big name MMOs. Lotro has by most definition a very old school WoW approach to MMO design. Think Vanilla here. Yet, Middle-Earth is such an engaging universe that you forget about all the systems we blogger tend to love to criticize. I believe Lotro is a beautiful example of a game that put the immersion first and mechanics second.

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Lotro journal: Archet and the Cargûl

It’s funny how different memory and reality sometimes play out. When I created my new Hobbit warden (the third one… I just love the class that much!) I was convinced I would start my journey right in the Shire and go my way to solves the issues of a couple of Hobbits. When I found out that I was headed to Archet to save it from a band of brigands I was pretty surprised! Wasn’t that the human starting quests?! Did they change the starting experience while I was gone?? Turns out that no… it was always like that but for some reason I had simply forgotten.

But before getting into the meat of this post I want to talk rapidly about these Lotro journal posts. As well as being an actual journal of my time in Lotro, I’ll also be using it to talk about general Middle-Earth lore and other Tolkien related topics like I will be today. I hope you will like reading about these and feel free to join in with questions or comments.

Welcome to Archet

Archet is a small village close to Bree mentioned quickly in the Lord of the Rings books. As they were leaving Bree, the Fellowship made it look like they were headed to Archet to confuse pursuers and not much is know about the place except a few notes by Tolkien about it having trouble with brigands. Lotro of course had to exploit the brigand part and they decided to tie the whole thing with Sauron and the Nazguls which is not that big of a stretch since Tolkien pretty much linked anything bad with Sauron in some way or other.

Archet turns out to be your standard fantasy medieval village at first glance. A few houses and vendors, some local color with a few notable npcs, fields, forest and a few ruins around the place. Nothing especially special but its a nice setting. The local brigands are up to Evil Stuff ™ and you know that Sauron and his party buddies, the Nazgûl, are right behind it all. So, it’s up to you to save the village along with your good buddy Aragorn. As far as starter zone quest lines go, it’s a solid introduction and it does a fine job of bringing you up to speed on controls as well as giving a broad introduction to the world of Tolkien.

The Cargûl

Cargûls (Sindarin for red wraith) are a new addition by Turbine to Middle-Earth. They are basically mini Nazgûls clad in red robes instead of black ones and at first glance they look a bit like a dumb color swap and an excuse to allow players to beat on Nazgûls without them being actual Nazgûls. However when you scratch a bit behind the surface they are actually an interesting lore extension in the sense that they answer a question Tolkiens fans had for a long time and are still debating to this day. What would actually have happened to Frodo had Elrond not healed him?

In the books and the movies, Tolkien writes that once wounded by the Morgûl blade, Frodo was destined to become a wraith like the Nazgûls. However, the lore behind the Nazgûls, makes them a bit of an exclusive club and makes it unlikely that there could ever be a true tenth Nazgûl. Tolkien never gave an answer to what would have happened and fans have been debating for a long time about this. Would Frodo have become a Nazgûl, being a ring bearer and all? What would happen if someone else was wounded by a Morgûl blade? Do they turn to wraith too? If so… what kind??

Cargûls are Lotro answer to that particular lore question. They are in essence lesser Nazgûls, still very powerful servants of Mordor but not as strong are the original nine Nazgûls. Lotor also goes on later to explain that creating a Cargûl is not simply a matter of being wounded by a Morgûl blade but you need strong-willed individuals and also rituals are involved. As with most Tolkien lore not everything is explained but still, I think it’s one of the nicer addition Lotro added to the lore and if anything it makes a fun Npc to fight with a bit more backstory than simple being evil ghost number 71.

I won’t spoil everything but in the end you do manage to do some good in Archet and my hobbit was sent back to the Shire to handle the evils of spoiled pies and missing mail. So much excitment!

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Lotro journal: Starting anew

Last post I wrote about how I found Lotro to be one of the best mmo I’ve played yet how I never finished exploring it. My most advanced character was in the Moria by the time I stopped and I still had tons of contents to see.  Thinking this over the weekend, I decided to re install Lotro and begin my travels anew.

I’m not quitting Swtor by any means. Swtor is where all my friends are playing and I’m having a blast with it. That said, Lotro scratches that explorer itch like no other game can and me being a Tolkien fanboy, exploring Middle-Earth will always have a special place in my heart. So instead of leveling an alt in Swtor, I’ll be spending some time in Middle Earth when I’m not saving the galaxy.

Freemium play

Up until now, every time I played Lotro is was on a monthly subscription plan. This time around I wanted to go free to play since I don’t know at what frequency I’ll play yet and I don’t want to pressure myself into playing because I’m paying monthly. I figured that since I was a subscriber long ago and since I had bought the Moria and Lothlorien expansion, I’d be all set on content until level 65 at least. Plus I had close to 5k turbine points stacked up, I felt I was good!

Well, turns out I was in for a few surprises. For started, some elements I took for granted like having 5 bags or all my virtues slot unlocked were not present. Things I thought I already had since I had the full game a while back… well I have to pay for them now. Sure, it’s a one time thing and they’re not that expansive but still… It’s a bit disconcerting to find out that content I had previously access to is now blocked.

To make matter worst I spent most of my points on buying one of the newest expansions so… does suck a bit. I did have to spend 8$ to unlock all my bags. Right now my thoughts on freemium are this. I don’t mind paying for new content but paying for basic character features like bags… not so much a fan. Still, so far I haven’t even spent a month worth of subscription in another game so I guess I can’t complain.

First few steps

I’ll do another post for the actual in-game experiences but so far Lotro did not disappoint. It’s still breathtakingly beautiful and it still scratches that explorer itch like nothing else.

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