Lord of the Rings Online

More info »

Lord of the Rings Online

Preview

Free to play!

An Internet Shortcut to Mushrooms (cntd)


Mounts are also available from the Online Store, including the ability to rent them for a month. This is a fantastically useful thing, since even without the likes of Rohan and Gondor this slice of Middle-Earth is utterly huge, and even the simplest local quests will involve plenty of travelling. Of course you can get them in the game itself, but they cost a heck of a lot of in-game gold coin. It took me months to save up enough.

And of course there is hosts of travel aids, boosts, cosmetic enhancements, clothing, hats, house ornaments and other fun little bits to splurge all that non-subscribing cash on. Of more use will be Quest Packs, filled with extra little side-quests to make leveling-up less grind-festy.

Of course, we have the VIP membership, which existing subscribers will get signed up to immediately. Anyone who wants to commit to this Fellowship can sign up to for a load of the most useful stuff in the Store. VIP members wont even notice a difference to the game when it goes live, except for a button for the Online Store on the HUD.

Come to think of it, did anyone actually pay for anything in the films?


Right now, it has to be said, the Online Store where you buy all this stuff is a bit of a mess. It works for the most part, but is in serious need of a polish before it goes live. It is difficult to find what you need, plenty of stuff is hidden before you reach the right level, and sometimes it doesnt even let you buy things which is a bit of a problem when the developer is relying on this income alone.

Im sure it will get sorted out however. This is only an early beta, after all, we have still got months before it goes live. Not to mention the fact that it is a MMO, it will get patched and improved all the time. Turbine has always been one of the best developers at supporting their games and listening to their community, and I dont expect that to discontinue.

Whats it got in its pocketsses precious?


It is very rare that I spend 800+ words talking about a game without actually mentioning how it plays, at least not when Im sober. Thats because the game itself is already out and virtually unchanged, apart from the myriad of minor improvements that merely make the game easier to get into and more fun to play.

Writing it off as World of Warcraft in Middle-Earth does the game a massive disservice, as despite the obvious similarities I always found Lord of the Rings Online a more friendly, welcoming place. That has to do with the wonderful, always helpful community the game has built up, and frankly there is a worry that making it free to everyone will make the game lose some of this friendliness. I doubt it however, just as long as the people who like it keep playing and ushering in newbies with the patience and understanding that they simply dont get in any other game.

I was always impressed with the way Turbine gives away massive updates, complete with quests, enemies and whole huge landmasses, to Lord of the Rings Online for free. Now they are giving away the whole damn thing for nothing. I have a feeling that everyone with the slightest interest in MMOs and the works of Tolkien (even just the Lord of the Rings films) and those put off by all this subscription nonsense will be slipping your hairy hobbit feet on with the rest of us when the game is re-released later this year.