The Lord of the Rings Online is a casual MMO set in the world of Middle-Earth created by Tolkien, and the MMO is set during the books The Lord of the Rings. The world is very well recreated, anyone could get all mushy just wandering in the Shire (I do). The graphics are superb except for the models alas who are not as good quality as the scenics around, but after a while they grow on you and you end up finding the Hobbits oh so cute and huggable. The music is also very beautiful and atmospheric, setting well with the world. The Lord of the Rings Online is probably the most immersive MMO out there, Turbine has managed to create a breathing living world where one can cook, eat, drink, play music, dance and smoke pipe. You can even get your own house. Landroval is the unofficial RP server on the North American side and you will see often players role-playing their characters and throw RP events, yo get to write, and read bios as well. The community in The Lord of the Rings Online is very mature and nice.
You have access to four races when you create your characters: Elves, Hobbits, Dwarves and Humans. Each have their own newbie area except that the Dwarves and the Elves share theirs. Even though Frodo and his friends are the heroes in the books, Turbine has managed very well to integrate a parallel storyline for our alts where we get to be heroes as well. We handle the bandits at Bree, investigate the Ors in North Downs, and in the meantime we get to meet the main characters from the books ingame for more immersion.
The Lord of the Rings Online’s interface is very intuitive and the game is easy to be handled even by those who have never played a MMO before. The stats increase all by themselves when you level up and your skills become more powerful as well without having to dabble with anything. Each class has a good number of different skills to choose from, I’m not fond of those MMOs with very limited skills where you just get the same skill but a tid bit more powerful than the previous one. The game is non gear oriented, very casual, and it’s easy to level up and solo most of the content. Crafting is fun and very useful, you really have the feeling it’s meaningful.
Nothing is perfect in this world, except for cats of course, so The Lord of the Rings Online has to have flaws. The whole solo thing can be a bad thing when players can level up to the max level without ever grouping with anyone, which means that for those who like grouping or want to do group quests, like the Books quests, they have a hard time finding people to do these quests. While the coming expansion will remedy a bit my next point, there is a lack of classes in The Lord of the Rings Online. Also, the game has a definite lack of fantasy, there is no magic and no caster/magician, especially no caster class (the Rune-Keeper “magic” effects were greatly reduced in the beta so he is not really a caster anymore), so there are times when the game feels more like a medieval MMO than a fantasy one. It should please those who enjoy melee classes but for those who love to play casters it will be very tough, especially that some on the official forums hate to death the players who love to play casters so expect to be told to get back to WoW a lot, among other insults.
The game is perfect for casual players who want to immerse themselves in a beautiful world that caters to the PvE players mainly with a good community and with good devs that constantly add more to the game.
The official website: http://www.lotro.com/
This is a past blog entry from my gaming blog on Multiply.