Lord of the Rings Online
I've been playing this for about a month now after I told a friend I'd wanted to try an MMORPG and he told me he played LOTRO. Oddly there doesn't seem to be any existing thread dedicated to this game, which seems a bit odd. Sure it isn't quite a s popular as WoW, but surely it should be making progress in that area considering it went "free to play" (F2P) last fall (2010).
Anyway, I also got a WoW account a few weeks back, but haven't really been playing that much: to me LOTRO is more fun and definitely prettier (when I first logged into WoW after playing LOTRO I was like "Ugh" - it's kind of like going back to the Wii after playing with a PS3/Xbox360 :)). Granted I haven't played WoW that much (only about level 7, just out of starter area), so my opinion about WoW in general might still change... if I ever get back to it (haven't touched it in days now).
Now as this is the first post in this thread, let me give you some info about the game.
About the Game
LOTRO was released in 2007 and so far there have been two expansions (Mines of Moria and Siege of Mirkwood). The third expansion, due later this year involves Isengard.
As the name suggests, the game takes place in the world of Lord of the Rings, during the same time as the events in the book & movies. You get to meet several characters from the book/movies, including Strider (Aragorn), Gandalf and Elrond (probably more, but I haven't been playing that much) and the story line also hints at Frodo and the other members of the fellowship. This to me is the fun part of LOTRO: you get to visit characters and places from the book and movies, like the The Prancing Pony in Bree, Hobbiton in the Shire, Rivendell, etc. The game also has characters that are in the book but not the movie (in a recent quest I was asked to visit Tom Bombadil at his house).
Free to Play
The game was subscription only at first, but has switched to a "free to play" model in fall 2010. This means it is theoretically possible to play the game to the end without paying anything. In reality that requires a lot of grinding to get the amount of "points" necessary to unlock certain areas and buy the expansion packs from inside the game.
If you really like the game it is better to fork out a bit of cash to get access to the areas and expansion packs easier, either buy signing up for a "VIP" subscription (basically the old subscription system) or buying some points for cash. The advantage of a subscription ("VIP" membership) is that it unlocks everything, and that a few things (like extra bags, gold limits, trait slots etc) remain unlocked even if you cancel your subscription, and you also can keep some character slots, because after paying (either VIP membership or buying points) your account is upgraded to "Premium" level.
But the great thing is that you don't have to decide when (or if) you should invest some money in the game, as you can reach up to about level 25 without having to spent any money. In other words, you can try the game for a quite a while (I estimate at least 10-15 hours to reach level 25, and that's if you don't waste any time on crafting).
My advice: if you really like the game get a VIP subscription to get the most out of LOTRO. Otherwise wait for a double-bonus points sale to buy "points" (Turbine Points or TP on the US servers, EU has Codemaster Points). You can get 6900 points for $50 on such a sale, which should be sufficient to unlock most areas and expansions and still leave some extra to unlock extra bags and trait slots (those kinds of items go on sale too from time to time, so it pays to be patient).
More info about account types: http://lotro.mmorsel.com/2010/09/bes...ount-type.html
US or EU?
Interestingly you are not restricted to playing on the servers in your own region. Although I'm the Netherlands, I'm playing on the US servers (Meneldor to be specific). Buying points and subscriptions also seem to work without much of a problem. This saves me a bit of money as a 3 months subscription is just $30, which works out at about 7.50 euro per month, which is not bad. Lag doesn't appear to be much of a problem.
Of course if you don't care, you can also use the European servers, which are run by Codemasters (Turbine, the makers of the game, run the US servers themselves). Just don't make the same mistake I did: make you sure you create an account and download the client from the same region. So be sure to click on the appropriate flag symbol near the top-right of the site for your region before signing up or going to the download page.
If you want to try LOTRO, you might want to go for Melendor (US servers) if you want to meet me in game. Or if you like Reddit, try Gladden (see right pane here: http://www.reddit.com/r/lotro/). Other sites and communities may have their home on other servers.
Races & Classes
Unlike WoW, there is only one faction in LOTRO: the good guys. So you can play as either Man, Elf, Dwarf or Hobbit. There are also a bunch of classes such as Burglar, Captain, Champion, Guardian, Hunter, Lore-Master, Minstrel, Rune-Keeper and Warden.
I've got three characters so far: Man Guardian, Elf Hunter and Dwarf Champion. These classes are typically the best for the race and are also easy to play.
More info about classes (for solo play): http://lotro.mmorsel.com/2010/02/cho...1-soloing.html
There a few types of quests. Most are simple solo quests like "kill 10 of this", "deliver this to that person" etc. There are also fellowship (group) quests, though at my level (lvl 18 at present) I haven't seen many of those yet. Supposedly there are more in higher level areas. Then there are the "Book" quests that involve the main story line. There are also "task" quests, which can be used to gain extra XP and reputation.
The game also has an item creation system which can suck up quite a bit of your time if you get into it (I would have been much farther than lvl 18 if I hadn't bothered with crafting :)). Like WoW you can choose from several vocations, but unlike WoW you can't freely specify which professions you want as first or second: each vocation has a set number of professions which you can't choose and mix. There are vocations for creating just about any kind of item: armor, weapons, accessories, heal items etc.
One tip: not all vocations for producing items (such as Armorer for armor or Armsman for weapons) include the necessary gathering professions to make the items. The "Tailor" profession (for light & medium armor) needs leather, which can be made from hides by a "Forester". So it kind of pays to have create extra characters which can each have their own vocation. That way you can create any item, you just have to send the right ingredients to the right characters and switch between them.
As you need to be a certain level to gather hides (for light/medium armor), ore (heavy armor or weapons) and wood (bows/staffs etc) it might be best to make your main character a "Explorer" (can gather and process ore [prospector], and process wood & hides [forester], also create light & medium armor [tailor]). At least, that's what I read and so far it has worked out for me.
Regardless of whether you get into crafting or not... be sure not to sell any crafting items (like hides) which you might pick up after combat. You can either sell them for a high price in the Auction House or stock them up in case you want to try crafting later. Just don't sell them to vendors (in-game NPC shops).
Here are some useful links:
I started plaing shortly after F2P came out... I've got a level 50-something Captain sitting in Moria, a level 20-something Bard in Bree. Haven't really played since November I think. My kinship died off and I just got really really bored. I blame the legendary item system and my lack of friends to play with...
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