Middle Earth that is.
Succumbing to the powerful Jedi mind tricks of several friends (a nice SWTOR plug),I decided to give the Free to Play (F2P) version of LOTRO a try.
Now as some if my readers may know I did sub to LOTRO back when it first came out but only briefly. At the time I was still hooked on the WoW crack so playing another MMO along side it was always fatal to the other MMO. So I ended up dropping LOTRO.
I won't do a true first impressions of the game since what I posted back a few years ago still hasn't changed much in my opinion. Instead I'll discuss my current likes and dislikes.
Lets talk about the dislikes first. This way I can end the post on a positive note.
Turbines new Free 2 Play business model is based on Micro Transactions. Basically Turbine let's you play for free and gives you access to almost all of the content. However some items, perks and content will cost you money to unlock. Real money is exchanged for Turbine Points which is used as currency in the LOTRO store.
Want a second revive and disregard timers, then spend a few points. Want more bag and bank space, how about resetting your daily tasks or increasing the number of tasks you can do per day well just spend a few Turbine Points. Would you like to ride your own horse? Well the horse will cost you a few game silver but the skill will cost you points. I'm not a fan of micro transactions because the player can end up spending more to unlock items than it would cost for a monthly sub where a majority of things are free.
On the plus side, as you adventure and unlock Deeds you do earn some Points to spend in the store. It just takes a while to build them up, but it is possible to play the game without paying for a sub or buying Points. But like me, most people who play an MMO want instant gratification, which makes it hard to wait. I want what I want and I want it now has always been my motto when playing any game.
Subscribing to the game will unlock a lot of items and areas, but developers have added a few additional quests and storyline content to LOTRO since launch that even subscribers have to pay for with points to access it. I'm not a fan of charging subscribers for additional content when they spend $15.00 every month, but Turbine makes up for this by giving an allotment of points free to subscribers every month which can be used to unlock additional content as well as other perks available in the store.
The point with all this is that before playing Free 2 Play LOTRO I hated the idea of an MMO using micro transactions. Now I don't think it's so bad. It let's me play a triple A game for free and I like that.
That should cover all my dislikes. I do have some nit picky stuff I could mention but all games have some animation, sound or graphical glitch that effects the experience and although LOTRO has there fair share, still, it's not enough this time to detour me from playing.
So why am I back in Middle-Earth, besides the fact it's free? Mainly because a bunch of close friends have decided to start playing. Before no one I knew in real life played and the game quickly became more like a single player game in a world of strangers. I got bored and left. Now we have a little community that hangs out once or twice a week. We are all learning the game together and having a fantastic time. It's very casual and I like that. The game is still gorgeous. The sounds and music help get you into the game.
I'm usually not big on game lore but I am really digging the whole Tolkien setting this time around, trying to finish parts of the main story line and really enjoying the journey.
The game just seems more fun this time around. Maybe because it's not competing with WoW or maybe playing with friends does make a huge difference or could it be that it's free? Who knows. Either way I'm having fun and that is the important thing, right?