On Friday Weirdharold shared that the new MMORPG Lord of the Rings (LOTR) was having a free, open stress test this weekend. Another VTOR author JohnnyRS mentioned at our weekly VTOR meeting yesterday that he was downloading the 4GB file and I planned to do so as well. It took awhile to get through the download process, well over two hours on a fast broadband cable connection, so apparently we weren’t alone.
I noticed a few interesting things about LOTR:
- Turbine is behind the software, which is the same company that created Dungeons & Dragons Stormreach. This made it easier for me to get into the same basic controls (CTRL + I = inventory, CTRL + C = Character). The buy/sell system is basically the same engine. If you are familiar with D&D Stormreach, you’ll be up and running quickly with LOTR.
- Active quests are shown and linked as rings on the screen. Handy option to click on the ring and see what you need to do. Gold rings glow above the heads of those who offer quests.
- Fast leveling. In less than an hour and a half dozen or so fairly easy quests I was able to level up to 4 with my Elf and get a pet raven to fight. I’d say faster than Everquest, a little faster than WoW and dramatically faster than D&D.
- You start out with a rather generous five bag slots. Very little sucks worse than having to hunt around and overpay for backpacks in MMORPG. In LOTR you start out with five bag slots.
- LOTR is making a curious presale offer for US and Canadian players only: $199 lifetime subscription or special reduced $9.99/month subscription fee. Those who take up the presale also get two unique in world items: a Ring of Agility (more agility during battles) and a Cloak of Regeneration (gain back health faster, always a handy thing to have). I like the idea of lifetime subscriptions assuming that will waive all future monthly subscription fees and that the only future fees will be buying the expansion sets.
Wouldn’t recommend spending too much time leveling in the stress test since it doesn’t appear any of the character stats will be kept. Those who pay for the presale will be able to participate in the open beta and those characters will be able to start in the actual game which launches April 6 although the small print indicates that leveling will be “limited.” The presale players still need to buy the full retail game when it comes out.
I’m probably in the minority here having never read any of the Lord of the Rings books or seen the movies, but this MMORPG looks good. One person in the chat mentioned that it looked better than WoW in long distance view. I ran at full resolution on my monitor and never experienced any crashes in 1.5 hours of gameplay. All in all a very positive gaming experience.