Why Isn’t LOTRO More Fun?

Please Note – This post is from 2007, early in the history of the game.  A lot has gotten better since then.

I tend to object when I hear people characterize Lord of the Rings Online as “WoW in Middle-earth.”  It is, however, a hard objection to make stick.  You just look at the UI and say, “Hmmm… now where have I seen that layout before?”

Still, there are a lot of things that differentiate LOTRO from WoW.  If you have played both, you know what I mean.

With the return of Earl, we have gone back to WoW for our Saturday night instance group.  Earl actually went out, bought LOTRO, and was leveling up a character (and he is in the Gaff class of leveling machines).  But the first weekend we could play found most of us approaching level 30 while Earl was just in his low teens.  To get the group together to play, we decided to go back to WoW.

The suggestion that we leave Middle-earth and return to WoW was met with cheers by at least two of our group.  I was less enthusiastic.  There is still so much to see in Middle-earth.  But I could see the point of getting back to WoW.  We still have quite a few 5 player instances to get through there.  Accomplishing some sort of MMO milestone, like hitting level cap, might be a nice change for me.

So we played WoW that next Saturday night and we all had a lot of fun.  In fact I had more fun than I remember us having in LOTRO.

Now, as much as Earl is the life of the party, regaling us with tales of freight hopping and New York City property values, I do not think he was the key to the fun.

No, I think I found something that Turbine did not copy from WoW, something that differentiates the two games.

Fun.

World of Warcraft is just more fun to play.  Potshot has a similar post on his site because we talked a bit about this after the Hinterlands on Saturday night.  He wants to know why WoW is fun, I want to know why LOTRO isn’t as much fun.

Now, I am not talking about depth or the feeling of long term fulfillment here.  But as far as just getting in, grouping up, and playing goes, WoW wins.  WoW is more fun.

I say this from the perspective of somebody who started off pretty anti-WoW.  I have never been much on the Warhammer-derivative art style, the lack of parallel paths on the adventuring path past level 20, the shallowness of characters and guilds, the crappy PvP, the battle grounds, the heavy focus on an end-game I have no interest in, auctions, or the lack of frigging storage space.  And don’t get me started on the patcher or Stranglethorn Vale.  I have three alts that I stopped playing at STV.  So WoW pushes a lot of my negative buttons.

On the other hand, I have been quite the LOTRO partisan.  I really want to like the game.  I like the art style, both its depth and beauty.  I like all of the traits and titles and whatnot.  I am even okay with the trade skills.  You can actually make useful items for your level.  And then there is the whole Tolkien IP.  I want! I want! I want!

So I have enough going on in my brain with regards to LOTRO to ensure some pretty severe cognitive dissonance with regards to how fun it is.

And yet, even as we were making the decision to go back to WoW, I knew in my gut WoW was going to be more fun.

For me, LOTRO just isn’t quite there, and I have trouble pointing at exactly why.

Certainly part of it is the design of the game itself.  While, intellectually, I like all of the little features in LOTRO, all of the achievements and titles and what not, they do add up to a burden of complexity on the game.  They tried to give combat more depth but ended up making it a bit unwieldy. And the interface, while so similar between games, just seems more clear in WoW, especially when it comes to icons.  And, yes, I’ve griped about the icons before.

And then there is the game client itself.  WoW just feels much lighter and more responsive when compared to LOTRO.  I just do not feel like I have to work as hard to make things happen in WoW.  I remember reading quotes from Rob Pardo at AGC last year, when he mentioned spending a lot of time making sure that little things like the responsiveness of the cursor felt just right.  That work paid off.  And lag?  Bree on a Saturday night can be a painful place to run through.  Even some of the instances, as well done as they are, make my machine drag.  WoW, on the other hand, just felt right, with little lag and excellent responsiveness.

It is tough for me to admit, but I was more comfortable playing WoW after a five month break than I was with LOTRO after playing for five months straight.

LOTRO is good, but when it comes to polish and smooth operation, it cannot beat WoW.

Does anybody else feel that way?  What could Turbine do to change this?

53 thoughts on “Why Isn’t LOTRO More Fun?

  1. syncaine

    What made me put LoTRO on hold was its engine, and how unoptimized it is. I have a high end computer, and yet LoTRO makes it drag. Yes I could turn down the graphics, but the truth is it should run on high settings, and it does not. That more than anything killed it for me.

    It’s the same reason I never finished Oblivion, the graphic drag. After 30 hours or so, I just got sick of certain scenes dropping the FPS below 25 or so. I’m a bit worried about EQ2 now, as I’m getting the same type of feeling from it that I got from Oblivion, although it does not seem so bad.

    Perhaps x-mas and getting myself a new DX10 card will put this all behind. Ha, maybe then I’ll fire up Oblivion again and actually get through the entire main storyline…

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  2. yunk

    I feel somewhat similar.
    I don’t know, i guess partly because in WoW you have instant-cast skills, but in LOTRO everything is “on next attack” so you press a button and wait for it to do something. The other part (also for combat) is the animation is odd and makes it feel slow and unresponsive.

    Here are two points for the above, on on my Minstrel and the other i noticed on my Guardian:

    The weird thing about Minstrels (and maybe loremasters don’t know never played one) is how they timed the spells to go between your melee autoattack- they want you in there meleeing. If you don’t and stand back like a wow priest, then there’s extra time between spells where you cannot cast another, so you’re just standing there.

    In melee on my guardian, when using a 2-h weapon the animation shows you just standing there. So if it’s an axe with is almost 3 seconds, you just stand for almost 3seconds, swing, then stand there again. It just drives me crazy and I tend to avoid 2-h weapons because of that.

    WoW just seems “faster” somehow, though it is not a speed issue at all, more like a weird interface thing. And one thing I noticed is fellowship maneuvers just exacerbate lag, in my kinship we have people in canada, east coast, west coast, and when we’re all together, fellowship maneuvers are nearly impossible because it adds about a quarter second to each person’s click if you’re trying to do a complex one. This just adds to any annoyance you already feel.

    Maybe the cartoonyness also helps, it just makes you feel “freeer” and care less about what you’re doing? My kinship is very silly and our RP events are mainly us goofing around, but many RPers I talk to are abhorred with the idea of being silly in Tolkien’s universe. I don’t get that but … maybe there’s just a heaviness that comes with the IP, certainly it draws out strong emotions! :) I think people truly hate or love it because of the IP. I mean, look at most reviews, they are extreme.

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  3. Talyn

    > You just look at the UI and say, “Hmmm… now where have I seen that layout before?”

    Easy: Asheron’s Call 2. Go look up screenshots for AC2, which was released before WoW and LOTRO is almost a direct copy of it. WoW didn’t invent the “standard” UI we see, it just sold more copies which means more people have seen their UI.

    Turbine’s engine does need some work. It can crank out downright gorgeous graphics, has plenty of geeky options to tweak, but — and I’m just guessing at the issue — the impression I get is that it does not pre-cache models and, more importantly, textures but instead waits until those objects are clearly within your rendering range (whatever you’ve set it to) so then you have to load in all those models and textures. When you get into a busy area with a lot of characters, all with different models, all wearing different gear, that’s a huge hit on your system and hard drive and the whole game hitches. The same happens the first time you activate each specific combat move — they are not pre-loaded so you have a brief hitch while that data gets loaded. Bringing up the world map for each new zone, same thing. It’s been an issue ever since AC2 and I’m really hoping LOTRO gets enough subscribers, and therefore enough feedback, to force the issue and make the programmers fix this.

    I’m having loads of fun with LOTRO… *BUT*… I have two characters created at launch, and each are only level 24. I’m very intentionally playing casually and taking time to smell the roses. Otherwise, yes I’d be more upset that I’m fighting the same mob types zone after zone, with few exceptions. But then, how many zones in WoW all have boars or spiders or Murlocs? That got old too.

    I think, aside from getting the texture handling up to par, if Turbine would take another look at the length of a combat round and speed it up slightly, and work on making the UI or combat skill buttons feel more responsive, that alone would make a huge difference in our perception. WoW did a very smart thing by making all our button presses show us an immediate action, even if *in actuality* the server is still going off its turn-based combat rounds, it gave us a sense of instant gratification. If Turbine would speed things up and give us the perception that as soon as we click anything, our character is doing it, that would help with the Fun Factor.

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  4. Cameron Sorden

    As others (and you) have said, and after a lot of reflection on the same topic, I’d have to agree. The game just feels a bit unwieldy. I don’t feel as “in tune” with my character as I do in WoW. Movement looks a little more forced, combat isn’t as immediately satisfying (owing a lot to those “next attack” skills someone mentioned), and you don’t have quite the same feeling of connection between your avatar and the world.

    It sometimes feels like your character is projected into the world and moves around inside of it, while being slightly “off” of it, instead of as a living and breathing part of it.

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  5. Sente

    There are lots of small details in the user interface experience and they way one interacts with the environment and the different mechanics fits together – this generally works well in WoW. In LoTRO and in some other games it just is not there to the same degree and you get consciously (or unconsciously) a bit annoyed with it.

    LoTRO is nice to travel around and look at the world. Too much interaction in different ways and it falls apart a bit.

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  6. brackishwater

    @ Yunk I know what you mean about the delay in combat, and I see that EQ2 has this as well. However, there is something about my character there that I am beginning to feel a better attachment to, more so than I had in Lotro.

    *waiting for Bildo to stop by and say “I told you so.” *

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  7. pvthudson

    I still think it is just a bland game.

    Bland magic, bland races, bland classes, bland combat, and a weird instance setup that doesnt really promote running them more than once.

    Bland.

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  8. tipa

    I liked LotRO up until I started in on the Trollshaws and found it was just the same thing as in the previous five tiers. The EXACT same thing.

    And then my free month ran out, billing screwed up, I was left without an active subscription and not a lot of reason to fight with them to pay them money for the same thing.

    WoW is cute and funny. LotRO is not cute at all, and the funny ends at about the time you leave the Shire (and the other starting lands miss even that — START IN THE SHIRE, WHATEVER YOUR RACE!)

    I couldn’t enter Bree. My computer would halt. Eventually I could move a little. And I have a REALLY good computer.

    I did enjoy the instances, and I really liked grouping. I liked the lore. I liked a lot of LotRO. I just hated the blandness, the same grind over and over with no change, the lack of challenge, and from a lore standpoint, the decision to base the game parallel with the events in the books, guaranteeing that nothing any player could do could have any effect on the plot or the world.

    In LotRO, you’re not a hero and you will never be a hero. You’re a spear carrier, and if you’re very very good, you will be able to do some small services for the real heroes.

    If I’m going to play in the war of the ring, I want to be in the middle of all the good stuff, and the story be damned. It’s a game, not a book. It would be like doing a Holy Grail game where YOUR job would not be seeking the Grail, but keeping the roads repaired so wen Sir Lancelot came riding through, his horse wouldn’t trip.

    They should progress the story on all servers, but stagger them. You want to be in the War of the Ring? At the opening of the server, the world is at peace. After a month, dark creatures begin to appear. Bilbo has his going away party — and if you’re a hobbit, you can be there. The party will last a week, and then he’ll be gone, you can talk with Frodo and all that. Meanwhile humans can hang around in Bree or Gondor or Rohan and notice the gradual rise of dark creatures.

    Three months after the server opens, the Nazgul ride. And so on. Eventually the battle at Helms Deep happens — you can be there, you know when it’s going to happen, and no matter what your level, you have a place. You can continue on to the caves after, or ride with Theoden to Gondor.

    And so on. They could have made it exciting. Instead they made it DULL.

    I still had a fair amount of fun in groups anyway.

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  9. Link

    I’m starting LotRO soon, and I’m glad to see posts and comments like this. Helps me have more realistic expectations. I played WOW and heard LotRO was very similar.

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  10. dmosbon

    Played LotRO for a couple of months but just got turned off by it. Didn’t change the ‘lay of the land’ enough away from what previous MMORPGs had already done.

    Maybe WoW is more fun because it doesn’t take it’s back story too seriously…have to agree finding humour/fun in Turbines Middle Earth is a quest in itself.

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  11. Josh The Stampede

    @tipa – Your staggered “play out the storyline” plan is intriguing, but ultimately wouldn’t work, and here’s why. People want to be involved in important events.

    When the game opens, and there’s nothing important going on, everyone will complain there’s nothing to do but carry pies and kill wolves. After a month when Bilbo leaves, those people will shut up, but people who join after that will complain they missed it.

    Same with the Nazgul riding and every other important event.

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  12. Talyn

    > Bland magic, bland races, bland classes, bland combat…

    LOTR, and therefore LOTRO, are very decidedly “low fantasy” and more down to (Middle) Earth. We’ve never had that before; every other fantasy MMO to date has been “high fantasy” with all kinds of crazy races to play, wild magic spells flying all around, and bizarre anime-influenced armor sets. I don’t care *who* made or could have made LOTRO, by simple virtue of sticking to the Tolkien low fantasy license, you wouldn’t enjoy it if you come into it with high fantasy expectations.

    > In LotRO, you’re not a hero and you will never be a hero.
    > People want to be involved in important events.

    There was a thread over on Strangelands recently (possible a few other blogs too) about being a hero in an MMO. There are ways (I listed several existing ways last night on Strangelands) of giving us, for a short time, the *perception* of being a hero and while I feel that would be an invaluable road for future developers to go down, at the end of the day it’s only the perception. You cannot be the Hero who Saves the World in an MMORPG because that same content is available for everyone else to Save the World. We’re heroes in a sea of heroes, which equates to being pretty darned average. Also look at the proliferation of people playing the supporting roles (classes) rather than the two starring roles of tank and healer… It could easily be argued (and probably has) that people in fact *do not* wish to be heroes or *do not* want to be involved in Important Events.

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  13. pvthudson

    Oh I agree totally, they had to stick to the lore and I think that hurt it. I just didnt expect it to be so low fantasy, I am too used to my dark elves and gnomes :)

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  14. Ceadrick

    I played Lotro for about a month. I played WOW on and off for three years. WOW is far more fun because the character classes are better then Lotro’s. In Lotro there are three fighter types, Captain, Guardian and a Champion. What the heck can’t we just have one? You have a Burgler, a Hunter, a Minstrel and a Lore Master. We need 5 character types in a group setting. Tank, healer, Dps, crowd control and a Puller. Instead we get 3 fighter types no dedicated healers and a magic user that isnt really a wizard. We’re told that they have to keep to the Lore of Middle earth. Phooyy I say. If your going to make a MMO you need to start with fun well rounded interesting class types. I don’t think Lotro has these. I think the look of the game is awesome, the graphics etc. But if I don’t have a connection with my character I’m not goning to be gung ho about logging in. I do think Lotro has a lot going for it, but again for me its all about my TooN.

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  15. PIolvs

    For me, one of the major drawbacks was distances. Zones are pretty big , with questgivers along a few points in the zone, and usually very few (and expensive) horse rides. That meant too much walking. Slow walking. Too much wasted time.

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  16. tipa

    @josh — different servers would be at different points in the story. After the story was finished, the server would restart; all your characters would become level 1 of the next generation, but retain some reward for having been in the previous generation of the world.

    Hmm. Maybe they should have done a game based off “The Worm Ouroborous”.

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  17. Kinless

    My wife is the biggest Tolkien fan. She’s got every book. Knew all the stories in the Silmarillian. She’s got books about the books, there’s one that’s an entire series of books. She’s got atlases and books of maps and books of artwork. We’ve got extended editions of the Peter Jackson movies. We’ve got books of the movie art. She’s got framed Tolkien art posters, and her pride and joy is a huge map, framed, of Middle Earth.

    She also played the EQII demo, and we got her a full copy of the game and she played that for a month. And she plays WoW with me, and for which she dropped the EQII account. (Didn’t need two subscriptions.)

    And we tried the LOTRO Beta. That lasted no more than a few hours for her. She hated it. The hobbits reminded her of very short people, not hobbits. The beginning town was a sea of names and titles.

    She’s Tolkien’s biggest fan in a lot of ways, and she plays MMORPG’s, and yet LOTRO just didn’t do it for her.

    WoW just absolutely gets it right. From the first moments of a level 1 character in the Valley of Trials to riding with Netherwings in the Outlands.

    And I agree that “holding to the Lore, above all” has hurt them. Why not host a story in the ages before the Ring Story? Let the Ring be the future to come. There’d be lots of possibilities then. Now there’s only one.

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  18. Cheston

    A fantastic article, something I couldn’t have put better myself. I feel exactly the same way, and without getting into a lengthy post repeating most of what you’ve already said, I really wanted to like LOTRO, and there were so many things to like, graphics/art direction were fantastic, I loved the primary story line quests, and the music system was a lot of fun. But I just could not develop a lasting relationship with that game, and I almost feel bad about it, as if I stood LOTRO up and LOTRO won’t stop leaving messages on my answering machine.

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  19. Khan

    Interesting post! I’m still playing and enjoying LotRO. It has not been without its issues. I agree completely that Turbine’s reliance on the server seems to stess things a bit much and the combat can feel somewhat constrained at times. There are times where I KNOW I hit my interrupt ability in time to shut down a mob’s heal but due to strike timing and the server updates, the ability didn’t fire off in time.

    Overall though, I am pleased with the implementation of LotRO. I get to be a Hobbit Burglar. I don’t care if I’m not Frodo, we already have one of him in that story. I’m also fine with the subtle nature of the skills and abilities. My problem with much of the fantasy genre has been the cartoony nature of the storylines and powers. You just KNOW that nothing bad can happen to (insert name of character) because of his / her amazing (insert name of weapon, skill or whatever). GRRM and Tolkien both win me over for the subtle nature of their use of magic and the characters and I like how this gets reflected in LotRO. The need for grouping can be a bit much at times at later levels but I’m in a great kinship and we love grouping up to smush things. My kinship (not mine but the one I’m in) has a major effect on how much fun I’m having.

    Sticking with LotRO will be easier if they could fix the load balancing issues and make the combat a bit faster / more fluid. An increase in non-group quests would help those with limited play times.

    Overall though, I’ll be sticking with LotRO.

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  20. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    as if I stood LOTRO up and LOTRO won’t stop leaving messages on my answering machine.

    I love that analogy! Yes, I see LOTRO walking towards me a block away and I duck into that new age store to try to avoid it.

    A lot of great comments on the game. It looks like a lot of people have put some thought into this. I am interested in the variety of game aspects that people brought up. I had not considered most of them.

    For myself, I could stand being a pawn in the war if the game just ran more smoothly. No hero I!

    I have played three classes up into the 20s so far, which is enough for me to get a feel for how they really differentiate them. (Hunter, Champion, and Guardian.) Their paths up until the mid-teens really do not diverge and in the 20s you start to feel each class begin to get defined. So I am not too miffed about the classes, though you’ll note I avoided the healer and magic user.

    The serious tone of the game… well, that kind of goes with the territory. It is one of the trade-offs you make when you create a game around a known IP rather than rolling your own.

    I still like the game. I still want to see more of Middle-earth. I am still interested in what they will roll out as an expansion. I just do not know when I’ll find the time and inclination to press on.

    I can also see that my wish for a first age Middle-earth game is never going to fly. Too serious.

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  21. yunk

    Why not host a story in the ages before the Ring Story? Let the Ring be the future to come. There’d be lots of possibilities then.

    Unfortunately Christopher Tolkien won’t license anything before the Hobbit, so we may never be able to see this. It would be nice to be able to go back to these times, like the Keepers of Time instances. I don’t see a huuuge problem as long as they don’t introduce aliens. Maybe one of the maiar sends you back. But for now they can’t, just like they can’t have PC races vs PC races, the license won’t allow it.

    I am not sure it had to be so serious though. The Shire isn’t serious at all (Pie Delivery, Mail Delivery, Chicken Play). I wish they used more humor in the rest of the game, it’s not like there’s no humor anywhere else in the books, especially in the Hobbit. I think the seriousness is often imposed by the players. RPers have left us because they think it’s “wrong” for us to have silly storylines and events. Hey whatever they need to do to have fun, er, not have fun I mean. Um, yeah.

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  22. Saylah

    Both the fun and god factor have been nailed in WOW. I have to give the credit of getting the rush on target. It’s what keeps me coming back even when I wish I was doing something else, and keeps me from investing completely in other games for the lack of it.

    I posted about something similar when I was doing EQ2 EOF. I loved EOF and some much about EQ2 but there was something missing.

    http://notadiary.typepad.com/mysticworlds/2006/12/missing_the_god.html

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  23. Saylah

    How comment 19# feels about LOTRO is how I feel about EQ2. A week doesnt go by when I dont ask myself, why aren’t you playing it?? I kid you not, I think about re-subscribing just about every single week. If they offered a Lifetime deal I’d take it! As it stands I get tired of subscribing then cancelling and dealing with that annoyingly long exit questionaire.

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  24. Ariannel

    I know that people have said this before, but my biggest gripe with LOTRO was the akward UI and character animations. I’m kinda really picky when I comes to stuff like that. Even though the UI looked like WoW, it didn’t FEEL like WoW. When I clicked a button, it didn’t feel right and when I dragged and icon, it felt all wrong. Not to mention my pretty little elven minstral felt all gangly and strange. She was pretty to look at, but she didn’t stand out from any other elven female and she moved like she had something up her you-know-what. When she fought, it was choppy – not like my night elf priestess who moved with an even grace. The quests were fun and the titles were also neat, and the low-level elven areas were GORGEOUS to look at, but I still didn’t feel immersed. It’s amazing how a simple thing like feeling connected to your character can make the whole game go voom or go flat.

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  25. Eric

    I was very enthusiastic about the game when I first started playing, but found myself logging in less and less, and now I have totally quit the game. My minstrell is stranded at lvl 28, also had some more lower lvl alts. The gameplay is just very repetitive and it doesnt change at all once you lvl up. I am still bashing the same 2/3 keys as I was around lvl 4.

    And the ruins and spiders / bandits got to me in the end I think :). Couldnt do another quest with one of these involved :).

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  26. Bildo

    I’m just here to say I agree with all of these points, literally all of them. I just came to this same conclusion a bit earlier than Wil because of my time in Alpha/Beta, and posted as such back in August or July over at my blog.

    I wanted to absolutely love this game for the next 5 years… but because of so many reasons I just can’t.

    And I also wanted to stop by because Brack asked for it: “I told you so.”

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  27. Blackjon

    I’ve played WoW, LOTRO, Vanguard, and EQ2, and I just recently left LOTRO to go back to EQ2. I find it odd that the big problem I had w/ LOTRO no one else seems to mention. My issue is best exemplified by my long journey to Rivendale. When I finally came over the ridge to see it, it was perfect – it was Rivendale just as I would expect it to look. And that’s the problem. I would much rather come over a ridge and see something new and unexpected. That’s when I realized that I wasn’t getting the rush of discovering something surprising in LOTRO, unlike in the previously mentioned games.

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  28. dathmar

    For me there are 2 games that made me feel like my characters were special, these were
    World of Warcraft and Vanguard.
    LOTRO …doesn’t at all.
    I think its important to feel like a hero in these games and not just another person running madly around the countryside killing boars or wolves.

    I find most , if not all the classes in LOTRO to be a little dull.

    Also for me the UI is too unresponsive – similar to what Yuck said above.

    For example – how many times do I stop running to then cast a spell to be told I am still moving ?
    I personally think that’s why the “spells” / actions queue up when in combat – because the UI seems to be about 0.25 seconds behind the user’s input.

    Also must agree with Tipa – the Shire really is the best starting area – the rest are very dull.

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  29. Yeebo

    I was prepared to get all rabid on you based on the title. But honestly, a brilliant post. All the things that you list at the beginning (tradeskills being actually usefull, addictive trait system, LoTR lore) are so utterly compelling to me that I’m willing to put up with the negatives you list later (graphics engine bites, UI inferior to WoW’s, response to input seems delayed).

    I became utterly addicted to WoW when it came out because it was the first MMO a sane employed human could make real progress in. But I got frustrated as hell with the endgame. It was like I had married someone that turned out to be an abusive alcoholic once we were living together. “Grind that rep, cockmaster! Raid or die you godamn worm!” That wasn’t the game I married!

    Then LoTRO came along. She said to me, “There there, it’s Ok. What WoW did to you was wrong. It wasn’t your fault! No means no! I promise I’ll never hurt you.” And so far she hasn’t. So I’m willing to put up with a buggy ass clunky engine and all the other negatives you mention just to be with her.

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  30. Kimberly

    Started playing LotRO a couple weeks ago, and yes, I feel the same thing that others have posted: I *WANT* to like it, but it just isn’t there. The graphics are pretty, the whole Tolkien-esque business was pulled off fairly well, but…pet peeve. Lag. I have a beast of a machine, too, complete with Vista, a DX10 card, and more RAM than any sane woman could ever need.

    As others mentioned also – combat feels a little..off.

    My personal opinion on this, though, leads me to be upset with Blizzard, not Turbine.

    Forgive me for placing it on an e-pedestal, but World of Warcraft just did so well that I find it hard to believe I’ll ever find another game to compare. Ever. I no longer even play it, but I have yet to find anything else that can match. Smooth. Just…smooth. Toony, granted, but lighthearted and fun and SMOOTH. So I love and hate Blizzard for giving me a game so perfect that I might never find another.

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  31. Drew Shiel

    I dunno. I’m happy that LotRO hasn’t got that got-to-play-more aspect that WoW has. I don’t feel compelled to play three or four nights a week; I don’t spend time looking up items stats, and I find it more casual in general. I think some of this is for the reasons other people are citing as negatives.

    See here:

    http://dukestreet.org/archives/004482.html

    … and to clarify a bit, LotRO may not satisfy the more dedicated gamers, and might not even satisfy me if I wasn’t also playing EVE, but I think it’s a satisfying place for many people.

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  32. Nomfindarato

    WOW. I never expected such negative feelings about LOTRO. I am naive about this since I have never played WoW. I really like LOTRO. I also am a big Tolkien fan, for a long time. Actually, I considered getting into WoW, but hesitated for a long time. Then I thought about D&D, and also hesitated. Then I saw LOTRO, and jumped in — and liked it. I am not sure exactly why I jumped in, but maybe because LOTRO is more familiar and comfortable. But why is LOTRO less fun for so many? Here’s an analogy, for those of you familiar with Miyazaki’s movies: I was totally knocked out when I saw his “Princess Mononoke” and others; so I really looked forward to his latest movie, “Howl’s Moving Castle,” but when I saw it I was disappointed. I did not have the same WOW factor (pun intended). I wondered, why? The animation was just as great, maybe better; the story line just as good. I saw it several times in DVD and it grew on me but never knocked me out like some of his earlier films. Here’s why: this movie was about someone else’s book, not his own fantasy invention. Blizzard invented WoW and can develop it anyway they want. Turbine is “stuck” with Middle Earth (some stuck). Some of the WOW of novelty and freedom and, yes, fun, is gone. However, where else can you play in the Shire, Bree, Rivendell, and eventually Minas Tirith, the plains of Gorgoroth, Helm’s Deep, Isengard, Fangorn Forest, Mirkwood, Barad-Dur, etc. (a lot to look forward to)! That’s the benefit, for those to whom it matters. Apparently, so far, a good number. Go LOTRO!! (No, I dont’ work for Turbine!) — Nomfindarato, Elf Lore Master, level 16 (and climbing).

    Like

  33. Talyn

    >> The graphics are pretty, the whole Tolkien-esque business was pulled off fairly well, but…pet peeve. Lag.

    The “lag” (it isn’t lag per se, but still…) has been #1 on my list of Main Gripes about Turbine’s engine since AC2. Finally, they just fixed it… on DDO with the patch last week. The fix should be coming to LOTRO with its next patch, I would guess.

    I’m still having a blast with LOTRO *but* the Lifetime Membership really helps out since I don’t feel that “must.get.money’s.worth” drive to login and grind every day like I did in WoW. So I get to play casually (I changed servers at launch and my highest character just reached level 26) for now, and it’s really fun and interesting watching the game as a whole evolve and change as they add content and patch things according to both bugs and player feedback.

    I have zero interest (well, not “zero” exactly) in reaching level cap in *any* new game. WoW was very limited in end-game content for awhile after launch. LOTRO is the same. Anyone armed with the facts yet goes ahead and powergames it anyway is just a friggin moron.

    Last, I’ll reiterate that LOTRO is low fantasy. To my recollection, it’s the only low fantasy MMO ever released, so it’s a bit of a system shock to those of us (read: everyone) coming from the high fantasy games we’ve been raised on. All the fancy furry races, all the flashy magic spells and weaponry, all the bizarre mobs, all the anime armor sets… Hell, even though I enjoy the low fantasy for its change of pace, I’m also subscribed to Vanguard last week to both see what it’s all about and to provide some high fantasy as a counter-balance.

    LOTRO boring? Hell, the *books* bored the crap out of me. It took three months to read the first book because it was so slow and laboriously boring it couldn’t hold my attention. It picked up in the latter half or so, which I managed to read quicker, and the next two books went fairly quickly, but they are still the slowest, most boring fiction I think I’ve ever read. I’m not some Tolkien nerd or some walking Tolkien encyclopedia, nor do I ever care to be. I remember a few things here and there from either the novels or movies when I see or read it in-game, and that alone is cool. I don’t need to have some vision in my mind of what Rivendell should look like only to be disappointed (?) when lo and behold, it actually looks that way…

    Like

  34. Shelagh

    After a few months playing LotRO I’ve returned to WoW. It isn’t that I hated the game, there were a lot of things l liked about it, there was just something missing and I’ve found it really hard to put my finger on just what is wrong. Having thought about it long and hard I think my overall impression is that it is a very “bland” game, the graphics are lovely, but the colours are bland, the combat is bland (to say the least!), the crafting is very bland, as is a lot of the questing. Frankly there’s nothing in there that keeps me hooked; there’s little ornithing that I must have or I must do.

    There are lots of things in LotRO that irritate the hell out of me. A few examples are:
    Spell/skill icons…they’re awful and often not distinctive enough to be able to tell one skill from another.

    Name tags – I can’t remember what all the different colours mean and why have mob tags the same colour?! When I play my guardian I can’t tell friend from foe half the time. If it’s trying to kill me I’d like it to be RED please!

    Combat – ugh, very clunky and non-responsive, very few “instant” abilities and no way to cancel actions once started. It drives me potty on my guardian when I want chase a fleeing mob to deliver the killer blow only to stand still and draw out my bow and start shooting it.

    Crafting – I was quite excited about the crafting system when I first read about it. I think the basic idea is very good however what an uninspiring bunch of recipes and what a limited choice of things to make.

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  35. Serax

    I play on a laptop with 2 gigs of ram, a dual core processor, and a nice video card. I run on high graphics in LOTRO and i can run through bree jumping without lag.

    When comparing LOTRO and WoW you have to think that LOTRO just came out not to long ago. WoW had been out for years and has had the time to fix alot to all of the bugs. Give LOTRO another year and a couple more hundred updates and then give it another try. I played WoW up to level 50 to where i was just grinding and looking for quest to complete. Then when they uped the level cap to 70 i just quit because i didnt want to grind anymore. In LOTRO there are plenty of quest. Try going to a place without quest! I had lots of fun playing WoW, and i have lots of fun playing LOTRO. The only reason i really stuck with LOTRO is because you dont HAVE to grind to level, and my friends play this game. The new player housing is neat as well :P So wait a bit, and give LOTRO another try.

    Like

  36. Jake

    WoW is faster because the graphics are way less hardware intensive. Just look at your frame rates in WoW vs LOTRO on the same hardware with the video settings maxed in each.. Ctrl+F for frame rate in LOTRO.

    I do agree that LOTRO seems to never be happy regardless of resources at ultra high settings. Kinda weird.

    Like

  37. Dwarfer

    Very interesting posts.

    I’ve been playing Lotro for about 3 weeks now (Have a lvl 35 champion) and I’m enjoying myself. Many of the shortcomings/positives a MMO can have, have been mentioned. Which is why I’m going to say that not every game can be perfect at start. Or else Lotro would have overun WoW and completly stolen their player base (Altough I suspect they are doing so slowly as we speak).

    I played WoW for 2 years and on and off for 1 year, so 3 years total. Yes I do love the game. However I recently stopped playing due to the fact that it simply became boring.

    Key aspects of a game for me are fun, immersiveness and quality. I think Lotro offers me that. The story is immersive and so are the graphics and animations (Yes I run a high end system but have realised that I can play the game with most settings on full if I just turn down my refresh rate=) I am not bothered that I am not a godly hero and focus should be on me. Instead I am quite liking the fact that I have been chosen by Gandalf/Aragorn/Bilbo Baggins to undertake perilous missions. Which propels you forward in the story in what are called “Epic Books”. Just this feature (The realease of content that have Epic Books) appeals to me. It means that there is something else to do that maybe say raid/group said instance/dungeon over and over till you puke or grind for reputaion.

    One downside that annoys me is the slowness of the combat system. This is due to the fact that I have been primed while playing WoW so any game with a “next turn” combat system will seem slow to me. Asking them to fix this will yes improve gameplay alot (For me) but at the same time I think that I will (am) get(ting) used to it since it has become more of a timing and planning your attacks thing, which requires a little more thinking. Slow server response obviously doesn’t help this.

    All in all I hope this game evolves since I want to see more of the regions unvieled. And last but not least, since they have stated they are not forced to follow the Original story to the fullest it will be fun to see what happens after you know who throws you know what into the…

    Like

  38. Clayton

    What WoW Is Good At:
    Character Variety
    Able to play on not so expensive computers
    Landmass
    Animation smoothness
    Graphics of characters
    Grouping
    Music
    Stability
    Interface

    What Lotro Is Good At:
    Interaction with Environment
    Environmental Graphics
    PvP
    Quests
    Reputation
    Soloing
    Sound Quality
    Storyline
    Trades
    Character Creation
    Storage Room
    Community
    Pick which you like! :) Lotro for me!

    Like

  39. Minstrel

    Part of the problem is that Lotro takes WoW’s relatively weak combat skills and makes them even weaker. Lots of combat buffs in Lotro basically do nothing whatever. In addition, character customization is almost non-existant. There really is very little “game” to play. There’s nothing to optimize, nothing to do better the next time. You pretty much just do your class thing over and over again.

    Still, looking out over Lake Nenuiel on a clear day with Directx 10…… awesome.

    Like

  40. VERY Disapointed Customer

    Lotro has a very crappy engine .

    1. So far it is not supporting quad-core processors (and maybe 2-cores also , coz i didnt see much activity on the second one out of four)

    2. Dozens of places where deep FPS drop occurs without any reason at all.

    3. No support for SLI and CF.

    So we can forget about ultra graphics in a populated places or groups (raids also). What is LOTRO ? MMORPG ??? …. Forget it. It is a single player game with such an approach.

    I dont even speak about ingame problems.

    No matter ho many cores your CPU has (duo , quad , eight or more). No matter how many cards you have (SLI , 3-way SLI , Quad-SLI , CF , 3-way CF , Quad-CF).All this technology exicted way before LOTRO , but this stupid engine just doesn’t use it. This dumb engine will make a turtle-like performance out of any computer.

    Like

  41. Mr Adam

    Talyn, oh my god dude LotR is HIGH FANTASY! It is one of the most archetypal forms of it that exists! I mean, wtf are you talking about man?!? Orcs, goblins, wizards, magic, hobbits, dwarves, elves, demons, and that is just scratching the surface. How can you be more high fantasy than that?

    And, seriously, LotR is recognized as one of high fantasy’s greatest conventions by literary types…

    Like

  42. Banzaibee

    Good post. I have to agree with alot of what is said, however as an Ex-WoW raider (and ex AOC/EQII/Eve/COH) one thing I will say for Lotro it has the best developer-community relationship, except perhaps Cryptic/CoH. Secondly, it has the best community period. The sheer toxic poison that you get in AoC was the worst I have seen, with WoW being in the middle. Lotro is essentially a Lord of the Rings convention. If you love Lotr, you will love Lotro. So most of the people in the game are…errr… nerds, and except for nerd-trivia contests, nerds are by far the nicest people in MMOs (mostly explorer types / EASKs).

    Also, high fantasy vs low fantasy is a non-starter. Low fantasy is not a defined genre, in fact it just tends to means “stuff that isn’t Lotr”. It really means gritty, low key, morally uncertain, non-epic stories. It has nothing to do with orcs and dwarves. You can have a low fantasy uinverse full of these.

    Like

  43. Alp Yogurtcuoglu

    Hi there,

    Yeah I totally agree most of he criticisms against lotro, but let me mention this;
    Vista and XP Operating systems differ a lot. I can play lotro with a crappy laptop with only 1GB ram, and a simple centrino processor. My other gamefriends also told me that vista sucked, and the reinstalled XP.

    Regards,

    Like

  44. Real-Big NUKE

    I’ve played both games for long periods of time (WoW about a year and a half, and LOTRO since a month after release) and can see advantages to both. When I used to play WoW it bugged the hell outa me for the following reasons
    – firstly the ‘anime’ feel to it, tbh i loved it to start with but as you level it gets less and less relistic and more like a little kids comic
    – the combat system, this always annoyed me. Shooting 2 arrows a second or being able to spam 2-hander attacks….. completely unrelistic.
    – The community, this is a major one, not a day went on where i wasnt witness to or the vitim of some unjust or unprovoked insult
    – No direct story line, unlike LOTRO which has those lovely book thingys
    – The trait system was rubbish
    – Limited skills, – they tended to just advance to next levels rather than actually give you new ones

    – However i will give WoW the fact that its PvP rocked and suited to people that favour fast active combat

    As for these slow engine remarks i really cant see it. For the first 8 months of playing it i had a really crap laptop, 1 gig RAM and 2.4Ghz duo core Processor – alot lower than minimum spec, but it still seemed to run fine in the lower details. Recently I’ve upgraded to a top of the range desktop (3.2GHz duo core processor, vista 64bit OS, and soon to be 8gig of RAM) and the game is amazing, especially the environment. Basically my point was, if the game was slow to begin with i may have blamed the crappy laptop, however if its still slow, then its your computers dudes – admittely the game is pretty RAM hungry.

    Like

  45. Real-Big NUKE

    Forgot to mention I fully agree with anything that people say about lack of support from Turbine or Codemaster thou’. Good game, crap customer support.

    Like

  46. Punkin

    I’ve been playing LOTRO for 2 weeks now, I have a level 35 hunter, and I must agree with the poor POOR combat system, I play on Brandywine (most populated server) and it IS very laggy at times. You dont feel like you are immersed in your character, you don’t feel like a hero.

    I basically feel like I’m the one doing all of Gandalf’s little errands he has no time to do, kind of like his servant.

    The game is bland, the female character’s (especiall elves) look horrible, all the characters look exactly the same, same features, ok elves are a little taller than human. that’s it.

    Everything is choppy in the game, nothing is instant.

    You say shooting arrows in wow instantly seems unrealistic however hunters in lotro shoot arrows when the mob is meleeing you. How realistic is that? It’s complete nonsense.

    Even if hunters were able to have pets in lotro, why would I want one, the animals in lotro look kind of ugly, now if you talk about King Bangalash or the Ravasaur now that’s a pet!

    I dont know, I bought the game for 10 bucks at wal mart with a free month sub, dont think Ill be buying any more.

    p.s. everyone says the community is AMAZING in lotro, well although better than wow to some extent the GLFF channel (only channel where people actually speak on) is filled with kids who spam the punctuation emotes.. I was expecting a more mature adult like chat channel. boy was I wrong.

    Like

  47. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    The ironic thing about your comment is that a lot of things have actually gotten better over the last two years.

    I still say that LOTRO has a great community, I have never had such a great string of pick up groups anywhere, and the game is beautiful, but the whole package has enough rough edges still, if you’ve come from a game like WoW, that it can be tough to accept.

    If I had gone from old EQ to LOTRO, I would have been in heaven.

    Like

  48. nickb

    Great post, although I’m coming at this from a different angle and don’t necessarily agree with everything stated. Also, I realize this is 2+ years after the fact…

    In any case, I played WoW for years, DAOC before that for ages, and I’ve tried every other MMO under the sun trying to find something that gives me the same kind of feeling I got in that first MMO I played full-on, DAOC (I played UO briefly in beta, but never really got into it.)

    Although I hit the original (60) level cap in WoW, I quit the game shortly after the first expansion. I just wasn’t enjoying it anymore.. the gear grind, the terrible excuse for PvP, the shitty community full of people comparing GearScore™ to see who can get in on raid XYZ. Once I played to the end-game, I realized I didn’t want to be there. I gave it another go last year, rolled a Death Knight into the 70s, but still never capped out at 80, knowing what was waiting for me.

    I read Tobold’s blog regularly and I keep hearing him describe the WoW raiding end-game and the crap people have to go through to be included in anything, the complete lack of worthwhile PvP, and I looked for alternatives.

    LOTRO has intrigued me — I’ve only been playing for about a week, but I’ve gotten a number of characters into the level 10 range and tried out monster play briefly. The system reminds me a lot more of DAOC (without the 3 sides) than it does WoW. And to me, that’s a good thing. The community seems better, judging from the official LOTRO boards, I agree that combat could be a little more responsive, but from what I’ve read, it’s much improved since the Myrkwood expansion.

    In any case, $30 for Myrkwood, the full game and all previous expansions seems like a decent deal to try out for a while.

    I’m still waiting for a DAOC2 to rock my world, but based on what’s happened with WAR and Mythic breaking up with Mark Jacobs, I kinda doubt that’s gonna happen. Until then, I’ll keep trying out whatever looks interesting. LOTRO happens to have caught my eye for now, and I’ve been enjoying it at the low levels much more than I had been enjoying WoW at the highest levels… we’ll see how that goes.

    Like

  49. Tarduk

    I played these 2 games and i want to ask “why u playing a game?”. I played Lotro for RP and history. RP is FUN for me! Gamers can play WoW, it’s possible.

    Main question: “What are funny for you?”.

    Like

  50. Necron

    Nice article.

    It all comes down to what you prefer. Both give different nergasms. One has the nice familiarity, the other has cartoonish vibrancy.

    But one wikipedia quote for the people refering to LOTR as low fantasy,
    “J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is set in Earth’s past but the setting, Middle-earth, is sufficiently divergent from the reality to be classed as a secondary world and hence high fantasy”

    Like

  51. RoadGlue

    I’ve been enjoying LOTRO but yeah its not as good as WOW in many ways.
    Its a bit of everything.The graphics,storylines,funny jokey characters you come across in wow,combat doesn’t feel as good.
    Just doesn’t make you laugh.
    But i like that i can play it at a slow pace and just enjoy it for what it is.
    Its enjoyable but just not in the same way as warcraft.
    Warcraft has many bad points and tbh i’ve quit after 6 years.
    Like someone else said,i like that i enjoy playing but don’t feel i have to.
    I’ve yet to see how it works out at later levels but up to now i’d really recommend people give it a try.
    Its maybe like comparing football to fishing.You can enjoy both but in different ways.

    Like

  52. Tina

    I’ve been trying off and on for four years to get my bf to play LOTRO with me, and every time he hates it. He gets migraines from frustration and we always end up nearly having an argument just trying to do quests. He said it’s too twitchy- we both feel like some of the things required in the game (races, anniversary roman-candle show in the shire) were literally too PHYSICALLY hard us to do because things were too small to click on, or lag caused us to miss a crucial jump. Our hands hurt, our shoulders were knotted up, and we were nearly yelling at each other. How is this fun?
    It take him hours just to get his UI right, and he doesn’t want to group up because he is not familiar with his abilities. The icons are too small, or if you figure out how to adjust their size in the byzantine Options oubliette, they are big enough to differentiate, but they cover too much of the screen. The game is not comfortable or easy to get comfortable in. Once you get a HUD set the way you like it, roll another character and you have to re-invent the wheel. Is there a way of copying all of the settings from one character to another? Sure would be nice.
    I have WORKED to get used to LOTRO. It has not been easy or fun. The game’s entire tone (save the shire) is grim and un-fun.
    I never thought I would say this while I was a raid healer in WoW, but Good God I miss murlocs.

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