Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gaming: LoTRO A-Go-Go

I've been playing the new, micro-transaction enabled version of LoTRO for about a week now.  It's had some rough patches (pun intended) and an influx of annoying kiddies, but mostly it's been a good experience.  Not great, just good.

The addition of instances that are available no matter where you are in the world, through the skirmish system, is a big plus.  You no longer have to get your group of people organized, troop them out to a remote location, and hope you don't end up dying and have to walk all the way back.  Now, it's group, click and go.  The dead re-materialize in the instance.  I cannot tell you how much of a time-saver that is.

The points system is a little wonky.  I wouldn't trust my cash with it yet.  The points, also, do not go very far.  $50 will get you 5000 points (thank goodness mine were free) but things like a permanent Fate stat increase costs 1500 points.  To save up my 500 free points per month for all the stat increases available, it'd take me a year and a half.  The first time I logged in, I got bonus points for each month I logged in over the summer, plus points for all the deeds I'd already completed with my characters.  It totaled up to about 6700 points and after a few permanent instant-teleport maps to places I go frequently, and a couple of stat increases, that is almost gone.

As far as aesthetics, the new buttons on the login screen and the shop interface are overly large, and garishly done.  The world is almost as beautiful as ever, and fitting for the Middle Earth setting with the exception of some new buttons advertising purchasable perks, but then you go to the shop and BAM!  You're jolted out of the serene world by an advertising-heavy shop front.

And that "Restore Morale" button up top?  I'm afraid to check how much *that* costs.  Talk about a crutch for poor players with more money than sense...  Ugh.

But of course, I'll continue to play.  It's been free for me to play for the last three years, more or less, so unless it becomes impossible for me to play properly with all the extra load placed on the servers, I'll be sticking with it.  I'm just not sure whether I could recommend it to friends.

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