Well, after having played Lord of the Rings Online for a couple days after my initial reaction, I’ve changed opinions on a couple of points (and I’ve also gained opinions on a couple of new points!)
First of all, I’m not quite sure that I like the map.
I can’t put my finger on it, but the map bothers me in a lot of ways. Don’t get me wrong, the map is useful, and it tells you quite a lot of information about where you are, which direction you’re facing, and (sometimes) where important locations are, but it just seems to vague. Not to mention the fact that it’s sometimes hard to tell which areas you’ve been to and which areas are unexplored. For example, my map of Bree-Land didn’t have the “Old Forest” on it. I realize now that it wasn’t there because I hadn’t been there yet; well, great. I also haven’t been to Nen Harn yet (and according to TAGN, I probably I won’t be for a while), but that’s still on my map. Why would Turbine do this? I think they either need to show the entire map, or none of it at all until you’ve explored the said areas. That was always one of the things I liked a lot about other third-gen MMOs: there was an element of uncertainty regarding the map. You had to uncover it. Why the back pedaling?
Secondly, I am loving the Epic quest line.
During my stay in newb town (Archet), I was keeping up with the main (epic) quest line (I’m human, so I had my adventures with Amdir the Ranger). Then, in the second town, the epic quest line turned into a Fellowship quest. I didn’t really want to group at that point, so I figured I would just outlevel the quest by a huge margin and then solo it. Well, I got so caught up in grinding all of the deeds in Bree-land that I forgot about the quest, and didn’t get to it until I was level 14 (it’s a level 9 quest). At that point, I figured it would be time to try.
After finishing that portion of the quest, moving into Bree, talking with Strider, and starting the “Book 1: Chapter X” quest series, I really regret not pushing forward with this quest and joining the fellowship when I was designed to. The Book quest line is one of the most engaging I’ve ever played in a game, and if I had to put my finger on one thing that’s really keeping the game sticky for me right now, that would be it.
I think the reason the quest line is so interesting is because it follows the story in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, but from a distance. It adds characters into the mix that aren’t there in the book, just to give an idea of how complex the “journey” actually was. Turbine clearly took some creative license here, but I’m glad they did. They’ve taken an already intricate story and weaved in new characters and drama points in seamlessly. I enjoy doing my part to ensure the success of the fellowship of the ring!
Third, the travel quests are fun and the world is beautiful, but stop making me run so far!
I can’t believe how much travel there is going on in this game. Good lord. I seriously do not remember running this far in any game ever. The horse paths are great, but, is it just me, or are they the most expensive things ever? Considering that my highest payout from a quest or item yet is 2 silver, paying 15 silver to ride from the Lone Lands back to Bree (a 3 minute ride, 7 minute run) seems atrocious. Unless there’s some incredible inflation going on at the upper levels, I don’t really know how they got that number. Those horse ride charges should be based on supply and demand, but that’s a whole different blog post.
I’ve heard that Vanguard has a reputation for being very travel intensive without a means for doing so quickly. If that’s the case, maybe Lord of the Rings Online isn’t so bad and I’m just a whiner. Maybe I’ve been pampered by one too many carpet rides across The Sinking Sands and maybe just a few too many interconnected flight paths in World of Warcraft. Then again, maybe they’re just making me run too far.