The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar

I played the beta of The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar and it’s not a bad game. It requires a fair bit of processing power. I had to run it on Medium graphics (and I have one a very modern PC) to make run smoothly all of the time, although that was in 1920x1200. They’ve obviously copied a lot of things from World of Warcraft (the interface feels very similar) and/or other MMORPGs, but there are lots of things that a different too - for example, there’s no magic, but you have different abilities and special moves. What impressed me, though, was the surprising level of accuracy to Tolkien’s universe - it really feels like the developers cared about keeping things consistent. There are a few things which seem a little un-Tolkien such as women characters being involved in battles as well as men, but they at least look like they’re dressed for battle unlike 95% of other RPGs.

I don’t really have time to play MMORPGs regularly, so I haven’t bought it, but this is a game I’d like to spend more time in at some point. It’s a Lord of the Rings game that finally (and I stress finally) does justice to the book, and easily surpasses all of the EA titles. Great job Turbine.

Anyone else played this?

You know, my beta emails said you were forbidden to reveal to anyone that you were in the beta. Tsk tsk! But yes, I would’ve played it had their registration website worked when I tried it. I might pick it up in future, it’s definitely the most appealling MMORPG out there for me.

If Turbine didn’t add female characters the entire gaming world would’ve been up in arms.

That said, did they eventually add dwarf women? Back when the game was still called “Middle-Earth Online” they had decided to scrap those with the argument “Not many dwarf women leave the caves/mountains to go out and adventure”… I really thought "As if Hobbit girls venture out to destroy evil, just admit that you find the idea of bearded women revolting. >.>;; "

Played it, and it felt “eh” to me. The gameplay potential felt like Everquest 2/World of Warcraft with a lot less options, for starters. It also tries to start off an epic storyline with the way the whole tutorial segment handles, and it didn’t do anything for me. I blame this on having played Final Fantasy XI extensively, which features real-time cutscenes with dynamic camera angles and the like, making the storytelling scenes way more dramatic.

I’ll be honest; I didn’t play that long, but it definitely felt kind of lacking. It sure as hell is a lot more solid than Vanguard, though. Vanguard is by far the most embarassing MMORPG launch since Anarchy Online.

There is no originality left - games blow ass. ESPECIALLY games based off LOTR (which was a god awful book series)

[quote=“Pedro The Hutt”]If Turbine didn’t add female characters the entire gaming world would’ve been up in arms.

That said, did they eventually add dwarf women? Back when the game was still called “Middle-Earth Online” they had decided to scrap those with the argument “Not many dwarf women leave the caves/mountains to go out and adventure”… I really thought "As if Hobbit girls venture out to destroy evil, just admit that you find the idea of bearded women revolting. >.>;;[/quote]

Dwarves are the only race in the game where you can’t choose your gender. This could be because dwarf women are so similar to male dwarves in voice and appearance that it is often difficult to distinguish between the two genders (at first glance anyway). According to Tolkien, if female dwarves venture abroad, they will dress in the same garb as the males and make up less than a third of the population.

Or, like you say, the developers could have just found the idea of hairy little women revolting.

I’ll take your word on FFXI, as I haven’t played it. The Lord of the Rings Online probably does lack in quite a few areas compared to other online RPGs - I don’t consider myself an expert of the genre. One thing I liked about it, however, was that it seemed quite quick to get things done, at least in the earlier levels. As someone with limited time to play these kind of games, I don’t like grinding over and over to get a quest done, or doing anything that feels repetitive. Also, the world is more of a “historical fantasy” than other online RPGs such as WoW or FFXI; a personal preference of mine.

If you don’t like MMORPGs, and you don’t like LOTR, then it’s unlikely that you’ll like this one. When it comes to the game world, it’s meant to be faithful as opposed to original, although certainly they could have done a lot more to make the gameplay more interesting.

Personally, I feel that the best part of an MMORPG is sharing the experience with others. You can lose yourself in many offline games but nothing beats venturing into the unknown with some friends.

Assuming you have the time for it. It just has to be surreal enough to help you forget about the real world before it can become addictive.

I can definitely relate to that - I’ve had lots of fun playing games like WoW and Phantasy Star Online (technically not a MMORPG I know) with other people, especially when playing with people I know from outside of the game.

One my main gripes is the battle system of these kind of games. Although you can get lots of spells and things, at their core it seems like they mostly consist of attacking and healing - there doesn’t seem to a lot tactics to defeating enemies. If you can’t defeat a certain enemy, the solution is usually either leveling up or get someone with who is a higher level to help you.

As you probably know (or can guess), Panzer Dragoon Saga and Shining Force III host my two favorite turn based RPG battle systems, and this is because they involve a lot of tactical positioning. Leveling up does of course help, but I feel these systems are much more varied than those found in most MMORPGs. The main goal (gameplay-wise) in most MMORPG battle systems tends to be to stand in the same spot until the character/creature with the highest health bar survives. It’s fun for a little while, but given the amount of time required to get your character up to the maximum level (60 or 70 in WoW) that kind of gameplay gets old after a while especially if the more you level up, the longer it takes to reach a new level (and thus gain new abilites that make the battles a little more interesting).

I think WoW has quite a bit of depth and does involve tactical positioning as well as a lot more than simply attacking and healing, though you could say even PDS does that too to some extent.

Some of the most challenging content in WoW is the max level content, you can’t get someone higher level than you to help you there, you just have to use the best balanced group and tactics to achieve your goals. That said, you need that many times before max level as well depending on the situation.

Getting a higher level to help you is sort of cheating imo, as long as the quest is supposed to be possible on your level (ie is yellow or green). It’s quite a balanced game too, you don’t usually get to have quests that are for higher level than you are, though it happens sometimes (that’s orange or red. Avoid until you do level up :P).

PS: Click^_^!

[quote=“Solo Wing Dragon”]
One my main gripes is the battle system of these kind of games. Although you can get lots of spells and things, at their core it seems like they mostly consist of attacking and healing - there doesn’t seem to a lot tactics to defeating enemies. If you can’t defeat a certain enemy, the solution is usually either leveling up or get someone with who is a higher level to help you.[/quote]

You might like Guild Wars then. o.o There you have skills that slow enemies down, or make them attack slower, put a spell on them that causes them to damage themselves whenever they use a plain/physical attack. Some even cause them to be unable to attack at all until they take damage (or the spell duration runs out), others interrupt a technique/spell and cause it not to happen at all. So that adds several layers of strategy. Especially considering with just eight skill slots you’ll have to be forced to take on one role or another and stick to it. (At least until you reach an outpost, then you can switch and change stuff about to the point where you have a largely different character)

I think most every mmorpg has such moves, and if it doesn’t then it needs some major rethinking… Your first five lines could describe WoW just as much as Guild Wars in fact, only the rest of it would have to be tweaked to show WoW’s own version of different character builds. Then again, I think their systems are quite similar though for some reason I didn’t like the feel of Guild Wars, while I do enjoy WoW now (even though it took me a long time to try it).

Well, beyond PSO, Ragnarok Online (beta) and Guild Wars my MMO experiences are quite limited. ;D But I’ll take thine word for it. =D

Can you give me some examples from WoW where the gameplay is tactical later on, Alex? Admittedly I haven’t played all the way to level 60, so I could be mistaken. In the earlier levels (1 - 20) it seems the vast majority of the battles can be completed simply by standing in one spot, attacking, using power moves/magic and healing, with a few power ups and things on the side. Maybe I’m alone on this, but I don’t find that fun considering the amount of time that it takes to get from level to level. It’s a lot of time to invest to doing the same tasks over and over.

Well it depends on the class. Solo play generally doesn’t have many tactics, but you still have to use certain moves at the right times like spell cancelations, stuns, and depending on your class even properly position yourself. For example rogues do higher damage from behind and mages have enough power to beat multiple enemies but they also have little health and armor so they tend to use a spell that freezes enemies on the spot for a few seconds (they can still attack if close enough) and then using area of effect spells on them. They run or teleport further away when the freeze spell breaks and the enemies give chase before repeating.

I don’t think anyone could actually be killed from the average solo play enemy even if he didn’t pay attention, especially in the beginning, but in general the challenge is ito do it in the most efficient way which will allow you to more quickly take on a lot of them as quests usually require, rather than having to take a break after every enemy to recover.

Still, party based battles is where it’s at. These involve threat levels just as much as damage and healing. Each enemy attacks the target he considers the highest threat to him. If 5 party members each attack a different enemy then they will most likely all keep that enemy on themselves until the end of the fight. However, enemies in instances or group quests are not soloable as they do more damage and have much more health so that tactic would simply not work and everyone would die.

What is needed is to have a character who will act as a tank. A tank can take a good beating and has high threat moves to manipulate the enemies threat levels and ideally have all of them attack him while the rest of the party keeps him alive with heals and slowly takes down the enemies’ hp (a tank generally doesn’t deal that much damage himself).

Being a tank what I mostly do is charge in a group of enemies (gives a little rage) if possible, and if not simply pull them using a bow. Then I use 2-3x sunder armor on all of them. Sunder armor is a high threat move that reduces the target’s armor and stacks up to 5 times.

This has to be done very fast because as soon as I have to be healed (and since everyone is hitting me it will be soon), if I have not managed to cause enough threat, the enemies will start chasing the healer as such spells cause a very high threat level to all. There are other high threat moves for the tank to use in combination with sunder armor, such as devastate, retaliate, shield bash, but I won’t bother explaining them all here.

Other members will try to reduce the number of enemies we fight at once:
Mages can turn one enemy into a harmless sheep. Warlocks have a minion that can charm enemies, or they can banish a demon themselves. Priests can shackle an undead which causes him to stay put in one area. Hunters can set a trap and then lure an enemy to them, freezing him for a while. Rogues can “sap” an enemy, stunning him for sometime.

All these - and more - come in very handy when you fight larger groups. They also all break after sometime or if the affected enemies take any damage by accident or on purpose. Banish is the exception which lasts a set amount of time and you cannot damage the enemy while it lasts.

Anyway, after doing all that, its down to basic tanking and damage dealing. The tank by this time hopefully has caused enough threat on the remaining enemies so the mage, warlock and whoever else can freely start doing some major damage while the healer keeps the tank healthy.

Other moves of course need to be used. If a caster is among these enemies then he can be stunned mid-cast or have that spell cancelled, reflected, or he can even be silenced. A warrior tank has moves for these, but other classes do as well.

Other than that, the tank must also make sure he receives as little damage as possible by temporarily disarming an enemy, stunning another and using other defensive skills which cause enemies to deal less damage (demoralising shout) or deal attacks slightly less frequently (thunder clap). That makes it easier on the healer.

Of course that’s if things go ideally. There are always enemies who do things like burn the mana of spell casters, use fear that sends all members running around while they attack whichever they prefer regardless of threat, with the tank having to quickly recover and take back the enemy. Some times you may simply have to deal with too many enemies at once, or with enemies who have immunities to spells like sheeping etc. All sorts of things that generally cause much pain and suffering and require quick regrouping and thinking and juggling of multiple enemies with different skills at once.

Bosses have their own abilities and immunities so the tactics differ for each. PvP is also a vastly different type of play which requires much different skills.

Anyway, I can’t really explain all this enough without listing the tons of different moves each class can have. These pages may help you understand how some things work in combination with the above:

Level 1-20 is basically training, getting accustomed to your character’s abilities and style of play. Things start to get more interesting at that point as I think you are able to join your first instance at around that time, though solo quests are still the majority at that time. Still, even solo I’m sure you could find at least one class that is enjoyable to play. I find paladins are more interesting when soloing than a warrior for example since they have more diverse skills.

I’ve given up on PVP in WoW. It’s hopelessly one sided due to the rock/paper/scissor system the game employs.

So basically, a mage who knows how to play his class is 99% certain to kite any kind of melee class to death, while the mage can’t do a damn thing about a warlock’s chain fearing and damage over time spells melting them unless specced in a certain away, and even then they still can’t win because the odds are stacked against them.

The saving grace is the end game dungeon content which can be shared with a group of friends creating a lasting sense of fellowship, providing you avoid all the selfish kids who only care about elevating their status in a game world. Then you have the hardcore guilds all competing with one another for scraps of attention.

WoW is actually balanced around group PVP, but like I said, it can be one sided in 1 versus 1 scenarios unless you use your strengths against the other faction’s weaknesses in which case you just tip the balance of power back in your favor by avoiding your anti-classes.

Blizzard buff the underused classes as well to encourage more people to play them, while nerfing the overpopulated ones for the reverse effect.

At one point I was even tempted to think that Blizzard hated the idea of holy warriors due to real world events, so gimped the paladin class into the slave class it is now. In Warcraft 3 you see paladins jumping to the defence of civilians while everyone else was running away. That wasn’t just a class - it was a powerful idea.

The worst part is this balancing act actually keeps the game working. Just find out what you are getting yourself into before choosing an MMORPG.

I also only really enjoy the PVE content, instances and raids and at the very worst an Alterac Valley match (group PVP which includes high level NPCs to kill). My character build reflects that as he’s pretty much doomed in any pure PVP situation (well, sometimes I can beat rogues…), which I of course usually try to avoid.

On the other hand, there are people who play the game almost purely for the PVP aspect and find PVE as boring and pointless as I find PVP and only do it because it is a requirement to level up and get some good gear before going for the PVP sets.

Your comments about the superiority of one class versus another were mostly correct with some exceptions but I guess mentioning everything would simply be going in too much detail for the purpose of your post.

The game really is far from perfectly balanced in that (or any?) aspect but I wouldn’t consider it perfectly balanced if every class/build could potentially beat any other. That would probably simply make them all more boring and ordinary and again take from the whole point of it as it never encourages 1 on 1 scenarios in standard play (except sparring), and it’s a MMO after all.

Once again, some (well, MANY) people do enjoy the PVP aspect of the game and that is the reason it gets that much attention in game, especially with the introduction of the Arenas in TBC which give room for the creation of the most imbalanced squads with which to achieve victory. But hey, one imbalanced team vs another would make it balanced in a way and I guess that’s what the people who are into the whole thing much enjoy, trying to beat everybody else in whatever means possible the game allows.

PS: I don’t think Paladins are a slave class regardless of what the people who enjoyed the class when it was - more - imbalanced, say. I’ve seen many Paladins excell in anything they chose, whether that is healing, tanking, PvP-ing or whatever. Perhaps not as much as other classes that are more fit for that particular purpose but Paladins can counter-balance some of that relative weakness with the diversity of skills they retain in any build they chose. For example, perhaps they are not quite as good tanks as a full protection warrior but a warrior can’t bubble up and self heal if things go wrong.

Thanks for the comments, guys. I’ll probably subscribe to WoW again at some point, so I’ll keep the things mentioned here in mind.