One of the (many) things I love about LOTRO is the fact there’s not just one style of game-play for you to enjoy – as my SL friend Miss Gray has found out, crafting can be just as engaging for some as whacking the tar out of some stinking orcs 😀 And the fun inside the game doesn’t stop at just crafting for there are several game-play mechanics built into the game itself. I doubt this will be either a complete or wholly accurate list, but as far as I can make out you can:
- Play LOTRO straight and follow the main Epic Quest storyline – this sees you working with the forces of good such as Gandalf, Aragorn, Elrond, et al to defeat Sauron and the forces of evil and weaves your story in and out of that of the Fellowship. This is Damn Good Stuff and no mistake. Yes you will have to fight and that means levelling up and buying gear, but the Epic Quest should allow you to progress through the game in an almost wholly catered-for fashion.
- But why stop at just then when the developers have populated the rest of the world with people, animals, creatures for you to meet and quests for you to complete? Everywhere you go people will want you to do things for them – rescue their cat, kill some wolves, take their granny a cake, punch a goblin’s head clean off its shoulders, that kind of thing. And then when you’ve done these jobs they give your rewards – money, clothes, weapons, armour, reputation to allow you to enter more and more places in the world that are outside the main Epic Quest line. Take on as many or as few quests, tasks & deeds as you like – some are easy, some hard, some deadly serious, others (mainly the ones involving those ankle-bothering, ever-wittering hobbits!) hilarious and all are great fun.
- But then there are skirmishes, raids and instances – dungeon raids of one form or another in which you can go through on your own or with a group for a 10-minute or 4-hour bash that are separate from the story but help develop your character’s prowess (and relieve stress after a long day at work).
- You can also practice your martial skills with your friends using a sparring system that allows you to rumble with your mates – always good fun to bang swords and practice moves without fear of death 🙂
- Sick of being a goody two-shoes? Want to try your claw at being a goblin, orc or warg? Well you can! There is a whole system to get your fangs into whereby you can play one of the monsters (or Creeps) fighting against the Free Peoples (of Freeps) of Middle Earth.
- Don’t fancy killing stuff? Then why not devote your time to getting a job and learning a profession? There is a whole crafting system built into the game that can provide you with hours and hours of gameplay fun as you gather supplies and make, grow, stitch, forge, concoct and cook a huge variety of weapons, armour, clothes, potions, scrolls and food that you can sell in the auction houses around the world.
- Did I mention auctioning? You can indulge in a spot of e-baying and wheeler-dealing as you head to the Auction Houses buy and sell the things you find and make for the in-world currency of gold, silver & bronze. When you get a letter telling you your pile of twenty bags of onions and ten piles of leather have just been bought for a horse-bag full of silver 😀
- If you have a musical bent there is a whole world of performing waiting for you my friend! The developers have added a live music system into the game, you can buy one of several instruments and when you use it your keyboard can be used to play notes over three whole octaves. You can also transpose music into a notecard using the ABC notation system that you then load into the game and play – this means you can even organise large group jams or concerts which is pretty damn cool in my book 🙂
- If after all that you need a rest, why not take up fishing? Grab a rod, find some water and see what you can catch – if it’s good enough you can take it to the town taxidermist who will stuff & mount it for the wall of your house.
- Did I not mention houses? Oh yeah, you can own a house and decorate it as you wish – just make sure you can pay the monthly rent!
Phew! There’s a whistle-stop tour of just some of the things you can do in LOTRO’s wide and varied Middle Earth – and I didn’t even mention exploring, taking snapshots, making movies, tweaking your clothing through cosmetic layers and craftable dyes and probably a dozen other things I don’t know about or haven’t discovered yet 😀
If you are new to LOTRO then I can heartily recommend the New Player Guides over at Casual Stroll to Mordor as well as their excellent New Player Podcast as well as their other roundtable discussions.