With the lifting of the NDA, I can finally admit it – I played in the Lord of the Rings Online beta at various points.
First off – my major exposure to the game is through the lens of my old PC. Not my Core2, but my wheezy XP 1800. My contribution to the beta, of all things, is just seeing how it ran on this ancient rig.
When I first installed the game, it locked up the PC constantly. After days of trying to get help, fiddleing around with settings, and begging for assistance on the beta forums, the consensus was it had to be something with my machine. And they were right, in a sense – after taking some advice, I found a way to make the game play without crashing. Open up the case, blow fan air inside, and it ran without locking up.
I did this long enough to be sure of the problem then gave up. My god, the noise was unbelievably irritating. A room fan – all the PC fans, without any buffering provided by the case – all the noise just started working on me like an icepick to the brain.
Over the various beta builds I continued to test, and never did find a way to run the game normally. Perhaps my video card couldn’t take the strain; or it’s just defective. I suspect the former, but still plan to check out the release version once I buy the game. So if you have a Geforce FX 5200 or lower, be forewarned.
But that’s just the negative tech stuff. The gameplay was very fun. There are multiple points where, as you progress quests, you enter instances which include great storytelling and scripting. I saw two of these and thoroughly enjoyed them. Each race has a starting area with two of these instances, and afterwards you end up in the wider world.
The interface is, as usual, straight out of World of Warcraft, but very serviceable otherwise. Even on my old PC (when it was working) the graphics were very appealing and beautiful. On my Core2 they’re beyond amazing. Graphical immersion is a 10+ here – smooth frame rate and excellent rendering. With a higher graphics card, the game should run on a 1.5 ghz machine very well for my tastes. And they did a very good job with the questing.
There are simple quests, chain quests, epic storyline quests – a ton of things to do. I wish Vanguard had this level of immersion, only the diplomacy quests really reach high-quality status.
Apparently there’s some tie-in with the main Tolkien storyline, and you get an idea as you play how you might fit into that someday. I was “identified as a person who could influence the fate of Middle-Earth”. I earned some fun titles – my favorite being “The Cautious” for not getting killed even once ! Even managed to meet Gandalf, Gimli, and other characters from the books. Caveat to all this, being that I never managed to get above level 12, but the game does go to 50.
I’m thinking I’ll preorder to get the $10/mo pricing level. But this brings up a dilemma doesn’t it ?
- I’m playing Vanguard. I love it. Thinking this is my next MMO, and any reader knows how long I tend to play an MMO.
- I have yet to actually pay for Vanguard.
- LOTRO is coming up around March 30th; to get the $10/mo order you have to stay continuously subscribed. Cancel once, and your resubscription goes up to $15.
So am I going to end up paying $25/mo just for MMO subscriptions ? Plus another $100 for box purchases ? Time to quit Vanguard and just play the LOTRO beta ? Or am I buying Vanguard just for a little while ?
Decisions, decisions – I simply don’t know what to do. I suppose the answer is I’ll hit a brick wall in Vanguard. I mean, every pre-release thing I heard made me think I’d hate the game. Could it have been that wrong ? My experience emphatically says NO, This Game is Great, but I’m still below level 20. One constant with MMO’s seems to be that gameplay changes as you go through them; I wouldn’t be at all surprised if after 20 I can’t solo any longer.
When and if that brick wall comes, then it’ll be time to try and destroy the One Ring myself ! So I should preorder. But if I love Vanguard and never play LOTRO I’m wasting my money. So I shouldn’t preorder. And on it goes in a circle………….