More on Lotro and Hellgate: London

Again, I apologize for taking so long to post. I have been rather busy lately with things like helping my father-in-law put his pier in yesterday (woohoo!) and just helping around the house in general. I have also been working feverishly to learn Dreamweaver and Flash while I have the chance, as they are excellent skills to have. That said, I have had a little bit of time to do some gaming, particularly Lord of the Rings Online and Hellgate: London which I purchased on Sunday. I have been having a great deal of fun playing both, and I’ll give you a little run-down on both from my perspective.

I’ll start with Lotro since I’ve been playing that the most lately. I have lots to say about a wide variety of aspects in the game after playing through 35 levels, so I’m just going to make headers for each and write a sentence or two:

Zones:
So far I’ve liked every zone that I’ve played in. They are all beautiful and the quests have been laid out in an excellent fashion. I think my favorite zone in terms of the way it looks and feels so far are the Trollshaws. There’s just something about all those hills and the fall-like feeling to it that really suck me in. My second favorite zone is the Shire, which I don’t feel requires much explanantion (it’s the Shire!)

Quests:
In a great deal of cases, the quests have been excellent so far. They are very well written (well worth taking the time to read through) and do a good job of sending you out to different parts of the zone without making it seem like you’re being lead around. Occasionally there are some very frustrating quests (the most frustrating of which is the chain of quests to get your mount since you have to run back and forth so many times), but most of the time they are enjoyable. The books that you complete are quite enjoyable and really do give you a sense of importance. Up until 35, the solo/small party/fellowship quests have been balanced very well, but now I feel like they are mostly geared towards fellowships (Fornost, Garth Argawen, Dol Dinen.) I know this will likely change once I get through a few more levels, but I am feeling a bit stuck right now as I’ve had a tough time finding groups for these for some reason.

Economy:
While not necessarily a bad thing, coming from a game like WoW, it does take some getting used to. Every game has money sinks of some sort, it’s just that LOTRO’s tend to be in different areas than others. For instance, travelling and repair bills are incredibly stiff even from the very beginning. They can quite literally break the bank and make it difficult to even afford rations or upgrade equipment from time to time. I chose not to take up a crafting profession (other than harvesting) because not only would I not be able to sell many of the recipes that I came across (some being quite valuable), but I would also be forking out even more money to obtain materials that I needed to create these pieces of gear. That said, I had just over five gold when I hit level 35 and it was time to purchase my mount (4.2 gold, frequently more than players can afford.)

The other thing that really gets me about the economy is that that auction hall prices are EXTREMELY varied. It isn’t out of the ordinary at all to find a 100-200% variance on price for the exact same item. This makes selling extremely difficult for people who are relatively new to the game who don’t know which price is more similar to the norm. Either they have to stick it in the middle and hope that it sells after the lower-priced item, or stick it down at the bottom and wonder whether they’d potentially missed out on twice as much money as they made. Obviously playing the game and following the auction hall will help, but I’ve never seen a game market that was so unusual.

Travel:
Travel is one of those things in LOTRO that you really just have to bite your lip and deal with it. Quite frankly, it’s slow and tedious — even with your own mount. Running from one end of a zone to another (say North-Downs) on a mount takes something like 6-8 minutes, and there is nothing you can do about it. For one of the book quests you had to run back and forth three times. If you have your map (hearthstone) to use to get back once, that still leaves two trips that cut out 12-16 minutes of play time right there. While that might not seem like a lot, if you add up all the travel time that isn’t swift traveling ( a small amount of travelling options quickly port you from one location to another) that ends up being a lot of time spent doing nothing but running around from place to place (as well as a lot of money, because you are still going to be swift-travelling pretty frequently even with a mount of your own.)

Community:
I must say that the community in this game is excellent. There are still the “WoW-Kiddies” to be sure, but there are a great deal of very mature and well-behaved people that are excellent to group with or be in a kindship (guild) with. I’ve met some great people in just a few weeks, and I can’t wait to meet even more.

Ok, well that’s enough on LOTRO for now I’d say. Now I’ll take a brief look at Hellgate: London. So far I’ve been having an excellent time (my wife even moreso, but she’s alway been a fan of zombie/demon’esque games.) I’ve tried many of the classes so far with the exception of the guardian and the engineer. Having only taken them to level 5-6 it’s tough to say which is my favorite, but I’m enjoying the marksman and the blademaster quite a bit. I love that they game is fast-paced, but you can still potentially use more than one skill and your screen isn’t entirely covered with baddies that you mow down in one or two hits. Tactics can play a part in your fight with exploding barrels and such, which is always fun. I haven’t really gotten online too much because I wanted to learn the classes on my own before I jumped in with a horrible build and look like a complete noob. The inherent problem with single player is of course the fact that you can’t buy/sell/trade items between your own characters or with others. This means that a lot of potentially awesome items are just going to be vendored or broken down rather than being used, which stinks. Once I get one or two characters to level 12-15 or so, I’ll write up a bit more of what I think about both the classes and the game.

I’ll have more to come, but that’s more than enough for now. Be back later.

~Kanthalos

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