I now have an intel mac with boot camp and split os X/Windows, so I can play the Lord of the Rings Online Open Beta. I played a bit this weekend and have my first thoughts on the game.
Because LotRO is following along the sides of the actual story (you’re participating in events related to the main plotline) quests tend to be more structured than in World of Warcraft. In WoW I’m used to the idea that I can largely do the stuff I want and ignore the things I don’t feel like doing; I have a feeling (so far) that it’ll be more important to participate in the storyline-related quests in LotRO if you want to progress. I prefer things more open than that, but the storyline is neat, and if you have people to game with (since some of the storyline quests definitely require groups to complete) it isn’t a big deal.
WoW has a bit more of a “sandbox” feel, which I also tend to prefer–which is to say, it’s like a big sandbox of toys in which you can play around as you choose. LotRO so far definitely feels more story-driven. However, I’m certainly starting to discover more things to play with as I get into things like crafting, so I’ll give it some time.
I find the interface a bit less intuitive than WoW’s so far, but on the other hand, it’s been more than two years since I first played WoW and I started with the in-box game after reading the manual (whereas here I just have a downloaded beta), which probably makes a difference.
I do find that LotRO “feels” more like a video game than an immersive world to me, at least compared to WoW. It took me a little time to put together why, but I think it’s because WoW’s graphics look like artwork, so it’s not too much different than watching an animated movie. Whereas LotRO’s graphics look like computer-generated graphics to me.
I like the fact that the classes’ roles in LotRO are so well-defined. They tell you up-front “this is the tank” and “this is the nuker” and “this is the healer.” This will hopefully avoid many of the now-familiar arguments about whether you can tank if you’re fury-specced and dual-wielding or not… you have one “spec” and one role for a given character class.
I know this is heavy on the WoW comparisons, but that’s because it’s the only game I have to compare it to, and I’ve only been playing for a day or so, which means it’s hard to have fully-formed opinions of the game as a separate entity. More to come, I’m sure.