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Sort of WoW-related

September 14, 2010

I’ll leave this in the WoW category as it’s sort of a comparison: I spent some time this weekend playing LOTRO to try it out.

I took the basic download — there was a higher graphics quality download that was huge comparatively, dodged that like 7-hour DL time — good choice apparently. The graphics seemed nice enough in the version I was playing. There was a problem with DirectX 10, however. I could not get the game to run well and consistently with that. Had to tune it down to DirectX 9, even though the game insisted that 10 was optimal and that my machine could handle it. Clearly something was not optimal. During this process, I was most confused by the insistence upon a product key which, as it turned out, I didn’t need. I have no idea why the registration makes so much noise about it. Maybe for the premium signups.

Since I got my PC specifically to handle WotLK and its expected higher graphics requirements (and they were), a bit of mild disappointment here over the DirectX thing and black screens and repeated reboots trying to sort it out. I expected my machine to run this sucker right out of the box, no worries. The other issue I ran into was lag, although I suspect the newbie zones were swamped this weekend with nerds like me. I wouldn’t necessarily hold that against the game. But I did get frozen indefinitely for awhile, and gave up and went back to WoW for an afternoon. Not working as intended, heh.

The good points I saw were the intro zone’s meaningful questline and advancement. You’re not beating up baby wolves and ineffectual kobolds with candles on their heads and being molested by hordes of murlocs…well, not just that, anyway. Getting sucked into something with story from the get-go is a nice difference. The phasing (dynamic layers, they called it) is obviously another item Blizzard saw and thought ‘cool, I’ll steal that idea’. Story-laden advancement is obviously something being built into Cataclysm, as notes from the beta show.

Advancement is notably slow. But then, with more story, it seems ok. Besides, the level cap isn’t so high as in WoW. The pressure to level cap and go raid, well. I don’t have it for LOTRO. I don’t know that I ever will.

I have heard that the graphics quality is supposed to be an eye-grabber. I thought the toons’ faces in character generation looked a little…dopey, inexpressive. Glad I didn’t have to look at them much. But I didn’t detect much zombie factor. The uncanny valley, I’ve seen it called. Close enough to make the differences creepy. I distinctly recall that in SWG; not so much here. I understand some players think WoW should look something more like LOTRO. More realistic. But WoW is simply following its RTS ancestors, and in being more cartoony, it’s excusable. Not creepy. Maybe a bit silly.

As for the available free options vs. what you can buy, sheesh. Just tons of things you can buy. Two classes I’d have to buy — the rune-keeper in particular I’d like to play. I struggle and fail to find something new or innovative in the character classes. You’ve got buffing-fighter, dps’ing-fighter, tanking-fighter. All as different classes. Ugh. Hunter, rogue, mage with pets (this I gave a real try), a minstrel that attacks and heals with snippets of song. I tested out a minstrel briefly just to see it in action. Hack, stab, play a little tune! Hack, stab…well, it’s odd. They all seem capable enough of getting by solo. But I didn’t advance enough to see any…means of differentiation. No talent type system that I could see. Perhaps crafting? I don’t know. Maybe all the high-end characters look alike, act alike.

Anyway, I have a lore-master on the Brandywine server and we’ll see if Joel and I track each other down somewhere, since it was his idea that I check it out. I only got to about level 11, so if he’s elsewhere maybe I will start anew on his server. I could use the alts to generate Turbine Points. Not sure how much I would pay for this game, this content. But it’s an interesting distraction from the WoW norm.

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