Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar


Currently, if you log into Lord of the Rings Online, you’re going to see a lot of chatter about how the game compares to World of Warcraft. “The graphics are better/worse.” “The gameplay is better/ worse.” “WoW has more grinding.” “WoW has the better interface.” “No it doesn’t, LotRO does.” “LotRO is too cartoony.” “Are you kidding me? WoW is the cartoon!” “LotRO is just a WoW clone…”

Whatever the argument, players aren’t going to avoid the debate for long and it can get pretty heated.

So why the debate? Well, for one thing, since the game has gone public a good portion of WoW players have come over for a while to see what the game is like. Let’s face it, this is standard practice for gamers. If something new comes out, we want to get a peek at it even if we don’t plan to leave the other game we’re already playing for it.

Secondly, in some ways LotRO has copied WoW. Anyone who has played WoW for even a few minutes will find the interface familiar. As my roommate who had played WoW extensively a few years back informed me: “LotRO has taken the WoW interface and filtered and tweaked it.” For the most part, he is of the opinion that these tweaks do make for better gameplay.

In terms of general gameplay, LotRO isn’t that much different from any other fantasy based MMO. Players collect quests to complete and fight their way through monsters and enemies across the terrain. What is different about the gameplay is the grinding. Unlike most other MMO’s, running about killing random monsters in LotRO does little to nothing for a players XP. If you want your XP to raise quickly you’d better get going on those quests.

This does not mean, however, that there isn’t a place for kill-grinding in the game. In fact, it can get you a few things. The creators of LotRO have instituted an award system giving players what are called “deeds” for certain actions. Deeds can be gained a few ways and are rewarded differently.

For acts such as killing monsters, locating certain places or completing some chain quests players will earn your character deeds. The reward may just be a title to add to the end of your name such as “Wolf-Tamer” or “Brewmaster”. The other types of rewards are traits that can be used to add to your character’s stats.

Another interesting difference in the game is how the developers decided to handle PvP. Instead of having PvP/PvE specific servers – or in the case of WoW, having servers that allow a player to say whether they’re open for PvP or not – LotRO has monster play. Essentially, monster play allows players to play on the side of evil to compete against each other as well as higher level characters. Of course, there’s more too it than that… But that’s another article.

A definite unique aspect is LotRO‘s music system. Hit up YouTube and you will be able to find several videos of the populace of Middle Earth rocking it out on a lute. No, this is not a minstrel specific ability. Every player will be able to buy an instrument skill. Yes…You do actually need to learn how to play, but don’t worry. You can do it all from your keyboard.

Already, all over the internet, there are sites with the “tabs” and instructions on how to play some of your favorite songs. To be honest, I think that may be all some players do. It’s not uncommon to see the same guy standing in front of a major building in town strumming away. And I know I’ve seen some jam sessions.

Story-wise, the game starts out a bit before the Fellowship of the Rings. Depending on the race you choose to play the story-based quests you are given will present you with a different look at the events leading up to Fellowship. So far, the story is engaging, and there are plenty of side stories and events to keep players entertained.


So, you may be wondering: What about the graphics? Well, as one player put it: “The game is beautiful. It’s like walking through a painting.” And this is true. The designers did a wonderful job. Sadly, in order to see the true beauty of the game, the one where it looks like you’re walking through a painting, you have to have a pretty powerful computer. Otherwise – like me – you’re going to be turning your settings down to be able to play.

This is okay though, because even on the lower settings, the game is still great to look at. The Shire and the elven areas are truly amazing. You’re just not going to be seeing the water or all the textures at their best.

So… Does this answer the question about which is better… LotRO or WoW? Well.. We all know there is no real answer to that. We each have to decide individually. But, LotRO is a good game. It’s enjoyable, pretty and has some interesting and unique aspects. It’s also fairly addictive.