Getting Started With The Lord Of The Rings Online

lotrothumb   Getting Started With The Lord Of The Rings Online	Turbine’s take on Middle Earth has been live for almost 6 years now and, despite the appearance of numerous other titles, remains one of the most popular western MMOs. It’s also one of the easiest to access thanks to its free-to-play business model. There’s no trial period, no intense restriction on abilities – free players can truly enjoy the game.

You still need to have a handle on the game’s basics, however, and the complexities of the pay store can be confusing. Here’s what you must know to get started with Lord of the Rings online.

Choosing Your Server

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There are currently 29 servers active. The bulk of these are North American servers but there are also European servers and also specific servers for Denmark and France when are noted by DE and FR abbreviations, respectively.

Only the European, Danish and French servers come in an official role-playing flavor (one each). North American players looking for RP should check out Landroval, which is “Roleplaying Encouraged” and unofficially used as the RP server for North American players.

Brandywine is the most active server, followed by Dwarrowdelf. No server is a ghost town, but the least active servers have about half the weekly logins as the most active. You can see weekly server stats here.

Choosing Your Race And Class

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There are nine classes in LOTRO. Because the game is not focused on competitive play, the developers haven’t tried to homogenize it. Instead, they’ve tuned classes to provide different levels of engagement. Turbine represents this by giving each class a difficulty rating: basic, moderate or advanced.

Basic: Champion, Guardian, Hunter

Moderate: Captain, Minstrel, Runekeeper

Advanced: Burglar, Loremaster, Warden

Basic classes are straightforward. They do one job, and do it well, and do it with a (relatively) small number of abilities. Champion and Hunter are among the game’s top damage-dealers, while the Guardian is a standard tank. While all reward advanced play, a low level of skill is required to be effective. These are good picks if you are not familiar with massively multiplayer games or want a relaxed experience.

The moderate classes throw more spice. Captains have a lot of support abilities but remain tough. Minstrels weave songs to heal and do damage. Runekeepers are glass cannons that can achieve amazing damages or heals (but not both at once) via their rune mechanic. These classes are a good pick if you’re an experienced MMO player.

Finally we have the advanced classes, all of which can challenge even veteran MMO players. Burglars have decent damage and great support, but are a squishy melee class, so you’ll have to choose battles well. Loremasters boast excellent ranged damage and tons of utility spells, but remembering what to use when can be difficult. Wardens are tanks with complex combo attacks that you’ll have to memorize and execute in the heat of battle.

Premium Classes

Two of the classes mentioned above, the Runekeeper and the Warden, do not come with the base game. Free-to-play accounts can’t use them unless they’re purchased through the store. You’ll receive both classes if you buy the Mines Of Moria expansion – which is probably what you should do, as the expansion is required to level beyond fifty.

The Free To Play Model

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As a free player you’ll have some notable, though not crippling, restrictions on your play. Here are the most important.

  • Only three bags
  • Maximum of two gold
  • Can’t list items on the auction house
  • Can’t mail currency
  • Maximum two characters per server

All of these restrictions can be lifted through the LOTRO store. Once you make a cash purchase of any item on the LOTRO store you become a Premium player, which increases or lifts most restrictions (you gain an extra character slot per server, for example). A full run-down of the restrictions can be found on the LOTRO Wiki.

Technically, you can obtain the maximum level of 85 as a free player. However, you won’t have access to the content that’s required to actually hit that level, and some of the free restrictions become overbearing as your level increases. You can lift these for free by earning Turbine Points to spend in the store. These points come from completing deeds (the LOTRO equivalent of achievements) and certain quests.

Obtaining enough points to unlock major upgrades is not easy, however. If you’d like to read more about the experience I recommend checking out Vonrandir’s blog. This fellow decided to try and hit the in-game level cap without spending a dime and documented the experience. He reached level 55 before throwing in the towel.

How To Get More While Spending Less

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The VIP subscription has numerous bonuses including expanded character slots, no gold limit, more bags and etc. Many of these bonuses go away when VIP expires but unlocks for characters – like trait slots, outfit slots, bag slots, riding skill and more – won’t go away. Only unlocks made available while you’re VIP will remain after the subscription lapses. A low-level character who never obtains the riding skill, for example, won’t be able to obtain riding after VIP expires.

The general consensus is that one month of VIP is a good value. The features unlocked are far more expensive if purchased piecemeal on the LOTRO store. However, because unlocks only apply to characters you login to while you’re VIP, any new characters you make won’t have those benefits.

New players who don’t mind spending a little cash should also check out The Mithril Edition. This starter pack is sold for $19.99 and includes 2000 Turbine Points, some quest packs and a unique mount. The Turbine Points alone are worth the price of entry, as the $20 pack sold on the LOTRO store includes only 1,550 points.

Once you reach the original level cap of 50 you’ll be out of things to do unless you buy the expansions. The least expensive bundle available right now is the Expansion Triple Pack, which provides the Moria, Mirkwood and Isengard expansions for $39.99. This will take you to level 75 at which point you’ll need to buy Riders Of Rohan. That’s another $39.99 but, by the time you reach that point, it may be on sale.

If you are a casual player strolling through content off a VIP subscription you’ll want to check out the Quest Packs (which are free with a VIP subscription). These are chunks of content that provide additional leveling opportunities and can be purchased for a reasonable number of Turbine Points (they start at 595 and reach up to 795). These packs occasionally go on super-sell, as well.

Conclusion

Turbine’s free-to-play model can be a bit confusing at times, but it’s also flexible. Players who have very little money to spend can still enjoy content and occasionally grab more content with in-game points. Meanwhile, those willing to play down for the subscription fee can play everything without restriction. There are some special items that even VIP players must pay for (like cosmetic mounts), but they’re not required to enjoy the game.

Do you have any advice that can help players receive more for less in the Lord of the Rings online store? Let us know in the comments.

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6 Comments -

Nate Swetland

As a player, and seeing some of the restrictions of what you can’t do with only a free account, probably the biggest one I would pay for is the gold limit or the 3 bag limit. I am a Lifetime Founder with VIP status, and I couldn’t live without all 5 of my bags, or be limited to only 2 gold.

Unless you are very big into crafting, and unless you are planning on grinding your way straight to the top levels, you don’t really need to be able to list items on the auction hall lower level, as most of the stuff on there worth worrying about is very high end (like level 75+). Not that you would want to buy it, but it’s not really worth listing it. You can easily stay in the green and gradually increase your money without selling stuff on the AH, but just selling them to vendors.

If you are a packrat, or into crafting, you will want more than 3 bags worth of inventory, as your tools/weapons/etc take up some space, but then collecting all the items will take up a lot more.. Cooking is a good example of a crafting that can easily take up a full bag just for basic ingredients.

If you are into storyline questing only, you can get away with not having to pay for extra content until you are 50+… if you are really into clearing areas or doing every single sidequest, be prepared to dump a few bucks into Turbine points to unlock all the side stuff.

Wait for sales… crafted items or reward items can be just as good (if not better) as the store bought items. Many things in the store are purely cosmetic, or “LARPy” or whatever on the store, and don’t affect your stats or anything…

The game is pretty good, but I would recommend playing it entirely for free, and then once you are into it, buy an expansion pack or something, and you usually get points, temporary VIP, content, etc. with it… and then maybe pay for VIP during your heavy play periods…

Eva

You might want to check your facts there. [DE] is not in fact Denmark. It’s the abbreviation for “Deutschland”, which means Germany. And it’s not exactly LOTRO-specific; you can find it in many computer programs. Any Danish person who follow you to that server is going to be very confused because people on the [DE] servers speak German.

Eva

Come to think of it, [DE] will probably mean “Deutsch” in this context, which mean “Germans”, rather than “Germany”, as you’ll also find non-German speakers of the language there.

Eva

“German”, not “Germans”, of course, sorry.

Tina Sieber

True, DE stands for German/y. Just to add a fun fact, Denmark would be DK.

Matt Smith

Sorry. #dumbamerican