See, one trouble with LotRO is that it’s good. Not outstandingly good, or even very good. Just good. And it’s solid good, so while any given player can come up with things they’d like to see tweaked, the title is practically free of things that need to be fixed. There’s a ton of space for the game to expand, but not really much room for it to improve.
In isolation, there aren’t very many reasons why anyone wouldn’t want to play LotRO. The problem is that there are actually other games on the market. In comparison to at least a few of them, LotRO offers a more polished and full-featured experience. But what you have in LotRO today is pretty much what you will have next year, or the year after. You’ll just have more of it. Stability appeals to some people, including myself. But I want to be surprised now and then, or even impressed, and I have a very strong feeling that any subsequent content release for LotRO will be good but not surprising or impressive.
Now imagine, say, Vanguard. But imagine it polished to the level of LotRO. When you play Vanguard you can see that game in your mind’s eye, even if you know intellectually that Vanguard will never be that polished. Same with Warhammer and Age of Conan. LotRO set its targets modestly and hit them almost dead on. Vanguard, AoC and WAR set theirs higher, and missed the marks (in Vanguard’s case by quite a lot,) but all three manage to be more fun than Turbine’s otherwise admirable effort.
WAR was one of the titles I had been looking at getting back into. (So was WoW, for the record, although I managed to stab that thought in the face before it sunk its claws into me.) So when earlier this week I signed up for a new trial, I picked LotRO because I could do it for free. But when the idea of a sort-of-free 60 days of WAR hits me, there’s not much of a contest… WAR comes out on top, because LotRO is good, but WAR could be better, and out of the box it’s flatly more fun.
Now the questions are limited to wondering whether the server population and activity balance issues are worked out. I know that CoW relocated to a different server a while back, and I moved my main there (but I don’t recall the name of the server.) Hopefully there is some actual game taking place there. And hopefully the situation where scenarios were the only viable method of character advancement short of pure PvE grinding has resolved itself – there have been a wave of incentives to get people doing open RvR instead of scenarios.
I do have faith that the other major problem in the month after launch, the dire shortage of Order tanks, has resolved itself with the introduction of the Knight of the Blazing Sun. Itemization I always felt was comparatively solid, no matter how many people were whining about it. If all of these issues are indeed resolved, that leaves the failure of city sieges and general endgame RvR as the game’s major issue, and I suspect I can live with that, since I’m nowhere near participating in those anyway, and probably wouldn’t be for a good month or two.
So… tonight I will be installing and patching WAR fresh from disc. I’m not sure I’ll get to play until tomorrow, but I should be back in the saddle pretty shortly.