Since I spent more than four years building a MMOG I thought it would be fun to take a step back and put together an overview of what I consider to be the top three fantasy-based MMOGs and rate their features so people who are looking to decide what to play can make a more informed decision.

Many people ask “what MMOG should I be playing?” or “What MMOGs are the best?” I’m going to focus on the Fantasy genre and cover Everquest 2, Lord of the Rings Online, and World of Warcraft since it’s my opinion when it comes to Fantasy MMOGs, these are the ones to choose from. I omit games like Aion (which is not a true persistent MMOG) and the newer FTP games like Allods because they simply don’t have the content, scope, breadth and refinement of the “bigger titles”. Other games such as Warhammer Online, Vanguard, etc. just don’t qualify to be considered at the same “level” as these three games IMO, especially given one of the key components to committing to a MMOG is knowing it will be around years down the line.

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MMOGs are like a fine wine. They grow better with age, and these games are all undoubtedly far beyond what they were at launch. EQ2 and WoW are six years old. LoTRO is coming on 4 years old. I played all of these games at launch, putting hundreds of hours into each one, and can say each game has grown leaps and bounds beyond what it was initially. This is a very good thing since MMOGs are never “done” as they are persistent ever-growing and changing online worlds.

Committing to a MMOG, especially with today’s economy and the value of our time, is a big commitment. With the sheer amount of content, it can take months of gameplay for the average gamer to experience just a portion of the content these gigantic games have to offer. However, it’s not much fun to commit 6-12 months of time to a game only to discover you want to “play in a different world”.

As the games become more complex, the worlds larger, and the content more extensive, players are choosing their worlds carefully and based on their personal tastes. However these games are so large and complex it’s nearly impossible for a player to really understand what the games offer without spending a large amount of time to get a feel for the overall game.

NOTE: Since this a large and complex blog post related to data, it will “grow and evolve” after its initial posting as I’m sure I’ll end up changing some ratings as gamers remind me of things or provide feedback that may adjust the values. I’ll keep track of the changes and document them in here so people know when the updates were made.

 

Ratings Introduction

The ratings contained in this post apply differently based on the type of gamer you are. This is why all three of these games are loved, played, and enjoyed by so many people. Of course WoW is the gorilla in the room, but there are plenty of ex-WoW players in EQ2 and LoTRO. For example, some people only play EQ2 because of the housing system, which doesn’t exist in any other fantasy MMOG. Others will only play LoTRO because of the lore and content. Others love WoW because it’s colorful and fun. On the flip side, some people won’t play WoW anymore because of the “community” and others can’t stand the graphics of EQ2.

Some may look at the overall ratings and think “why is LoTRO even in here when it’s the middle man?” The reason it’s here is exactly for that reason. What if players can’t stand the graphics of EQ2 and hate the community or “cartoony look” of WoW? LoTRO is a great game to play and enjoy.

However the real reason these three are in comparison is because they are simply the best games out there for consideration of a fantasy MMOG to play.

At the end of this post, I include a few different “gamer types” and how their play styles view the data. Be sure to check it out.

 

Snapshots

Everquest 2

Released: 11.8.2004
Expansions: 6
Latest Expansion: Sentinels’ Fate  (2.16.2010)
Upcoming Expansion: Destiny of Velious (2.8.2011)
Estimated US Subscription Base: 150,000
Custom Features: Mentoring, Collections, Alternate Advancement System, Spell Books, Guild Hall
Best Rated Features: Housing, Custom Mechanics,  Character [Races, Classes, Specials], Guild Features, Alternative Progression, End Game
Worst Rated Features: Performance, Bug Free
Notes: Mature Community, Dated Graphics for older areas
Billing Style: Hybrid – Free to Play and Subscription – both on different servers

 

 

Lord of the Rings Online

Released: 04.24.2007
Expansions: 2
Latest Expansion: Siege of Mirkwood (12.1.2009)
Upcoming Expansion: Rise of Isengard (Fall 2011)
Estimated US Subscription Base: 250,000
Custom Features: Legendary Weapons, Deeds, Musical Instruments, Skirmishes
Best Rated Features: Indoor Areas (Moria)
Worst Rated Features: Collectibles, Plugins
Notes: Great Lore, Friendly Community
Billing Style: Free to play (was subscription but converted)

 

 

World of Warcraft

Released: 11.23.2004
Expansions: 3
Latest Expansion: Cataclysm (12.7.2010)
Upcoming Expansion: (Unknown)
Estimated US Subscription Base: 2,500,000
Custom Features: Archaeology, Inscriptions
Best Rated Features: Auction House, Pets, Plugins, Interface, Graphical Environment, Graphical Style, Lore, Quests, World Look & Feel, Immersion, Game Events, Group PvP, Group PvE, Online Support
Worst Rated Features: Spam, Forums, CSGM Support
Notes: Fun, Best and Worst Community
Billing Style: Subscription

 

Core Systems Review

Why save the most interesting for last? I figured letting the readers see the snapshot would be enough to gain interest to see where the numbers came from.

It’s important to remember, these numbers reflect my personal opinion. Others may take one quick look at this and decide to go read Reddit instead.

These metrics were taken from an itemized breakdown related to core game features. Of course it can’t encompass everything, but it does a pretty good job. What are the qualifiers?

Account, Achievements, Character, Collectables, Combat, Crafting, Custom, Economy, End Game, Enemies, Events, Forums, Graphics, Grouping, Guild, Help, Housing, Instances, Interface, Items, Learning Curve, Lore, Marketplace, No Spam, NPCs, Online Support, Operation, Pets, Player Support, Population, Progression, PvE, PvP, Quests, Replayability, Reputation, Social Network, Sound, Travel, Wiki, World

Granted these are the high level categories and each one can have multiple subcategories, but you get the idea. For example, the Character section has six subsections rated under it: Creation, Races, Classes, Spells, Specials, and Customization.

The Core Systems review is exactly that, an overview of the highest level categories, six in total. The values of these categories are build from data that is covered in the following sections.

Below is a chart showing the total number of points that went into the three games. While LoTRO is the “lowest” you can see the point chart ranges from 220-300. The good news is most other fantasy MMOGs would probably be well under 200 points total!

 

Parent Category Review

Each core system has parent categories that represent a number of subcategories. Below is a chart of what the parent categories and their values look like. Note the below parent categories are broken down in the following charts more clearly defining the values of their child categories and overall value.

 

EQ2 vs. LoTRO vs. WoW: Parent Categories

 

You can see the variance in the parent categories by product. Let’s begin to break it down.

 

Mechanics

Mechanics covers everything under the hood; the gears and widgets behind gameplay. While I was originally going to cover gameplay systems under Mechanics, I decided to break the two apart so I could separate things like combat and achievements.

Parent Categories are Economy, Travel, Crafting, Housing, Marketplace, Achievements, Pets, Collectibles, Reputation, Custom and Companions.

Note: “Custom” relates to any custom or unique mechanics of a game. For example, EQ2 has its “Mentoring” system, which is a custom mechanic to the game.

 

EQ2 vs. LoTRO vs. WoW: Mechanics 1

 

 

EQ2 vs. LoTRO vs. WoW: Mechanics 2

 

EQ2 does well here because of the Housing and Custom Mechanics of Mentoring. It is also strong in the Auction House (although the UI is pretty bad), and in Travelling around the world (the Guild Hall and banners play a big part in this). The Marketplace is solid, as are Achievements. The only reason EQ2 doesn’t have a 10 here for Collectibles is because WoW does have “collections” just of a different type. EQ2 is also very solid with Companions with the best in diversity.

LoTRO doesn’t really beat out anything else; it does average for many systems, but tanks with Collectibles and Housing. It’s also week in the “other travel” area.

WoW shines for the Auction House and Pets. It completely fails with Housing and has the weakest Marketplace. It does well with Achievements, Collectibles, and Reputation.

The Best
EQ2 for Housing, Custom (Mentoring)
WoW for Auction House, Pets

Extra Notes
Housing is something that makes a huge impact on the score. WoW doesn’t have it, and LoTRO’s implementation is so terrible, its embarrassing.

Another reason for the low score on LoTRO’s part is the fact it doesn’t really have Collectibles and it doesn’t really shine anywhere else. Don’t get me wrong, the core mechanics work just fine – the game plays great – but so does EQ2 and WoW. LoTRO just doesn’t have any mechanics that make it stick out over EQ2 or WoW.

The reason Tokens and Currency are the same for all three is because I haven’t figured out a good way to rate them comparatively since all three have token and currency systems which are nearly identical.

 

Technical

This core category encapsulates everything of a technical nature. This is where we cover the technical nature of graphics (but not rate the “look and feel” or “immersion” the graphics provide).

Parent Categories are Operation, Interface, Graphics, Sound, and Account.

 

EQ2 vs. LoTRO vs. WoW: Technical Chart 1

 

 

EQ2 vs. LoTRO vs. WoW: Technical Chart 2

 

EQ2 has the worst performing client of any MMOG I’ve seen, so Performance is “the worst”, plus it has bugs. However it’s streaming tech is great, and the graphics are an odd mixture of the best and worst. Many of the environments are stale and flat, but the newer content is actually pretty nice, and the character models are the best looking and most variant IMO.

LoTRO does well here, better than EQ2. The strong point is in the area of graphics.

WoW takes the cake on Performance, Plugins, Interface, and Graphical Environment and Style.

The Best
WoW for Plugins, Interface, Environment, Style

The Worst
EQ2 for Performance and being Buggy
LoTRO for having no plugin support at all

 

Content

This is the big one. The overall breadth of what a game has to offer across the board. From Quests to Expansions, Character Creation to Lore Participation.

Parent Categories are Lore, Quests, NPCs, World, Instances, Enemies, Items, Expansions, and Character.

 

EQ2 vs. LoTRO vs. WoW: Content Chart 1

 

 

EQ2 vs. LoTRO vs. WoW: Content Chart 2

 

EQ2 shines for the number of Races, Classes and “specials” (i.e. spells, abilities) a character can have. It’s also strong in the Items department and in world size.

LoTRO has hands down the best interior area of any MMOG with the Mines of Moria. This content alone is enough to warrant playing the game IMO. Also has great lore and value with the expansions.

WoW dominates in this area with Lore, Quests, and the World Size, Look & Feel, and Immersion. Also very strong in the Items and Expansions area.

The Best
EQ2 for Character Races, Classes, and “Specials” (i.e. spells, abilities)
LoTRO for the best interior area (Moria) of any MMOG
WoW for Lore, Quests, Look & Feel and Immersion

 

Community

All things community related are covered here.

Parent Categories are Guild, Grouping, Events, Social Network, Population, and No Spam.

 

EQ2 vs. LoTRO vs. WoW: Community Chart 1

 

 

EQ2 vs. LoTRO vs. WoW: Community Chart 2

 

EQ2 has the best Guild system of any game. It is also strong in the areas of grouping (Mentoring makes a big difference) while it’s a bit weak in Social Network support.

LoTRO is fairly average across the board, but has a very friendly and helpful population.

WoW has the best in-game events between the three, and is very strong in Grouping, and strong social network support. However the online community/population is terrible. The least mature of the games and not very friendly or helpful.

The Best
EQ2 for Guild Features
WoW for Events

The Worst
WoW for gold spam

Extra Notes
EQ2 and WoW are just older and wiser than LoTRO when it comes to grouping and raiding, which is why they’re neck and neck. LoTRO’s grouping and “raiding” features work great, but they just aren’t as refined IMO. Plus the Mentoring system of EQ2 gives grouping a whole different dimension.

I would have marked WoW as the worst for Mature players, but there are enough adults on the game to keep this from happening – you just have to work to find them.

 

Gameplay

A critical core category covering the shared systems of the games. As mentioned, I could have combined this with Mechanics, but I felt it was better represented as its own category if players wanted to weigh the two against each other.

Parent Categories are Combat, PvP, PvE, Progression, Learning Curve, Replayability and End Game.

 

EQ2 vs. LoTRO vs. WoW: Gameplay Chart 1

 

 

EQ2 vs. LoTRO vs. WoW: Gameplay Chart 2

 

EQ2 has the best solo PvE gamplay IMO. It’s just rock solid. In addition, it has hands down the best alternative character progression system with the AA (alternate advancement) system. However it also is the most unfriendly and has the worst learning curve. Replayability is solid as is the end game content. EQ2 also has the best end-game content because of the mentoring / chronomage system, allowing for any level player to go back and experience lower level content and get credit for it. No other MMOG I know of allows this. Unfortunately PvP for EQ2 is pretty bad.

LoTRO is stron gacross the board here with average character progression. It has stronger PvP than EQ2 and does have the ability to “play as a monster” but it’s not as much “fun” as it sounds, which is why I didn’t give it more points.

WoW is the strongest in group PvP and group PvE. It also is the easiest to learn and play.

The Best
EQ2 for Alternative Progression, End Game
WoW for Group PvP, Group PvE

Extra Notes
I’m sure I’ll catch hell from the EQ2 community on giving WoW the best of Group PvP and Group PvE. It’s VERY tough because EQ2 and LoTRO both have GREAT Group content, however the PvP for EQ2 simply sucks, and LoTRO isn’t IMO very “fun”.

 

Support

Players often complain about the level of support for a game, but rarely seem to “not play” because of it. However it’s good to know before jumping in what sort of support reputation a MMOG has, that way if you run into problems you aren’t surprised at the results.

Parent Categories are Help, CSGM (“Customer Service Game Master”), Online Support, Wiki Player Support, and Forums.

 

EQ2 vs. LoTRO vs. WoW: Support Chart 1

 

 

EQ2 vs. LoTRO vs. WoW: Support chart 2

 

EQ2 has the best player support for any MMOG I’ve seen.

LoTRO has a great support base as well.

WoW has the best online support out there simply because of sites like WoWHead, etc. Its wiki is also very refined. Unfortunately their forums are an utter nightmare and embarrassment. Sadly this is reflective of much of their player bases’ maturity level. In addition their CSGM support is simply the worst IMO.

The Best
WoW for Online Support
EQ2 for Player Support

The Worst
WoW for their Forums and CSGM support

 

Score Variation by Play Interest

Many players could care less about PvP or Housing or Crafting. What do the scores look like when we define a level of importance to the “core features” a player is interested in? I am going to cover this in a follow-up posting since it will take a fair amount of space and preparation as I have to configure and run weighted data results and then present those results. I think what is contained here is enough to get started!

 

Conclusion

First off, I want to say that all three of these games are exceptional and worth consideration.

EQ2 is more old school style with outdated graphics in the starter areas, but has some of the best mechanics and features of a MMOG. Do not be mislead by the starter areas of this game; it gets much better as you play it. The community is strong and the guilds rock solid. It also has a fun factor the other MMOGs don’t have where you can engage in huge fights solo. EQ2′s Mentoring system also adds a level of flexibility to the game not shared by any others. You can hit max level (90 at the time of writing this) and literally “mentor down” to, say, level 50, and redo the L50 content as a powerful L50 and gain AA experience as you do so. And this is on top of the raid content. Very cool indeed.

LoTRO is a great and fun MMOG in a world most of us are familiar with. Hobbits, men, Orcs, and the Nazgul. Have at it! It has very smooth gameplay from beginning to “max level” but the end-game play is a bit limited. Moria is simply amazing and the world is very large and presented well. Combat is smooth and it definitely has a “unique” feel to it.

WoW is more “fun” and “casual” for the average gamer. The graphics are vibrant and the world warm and inviting. There is more to do in WoW than any other MMOG, however all of this content doesn’t necessarily cater to all gamers. The end game content is repetitive in the form of either raiding or PvP. The community is a mix of adults and very poorly behaved “kids” who often cause a detrimental gaming experience for many. The plugins and UI sysems are top notch – the best in the industry, and the quests very well done with the Cataclysm expansion scoring a great hit by refining what was already great.

So review what’s presented here, let me know what you think in comments (I’m sure I’ll be updating some of the metrics as I get feedback), and enjoy these great games!

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About The Author

Mr. Allen has an extensive background in technology spanning 20 years including software architecture, design and development, project management and leadership. He specializes in corporate planning, productivity and collaboration, and is the creator of the games Mordor, Demise, Horizons, and Alganon.

29 Responses

  1. Alenti

    Lotro does have plugin support with Lua scripting. It is only for UI modification, you cannot create scripts to do other things.

    Reply
  2. Bill

    Thank you David. This is the best comparison article I’ve seen. I’ve played WoW quite a bit but I’ve been trying LOTRO lately. LOTRO has a unique wardrobe system with I think is really great, and it does have a (extremely limited) LUA plugin system. These wouldn’t change your scoring but I felt it would be nice to see them mentioned.

    Reply
  3. A.L.

    An interesting analysis, but I definitely think you should reconsider a few aspects about LOTRO:

    Parent Categories:
    Graphics- Totally disagree with WOW looking better. LOTRO is simply gorgeous when all the graphics are ramped up; they completely captured the atmospheric effects, the landscapes are gorgeous, and it’s easy to believe you’re in Middle-earth. WOW’s graphics are overly bright, overly cartoony, and contain none of the subtle beauty LOTRO’s graphics do.

    Lore- How in the world can you rank LOTRO lower than WOW considering the source material? LOTR is one of the best selling books in the world, and Tolkien is considered the father of modern high fantasy. You may prefer WOW’s source lore, but I think you disregard Tolkien’s influence upon the whole genre by ranking it higher.

    Quests- Again, how in the world does LOTRO rank so low? Its quests is one of the best aspects of the game. Even your average kill quests have stories behind them, and the quests that go beyond ‘kill 10 boars’ and really tie in the lore are absolutely fantastic. WOW’s quests do not nearly have as much depth and story, and they do not vary nearly as much from NPC to NPC. When you can see the different dialects and see the different patterns and word choices depending on who the questgiver is, as you can in LOTRO, you know you have good quests.

    Forums, PvP- I think you actually ranked these higher than you should. The state of PvP has been complained about for ages, and the new forums are absolutely horrible and clunky. They stuck a “beta” on the logo as a shoddy excuse for their performance, but it does not mean players are unhappy about it.

    PvE, player support- should be just as high, if not higher than the leaders in their categories. Turbine completely tackled PvE; it’s their PvP that needs work. And this community is the most helpful community I’ve ever seen, and most players that come from other MMOs say the same thing.

    Agree with you about LOTRO housing; it is absolutely terrible and in serious need of a revamp.

    Technical- To be fair about plugins, LOTRO is finally developing them; they’re in beta as of now. There are devs on the LUA scripting part of the forums that are incredibly helpful and informative for those writing scripts. I hope the plugins will be expanded more in the future.

    Think LOTRO should rank higher in music, the music is absolutely gorgeous. No, it’s not Howard Shore, but it’s good in its own right.

    Content
    Lore: You should include another category, “source material”. LOTRO would beat the other two completely. I simply do not understand how you can rank WOW’s lore higher than LOTRO’s; Tolkien’s lore is so rich, and Turbine’s lore wrapped around it is some of the most intricate detail I’ve ever seen. You can see this careful dedication in how the quests are written, the NPC’s names, and if you know something about languages, you realize that tribal areas have names all based on old European languages, that Forochel is all based around Finnish and old Finland, and so on; there is just *tons* of attention to detail that anyone can appreciate. There are so many details on how Turbine adapts the lore for an MMO that I can give, but this is already getting incredibly long. Email me if you really want some more examples on how awesome the source material lore is, and how well Turbine has adapted it.

    Solo quests should be so much higher; there is a huge amount of solo quests in LOTRO, and you can solo your way all the way to endgame. With the introduction of Tasks in the November patch, the repeatables are even more numerous as well.

    Community- I’ve read in several reviews and heard from many other players that LOTRO has the friendliest and most mature community. This is the first place I’ve seen it not score the highest in that regard.

    Gameplay- Again, PvE soloing should be much higher. You should be basing the grade not on “ease”, but on quality. And their solo PvE is solid; their quests is one of the strongest aspects of the game, and your conclusions don’t seem to see that.

    Support- New forums suck. They’re buggy as hell. Not sure why you ranked them as high as you did.

    Perhaps you will reconsider some of your scores.

    Happy New Year.

    Reply
  4. FlyingV

    Well, I see you put a lot of hard work into the article, and it’s appreciated, but WoW beating out LOTRO in GFX, Lore, and Music is a bit odd. To each their own, I guess.

    Reply
  5. RH

    LOTRO community is extremely insular, the least introspective players of any MMO I have played. I have never seen so many players at cap level with such a lack of knowledge of their class abilities or how to play in a group. Part of the latter is because the game is easily soloable to cap level, while sheer laziness or a willingness to play well also contributes to this ignorance. Some haven’t even bothered to read their tooltips, and they have been playing the same class for three years! If they are pressed for questions (politely of course) they dissemble and accuse others of being “elitist” and min-maxing and state they can’t be “bothered” to do “research” or they don’t like to “analyze” things to such a degree. When the lack of a refined, interesting end-game is brought up (and it is, time and time again on the forums), the rabid players say that there is, in fact, endgame content, such as crafting, decorating one’s house, or going to a festival. This is NOT endgame content. This is what is called “fluff” folks. And they confuse terms such as this, as well as throw out the term “griefing” all the time. “Griefing” to a LOTRO player is when another player does something or says something they don’t agree with. For instance, one player suggested damage meters be introduced to the UI to help PUGs perform better. The posters (always the same loudmouths) on the forums said that this would be “griefing” somehow. They truly are a bizarre, passive-aggressive sort. They were very unhappy with the Free to Play changes introduced, as they saw this as a “threat” to their dying game/community.

    Now as for PVP on EQ2, when it is introduced as a complete afterthought to a PVE game, and little to no resources devoted to it by SOE, is it any wonder it was never any better than it was? it was very good when one could lock their level, as the lowbie (lvl 20-30) PVP was the best, because at the higher tier (lvl 70 and up) casters face an 80% resist rate. Therefore everyone played scouts (NOT troubadour or dirge, as they are casters) or brawlers. Sony did not do anything to improve the situation, well at least they fixed the resist rates for a very brief period (I’m talking a few days here) and they quickly reverted the changes back, so that casters could continue to get spanked time and time again. So the PVP was very lackluster, a lot of timer dumping and button mashing, and until they nerfed evac the gutless players would just evac away (as most played Scouts) so they could save their precious titles, if they were in any danger at all of dying. Just one big cluster**** after another, people camping docks, bell hopping, and all sorts of jackassery involved. I can’t say I enjoyed WoW PVP any better though as it was all so canned with the area and battlegrounds, and I like the thrill of the hunt with open PVP. I have not tried LOTRO PVP because I haven’t gotten my toon geared out, and it’s sad because I wanted to, but why bother? There are no real PVP rewards (only a different colored horse and titles), but I don’t care about that if the PVP is fun, but from I have seen it’s not worth finishing my toon to try. Only a small amount of the population PVPs in the PVP zone and it involves mostly zerging.

    There is a hellacious grind with LOTRO just to get your character “done”
    LOTRO has the most boring, unimaginative gameplay of these three games. It’s just one big grind/timesink after another. Swift travel horseroutes are ground for, stats to enhance your toon (they call them deeds in this game) are ground for, gear is ground for, new, faster mounts are ground for, heck, one even has to grind faction to get new emotes like the ability to spin around. But hey, there’s not much else to do at 65, so I suppose this is A.O.K. with the players, a lot of whom are MMO noobs and have no basis of comparison. If you don’t like the grind, you can always spend real dollars in the Turbine store, or use Turbine Points that you get from – guess! GRINDING CONTENT (or paying a monthly subscription).

    However, if you like to log in and do a bunch of nothing, RP/cyber, then LOTRO is the game for you.

    Reply
  6. cherubims

    LOTRO community is extremely insular, the least introspective players of any MMO I have played. I have never seen so many players at cap level with such a lack of knowledge of their class abilities or how to play in a group. Part of the latter is because the game is easily soloable to cap level, while sheer laziness or a willingness to play well also contributes to this ignorance. Some haven’t even bothered to read their tooltips, and they have been playing the same class for three years! If they are pressed for questions (politely of course) they dissemble and accuse others of being “elitist” and min-maxing and state they can’t be “bothered” to do “research” or they don’t like to “analyze” things to such a degree. When the lack of a refined, interesting end-game is brought up (and it is, time and time again on the forums), the rabid players say that there is, in fact, endgame content, such as crafting, decorating one’s house, or going to a festival. This is NOT endgame content. This is what is called “fluff” folks. And they confuse terms such as this, as well as throw out the term “griefing” all the time. “Griefing” to a LOTRO player is when another player does something or says something they don’t agree with. For instance, one player suggested damage meters be introduced to the UI to help PUGs perform better. The posters (always the same loudmouths) on the forums said that this would be “griefing” somehow. They truly are a bizarre, passive-aggressive sort. They were very unhappy with the Free to Play changes introduced, as they saw this as a “threat” to their dying game/community.

    Now as for PVP on EQ2, when it is introduced as a complete afterthought to a PVE game, and little to no resources devoted to it by SOE, is it any wonder it was never any better than it was? it was very good when one could lock their level, as the lowbie (lvl 20-30) PVP was the best, because at the higher tier (lvl 70 and up) casters face an 80% resist rate. Therefore everyone played scouts (NOT troubadour or dirge, as they are casters) or brawlers. Sony did not do anything to improve the situation, well at least they fixed the resist rates for a very brief period (I’m talking a few days here) and they quickly reverted the changes back, so that casters could continue to get spanked time and time again. So the PVP was very lackluster, a lot of timer dumping and button mashing, and until they nerfed evac the gutless players would just evac away (as most played Scouts) so they could save their precious titles, if they were in any danger at all of dying. Just one big cluster**** after another, people camping docks, bell hopping, and all sorts of jackassery involved. I can’t say I enjoyed WoW PVP any better though as it was all so canned with the area and battlegrounds, and I like the thrill of the hunt with open PVP. I have not tried LOTRO PVP because I haven’t gotten my toon geared out, and it’s sad because I wanted to, but why bother? There are no real PVP rewards (only a different colored horse and titles), but I don’t care about that if the PVP is fun, but from I have seen it’s not worth finishing my toon to try. Only a small amount of the population PVPs in the PVP zone and it involves mostly zerging.

    There is a hellacious grind with LOTRO just to get your character “done”
    LOTRO has the most boring, unimaginative gameplay of these three games. It’s just one big grind/timesink after another. Swift travel horseroutes are ground for, stats to enhance your toon (they call them deeds in this game) are ground for, gear is ground for, new, faster mounts are ground for, heck, one even has to grind faction to get new emotes like the ability to spin around. But hey, there’s not much else to do at 65, so I suppose this is A.O.K. with the players, a lot of whom are MMO noobs and have no basis of comparison. If you don’t like the grind, you can always spend real dollars in the Turbine store, or use Turbine Points that you get from – guess! GRINDING CONTENT (or paying a monthly subscription).

    However, if you like to log in and do a bunch of nothing, RP/cyber, then LOTRO is the game for you

    Dude just calm down i can see that you have a problem with end game content and some of the higher level players but that does not necessarily mean that the game in itself is bad.

    From my personal experience i have played lotro for about a month and it is pretty enjoyable with all the lore , music , gameplay and community.

    Speaking of which this game allows players to create their own music which i think is fantastic ( legend of zelda on a lute made me cry ).

    Also turbine has taken the game in a good direction by introducing f2p which i think is a great idea which allows the game more exposure and breathes life into the player base.

    A new store called the turbine store is now available since lotro went f2p here the players spend virtual currency (turbine points) for ingame items and benefits. This can be bought with cash or got ingame as you progress through. Note: its is usually very hard to earn ingame turbine points and is usually recommended to buy atleast part of it with cash unless u want to grind it out like rh pointed.

    Admittedly it is very hard to level or play the game in general once you hit lv30+ since most of the quests and content has to be bought ( you will have enough at that point to buy at least one or 2 quest packs ), also f2ps will have several limitations on trade , tells and auction houses , but turbine has lowered the costs for lifting these to a managable level.

    Small note : in this game there are 3 diffrent categories of accounts it is not divided into f2p and p2p alone like other mmo’s in lotro there is something called premium which is a go between the 2. what this means is that if a subscriber (p2p) stops his subscription he will not fall back into f2p but will instead become a premium player. Premium players retain some of the benifits that a p2p has and once a player becomes premium he remains a premium for the rest of the game and will never downgrade to f2p.

    About the community i think there is nothing i can say that has already been said , it is by far the most "newbie friendly" mmorpg i have ever played. In my past month of playing there were no curses, no fights , no ksing , no spamming , no gold trading(spam), heck even the word “noob” was non existant. It would only take a player 10 minutes of logging in to other mmo's before they are spammed or are witness to noob calling. This i think is by far the best feature of lotro ( THE COMMUNITY! )

    The gameplay is pretty good with the combat system being the high point.

    The combat is really immersing and addictive , its fluid and it really makes you feel like you are fighting and it takes a bit of skill to get good at. So i guess the learning curve will be a bit steep with classes other than the basic champion or ranger.

    I dont know much of the end game content as i have not reached it myself so i reserve my judgement on that topic. But from what i have heard its is not as bad as some people make it out to be . I know that there is gear specifically for an endgame player( lv 65 ) and raids as well. Not to mention roleplay that some guilds (kinships) get into.

    The housing in this game is at its infancy and putting it any other way is only deluding oneself. The system is bad and it needs to be tweaked.
    Admittedly you get to buy a guild house once your guild (kinship) reaches lv 7, which is kinda cool (imagine the parties and wild events).

    Support is good and generally acceptable but there is always one aspect that bugged me , the forums and all other services are limited only to subscribers ( people paying the monthly fee ). This has always irked me as as a f2p i want to be able to criticize or compliment a game i have been playing. Heck atleast allow f2ps to post something!.

    Note: There is only once place where f2ps can post and that is the f2p forum which is almost always ignored!

    Comming back there are also other things to do in lotro other than combat once u reach a certain lv (10?) you get to select a hobby from the hobby master. I chose fishing and to be honest there isint much point as fishes never sell :P , but hey it adds to the fun factor.

    Also you will be allowed to pick a profession this is where crafting comes in , a profession will always consist of 3 parts for eg:a player with an explorer profession will have tailoring , prospecting and forestry.You have to choose your profession wisely as it will affect how you play your game and what you will be able to craft. There are diffrent levels to progress in each department and at higher levels will be a challenge.

    That’s about it all i can say is that since its advent to f2p its a win win situation , just give the game a try and if it suits your taste go ahead , and if it dosent you can always try another one but from my perspective it is a must try game just give it a run at one of those lazy sundays and who knows you might get hooked.

    And before i leave, Happy new year and best wishes to you all !

    Reply
  7. Cat

    Very nice write up of the three games. I have all three on my computer right now but have only spent substantial time in eq2. For me the housing, guild features, and mentoring trump all other features. I’m interested in seeing what else you write on these.

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  8. Nicolas

    One thing to add is account and investment security
    My experience was that Blizzard was able to maintain my investment recovering my account and giving me something to protect my account (authenticator) in the other hand Turbine response was banning my account, they dont allowed me to change my other accounts name so they dont get “banned” in the same way as the other and they dont give me any single way to protect my investment.

    Reply
  9. J.B.

    Agree with A.L., not sure how those factors would adjust numbers..

    Agree with RH about lvl-capped players being clueless. However, i don’t hold that against lotro, it’s actually a reflection of the different priorities players attach to their playtime vs. wow or eq2 players. Different, not necessarily bad. A lot of these players are new, first-time mmorpg players. There are plenty in WoW, but are forgotten about because leet players call them “fail groups” and quickly drop and forget they exist.

    Agree about the LOTRO Grind. There are no longer rare drops, rather everything worth-getting gear-wise or stat-wise can now only be obtained through the grind of faction, skirmish, etc.

    Reply
  10. Ainvar

    I think this guy is two sided. Everything eather Point to EQ2 or WOW. Never lotro. This already telling me this guy agenst lotro. A few facts alot of People left WOW due to the fact the Scripting and the Requirement of use or you can t do this or That Raid. If you dont have the Right Script or Right Gear you can not join the Raid. There Other facts is WOW is dps this dps that or heal. It required in alot of Raids to hold % of or your kick.

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  11. SE

    Couldn’t agree more about LOTRO and EQ2. Shadows of Angmar, the original LOTRO game, was extremely enjoyable. Exciting releases and updates came out almost monthly. Gear was varied and crafting was useful. Some interesting concepts, like Fellowship Maneuvers, made the game seem fresh and brought a group-centric cohesion to the game play. The story and lore shone and the game was nearly bug-free.

    Then Moria was released and with it came bugs and, worse yet, horrible design decisions. While you praise Moria’s ambiance, and I agree, the Moria expansion came burdened with so many anti-LOTRO concepts that the game was fundamentally crippled (and has still not recovered). DPS was scaled unreasonably and so DPS classes became so powerful they no longer needed other classes. It was extremely common to see groups of six hunters — without tanks, utility or healing classes — burning down tough bosses in a matter of seconds (this has since been fixed). Gear-gating and uniformity amongst players was introduced via extremely repetitive instances for so-called “radiance” gear (I believe that this is about to be eliminated). Many classes of crafting were rendered irrelevant by radiance, free potions, and… worst of all… the “legendary” weapon system. This system introduced the single most unforgivable grind I’ve ever suffered through. Turbine has tried to address legendary weapons on several occasions but has not yet remedied the woeful situation that exists still. To give you an idea of the grind involved, a dev once posted that, as it was originally rolled out, a Captain would have to run a particular instance every week for two years to get a suitable weapon to drop. Two years. The legendary weapon system is a huge waste of time and is problematic still. More troubling, I think Turbine has used the legendary weapon system as a stand-in for actual end-game content. People are so busy grinding for that perfect weapon, and then grinding for the scrolls to upgrade that weapon, and then replacing that weapon with a new weapon, that they don’t notice the almost complete lack of end-game content. Yes, LOTRO does love a grind. Many of LOTRO’s innovations, like skirmishes, are nothing more than a grind slightly disguised as content.

    It boggles my mind that Turbine would let a fantastic game go to seed so thoroughly. For the new player, I’m sure it is quite appealing. The graphics are quite nice. Some parts of the content, mostly the Shadows of Angmar stuff, is rich in lore and can give you the feeling of living in Middle Earth. It’s only when you get to the end of the ride that you realize that there is almost nothing left to do. Unfortunately, given that there have only been two expansions (one of which was very, very small), there it doesn’t take that long to get there and the journey for most people these days seems to be solo.

    Having played EQ2 for a while now, I concur with your review. The game is old technology and requires much more computer power than it should to run at highest quality. I am forced to adjust the quality down but after that I get to enjoy a fantastic game with so much content that it still blows me away. EQ2 has had six significant expansions and other content releases in between. Zones are still expanding and changing and events come along often. The complexity, balance, and variation of the classes and gameplay in EQ2 dwarf the similar aspects of LOTRO.

    Perhaps the influx of cash to Turbine will lead to new content. Who knows? At this point, however, the game’s simple, grind-based content just can’t compare to EQ2. Just one man’s opinion

    Reply
  12. Caldwell

    I have to say, I have played eq2 since launch. I think their customer service is the worst of all games I have played. Players are helpful, yet most of the customer service reps have absolutely no knowledge of the game.

    Reply
  13. Wanderv

    In nearly all graphics subcategories WoW is better than Lotro… Man, it’s absolutely ridiculous! TEXTURES are better in wow??? LOL.

    Also you should know about latest additions in Lotro. It have wardrobe. Also it have absolutely fun and unique festival events like playing drama in theater or beerfight minigame. There is now support of LUA plugins (not very versatile though). Also there is a mix of f2p and subscription.

    Unfortunately you just badly know current state of the game.

    PS. bah those “lotro has a lot of grind” guys are just trolls. There are now much less farming (not grind but farming) then after SoA.

    Reply
  14. Wanderv

    2cherubims
    freeplayers can post in certain subforums. Premiums can post in all forum. I am prem and havnt any problems with that

    Reply
  15. Nick

    It’s too bad LOTRO can’t handle its one unique and cool combat mechanic (fellowship maneuvers). They decided to just stop scaling them 15 levels ago because they were too powerful. Even worse, this makes one of the key abilities of the Burglar class far, far less useful. *sigh* I still play it (in game right now, actually) but if I didn’t have the kinship I have, I wouldn’t.

    Reply
  16. Wes

    I like EQ2′s AA points system, variety of classes, and some other things. The problem is the world is so lifeless and Boring! In LOTRO, I “feel” like I’m running around in Middle-Earth.

    Anyway, if it’s fantasy small-group PVE people are looking for, instead of playing any of these three games, they should be playing DDO. It is unlike all of the others, and is awesome. Combat is sort of like playing a third-person shooter game.

    Reply
  17. Toddy

    Wow, this is one thorough article!

    I got interrupted again, but here are a few first impressions:

    – Intro(s) are quite long, and so is the article (for good and bad). Might have been a good idea to move the snapshots higher and putting up a note about scrolling to the conclusion for the lazy/less nerdy reader. With the article targetting people who haven’t played these three games yet I’d say they are most likely a very unnerdy bunch :P

    – Great, thorough comparisons. I need to read in more detail before commenting more on that.

    – I feel LoTRO has a unique appeal with it being an implementation of Tolkiens lore. While the others have great lore, especially WoW imo, there is nothing to rival the appeal of actually playing in successful implementation of Tolkiens world. That is a history lesson true fantasy fans should feel almost mandatory – him being more or less the founder of the fantasy genre. And that it doesnt get full credit for that here. I’m not sure it should either though, fans of Tolkien will be very awere of this already.

    – Misspelling: “Worst rated featureD“… sry :P

    Reply
  18. Ulgrim

    Yeeah. EQII may not have the best lore (particularly lately), but take a nice hard look at WoW with “immersion”. There are so many pop culture references in their lore that it makes me want to puke. I can’t play WoW, because every five seconds, on an RP server or not, I see a character that looks like Link or something. Now, I like pop culture references if they’re few and far between, don’t get me wrong. But dear gods, the sheer amount of them in WoW is horrifying.

    Reply
  19. Velerak

    Excellent analysis. I play both EQ2 and Lotro on occasion, though I still prefer EQ2 as it’s the one I play the most.

    There is very little difference in the MMO market these days to be honest. I believe, however, that WoW while having vibrant graphics, looks too cartoony against the dated, yet more realistic (or atleast it used to be) EQ2 or LOTRO. To be honest though, each game has its niche, like AOC with its graphics and gore, and older games like UO with its character flexibility and Horizons with its awesome housing and city building system.

    I’m still waiting for a game to fill all of these gaps and to provide the total emersion that I want :)

    Vel.

    Reply
  20. halzar

    Seriously? you listed Graphical Environment, Graphical Style under best features for WoW?

    Reply
  21. Vell

    A great article, very thorough, and on the whole having played all three games for considerable lengths of time (over a year in each) I agree with most of the ratings given.

    The one area I thoroughly disagree with though is the Graphics section. One of the reasons that World of Warcraft is so successful is that it will run on practically any machine, while other games in the genre need much higher quality machines to run at standard settings. The reason that WoW runs better on most machines? Blizzard made a design decision to focus on game play and reaching as wide an audience as possible, and in order to do that, the graphics are of a noticably inferior quality. To then see WoW ranked higher in graphics quality than the other two games is really rather odd bearing that in mind.

    I’ll also echo the comments on lore made by other people; when playing LoTRO, even if you have no knowledge of the books or the films, the game still ensures you really understand your characters place in the world through the use of the main storyline quests. For that, LoTRO should rank higher than either of the other games, in which you can run around doing quests to your hearts content, but still not really have a clue where your character fits or what the point of it all is.

    Other than that, I think it’s a great article and reflects fairly the state of each game.

    Reply
  22. leviathan

    I could not disagree with 99% of this article more. I currently play EQ2 and LotRO and played WoW for 3 almost 4 years. The one thing I do agree with is WoW is by far the easiest to play and the community is by far the worst in any game I have played (and I’ve been playing well back to AC, EQ, and DAoC)

    The biggest issue you do not factor in is budget. WoW player based (at least their reported player base is a juggernaut in comparison to the other 2. Therefore you will have more content more bells and whistle etc.

    My comparison is much much different.

    World graphics, quest, immersion, and music as a whole far and away are LotRO. The storyline, lore is pretty true. The quest actually have a purpose in the story and the epic quest and cut scenes are fantastic.

    EQ2 has the best raids hands down. Of course between these 3 games anyway. (EQ had/has the best raiding of any mmo in history and I don’t think they will be beat by anyone)

    WoW contribution to the industry is their PvP the system is unique. The vanilla wow pvp was the best of any game along with their mass or group pvp.

    WoW is simply popular because it is easy. You talk about how scripts and addon are a plus for a game and I think they are a huge minus. WoW is a game where you can basically make macros and the computer will play you character. I know because I play an undead rogue and I play with 4 sets of between 3 and 5 buttons depends on the raid/situation. This is a huge downfall to this game, but I reappear when content arises and disappear after the guild kills it.

    World graphics are LotRO, EQ2, then WoW. Even though WoW is the smoothest, it is because the graphics aren’t demanding. It can be played on most low end rigs with old cards (another reason for its popularity)

    Characters EQ2, LotRO, then WoW. This isnt even a question. WoW is horrid, the number of choices, amount of classes and races are the lowest of the 3 plus the characters are very cartoonish

    It does all come down to preference.

    Overall the games rating for me and I currently play 2 of these games and will still play the 3rd every so often is LotRO, EQ2, then WoW

    Reply
  23. steve

    Good job, we all know fanboys are going to take up for their games…. all you opinions are valid… my choice is eq2, like the depth and difficultly… the other games are ok, couldnt stomach either one for more then 1 week, too easy and too cartoony for both…. dont be mad at my opinion, you like your game and i like mine

    Reply
  24. Jergis

    -One thing to note from my limited experience is that Lord of the Rings Online is perhaps the most well-written game i have played. By that i mean the dialog, quest, and lore is well done. IMO better than WoW or EQ2 several times over.

    Jergis

    Reply
  25. Corwin Karl

    You forgot one of the best parts of EQ2, Mercenarys. This is a custom feature that allows two or three people to pull off a difficult raid by themselves.

    Reply
    • Requnix

      Actually, I don’t think Mercenaries were implemented at the time I wrote the review. If I re-review EQ2, I’ll be sure to cover it!

      Reply

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