The Liberation of Middle-Earth


"You shall not PAY!"

About a week ago, The Lord of the Rings Online MMORPG was liberated by Turbine (and a certain Wizard) from its pay-to-play subscription model. So all you frugal Tolkienian gamers who can’t afford its online fee before can now play this game for free. Of course, as a cheapskate gamer myself, and a former paying subscriber of the game, I decided to revisit Middle-Earth again.

Lord of the Rings Online was my first MMO experience, and I had tons of fun playing it. I met a lot of nice people in here and it dispelled some of my assumptions –the bad ones, especially– regarding MMOs and its community in general. Unfortunately, I have to leave the game due to time constraints. But now that it’s free, I don’t have anything to lose by playing it anymore. I can just come and go whenever I want without having to worry about a subscription.

Anyways, I got really excited of getting back into this game and started installing it last night. It probably took me 4 hours because my connection was going nuts. Once it was all done, I logged in immediately and started choosing a server. I still I have a couple of characters sitting in Landroval, so I decided to go there. To my dismay, the server was full and I have to wait in queue. But I only waited about 3 minutes before I got in (which isn’t so bad compared to Aion‘s launch when I waited 2 hours to get into a server). Later, I found out that I actually have a high priority server access because I’m a premium member.

Once I finally got in, I was told to scrap some of my characters. As a non VIP member, I’m only entitled to 3 character slots. Fortunately, only 2 of my 7 characters are past level 1. So it wasn’t to hard getting rid of my alternates. After all that’s done, I logged in as Kelvorn, a level 31 Champion. He’s my first character in MMORPG so it was bit nostalgic playing him again.

I never really did anything in Middle-Earth except finding more out about the “purchasable” parts of the game (because it’s not entirely free). But as a premium member (a member who bought the game), I’m not sure which contents are available to standard players. I think they can’t access some locations. I was told that, since I don’t have the expansion, I also can’t access locations from Mines of Moria. Though contents from the Mines of Moria can be bought from the LOTRO store for 2500 Turbine Points (which is equivalent to $30). I also found out that earning Turbine points is tied to unlocking achievements. So, if you’ve killed 200 snails you will not only get a “Slayer of Snails” title but also points.

Lord of the Rings Online is still the same good game. The only thing different about it this time is that you don’t have to pay. True, some contents are locked unless you buy them. But I bet that, like Dungeons & Dragons Online, you’ll still have a lot of fun playing it. So go download the client, here, now.

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