So you want to start playing Lord of the Rings Online! I can see why, it’s a fun game, and fans of the books and movies might want to explore Middle Earth on their own. But you have no idea how to get started, what to expect, and what you might be getting into.
First, I want to discuss one major thing: While the game is Free to Play, you will not get far solely as a free player. Players who are purely free, ie Have not spent any money on the game, are limited in quite a few ways. The biggest ways are as follows:
– 2 Character Slots per Server
– Quests Unlocked only for zones “Ered Luin, Shire, Bree-land, Lone Lands” (the 3 starter zones, and one extra, covers up to level 35)
– 2 Gold Currency Cap
– No Listing for the AH (can buy but not sell)
– Cannot mail Currency at all
You can see the exact details here on the Account Types page on the Wiki.
Just an FYI but the quest restrictions are for non subscribers regardless.
Obviously, the most cost effective in the short term is to subscribe, removing every limit and giving you quite a bit of flexibility. “But Clay!” I hear you cry. “I don’t want to spend $15 or can’t afford it right now! What do I do?”
Sadly, there isn’t much you can do. But here are some suggestions.
First, I suggest buying SOMETHING. Specifically, a thing called the Samwise Gamgee Starter Pack. Its $10, and does a few VERY handy things! For every character you ever make, it grants the following:
– The Bay Steed & Riding Skill
– Inventory: +15 Slots
– Currency Cap Removal
This also upgrades you to Premium status, which has slightly less restrictions then pure Free status. The biggest thing is that riding skill, which cannot be purchased outside of real money unless you are a sub. But buying this starter gives you a horse AND the skill as soon as you can use it, and lets you earn as much gold as you can get your hands on. The inventory also ups to 60 slots instead of 45 at the start. And let me tell you, Middle Earth in LoTRO is HUGE! You will want to ride when you can asap.
From there, if you want to be purely free you will have to grind Deeds.
Deeds are basically mini achievements. Kill X Mobs, visit a bunch of locations, complete X quests in a zone, ect. Each one grants you titles, sometimes rep, and almost always Turbine Points. Which are the Cash Shop currency. Be aware, however, most only give you 10ish.
The standard method of grinding TP is to create a character, do every deed, and then roll another, repeat, ect ect. You can eventually earn enough TP to buy a Quest Pack. Quest Packs are what grant you quests for a given zone. You have access to every zone, but you need the Quest Pack to do anything outside the main story (The Epic Quests) and to access the Deeds for that zone. Its time consuming, and a pain in the ass, but it IS DOABLE. TP is account wide, so you can make 2 characters per server, do all the TP grinding with them, delete all but 1, and repeat until satisfied. You can eventually buy all the Expansions, and Quest Packs, in this manner.
I personally avoided that. What I would suggest, assuming you enjoy the game, is to either subscribe, or wait for a sale on quest packs. Last year, I was able to spend about $30 and get all 5 expansions AND every quest pack released at that time. Both Steam and the In Game store have these holiday sales.
One final way to level up since you have access to the Epic Storyline, is that you can use Instances and Skirmishes to level up. Most scale with your level so you can technically grind those to gain XP and avoid buying ANY of the quest packs. It’s still a grind though, albeit a different one.
Now, some other things to consider!
There are 5 major expansions to this game. You will, eventually, need them all to fully immerse and enjoy yourself. These are not cheap but do go on sale. The first four are often bundled together, and run about $40 on Steam before sales. The main reason to buy the expansions beyond the obvious additional content are as follows:
– Moria: Get 2 new classes (the Runekeeper and Warden), and 2 more Character Slots! And content.
– Murkwood: Just more content.
– Isengard: Just more content.
– Rohan: Mounted Combat, Mount, Title! And more content.
Then you have the last expansions, Helms Deep. It alone is $40. But again, it goes on sale. One thing to keep in mind is that in addition to Siege Battles (which can only be access if you have Helms Deep) you also get 1000 Turbine Points with your purchase, which can be handy. I used mine, for example, to boost my Inventory space account wide.
Honestly, if you have played any major themepark MMO in recent years (World of Warcraft, Rift, Everquest, Star Wars the Old Republic, ect) you have played em all, and LOTRO is no different. It uses WASD for movement, with camera controlled by Mouse, it uses hotbar tab based combat, health and mana (although they are called Morale and Power, respectively) and it uses a class based system with race restrictions. For example, only a Man (human) can be a Captain. Races include Man, Hobbit, Elf, Dwarf, and now Beorning (which is also its class, and has to be purchased from the in game store. No one gets Beorning for free). Classes include Lore Master, Buglar, Captain, Hunter, Champion, Runekeeper, Warden, Guardian, Minstrel. Here is a handy chart for which class and race go together as well as which of the holy trinity (tank dps heals) they fall under.
Just an FYI, the pet classes (for those who solo like me!) are Lore Master and Captain.
Its major unique features are its housing (Which granted is not super unique now), its PVP System which uses Monsters, and its Music system. Beyond that though, its pretty straightforward. Honestly just do the tutorial and you will be fine.
The big reason to play this is for the lore and the world. The quests are varied and interesting, the world is massive, and the community is honestly very nice. Mechanically / gameplay wise don’t expect anything earth shattering (again, 9 years old) and be aware of just how restrictive the Free to Play setup is, and you can get some enjoyment out of this. If you have any questions feel free to comment here, and any other players who want to chime with tips please comment as well, and I will add them here to the main post with credit and all that.