Thursday, September 9, 2010

LOTRO Free Middle Earth arrives

So, Turbine’s new “Free Middle Earth” free-to-play version of Lord of the Rings Online has landed, hot on the heels of EverQuest II Extended. I jumped on briefly last night, creating a new character on one of the four new servers, to see what was happening.

First of all, the game is buzzing just as crazily as EQ2X. The server was packed with players, and from the conversations in chat, quite a lot of them are entirely new to the game. I think there is definitely potential for this to replicate the success Turbine had with D&D Online when they relaunched that as free-to-play.

Secondly, LOTRO was always an attractive game, but since I last played, I’ve replaced my PC with a new rig. The patch that accompanied the free launch added DirectX 11 support, and by happy coincidence, my new machine has a Radeon 5770. So I enabled the new DirectX 11 stuff, cranked all the settings up to high and turned on anti-aliasing, and now we are talking a seriously attractive game.

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Those looks, running at a rock solid 60 fps, definitely put a smile on my face. It’s hard to believe that this game is well over three years old and has had its graphics kept up-to-date like this.

I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about LOTRO’s free-to-play / subscription hybrid model yet, but I have to say, I expect it to be much better suited to my playstyle than EQ2X’s “subscribe or bust” approach.

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