Following up on my last post, I’ve been playing Lord of the Rings Online, and looking forward to the launch of Warhammer Online. The sensible thing would be to drop LOTRO when WAR hits. But I might not. And here’s why.
You hear the term “theme park” applied to MMORPGs a lot. What it means if an MMO is a “theme park” is that the player is guided from place to place and taken on various “rides” along the way. Warhammer Online, from what I’ve seen of it, is very much a “theme park” MMORPG. You log in, you immediately start questing and fighting and progressing in various ways. It feels like a pretty high-energy game. Mythic hasn’t put in fishing or smoking or even dancing (a staple of MMORPGs everywhere, for some reason). There’s no personal housing. Warhammer is very much a GAME. And I like that. It’s goal focused. Always moving. Always getting “wins.”
LOTRO, on the other hand, has all of that, but it feels a lot more low-key, and there is a lot of what Mythic calls “fluff” in it. You can sit around in an Inn blowing smoke rings, playing a lute, and listening to people gossip. You can spend some quiet time fishing, or go out collecting wood or veggies. You can decorate your house. LOTRO is still a theme park, but it’s a much more laid back one. Lots of quests require spending time to gather a group of folks to aid you (here’s hoping Mythic’s “Open Grouping” system gets copied by other devs). There’re lots of places to relax and socialize, and in this way it feels a bit more ‘virtual worldish’ to me. Sometimes I log in and just hang around the Prancing Pony and make no ‘progress’ but still have an enjoyable time.
I like both of these styles of gameplay and I’m definitely not saying one is better than the other, though of course we all have personal preferences and one might be better suited to YOU, dear reader. I happen to like them both, so perhaps I’ll try to keep a toe in the LOTRO waters while I’m fighting my way through the tiers of WAR.