Thursday, February 25, 2010

Different Strokes

Now that I have been playing Lotro for a while and even though my highest toon is only 23, I am better placed to make some comments on how I find Lotro and EQ2 different.

Firstly, there’s the difference in appearance. It’s something I have mentioned before when talking about toon appearance. As a rule of thumb I personally feel that the player toons in EQ2 are much more customisable to get to the look you want. Especially after so many years of tweaking and new clothing/armour being available through various outlets in EQ2 (broker, station marketplace, crafted, rewards etc). On top of that I feel the EQ2 toons are more ‘realistic’ in the way they move and their proportions and detail.

However, even though the toons in EQ2 are graphically better I feel, the restrictions of what you can do with them kind of offset that. For example, have you tried sitting in a chair properly in EQ2. You can’t. What about lying down? [you lie down in EQ2 every time a mob gets a little too scary – Ed] Nope, in EQ2 you can’t. Unless you’re dead that is. But you can in Lotro. That leads me on to the emotes. These are by and away in a different league to those in EQ2. Can you do a handstand in EQ2? Smoke a pipe? There is so many more I would pretty much make this post in to an emote post if I started listing them. OK, so the fact you can do those things with your toon in Lotro doesn’t mean you can adventure anymore effectively, but it does mean you can immerse yourself more. By no means are the toons in Lotro bad. In fact they are very good, but not in the same league graphically as EQ2 and also when considering customisations that are available.

So, aside from the graphics and features of your toon, what about the scenery? In my opinion, Lotro kind of kicks EQ2s butt. Again, EQ2 scenery is fine and in the most part well thought out. But it really does not hold the dramatic effects that the scenery in Lotro seems to. It is generally more ‘lush’ in Lotro and attention to detail is much more apparent. Another thing worth mentioning is the fact that on my lowly computer hunk of junk I can run Lotro at higher settings than on EQ2 meaning I can get a much better visualisation of what I am involved in with Lotro. Whereas in EQ2 when grouped or raiding I pretty much have to switch to extreme performance mode just to stop the jerkyness. In Lotro, those graphics are hiked up and it runs smooth [like Galaxy chocolate – Ed].

What else is different? I mean here, what makes a difference? Gosh. Where do I begin? I think I should start with the things that seem lacking in Lotro that I really began to detest in EQ2. Equipment envy. In Lotro, there seems to be very little. Yes, at top tier there are apparently some restrictions on having certain armour types to cope with content. However, this is nowhere near EQ2s requirements at top tier. Not necessarily required by the game, but damn it’s required by the player base. You see, I was having this conversation with Jahf last night. In EQ2, yes you can actually get by not too bad with some equipment, but the requirements of the players are high. It seems that once someone has seen a DPSer do say, 12k dps, then every one of those classes must do the same or they suck at their class. Don’t have your myth? Don’t have Tier3 armour. ‘Then don’t group with me’, seems to be quite a common attitude.

What I am trying to say, [and making a pretty good hash of it – Ed] is that in EQ2 the pressure to get all the top notch equipment and be at top tier yourself is pretty intense. If you want to have no problem grouping or progressing and experiencing content. In Lotro however, this seems to be a secondary requirement after, surprisingly, enjoying the game. I much prefer it that way. The pressure to progress is nowhere near as massive. As an example, Ema is currently trying to get as much time online in EQ2 as she can. The reason? So she does not fall behind in the crazy race to 90th level. Already her friends have powered ahead in the rush to be able to enjoy end game content. You see, in Lotro, that part feels different. The emphasis would be on enjoying the journey from the last tier and in to the new one. Of course there are some hardcores in Lotro, but it certainly does not seem to be the norm. It really does alleviate the pressure to rush that you seem to get in EQ2.

Content. How does that match up? This is one of the areas I am yet a little unqualified to answer. With half a dozen level 80 toons in EQ2, I pretty much had experienced everything the game had to offer content wise (up until this latest expansion of course). In Lotro I haven’t progressed past level 23. There are a few things I can comment on though. The content in EQ2 seems to have a bit more broader scope. That may be down to the simple fact that it has been out for so long. I don’t know. But in EQ2 there are so many more dungeons and instances than in Lotro. But, here’s the but. Lotro content (so far) has really managed to grab me without all of the frippery of a hundred dungeons. I got to thinking why that was and I think it’s an amalgamation of things. The quests seem more immersive in Lotro. Of course there is the normal, ‘go here and kill this’ kind of quest, but usually there is a reason. Then, linked in with that you have to main ongoing plot line where you actually get to assist in it. You meet the main players (Gandalf, Aragorn etc) and interact with them. Then there is the way you can go about completing the quests. What I mean by this is, in EQ2 for example you pick up The Stein of Moggok HQ. You have to travel back and forth from Freeport to Feerrott several times. It takes but a few seconds. Bells, ports, druid rings. It’s easy. You hop on your local easyquest airline and off you go. In Lotro the travelling is part of the experience. Not something to be ‘hopped’ over with all haste. It really does remind me of the old original days of EQ1 in that respect [What? You spent 2 real life days trying to get out of the sea in Lotro too? – Ed].

Progression. In EQ2 as I have already said, it seems that progression is more the name of the game than in Lotro. In Lotro it seems that progression comes as a side order to the main dish of simply enjoying being there. I know this is only how I feel about it and cannot obviously comment on behalf of others, but I get the feeling that quite a few feel the same. It is a lot more common to witness players indulging in non progressional activities in Lotro than it is in EQ2.

So what else? Well there is of course the excellent player music system in Lotro. It really does make a difference. It is little tweaks like that that in my eyes assist with the immersion so much more than the grind. As well as the music there is the great player events held at various times each year, but both games tend to have those. I cannot comment on which feels better as I have not yet experienced one of these in Lotro, so I can’t tell you if Frostfell is better or worse than its counterpart.

I have rambled on too much; I think I’m going to leave it there. My conclusion? At this moment in time I am enjoying Lotro more than I have enjoyed EQ2 for some time. Is it because I am fresh and a change is as good as a rest, as they say? Or simply that for me Lotro is better? I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that EQ2 is still an absolutely stunning game and I will always love it and would recommend it to anyone. But in Lotro, I am finding an immersion that feels different and at this current stage, I am enjoying more.

Be well.

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