Part 1: How much do the games cost and which extra security against hacked accounts do they offer?
Part 2: What can I play (races and classes?)
Part 3: What do the games look like?
Part 4: What’s there to fight against (PvE)?
Part 5: Who’s there to fight (PvP)?
Part 6: Crafting
Part 7: I want to be on my own sometimes (- or: What can do I solo?)
Today’s topic: Fluff (aka “other”)
Stuff to collect: Yep, all games have stuff you can collect. I have already mentioned the non-combat pets for Rift and WoW. LotRO does NOT have non-combat pets. If I remember correctly, I read somewhere that non-combat pets would cause too many issues with server performance. So only Loremasters can have them (they are LotRO’s pet class) – but when they have one of those little companions with them, they can’t have a regular combat pet out. So in this case, it probably doesn’t cause any extra stress on the poor servers. ;) The screenshot shows my dwarf in WoW with a little tree pet. It gets smaller and smaller the longer it’s out but once it gets into the water, it grows back to its regular size.
All three games offer a variety of mounts. “Unfortunately” for LotRO, they are bound to Tolkien’s lore. So there are no rideable dragons or unicorns (or sparkling ponies – although I do have a glittering pony). Only goats, horses and ponies are available. Rift has standard horses but also weird looking Yarnosaurs and turtles. They also have mechanical horses. I would say that WoW offers the biggest variety with flying and ground mounts: Horses, dragons, motorcycles, mammoths – you name it, they probably got it. ;) The screenshot on the left shows my warden on her summer festival mount. The next screenshot on the left (a bit further below) shows my character in WoW on her flying dragon. The one below that one, on the right, shows my goblin on her “mount” (well, trike, obviously).
Housing comes up sooner or later when people ask about MMOs. Unfortunately, most developers answer with: “Not in our game, no.” Only LotRO has housing. This, in itself, is very nice. And you can have a sweet little house. However, compared to how other games with houses solved this, I am sorry to say it but LotRO’s housing stinks! You have “hooks” which are predefined areas in a house where only certain items can go. For example: A rug can only go on two or three places in your house. No, you can’t put it in the corner. It’s either in the middle of the room or nowhere at all. You also can’t put a bed in the corner with a shelf next to it and a little stool. If there’s no hook for it, there is no way to put all the furniture next to each other. That’s especially fun when you have a table and a chair. Nope, don’t even think about putting them there next to each other where it’d make sense. ;) You also can’t give a different wall colour to every room. In some cases, two rooms only have one slot for the wall paint. So, it is very restricted! And even though players have been asking for changes over and over again, it doesn’t seem that Turbine sees this high on their priority list. Which is too bad but I guess I am in the minority when I say that I love housing and that’s a big part of what keeps me playing a game. If you want to decide between those three MMOs and you absolutely must have housing, then LotRO is the choice for you.
Also a nice thing for collectors: Titles. There are a ton of titles in LotRO. My hobbit is very proud to be the “Little Wonder” which she had gotten for finding different items in the newest zone Enedwaith. I don’t know if it is complete, but here is a list of titles. WoW has titles as well. Note that you can have a title in front of your name or at the end of your name here. Last but not least, titles in Rift.
WoW and LotRO also offer festivals that fall accordingly to our RL holidays like Christmas, Easter,… LotRO also has a summer festival, WoW has Children’s week and so on. The screenshot on the left shows the maze in LotRO. It’s quite fun to run through it and there are several quests, even timed ones, that lead you through the maze. During these festivals, you can also usually get a new mount or non-combat pets (the latter only in WoW and not in LotRO). Unfortunately, WoW is not friendly to low level players! During the first WoW Brewfest (yes, on time for Germany’s Oktoberfest ;) ), they had fun ram races where you could get a Brewfest Ram for levels 40+. The next year, those rams were not available anymore and you had to be at max level in order to get the faster version of this ram. There was no explanation as to why the low level ram was removed. It just was. Luckily, those who had already gotten the ram in the first year could keep it (and upgrade it to the faster version). LotRO placed all its festival areas into the low level regions. There’s usually no problem at all to participate as a low level character! I don’t know if Rift offers festivals like this. They had a special event some time ago, though, with special rifts taking place all over the world and there were some open world bosses to defeat. Participation in the rifts and doing some special dailies gave you a special currency which could be turned in for special rewards. I think I chose another non-combat pet.
WoW and LotRO offer addons. WoW has had them for a long time and thus, the addons are usually of a very good quality. It is also easy to install, maintain, load or unload addons. LotRO’s addons (or plugins, as they are called) are still in beta. If you have several plugins, you need to load them all manually by typing something like “load plugin XY”. Imagine what that is like when you have a ton of plugins. ;) Of course, plugin developers solved that problem by programming plugin managers. So you only need to load this plugin manager and can then load the other plugins easily without having to type any further commands. Plugins in LotRO are also heavily restricted in what they can do compared to WoW (no looking at the items in your alt’s bank while you are logged into your main character, for example). All in all, the current system leaves a lot to be desired especially when looking at the usability and the plugin interface. You also need to go to Turbine’s forum to the plugin section, find the appropriate thread with a specific download link and download some folders without which a lot of plugins would not work. Hopefully, Turbine can move that whole development out of beta soon and make it easier to use (it started last autumn, I think, when LotRO turned f2p). Still, there are a few addons that I’ve tested and really like. The screenshot on the left shows Palantir: the percentages on the left and the right show her health and power. The bar below my character has spaces to put pots in that are used to get rid of debuffs. The bar on the right shows a buff she’s just activated and how long it’s still active. This bar also shows debuffs if there are any on her. The screenshot on the right shows my character in Rift after she used some item that temporarily changed her appearance. The next two screenshots show mounts in Rift next to the mount vendor.
Plugins/addons are often criticised. Especially when they are made mandatory by your fellow gamers or used in a way to easily spot the “n00bs” and make fun of them – or kick them from your group. There is the infamous “Damage meter” in WoW which shows everybody how much damage you have done and if it is not enough, you are ridiculed (well, not by everybody, of course. But it has happened!). And then there is Gearscore which adds all your items’ item levels. This alone doesn’t say anything about your skill as a player. It just says how great your gear is. And players started to not invite other players who did not have a high gearscore – even for content where a high gearscore was not necessary. But some players think another player with better items means that they must be a good player. Or, to turn the argument around: A player with a low gearscore must be a new (and thus, bad – or not-good, player) and thus, they would not want to have them in their raid.
Cosmetic items: Both Rift and LotRO let you equip items “cosmetically”. You can wear your regular gear but have the appearance of other items. That is very nice if there is this one item that is SO much better than your current one but you don’t like its look at all. LotRO supports this system by having tons of cosmetic items that don’t have any stats on them but only have a nice appearance. If you want to see some examples, have a look at Lotro Stylist and Cosmetic Lotro, two blogs that show different outfits that you can put together. WoW has no such thing. Rift and LotRO also let you dye your gear in different colours. Again, WoW has no such thing.