Monday, August 13, 2007

EQ2 vs. LotRO

I was asked to write a comparison of Everquest 2 to Lord of the Rings Online. Which of these two games should you buy? First of all, both of these are good games. You can't recommend one over the other without knowing a bit more about the person who wants to buy a game. The immediate answer to "should I buy EQ2 or LotRO?" is the counter question of "why not World of Warcraft?", with WoW being such a glaring omission on this short list. If somebody is deciding only between EQ2 and LotRO you basically have to assume he already played WoW.

Lord of the Rings Online is the more accessible game of the two. I would also say it has the prettier graphics, but beauty being in the eye of the beholder I'm sure of getting some comments disagreeing with that statement. LotRO's ultimate strength is it's Tolkien license. LotRO does an excellent job of getting you right into the world of Middle Earth as described in the books. You can't play Frodo, Gandalf or any other of the Fellowship of the Ring. But your adventures have a relation with the events from the trilogy, and you meet many of the same characters that Frodo met on his journey. Lord of the Rings Online is a rather casual MMORPG. It is easy to play even if you just have short play sessions available. LotRO's major weakness is it's length: It is excellent in the lower levels, okay in the mid-levels, and gets weaker and thinner in the higher levels. If you are a hardcore player playing MMORPGs over 20 hours a week, you basically "finish" LotRO in half a year or less. Of course this is something that will get better over time, with content patches and expansions added to the game. Slower players will have no problems with that.

Everquest 2 is a much bigger game. With 3 expansions and 3 adventure packs, plus another expansion announced for November, you're not at risk of running out of content in this game anytime soon. But, while not as hardcore as Everquest 1 or Vanguard, in direct comparison EQ2 is more hardcore than LotRO. It is more complex and less accessible, giving you less guidance, but more room to find out things for yourself. The lore of EQ2 is consistent with itself and the EQ universe, but of course it is a lot less well-known than the Lord of the Rings lore. EQ1 veterans will have a lot of "oh, look!" moments, like the hollow tree trap in Blackburrow, but for anyone else there is no connect to a story you already know. Looking through an old review of EQ2 of mine, I must say that most of the things I said back then about technical problems and the game not being feature complete have been resolved by now. It is hard to point at a single thing and call it the major weakness of EQ2. The game still suffers from some needless complexity and lack of information given in-game, but of course that is easily remedied by looking them up on fansites or databases.

In summary, for all Tolkien fans, casual and new players I would recommend Lord of the Rings Online. For the more hardcore players and Everquest veterans I would recommend Everquest 2.

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