Can LotRO’s Helm’s Deep Bring Fresh Blood to the MMO?
As you stand atop the battlements of Helm’s Deep repelling waves of Saruman’s orcish intruders, you can take on one of three roles, each with its own set of skills, talent tree choices and buffs. The Officer role allows you to command NPC defenders in battle, boosting their attack abilities, healing the wounded soldiers and telling them what weapons to use. It’s an RTS player’s dream.
The Engineer role allows the player to use his wits to protect the mountain city. From aiming and firing a catapult, to dropping rocks on the heads of orcs below to repairing the banners that inspire the defending army, the Engineer has many ways to contribute to the victory of the Free Peoples.
And then there’s the Vanguard role. This player does not stand back commanding others or scurry about tinkering with devices. He stands on the battlements above the ladders used by the orcs to scale the wall ready to stab anything in the face that dares pop it’s head over the top of the wall. Repeatedly and without mercy.
These roles act as overlays to the player’s class and, as mentioned above, have their own talent trees. This is a similar system to the combat horses introduced in the Riders of Rohan expansion. Those trusty steeds can also be configured with via their extensive talent trees (three separate ones each with three branches of their own).
Not to mention the mercenary system from Mirkwood and the needlessly complex legacy weapon system introduced in the Mines of Moria expansion. Then there’s your character class tree system (which is getting a much needed overhaul for this expansion.)
I’m all for customization, but there comes a point where feature fatigue sets in, and LotRO is getting dangerously close. Try taking a break from the game for six months and come back to find your legacy weapon points have been refunded yet again. Where did you have those points before? What do these different enhancement slots do? How does it work with my character’s talent build? How are new players supposed to grapple with all these systems when they really just want to put a sword through the facehole of an Uruk-hai orc trying to overrun Helm’s Deep?