Shadows of Angmar was developed by Turbine and released in April 2007. It is a subscription-based online game where players interact with the games environment and AI characters as well other human players online. On September 10th, 2010, a Free-to-Play model similar to Turbine's Dungeons & Dragons Online, was released. Although Shadows of Angmar is bringing a new storyline to the player, the world and the characters are based upon the lore of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit written by J.R.R. Tolkien. Turbine has said that they are trying to be as faithful to the books as possible. The players start simultaneously as Frodo and his company starts his journey from The Shire, and as the player progress through their own storyline, they'll be reminded of the Fellowship's whereabouts and sometimes they'll even meet each other.
In the game there are currently four playable races.
There are seven different playable classes, each has its own special skills and abilities.
Burglar's, commonly referred to as burgs, are the stealth/sneak class. They focus on sneaking up to the enemy and laying down the critical strikes. One of their main roles in a fight is to steal the enemies ability to deal damage and to deploy Fellowship Manoeuvres to benefit the group. They mainly use evading as a means of defense. Burgs are available to the Hobbit and Man races.
The Captain's primary role is to buff the group. They have heralds (pets) that help maintain buffs while in and out of combat. At later levels the captain has the ability to resurrect fallen allies, making them an incredible asset to any group. Captains are available only to the race of Man.
Champions are the main melee DPS class. They have AOE attacks that enable them to dish out damage to their foes. Champions are limited to Dwarves, Elves, and Men.
Guardians are the tank class of LoTRO. Their primary purpose is to keep the enemies' attention, allowing the group to do what's necessary in order to defeat the enemy. Dwarves, Elves, Men and Hobbits can all be Guardians.
The Hunter class is responsible for ranged-burst DPS. Hunters are arguably the most feared on a battlefield for their ability to dish out massive damage in single hits. Hunters come in 4 races: Men, Hobbits, Elves and Dwarves.
The Lore-Master class is the crowd-control class, which allows the group to take control of any fight. Lore-Masters, much like captains, also have pets that assist with many tasks. Men and Elves are the only classes able to be a Lore-Master.
The Minstrel is the primary healing class. Armed with a musical instrument, they raise morale (health) to their group. As expected with any game, the Minstrel is a very important class to have. Men, Elves, Hobbits and Dwarves are able to play as minstrels.
With the expansion pack Mines of Moria, two new classes were introduced to the ranks.
Rune-Keeper's are a hybrid healing and burst damage class. Arguably the best class and most overpowered for the abilities they have, but they are limited to whatever they are using. For instance, the Rune-Keeper cannot heal after using a bunch of attack spells, nor can it attack when using healing spells. Depending on the situation though, a good Rune-Keeper can turn the tide of a battle. Only Elves and Dwarves are able to be Rune-Keepers.
Wardens are another tanking class, though they lack the ability to tank like a Guardian. The Warden class relies on combination moves to buff themselves, allowing for versatility on the battlefield. Able to use ranged tactics as well as melee, Wardens can also prove to be a huge threat. Men, Elves, and Hobbits are the only classes allowed to be Wardens.
During the beginning there were 11 areas available for the player to visit, two of these were released for free after launch. All of the regions are located within the area of Eriador. Turbine has said that more of Middle-Earth will be available through both free updates and expansion packs. Expansion packs will follow the Fellowship's journey and bring Moria, Mirkwood, Rhovanion, Rohan, Gondor and Mordor for the player to visit and help out against the evil that lay there.
The gameplay is what you expect from a modern MMO. That involves earning experience by killing monsters and completing quests. The experience is then used to gain levels. When gaining levels you improve your characters skills and abilities with the help of a class trainer that only takes a few coins for the service.
One of the things that separates this game from others in the MMORPG genre is its way to handle instances. The main difference is that the instances are very story-driven, an example of that is the beginning of the game. After just creating your character, you'll experience your first set of instances that starts your own epic questline of which you'll continue through in the form of different books. Instances comes to the player through the story, due to the reason that other players could already have been there in the storyline. That is why you get yourself your own private instance to immerse yourself within when you progress through your own epic storyline and some other important quests.
This is Lord of the Rings Online's answer to PvP. Here you can take control over an evil monster (creep) and fight against the Free People of Middle-Earth (freep). There are 5 different playable classes in monster play for the player to choose from.
- Warg - This is the stealthy class that uses it's ability to sneak in undetected, strike their target hard and heavy, then leave in a flash. The wargs are wolves and are most effective with a pack rather then just alone.
- War-Leaders - War Leaders are healers of sorts that also can buff the tribes of monsters as they fight the free peoples. A good War Leader is essential to the success of the monsters.
- Black Arrow - This ranged DPS class strikes the Free Peoples with their arrows. Not really suited for a melee fight, although from a distance they can be a terror to any freep player.
- Weaver - These spiders are best for the DOT's and ranged crowd control. They also have certain ambush tactics that are deadly to their foes.
- Orc Reaver - The damage class. Able to dual wield their weapons they rush into battle in a frenzy in an attempt to kill their opponents.
- Orc Defiler - These orcs focus on healing their groups, their damage is little but their true value lies in the heals they bring to keep their side alive as the fights rage on.
In Middle-Earth, music plays an important factor. These factors can include everything from the minstrels lovely tunes that boost morale, to the local band that plays music for the guests at The Prancing Pony in Bree. In the game you can play a lot of different instruments for the entertainment of your friends.
You're able to buy a home of your own in Middle-Earth, where you can stash your treasures and arrange parties with your neighbors.
Book 13 came with the introduction of the hobby system. Now you can find yourself a quiet lake in the Shire and start fishing. Currently, only fishing is available, but the developer's have mentioned that they want to add more, whether they will or not remains to be seen.
When Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) was launched in April 2007, it featured eight "books". Each book contained a series of quests, usually centered around supporting ancillary characters to the Fellowship. The quests varied in length, difficulty and objective, with a mixture of single-player, small group and large group instances. The books usually completed a self-contained story-line that added to the game's narrative, and ended with an instanced quest and full motion video vignette. Subsequent updates to the game have added additional books, for a total of 14 books in the Shadows of Angmar storyline. Turbine has announced that with The Mines of Moria expansion pack a new series of books will begin.
The initial 8 books that were released along with the game are:
- Book I: Stirrings in the Darkness - Players assist Aragorn in and around Bree, including the Old Forest.
- Book II:The Red Maid - Players assist Radaghast the Brown in and around the Lone Lands.
- Book III: The Council of the North - Players help in the defense of Trestlebridge in the North Downs.
- Book IV:Chasing Shadows - Players search the Trollshaws for a missing Nazgul, with help from Legolas.
- Book V: The Last Refuge - Players assist Gimli and his father Gloin in stopping the Nazgul from resurrecting Thorog, a long-dead dragon in the MIsty Mountains.
- Book VI: Fires in the North - Players work to connect the Eastern and Western halves of Angmar.
- Book VII:The Hidden Hope - Players assist Lorniel in finding her captured father at the gates of Carn Dum.
- Book VIII: The Scourge of the North - Continues the storyline from Book VII in Angmar.
The books released through DLC are:
- Book IX: Shores of Evendim - Added new region of Evendim to the game and "Helegrod", a 24-player raid.
- Book X: The City of Kings: Added Annuminas (instanced dungeon)
- Book XI: Defenders of Eriador - Added player housing and "The Rift", a 12-player raid.
- Book XII: The Ashen Wastes
- Book XIII: Doom of the Last King - Added new region of Forochel to the game.
- Book XIV: The Ring-forges of Eregion - Added new region of Eregion to the game.
PC System Requirements
- Processor: Intel Pentium® 4 1.8 GHz or equivalent
- Video: 64 MB NVIDIA® GeForce® 3 or ATI® Radeon® 8500
- DirectX: DirectX® 9.0c
- OS: Windows® XP
- RAM: 512 MB
- Disk Space: 7 GB available
- Internet: 56kbps Modem
- Optical Drive: 2x DVD-ROM
Recommended System Requirements:
- Processor: Intel Pentium® 4 2.8 GHz or equivalent
- Video: 128 MB NVIDIA® GeForce® FX 6800 or ATI® Radeon® X850
- DirectX: DirectX® 9.0c
- OS: Windows® XP / Vista
- RAM: 1 GB
- Disk Space: 10 GB available
- Internet: Broadband DSL/Cable
- Optical Drive: 2x DVD-ROM
Mac System Requirements
- OS: 10.7.5
- Processor: 2.0 GHz Intel Core i5
- Memory: 2 GB
- HardDisk Space: 25 GB of available space
- Video Card: Intel HD Graphics 3000 or better
- Sound: Integrated Sound
- OS: 10.7.5
- Processor: 2.0 GHz Intel Core i7
- Memory: 4 GB
- Hard Disk Space: 25 GB of available space
- Video Card: nVidia GeForce GT 650M or better
- Sound: Integrated Sound