FiringSquad: How will the game handle the quests and storylines and will we see the game progress through the events of the novels?
Jeffrey Steefel: There will be over 1200 quests in the game at launch. As the game progresses we will advance the storyline, but again the game is really about creating your own character’s story during the War of the Ring. We want players to feel they can go out and do their own things rather than follow a predetermined path. Many of the quests tie back to the main story in the books, but many of them allow players to live their own adventure too.
FiringSquad: How will the combat system be handled in the game and what can players expect to face in terms of creatures and enemies?
Jeffrey Steefel: The combat system is quite diverse in that players can immediately engage in battle using the Auto Attack feature or take things to the next level using skills that your earn as you advance through Middle-earth. These skills can be modified by using Traits that area acquired through accomplishments achieved throughout the game. LOTRO’s combat system also uses special events (determined by the player’s class) to open up abilities that make combat more interactive. One sample of this would be the Captain’s “Cry of Victory” that fires off whenever anyone in his fellowship defeats an enemy.
Conjunctions are another unique feature in LOTRO. They allow a party to apply their skills in combination during attack. A member of the party uses a skill to place the opponent in a vulnerable state (dazed, knocked back) and then icons appear immediately on the other party members’ screens. The players have seconds to select an icon, and the resulting combination of individual skills is combined into a “Group Skill” that results in a coordinated group attack. The system is designed to be useful even if you do not know it well, but even more effective for groups that know the unique combinations and their effects. This encourages group play, cooperation, and provides increasing complexity for advanced players who want it. At launch, LOTRO will have over 2200 unique and authentic monsters for players to challenge as they defend Middle-earth.
FiringSquad: What other gameplay elements do you think are important?
Jeffrey Steefel: The Accomplishments and Traits system in LOTRO is something that is quite unique and players will really enjoy. Players can advance their heroes in Middle-earth through combat AND exploration. As you discover new areas of the Middle-earth or complete a series of quests, your character will earn accomplishments that provide access to special “Traits”. These Traits enable special abilities for a period of time, regardless of class. For example, players who complete all of the quests in Bree-land can earn the “Empathy” trait. This trait gives the player +2 to their armor value while also increasing their resistance to fear attacks. Traits modify your skills, so you can alter your character’s abilities almost at will by visiting an NPC minstrel in any town.
FiringSquad: What is the current time-table for beta testing the game and for the final release?
Jeffrey Steefel: The game is currently in Beta and we expect to launch the game in the Spring of 2007. We will continue to invite more players into the Beta Program as we progress towards launch.
FiringSquad: Finally is there anything else you wish to say about the current status of Lord of the Rings Online?
Jeffrey Steefel: Absolutely! If you haven’t signed up for the Beta yet, now is a great time to do so. We’re inviting tons of players and the game is already receiving great reviews from players and press alike. It’s only going to get better from here! Players can sign up for the Beta by visiting: http://www.lotro.com/betasignup.
Elemental: Fallen Enchantress Preview Elemental: Fallen Enchantress is a standalone expansion pack and follow-up to developer Stardock's previous game in the series, subtitled War of Magic. That 4X strategy game was highly-anticipated and slated to compete with games such as Sid Meier's Civilization V for your turn-based strategy play-time, but was released in an incredibly broken and unfinished state that it never fully recovered from. Lead designer Brad Wardell apologized profusely to fans and set out with his team to go back to the drawing board and try again.
Almost two years later, the result of that proverbial mulligan is currently undergoing closed beta testing. In today's article, Will reports his thoughts on how Fallen Enchantress is shaping up, and will tell you whether or not you should be keeping an eye on it as it nears release later this year.
The Elder Scrolls Online Details Leak - Should Fans Be Excited? The Elder Scrolls Online, long rumored to be in development, was officially announced yesterday. Still in development at Zenimax Online Studios, this MMO aims to combine traditional genre mechanics with the spirit and sensibilities, not to mention setting and lore, of the immensely popular series of single-player RPGs. Though the game is set for a full unveiling in the next issue of Game Informer magazine, what appears to be the entire cover story article has been leaked to the interwebs already. In today's article, you'll find summary and analysis of all the alleged details, as well as feast your eyes on the very first screenshots and concept art from the game. Of course, the burning question now is, should you be excited?
ANNO 2070 Review
The year is 2070. The majority of life on Earth was devastated when global sea levels surged after the melting of the polar ice caps. Swaths of previously habitable land are now deep underwater, and sovereign nations are a relic of the past. But there is still hope...
This city-building RTS/simulation game from Ubisoft tasks you with re-colonizing what little land areas are left on the planet following a global warming apocalypse. Does it have what it takes to be worthy of your time and money, or should it be cast out to sea with the rest of civilization? Find out in today's review!
Mass Effect 3 PC Review
This latest release from EA/BioWare is the final entry in their trilogy of sci-fi action RPGs, putting you in a dire situation: rally the troops to save Earth at all costs. There was a lot of hype surrounding the final act of what has been a vast and highly-customizable story-telling experience, and the reception among many hardcore fans has been less than stellar. Even people that haven't played the game have probably heard about all the nerd rage going on over Mass Effect 3's ending...
If you want to cut through all the crap and find out whether or not the rest of ME3 is worth playing, come check out Will's spoiler-free take on the first blockbuster game release of 2012.
Batman: Arkham City PC Review Batman: Arkham City is the sequel to 2009’s smash-hit action game Batman: Arkham Asylum. As the name suggests, you will be reprising your role as the Caped Crusader and going against an even larger 'prison' filled with Gotham's criminals and villains. A textbook example on how to do a proper sequel, Arkham City takes what worked in the original, excised or improved upon what didn’t, and elevated everything to an even greater scope. The PC version suffered from a few months of delay, but in that time, Rocksteady worked closely to NVIDIA to implement some familiar technologies from the last game, such as PhysX and 3D Vision, along with new DirectX 11 optimizations. But how well was the whole package executed? Read on to find out!
Saints Row: The Third PC Review Saints Row is one of most unique series of games to build upon the open-world action template forged by Grand Theft Auto, and has met with plenty of critical and commercial success since it began on consoles back in 2006. This latest iteration, titled Saints Row: The Third promises the most outlandish fun and freedom of customization of them all, and in a much more PC-friendly package than its predecessor. Does it live up to those expectations and, more importantly, is it worth the price of admission? Find out in Will's latest review!
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim PC Review The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is Bethesda Softworks’ latest offering in their series of epic fantasy RPGs, as well as one of the most highly-anticipated PC titles of 2011. As the Dovahkiin, or Dragonborn, prepare to take the fight to the mythical beasts that have returned to the realm after centuries of slumber, all the while exploring a huge and highly-detailed open world.
The PC version of the game promises enhanced graphical fidelity, standard RPG trimmings such as hotkeys and quick-save, as well as unbridled mod support, something we’ll all be thankful for once they release that SDK. Skyrim has already sold millions of copies and set records for play-time on Steam... Find out why in today's review, which happens to be one of the biggest and most in-depth articles on the subject out there!
L.A. Noire Complete Edition PC Review L.A. Noire, as the name clearly states, is a video game built on the tropes of one of the greatest periods of American cinema: film noir. Developed by the now defunct Australian developer Team Bondi and published by Rockstar Games, this title has been out on consoles for a full six months before finally making its way to the PC. This “Complete Edition” of the game features improved graphics, keyboard/mouse controls, and every bit of previously-released DLC for free. But was it truly worth the wait? Read on and find out!
Mass Effect 3 PC Demo Impressions Mass Effect 3, EA/BioWare's third iteration in their series of sci-fi action RPGs and one of the most anticipated titles of the year, is fast approaching its March 6th release. This week, though, they released a playable demo on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 that offers a glimpse into both the single-player and multi-player portions of the full game.
Whether you're waiting impatiently for your download to finish or don't have the time to check it out yourself, go ahead and read some impressions of the demo from resident FSers Synch and Vandy in today's article!
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Xbox 360 Review
The self-appointed "most anticipated game in history" launched worldwide this past Tuesday. Why, it's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, of course (of course), what else? Unsurprisingly, the military FPS debate between this and Battlefield 3 rages on, but now that both have been released, surely we can take a look and objectively evaluate them both? Luke's taken the Xbox version of MW3 for a spin this week, so to find out what he thinks of it in today's review!