Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar has the unpleasant honor of entering into the MMO market where the shadow of World of Warcraft looms over all. From what we've seen and heard, the Turbine developed game is the first real contender to enter the market in a long time. It may not usher an immediate deathblow to WoW, but the fellowship of the ring has a long journey and they're ready to battle.
Joystiq spent some time at Turbine meeting with the team behind LotRO. One of the key things that stood out was the polish of the product and the fact that those we spoke to weren't being deceitful in their presentation of the game -- a rare occurrence to say the least. The team knows they've got something good on their hands.
Lead Designer Nikolaus Davidson says the team wasn't being naive on this project. They know they aren't entering a fresh market where the last big game is forgotten. MMOs live a long time and there is a dominating force in the genre. Turbine had to develop LotRO to enter and compete with the two-year-old World of Warcraft. Offering gamers something different, yet accessible, and having some innovations not seen in WoW.
Although Turbine's last game, Dungeons & Dragons Online, did not involve the same development team, that game does hang over the company. Davidson says the LotRO team learned plenty of lessons from DDO and that they are completely different games. He also notes that DDO is entirely different now than when it launched and that speaks to Turbines ability to take feedback and implement new content effectively. He says they will be just as effective in fixing any LotRO issues. When asked how he would react to someone saying that Turbine made DDO and that game was awful, so LotRO will also be awful, Davidson responds, "In DDO we made a game around rules, with Lord of the Rings we made rules around a game."
We'll continue to follow the development of LotRO. Along with Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning by EA Mythic this fall, it look like there might finally be some competition in the MMO market.