It's been at least two years since The Lord of the Rings Online was first announced (albeit under the name Middle-Earth Online), but it looks like players will need to wait a bit longer before wandering around a massively multiplayer Shire. The early version shown is based on the same engine that powers Dungeons & Dragons Online, and while it was running smoothly, there's no release date to announce.
The game will offer four races - human, dwarf, elf and hobbit - and seven classes, including Burglar, Captain and Hunter. The game will be story driven and not just random missions; there is an "end" to the Shadows of Angmar storyline, which involves the Witch King. Future expansion packs will have their own subtitles and unlock new realms.
The good news is that the gameplay is promised to be straightforward, not unlike World of Warcraft - the game will be soloable but is designed to be more engaging at higher levels, and a six-person party system will make sure that you can play with your friends too. We've got a video sneak peek to hold you over until the game's release, which doesn't seem likely until 2007. Click the Movies tab and enjoy.
May 11, 2006