In case you were wondering, I'm part of the crowd that doesn't really believe in non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). Oh, if I agree to one I'll stick to it and keep my word, don't get me wrong. What I mean is that I don't believe in the usefulness of NDAs, particularly in a day and age when all the information is available anyway -- this is, after all, the omniscient internet. Not to mention that by trying to keep a lid on testers and prevent them from sharing their experiences, companies tend to suppress the positive accolades (those are the people who want to keep playing, after all) while letting the badmouthers escape to tell their tale (they don't care if they break the NDA, because they're not going to play anyway).

But my personal feelings aside, the brief NDA lockdown on the upcoming LotRO F2P edition (hey Turbine, can we get a name for this yet? LotRO Unlimited? Free-Range LotRO?) has lifted and testers have swarmed out from under its veil to share their stories and thoughts. I'd be remiss if we didn't spend some time this week looking at what people have to say about all of the changes, additions and updates to the game -- not to mention the looming specter of the LotRO store.

Let us see what is to be seen as we scout the forums and blogosphere: LotRO exposed, uncovered, dissected and digested for the good of all. I've pulled salient quotes to help give you an idea how the beta is progressing thus far -- and remember, it is still in beta. Everything here is quite subject to change by the time LotRO II: Hobbit Boogaloo launches.
The store


While the prices are subject to change, one enterprising soul on the forums took the time to make a full list of everything in the store and the Turbine Points cost associated with all of the items. I wanted to mention that before diving into the quotes!

"You see there is one glaringly obvious flaw with the current beta store and that is there is no dressing room option to look at items before purchasing them." (A Casual Stroll to Mordor)

"The Turbine Store is annoying, I have to admit. Taking a look around, it's a little disheartening to see that a long of the things in game (faction mounts, cosmetics, emotes) that people would normally work so hard in-game for are now available for purchase. This seems like a bit too much of a shortcut for me. On the other side, I do like some of the things available that take away, or at least relieve, some of the grind, such as the Deed Acceleration and Rested XP items. Nothing that I saw in the store was game breaking though." (LOTRO Reporter)

"So far, the only thing that really turned me off in the store was some of the morale/power potions in-store that are a little bit over the top (low cooldown) and there's no in-game way to get them (drops of crafted)." (Galahadur)

"Rep mounts in the store is a sticky topic for many" (Northwoods)

"Rep mounts in the store (UGH AND DOUBLE UGH) still very HOTLY debated. Seeing a level 8 riding a Galladhrim horse or the Ashen horse makes me grind my teeth." (Linwe-Elfmaiden)

"The content of the store is fine too, I think this is the perfect balance between what Turbine wants and what the players want." (The Rohanic Elf)

"LotRO is not a PvP game and all of the store items are mostly for your fun and faster advancements through the game content." (Dwarven-Might)

"The LotRO store is ABUNDANTLY in your face. It's literally pushed into your face at every other turn." (Nikito)

"The store pots are definitely WAY over the line." (Gildhur)

"Honestly, beyond the character screen I found the
LotRO store stuff pretty unintrusive." (Semjaza)

Bank vaults and wardrobes

"The wardrobe is VERY nice. I have to give them props about it being successful (it now takes all items -- not just cosmetics)." (Nikito)

"I wasn't sold on the wardrobe at first, but as it has evolved it is definitely one of the best additions this update and one that I will really enjoy." (Robnkarla)

"The new bank and wardrobe are very cool!" (Lilfeet)

"The new wardrobe feature is FANTASTIC!! Seriously uber-wonderful!" (Linwe-Elfmaiden)

"The bank and vault changes are disappointing, no more separate visual bags that you can arrange items in like you want, everything must be alphabetical." (Mark J)

"I love that the level restrictions on storage space have been removed. I can finally have adequate space for ALL of my characters long before I get to level 45 or 50!" (Zyrxagor00)

Instance scaling and new armor sets


"There is a new Great Barrows armour set (level 25) that is really nice. I haven't compared it against crafted stuff, but I'm still wearing a few pieces of it at level 36 because it's better than quest rewards -- even 10 levels later." (Frieja)

"Classic instance scaling is very very cool, even with the new token rewards system." (Hex2323)

"Overall, Great Barrows is a HUGE disappointment to me. Overall, this feels like a generic MMO's instance, or maybe a fancy skirmish. It's hard to apply the term 'classic' to this classic instance. It really feels like that was designed with bored end-game players in mind, rather than new inexperienced players."
(Lohi)

"Some of the updated instances have been changed enough to offer the most seasoned veterans a few surprises and I guarantee that half the people complaining about 'rehashed content' haven't even been in the older instances." (Darkheart06)

Temporary mounts and early riding

"Big one here: temp mounts. You can buy mounts, for any level character, which last from minutes, to hours, to days, to weeks, to a month at a time. At least one person has gotten a level 5 toon all the way to the middle of the new zone using one. So if you can ride, then you no longer have as many restrictions on where you can get to." (Comstrike)

"The new players will love being able to ride a horse immediately upon exiting the starting tutorials in the game. You can just about set your watches to the times new players enter the beta. Just subtract 24 hours from the time they ask the most asked question... 'Where can I get another horse?'" (Frishia)

Enedwaith

"The new zone is pretty neat. The best music in the game is in the new hobbit town." (Nikito)

"The new zone is underwhelming, it's an Echad Dunan region with a few quests thrown in, interaction with the Rangers is cool but that just isn't enough to hold interest for very long." (Mark J)

"The new area, Enedwaith is very cool, has a ton (TON) of quests. In a sense it is similar to Mirkwood in that by and large you can solo most of it, although it is of course much more fun to run around with friends. There are a few VERY cool little surprises tucked away out there..." (Linewe-Elfmaiden)

"After two full days [I] had barely touched much of what was in Enedwaith." (Sirwillow)

"This next update is easily the biggest free update
LotRO has ever had. Short of releasing a full blown boxed expansion like Moria, Turbine couldn't have possibly added anymore to the Enedwaith update." (Darkheart06)

"Enedwaith is beautiful and full of amazing story content. The new dungeon in Eregion (part of Book 2) is easily some of the most fun I've had in the game in years."
(Gildhur)

Aggro reduction

"I actually liked the agro range reduction. I've always thought it was pretty silly and unrealistic to have to wade through mobs every few steps along what is obviously a well-used road or path. This is a welcome change for some of us." (Zyrxagor00)

"The reduced aggro radius is a very poor change in my opinion." (Auximenes)

Graphics

"The DirectX 11 graphics look great! I really notice that this, along with the revamp of the UI, really brought the graphic quality of the game right up." (LOTRO Reporter)

Updated new player experience

"They are nothing extrordinary, simply good." (LOTRO Reporter)

"The changes make everything flow well, and all of the starter stories mesh together now... however, I can't help but feel that the difficulty has gone down by a large amount." (Carlosjuero)

"The beginner areas were changed just enough that it'll be enjoyable to run through them again with an alt." (Nebless)

Lua scripting

"The community really has taken off with the scripting and there's all sorts of very cool things folks have posted. It really has been cool to see how people have been using this new tool but also working together to propose ideas and explain why certain things can't work." (Doc Holiday)

"The new addons kick serious butt! No more squinting at the damned tiny debuff icons!"
(Gedatchnis)

"Lua scripting. Life, made easy." (Hex2323)

Free gifts

"F2P gives new characters a cool Gift Box that contains samples of things you can buy in the Store, plus another gift box inside, kind of like a Russian nesting doll. Each gift box has a minimum level - 5, 6, 7, 8, 8, 10, 15, etc. It's surprisingly simple, yet fun. I felt motivated to level up so I could open the next one." (Mmorsel)

Fall festival

"Best of all tho is the revamped fall festival (I do so love my fluff!) EVERYONE must check out the new haunted cellar! Woooooo!" (PyscoFalcon)

Overall

"Beta was FULL of new players. There are HUNDREDS of people in beta who had never played this game at all." (Gildhur)

"I've seen first hand that this is a positive and enjoyable direction for the game to go. So unless they kill a lot of what is currently in the beta, I'm back to playing again!" (Zyrxagor00)

"One thing you absolutely did not hear about was a lack of content."
(Sirwillow)

"Overall, I'm rather pleased with what I've experienced in beta." (Auximenes)

Hope these testimonials give you at least a taste of dedicated beta tester reactions. Next week we'll take a look at the changes in store for several of LotRO's classes!

This article was originally published on Massively.