As reported in a recent post I’m going to make an effort this year with housing in MMORPGs. First up is the housing in Lord of the Rings Online, the game has had housing for a very, very long time (added in patch in 2007) and I’ve never quite gotten around to even looking at it properly.
The game has a mix of good and somewhat basic aspects in its housing system. I really like that the houses exist in neighbourhoods, which are shared instances so you can see other players active nearby. The neighbourhood has some common facilities like a vendor and vault access at the centre. Also each house has a mailbox outside as standard.
The basic house itself is a simple two room affair, very like the little standard apartments I have on several characters in Everquest 2. The big difference from that other game’s housing though is the use of hooks to place items of a specific type in set locations.
I’m seeing this system from a backwards perspective to some other MMO gamers since I’ve seen this same system in SWTOR, a later game, but only now am I seeing it in LoTRO. The system is simple enough to use although the UI could do with being a bit more obvious – I didn’t notice the tiny “decorate mode” toggle on the mini-map that enables you to place, move and remove items.
I’ve dumped the more appealing of the items I’ve collected on my main character in the house and yard for now. The outdoor space that surrounds the house inside the neighbourhood instance is also yours to decorate, that’s a really nice feature. It reminds me of Wildstar’s housing plot, where the house is actually only the central feature of a wider outdoor space.
Owning a house in the game also brings an in-game benefit. Firstly I have a house chest as extra storage, great for keeping those housing items in that have taken vault space for all these years. Secondly I now have a “go-to-house” teleport skill. I think conventional wisdom on forums and the like is to buy a house that offers the most useful teleport to your characters – each housing area is outside one of the four racial main cities. So logically I shouldn’t have bought a Bree house for a human character since he has a “return to Bree” skill already. I would probably ignore such ‘min-max’ style considerations anyway as I think he would want a home near his own city but the extra benefit of this choice is that most of my alt characters are not humans. Housing is per account and all my characters will get the “go-to-house” skill so now they all get to port to Bree much easier!
The system is simple and easy to get started with. I’ve had to temper my expectations because it is naturally not quite up to the EQ2 and Wildstar standard. But the neighbourhood concept is nice enough, I saw another active player in there within minutes of buying the plot. The dilemma now is whether to concentrate on trying to find nice items out in the world or to work on my woodworker alt to be able to craft stuff myself!