As Sapience has posted, the NDA on the LOTRO Beta has been lifted.  I’m pretty surprised they did it this early, but I’m not going to complain if they decide to release this sooner as opposed to later.  There are tons of posts up on the boards but if you don’t want to sift through those I will share my thoughts so far.  I will admit that I haven’t done everything but will break my post up in a few different topics as well as spread them out a bit.  I’ve already talked a bunch about the store so I’m not going to talk about that.  Once the servers come back up I will be posting some screen shots as well but I’m sure others will have them up shortly too :)  Also, if you have any specific questions let me know and I’ll see what I can do to answer them.

Starting off with my main class, the Wardens have gotten some nice bumps at the cost of a potentially nasty bruise.  The biggest change is that our various carvings now apply to not only the gambits but the builders themselves.  For me this not only made a significant difference in my power usage, but since I didn’t have to pull back as much I also had a nice DPS boost.  Also Wardens will be getting a Muster to Forochel which while not game breaking is nice to fill out the skills.  The biggest “nerf” is that our Gambit recovery skills are now “fast” skills as opposed to immediate which means you can’t use them to interrupt long animations like Defiant Challenge.  I’m a bit on the fence about this one as Defiant Challenge really is now back to a crappy legendary but I understand that they need to be careful as it could be overpowered.  Not much else changed, but for other thoughts and ideas, check out the live boards for other reactions.

The Captain class was changed pretty significantly and for the most part I think for the good. They’ve added an additional combat skill “Sure Strike” available at level 1, which does the same damage as Defensive Strike but cannot be blocked or parried. This really does help smooth things out such that you’re not waiting for cooldowns during combat. The other changes are in the trait lines as they’ve made some tweaks to the Leader of Men and Lead the Charge lines. Essentially the pet buffs from the Leader of Men lines have been moved to the Lead the Charge lines including the Oathbreaker pet as part of the Lead the Charge capstone. The Leader of Men capstone now has the increased threat mark and the application of the Shield brother buffs to your entire fellowship. The downside for Captains is the nerf of our banners to now provide rating increases and not percentages. Pretty much across the board this will result in a hefty drop in damage and a drop in morale/power. They’ve helped this a little bit with the addition of level 65 armaments and standards but it still doesn’t quite balance out. Essentially they’ve balanced it out more such that Heralds are viable again, but at the sacrifice of banners.  Heralds also did get some other tweaks, but being a banner Captain I didn’t look at those at all but check out this thread on the live forums as folks are posting their thoughts as well.

There are two new armor sets available and I will have new versions of my armor spreadsheets posted here shortly as I did grab the info for both Wardens and Captains.  They’ve updated both the Annuminas sets (so there’s a light, medium, and heavy) as well as the class specific ones from Helegrod.  You can still get the old sets, but there are completely new level 65 sets as well.  One real cool thing here is this now provides a Medium Armour Radiance set for Minstrels :)  I do like the idea of the sets as it gives another option for radiance progression and doesn’t make the current sets irrelavent either.

And finally, I wanted to touch on the new 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.  The main ones I’ve enjoyed have been the inventory tweaks, travel windows for Hunter and Warden ports, combat enabled quickslots, and changes to the “vitals” display.  The scripts only allow access to your own information but provides another way to display health/mana and a customizable way to see buffs and debuffs.  A couple of examples are making the expiration of buffs/debuffs easier to understand and pick and choose which buffs/debuffs you care about.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be using some of these when this goes live as I don’t see them as game breaking or cheating but just making the User Interface more effective for me and my play-style.  These plugins also really help with the cluttered quickslot bars as it allows you to clear off a bunch of things and order/display them exactly how you want.

I’ll have more updates as well go, but wanted to get this out up front.