In spending a chunk of time rediscovering Lord of the Rings Online this past week, I’ve paid attention to the Deed log (or as we call it in the Shire, the D’og) and thought about how it compares to the much newer Tome of Knowledge in Warhammer. They share similarities, to be sure, probably much more so than Warhammer and WoW’s Achievement system. So how does it stack up in my eyes, and is it insane that I’m wearing shorts in 32-degree weather because I refuse to capitulate to spring’s odd temperament? Let us see.
Interface and Flavor
LOTRO’s Deed log is fairly simple, yet functional. It consists of several pages that can be tabbed back and forth (tabs are both above and below the interface). Each section lets you toggle between deeds that are completed and those you’ve yet to finish (which have a progress bar attached), along with whatever rewards lie at the end of the road. There’s a minimal graphic on the bottom of the pages, but nothing eye-catching.
WAR’s Tome is laid out as a book, with the look and animation of one flipping through the pages. It has tabs on the left-hand side and hyperlinks within to let you access whatever content you’re seeking. The Tome not only holds all of the unlocks, but your quests as well. Pages can be accessed by clicking on the quest areas on the map (red blotches) or by clicking unlock notices when they pop up. Several of the pages have maps or graphics (especially the bestiary) to admire.
Winner? The Tome by a long shot. The Deed log is, as I said, functional, but it’s just another interface; the Tome is one of the shining features of WAR, and its quality of design is apparent.
One of the biggest similarities between the Tome and the Deed log is that they are both the path to gaining titles for your character. WarWiki lists 372 unlockable titles for WAR (although that may certainly not be the true number). LOTRO doesn’t have quite that many, although they certainly have pumped into the hundreds. Both games allow you to choose one title to display to everyone as you bop merrily along your way, and as such, represent a visual customization of your character.
While I’m a big fan of titles and happy both games have them, I’m going to give WAR the aesthetic edge. WAR has better titles and in greater quantity; many of LOTRO’s are, to me, simply not interesting (a bulk of them are things like “Spider-Slayer” and “Troll-Slayer” for doing kill deeds). Also — and this is incredibly petty of me — I like how WAR puts the title under the character’s name. LOTRO shoves it beside their name on the screen, which results in some mondo-awfully long character name lines rushing at you, some of which require a panoramic view to fully appreciate.
Both the Tome and the Deed log offer experience point bonuses to completing tasks, so we’ll acknowledge that and call it a wash between them.
Mythic’s focus for the Tome of Knowledge was put out there early on — that no player would ever be required to do Tome unlocks to remain competitive in PvP, and as such, the entirety of the Tome’s rewards would benefit PvE only. As such, the Tome’s only contribution to character power and strength is through the elusive (and frustrating) Tome Tactics, of which you can only have one equipped, and only affects PvE critters. The remainder of the Tome rewards are pure fluff — statless cloaks, pocket items and trophies for more visual customization.
I find myself leaning to LOTRO’s Deed log as a far better way to build up my character. Half of LOTRO’s character advancement is not found in pure leveling, where you gain XP and levels to get new skills and bump up stats, but instead through deeds. A majority of LOTRO’s traits are gained through the Deed log, making it your one-stop shop for customizing your character’s strengths. Virtues, class traits, racial traits and legendary traits can be worked toward and eventually attained, which allows you to create builds and be a bit creative. I simply feel more rewarded doing deeds than unlocks.
Progress and Tracking
Many of WAR’s unlocks are one shot deals — do task X or go to place Y, and *bam* you got it. However, several of them are based around doing Z a certain number of times, as with a majority of the Deed log’s achievements. So how does each game aid you in figuring out how you’re progressing?
While both games feature hidden, reactive achievements that open up when you stumble upon them, WAR’s are far more secretive vs. LOTRO’s, which (like the one ring of power) want to be found. WAR prefers to keep the number needed for the next unlock in a certain area under the hood — you’re simply told when you’ve finally crossed that threshold. LOTRO respects me a bit more by not only giving me a progress bar, but the option to have it show up on my HUD’s quest tracker, which is invaluable when I need to know how many more goblins to kill or times to use a certain skill. LOTRO by a mile here.
The Story of My Character
LOTRO’s Deed log wasn’t exactly designed to be a full, comprehensive story of my character’s experience in the game, unlike the Tome of Knowledge, so this isn’t a fair comparison at all, but that’s okay. It’s nice to see which areas of the game in LOTRO you’ve plowed through the deeds, but it doesn’t tell you a lot about the trials and tribulations you’ve gone through.
The Tome’s purpose as a pseudo-biography of your character’s journies is far better realized, although not perfect. It’s great to have all that information in one place, including the zone storylines and various stats of your accomplishments and failures. It certainly has room to expand, and if Mythic backs up their words, it shall be so.
While holding similar purposes at times, the Tome and the Deed log are different beasts. The Tome’s greatest strengths are in providing you with a fuller story experience in the game, giving you plenty of fluff rewards, and encouraging exploration and experimentation. The Deed log’s strengths more lie in straight-forward character advancement and customization via traits.