If you're not so enchanted with decapitation, burly men in thongs and the low (cut) fantasy of Age of Conan, how about popping over to Middle Earth for a bit of posturing high fantasy? Following our two chats with producer Jeffrey Steefel, we've knocked up a few tips for the classes of Lord of the Rings Online. If you fancy starting belatedly, this is a good way of getting an overview of the classes, and an idea of what role they play in a group. We've ordered them in increasing order as to how many of the developers at Turbine play as them, a sort of top ten of the best. Except it's actually a top 9, as there's only 9 classes.
Captain (6 per cent)
With about 1 in 20 of the Turbine boys playing as Aragorn's class, this is the nearest you'll find to one of Conan's classes. Only humans can take this class and it's a weird combination of all roles, performing none particularly well. Indeed, a lot of the captain's abilities are only available when an enemy bites the dust, making this a class that excels in driving the Fellowship forward.
In soloing, a captain is fairly solid, able to handle pretty much anything the game throws at them, but his speciality is acting as the head of a Fellowship, due to his flexibility and ability to mark targets. The captain has the ability to summon heralds (out of combat) or banners (in combat) that give various buffs which, combined with the captain's own powers, make him able to direct his powers to shoring up the weakest elements of particular fellowships. He can also make one compatriot his shield-brother, giving them defensive bonuses. Captains can fill just about any role, able to buff, debuff, heal, resurrect, tank and taunt - though they excel at none of them.
Finally, like the Burglar, if it's all going tits-up, a Captain can really help out; higher-level captains get some astounding survivability powers, giving them an effective last-stand ability while you finish off an enemy, or they can simply increase everyone's run speed for 30 seconds, so you can get the hell of there. If you want to solo and don't mind being something to everybody, be a Captain - just don't expect anyone to ascribe a personality to you.
Champion (8 per cent)
Hmm, so you like killing things? I mean, you like killing lots and lots of things? Because the champion is the killing-things expert, able to do more damage-per-second through his array of area-of-effect attacks than anything else in the game. He's not terribly fragile either, though he has to be careful because he can lose all power in a long fight and his skills can aggro every enemy in the area (including mesmerised or stunned ones).
Moreover, a Champion has a "fervour" mode (frenzy to you and I) where he loses all his defensive abilities in return for doing Massive Damage to lots of people, with the damage increasing the longer he fights. When they're not in this mode, Champions can tank fairly well - but when in it, healers should watch their health carefully - especially as the Champion is likely to be assigned to protecting the healer. Either humans or dwarves can play as champions, and their lack of popularity is probably due to their fragility and their familiarity - they're essentially the barbarian from any other game.
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