Looking at my stat counter, I notice quite a few hits have arrived from searching for "eq2 vs lotro". I saw a question posted on forums today by someone who recently left LOTRO and picked up EQ2. They were wanting to know what they would find in EQ2 that was not in LOTRO. Amidst the "SOE charges for everything, while Turbine gives free updates" debate, I attempted to answer the question that was actually asked. Since I no longer play either game, I thought I'd expand on that answer in hopes of giving an unbiased (somewhat) comparison. So for those of you who landed here in your EQ2 vs. LOTRO pursuit, here goes:
1. Armor/Weapon Upgrades - There are more options and more availability of decent items in EQ2. For similar upgrades in LOTRO, you will have to obtain them as rewards for group quests. Those who prefer full grouping and feeling they've "earned" their armor, might prefer LOTRO. Those who prefer having more options available, whether it be through purchasing via the auction house, obtaining from quests or raids, or crafting armor for themselves, might prefer EQ2. Without a doubt, armor drops off of npc's are more plentiful in EQ2. In two years' time in LOTRO, this may well change.
2. In-Game Expenses - Armor repair and auction house fees are negligible in EQ2. In LOTRO, along with travel expenses, these costs put a large dent in your wallet on a daily basis.
3. Graphics - The graphics of EQ2, along with the zoning will stress your system more than LOTRO. So if you have an older computer, LOTRO will perform better. One graphic style is not better than the other. They are just personal preference. EQ2's landscapes and structures have more a photo-realistic quality, while LOTRO has more of a painted fantasy feel.
4. Travel Times - With the harbor bells, speedy griffons and horses, travel will be quicker in EQ2. Both horse routes and player run speed are pretty slow in LOTRO. Some prefer longer travel times and consider it "meaningful."
5. Crafting - Crafting is by far more rewarding in EQ2. The items you make are useful, is not that costly to level, and you can make a very good living doing nothing but crafting. If you wish to be a pure crafter in LOTRO, you will need some high level friends to help you through the required crafting quests. To earn a reasonable profit, your best bet is to sell the raw resources rather than finished product.
6. Dungeons - If you enjoy a raid-type experience with a high likelihood of failure, but that can be done with six players, LOTRO would be more your style. If you like a dungeon crawl with a small group of not necessarily optimal classes, then EQ2 it is. We often duoed certain dungeons in EQ2, killing named mobs and acquiring nice upgrades for ourselves. This was not an option in LOTRO.
7. Grouping - If you want to find a group quickly, currently LOTRO will offer you more opportunities here. This may change down the road as the game matures, but as it stands now, groups are plentiful. As long as you're not picky about which quest is being worked on, you should have little trouble finding a group.
8. Experience - The way experience works in LOTRO is a bit unforgiving. You really need to kill npc's and complete quests when they are equal level, or con white. If you kill a blue, you take a big hit to experience. If you kill a yellow, the extra gain is so minor that it's not worth the effort and armor repair. Quests and deeds work the same way. Although with deeds, there is no stated level, so you have to guess what level it might be and complete as soon as possible or risk getting little experience. In EQ2, killing blues and greens is a very viable way to level, and taking on yellows is even better.
9. Classes - There are much fewer classes to choose from in LOTRO, but the ones they do have were done fairly well. I often thought I'd like to carry my captain or loremaster from LOTRO and bring it over the the EQ2 world, as I seemed to enjoy them more overall than the classes in played in EQ2. The only thing I didn't like are required class quests. EQ2 had them at release and eliminated them later. But some people like that sort of thing.
10. Collection Quests - Just one of those things EQ2 has that few games do and just an option of something different to do besides experiencing or crafting. I loved finding those shiny things on the ground! My husband, on the other hand, would have never wasted his gaming time on looking for those things. So he benefited from my finds. Again, not everyone's cup of tea, but there as an option.
11. PVP - Ok I can't offer too much as I don't participate. EQ2 has separate PvP servers for this. LOTRO has monster play which is part of all servers. The monster players have complained loudly of their gimpiness and have recently been bumped up 25% effectiveness. Aside from temporary trolls and rangers you can buy with your points, and all the complaints I read about "flippers" and who has the most stars, I know little else.
I've probably left something off that I'll remember later, but these are the differences that stand out to me. While many tout LOTRO as the game for casuals, I find EQ2 to be more friendly to casual play, particularly if you have short spurts of play time. Both good games in their own right, offering different styles of play depending on where your interests lie. Just as EQ2 evolved into a different game than it was two years ago, LOTRO will likely make some changes in the next few years as well.