LOTRO Legendarium: Grading Lord of the Rings Online in 2017

At the beginning of 2017, it seemed as though a mini-renaissance was brewing for Lord of the Rings Online. Standing Stone Games broke away from the sinking ship that was Turbine and offered a fresh start of sorts for the long-running MMO. We were coming to a head with the game’s story and a return to large-scale expansions was confirmed with the news of Mordor.

Reality and hopes don’t always get along, and while 2017 hasn’t always been the kindest to LOTRO, it hasn’t been a crushing disappointment either. The more I’ve been looking at the state of the game, reading the forums, playing it, and covering news, the more I’ve felt the need to grade how the game is doing in the right here and now.

So why not? It’s school season, so let’s embrace the academic spirit and assign some marks to LOTRO’s operation and state. Agree with these grades? Disagree? Get out your quill and scratch your own thoughts down there in the comments!

Visuals: B

Back in the day, players routinely gushed about how incredible and screenshot-worthy LOTRO’s graphics were. Today, it’s hard to deny that it’s gotten longer in the tooth, but I still contend that this is a fantastic-looking title, especially with its natural environments. Two of the game’s races received subtle but much-needed visual touch-ups, and Mordor is a wonder to behold in all of its ghastly glory.

Performance: D

Older engine or no, there is no excuse for how terrible LOTRO runs. It got really bad last year after the move to a new datacenter, and Turbine/SSG never seemed to get a handle on all of the hitching, lag, and lengthy load times that resulted. This old of an MMO should run silky smooth on my new machine, but instead it stutters along just the same as it did on my six-year-old rig.

World Building: A+

So why do I play a badly performing game? Because what is available is enticing and unique. There isn’t quite a Tolkien game like LOTRO out there with its immense scope and adherence to lore. It still feels very much like a world to me rather than an artificial theme park with Sonic the Hedgehog-style zones, and I often find myself lost (in a good way!) in its scope.

PvP: C-

If you play LOTRO for PvP (or PvMP, to be more accurate), then you’re a glutton for punishment in all sorts of ways. It’s just not a big draw, and even last year’s Osgiliath map didn’t do a whole lot to revitalize this mode.

Communication: C

I had high hopes that SSG would be more talkative than in its Turbine days, but it really hasn’t worked out that way. Its CM (who does double duty with DDO) is pretty much the only person we hear from on a regular basis, mostly via livestreams. Articles and dev diaries are much more infrequent than before, which was noticeable with the lead up to Mordor. And the studio has retreated to stony silence on some thorny issues, such as the terrible expansion pricing and the exclusion of High Elves in the base edition. Speaking of which…

Business model: C-

I will continue to give LOTRO a nod for the fact that its F2P mode does allow for a very grindy way to unlock content and offers a nice chunk of activities for those starting out. But it’s too old and restrictive in other ways.

What’s far more disturbing is SSG’s incredibly bad string of more aggressive business practices in 2017, from the outrageous Mordor pricing to the explosion of lockbox proliferation. Many players, myself included, have pointed a finger at publisher Daybreak as an influence behind these moves, but it could simply be the desperation of a small indie studio trying to cut a profit any way it can.

Marketing: F

I’m sorry, but I can’t overlook how badly SSG has fumbled marketing this year. The launch trailer to Mordor was absolute amateur hour, and there has been so little promotion for this game and its climatic expansion that it boggles the mind. It probably comes down to a severe lack of funds, but still that’s no excuse for what we’ve seen. Maybe the studio spent all of its money bringing Chance Thomas back?

Community: A

Apart from gold spammers and your crash-and-burn cynic, LOTRO still sports a rather friendly and inclusive community that makes me proud to be a member. I love the ingenuity and spirit that has led players to running elaborate events, fundraisers, and fan sites. I’ve never seen so much roleplaying in an MMO than I do here, and while it’s not always my cup of tea, I enjoy seeing others enjoy it.

Expansion: B-

I’m four-fifths of the way through Mordor, and while I still contend that it is a difficult slog with a few problematic points, I have to praise the overall package. It’s a meaty expansion with a lot of great stories, some pretty epic places, and surprises now that we’re past the boundaries of the books. I was curious if and how the developers could make an “evil” country like Mordor interesting and compelling, and I feel like they have accomplished just this. Now granted, this doesn’t include a look at the new instances or its final zone, so putting that caveat out there.

Festivals and special events: B

LOTRO has built up an assortment of really great and varied festivals, and coupled with the smaller events that pop up here and there, there’s usually something interesting to do when you get tired of questing and dungeon diving. I was noting the other day how people still get really excited over the advent of these familiar events, and that’s a good sign of their enduring legacy. Plus, the new rewards that the team keeps adding helps!

One terrific addition in 2017 was the 10th anniversary quests, which added a slew of new missions and objectives to pursue. It was audacious and — for the most part — well-received, and I’m glad the team is going to build off of this in future years.

Updates: C

We’ve had a few meaty updates this year, especially with the Wastes, the 10th anniversary, and the recent instance mini-cluster. They’ve been… OK, but we see time and again that SSG doesn’t provide enough time for testing and ends up having to run damage control once these patches go live instead of heading problems off before they get out the door.

Future potential: B-

I’m generally more of an optimist than a pessimist, so when it comes to looking ahead to the future, I hold to hope that it will be a good one. As I’ve talked about in weeks previous, there are some really cool places that LOTRO could go post-Mordor. I’m amazed how well this game has held up over the years and drawn me back in with its sheer fun factor after a personal absence for most of 2016.

The fate of the game is really in SSG’s hands, however, and it’s here that my optimism starts to slip. My faith in this company’s potential has been shaken by its poor communication, bad business model practices, absent marketing, sloppy testing cycles, and lack of a public vision. Small team or no, SSG needs to get more public and more bold as it forges ahead. If it can do that, then there is still hope.

Every two weeks, the LOTRO Legendarium goes on an adventure (horrid things, those) through the wondrous, terrifying, inspiring, and, well, legendary online world of Middle-earth. Justin has been playing LOTRO since its launch in 2007! If you have a topic for the column, send it to him at justin@massivelyop.com.
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Melissa McDonald

My point of view is probably entirely different than most.

I do not judge LOTRO fairly because of what it is.

It’s quite possible we will never, and I mean NEVER, again see an attempt to create the entire map that Tolkien drew, a successful effort to create the whole of Middle Earth, and I believe that makes this game important and historic. Perhaps years from now when someone tackles The Silmarillion there might be another LOTR game that is this ambitious, rich, BIG, and detailed, and yes, as faithful to the books and canon.

Is the game old? 10 years old. You don’t expect a 10-year-old video game to look as good, perform as well, or not have a history of hits and misses, good days and bad, great expansions and mediocre ones. Judging it on graphics by Black Desert Online standards isn’t fair. Judging the game client by modern 64-bit engines isn’t entirely fair either.

This is a ‘bucket list’ thing for hard core Tolkien fans. This is your chance to actually walk in Middle Earth. This is your chance to see things only discussed in passing in the books, or seen as a name on the Map.

Compared to such considerations, judging the game by 2017 standards is probably the furthest thing from my mind.

I love this game like an old dog that can’t fetch as vigorously anymore, its muzzle turning grey. I love this game like an elderly relative who has meant something in your life, and now it’s your turn to return the love. I cherish this game like the double-bed your parents conceived you in. Like that coach or professor that made you believe you could do it. Like that setting on cliff, beach, or forest you would go to when you needed to be alone and think.

It’s one of the greatest games ever, and we had better enjoy it while it lasts.

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Vincent Clark

The sad thing is, SSG banks on people with your perspective (and wallet) as an excuse never to optimize the game engine, update the graphics (while still keeping the current aesthetic), fixing the thousands of bugs/lag, update mounted combat, revamp the loot system and the list goes on and on. So instead we get rushed/bugged instances, loot-boxes, bad promotion for the game (that Mordor launch trailer…ugh), and a complete disconnect from the exec producer and dev team on what is actually happening on the ground. All because of a fear that there might not be another MMORPG set in Middle Earth?? You should expect more from a company that has created a game you cherish so much. You should want more for the game you claim to love.

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Melissa McDonald

But that’s just the thing. It’s given all of that, and much more. I love the game already, I’m satisfied with it already (and always have been), and I don’t hold it to the same standards other games get criticized for. Lootboxes? I got some great gear from them. All the fixes you are asking for mean making an entirely new game. You can’t turn a 6-cylinder into a V8. These “disconnects” from producer? Haven’t ever affected my game enjoyment one whit.

I have come to realize I am much more of a casual gamer than some here, because the things that make people go into rages on these boards are things that have scarcely ever occurred to me.

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Vincent Clark

I disagree, the fixes would make it a better game, not an entirely new one. Making it so I can transport in and/out of Minas Tirith without crashing is not creating a new game. Releasing new dungeons that aren’t bugged and poorly tested is not creating a new game. I could go on, but you’ve already admitted if it doesn’t affect you directly, then you don’t care. And while it’s your prerogative to have, I think it’s very limiting and selfish. But, to each their own.

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Viktor Budusov

Then pay for proper testing. At the same tme you demand from SSG not to monetize more. But that can’t work. If you want more quality => pay more.

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Vincent Clark

It’s HOW they are monetizing, not the mere fact of it. It’s also the fact that the exec producer did a complete 180 (essentially, he lied) on his justification for the loot-boxes (just one example).

April-Rain
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April-Rain

Vincent is correct, and I have played this game since launch and it never played as bad as it does now, I am probably on my 5th gaming PC since then and it runs worse on this than it did on my gaming system from back then with 2gb ram, amd athlon and radion 9800pro.

The issue is they have never invested anytime into upgrading or fixing the engine they just add more to it which it can no longer handle.

The engine is just not optimized for modern computers and they have a choice, sort it out or die a slow painful death as people will just move on.

For a lot of us who play across the atlantic its just unplayable.

All the people that want to be smug and claim its ok they should be worried as its less population in the game and more nickel and diming for you.

They again did another U Turn as they did promise locating servers to the EU not long ago but then changed there minds.

Dam I am so done with standing stone games and daybreak its untrue, but sad at the same time as I would love to play lotro but years of neglect have taken its toll.

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odin valhalla

Surprisingly, I think this is a pretty accurate review and the grades are what I would have given with the exception of the community. an A is way to high IMHO, B- to B, still good but its no where near an A, lol.

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donvweel

I think for Standing Stones the biggest problem they need to adress is the lag. It is no fun running a quest and fighting hard all the way to the end only to die because you are frozen in a boss fight. Some improvements have been made but a lot of veterens I know are not playing because of this. The regular updates are great and keep me playing. But the frustration of game freezing at certain times is wearing me down. I think the server move hurt DDO and LotRO quit a bit.

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odin valhalla

There has been lag in lotro for years. Once mounted combat came in it became much more common. I dont think they can address it, I mean if they could Im sure they would have by now.

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Crowe

I can go with most of your ratings but Visuals would get C maybe C+ out of me. Gameplay is still good but the performance is such crap that I can’t even really think about joining a dungeon run or raid as a healer. I remember the “original” release and the Moria expansion being excellent for performance. But nowadays, there’s just way too much lag between click and when the ability fires off. If the engine was ever to be re-vamped (really needs to be re-written from the ground up), I’d give LOTRO another look-see.

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Castagere Shaikura

For an old game they are not bringing in many new players with their business model. They need to realize that its an old game and people have so many choices now. Charging for expansions is one thing but also charging for quest packs so you can quest in certain zones was and always will just drive the f2p players away. Most don’t mind paying for expansion. And telling people they don’t have to pay for those quest packs if they grind for tokens is stupid. Nobody wants to grind for tokens. I was hoping Standing Stone would turn things around but they are making it worse.

Lateris
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Lateris

Are they going to update their avatars?

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teppic

Seems a reasonable list. For me the major issues about the game:

* Performance: this should be an F. It’s the worst performing game I play by a long way, any other game and it’d be enough for me to quit.

* Lootboxes: adding a new store key for a new lootbox in a paid for expansion. Awful.

* Business model: in addition to the lootboxes, having to pay for old expansions is plain stupid. They should all come with Mordor, or at the very least, should all be included in the monthly sub.

But community, story building, world design, all of these are excellent.

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Viktor Budusov

For me performance is quite good. From B to C.

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Viktor Budusov

Great article, agree on every point

April-Rain
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April-Rain

Performance: D this is my main reason I no longer play and the reason why it’s no longer installed on my computer, it was for a good 7 years previously and since I bought the lifetime sub back when codemasters ran the game in the EU and did a better job of it (never thought i would say that).

Playing from the EU the stuttering and rubber banding just takes you totally out of the game, on tracert I have no bad ping’s till I hit new york so I know it’s not an issue on my end, they well know about this but instead plough ahead with other content and willingly ignore this issue with such a lack of desire that I have lost all faith in these developers.

I had already decided never to go back till I saw news of it being fixed but the recent news of the lock box fiasco has killed any desire to play one of my more loved MMO’s ever.

Its only going to get worse and they will slowly kill they own game trying to nickel and dime the remaining population.

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draugris

I agree, SSG turned out as a company who wants to squeeze out the last $ out of their customers, but with daybreak involved no suprise otoh. So the future for lotro imo seems not the best one. I expect less quality content and more microtransactions instead in the future. I would not be surprised if they decide at one point to make gear direct purchasable through the store. It´s really a shame where they are heading.

What i am surprised at is that for american players the performance is also bad. Afaik the datacenter where the servers are hosted is in the us so i thought they do not have the lag issues. I am playing on a german server and it is unplayable sometimes, specially if we talk mounted combat. The things that do make me login is either the old (Angmar) content and the community on my server.

OneEyeRed
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OneEyeRed

I’m in Virginia on a very fast connection and it was horrible for me last time I left. I also have a monster build and I don’t have the same issue s in any other games so I know it’s not me. Before relocating here we were in the metro NY area on a fast FIOS connection and had the same issues as well. Now in VA I am on top of them and it doesn’t matter.

I also did not know Daybreak was involved. I’ll never go back now and this explains everything.

OneEyeRed
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OneEyeRed

Bah tired and early; I have it backwards and can’t edit post. I used to live on top of the servers in NJ on other side of GW bridge. Same scenario here in VA though nothing changed. From beta we lived in OH, TX, and NY before getting to NJ and server issues were always the same

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donvweel

There is lots of fun stuff to do and the game world is beautiful. When LotRO went free to play I took my DDO guild over but most including myself could not get used to the combat after DDO. I puttered around there a bit, the main story is pretty good but i got stuck trying to beat some bosses. If they could adapt a more action combat style like DDO I would play regualr.

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Paragon Lost

I’ll agree with your over all grades Justin with some exceptions. Community for me these days is at best a C grade, at least since the server merges and my landing on Arkenstone.

On the Expansion, I’ve found the fourth zone to be a total burn out. My champion in tank spec can slog through it but my rune keeper with better gear pretty much is dead in water unless he can fellowship up with someone. :/ My champion capped out in the third zone Lhingris and my rune keeper capped in the fourth zone Talath Urui. I’ve still not seen the last zone. lol.

My issue with the zone is how they did object placement and painting. A lot of that fourth zone is overly full of objects that cause collision and you can’t get around them easily. Also a lot of the painting works that way where it looks like you could leap over/across etc it but you can’t. A lot of frustration with this and of course the utter darkness of that zone in particular.

Business model and tie Legendary Items, man am I getting tired of buying Lotro Points in order to buy Mithril Coins in order to raise my Legendary Items. Buying 250 mithril coins is around 2000 Lotro Points or around $25.00 dollars. Raising the legacy tier on “one” legacy costs 10 Mithril Points and it raises it just once. You’ve got eight legacies on one Legendary Item and you have two Legendary Items in use at any one time and you can see where that goes really fast.

I feel this was calculated on SSG’s part Justin, instead of releasing new 115th Legendary Items they made it sound like you didn’t have to replace your LI and could keep it and use the Imbue system to raise it. You can level the LI for a some levels but after that its all Mithril Coins. Problem with this is you spend a snot load of Mithril Coins to do that. Figure if you have someone like me, a whale player who has already spent one grand in the last six months complaining, imagine how others feel about it.

I finally hit a cap on this, it frustrates and pisses me off as a player who likes to play all classes to the cap that so much of improving the character at the cap ends up costing a lot of money. Remember that mithril coins pretty much don’t come from in game activities. You need to purchase them and 500 Lotro Points for subbing doesn’t buy many Mithril Coins. Basically it’s a truly crappy system at that level of game play. :/

They’ve actually managed to alienate me with the Legendary Item’s system and how Imbuement works. Took a lot of doing but I am not happy with how that works at all. I’m just doing the subscription route now and trying to avoid giving them anymore “extra” money beyond the subscription fee. I want to support the game but man are they making me bitter and frustrated about giving them anything beyond the subscription.

toot29
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toot29

Why are you spending Mithril Coins? You can earn ~6 scrolls of empowerment a day by doing MT dailies. There are additional ways too. The festivals also are an excellent way to get starlit crystals! No need to pay a thing

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Paragon Lost

MT, heh.

OneEyeRed
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OneEyeRed

Doesn’t sound very promising Paragon. Not sure I want to come back to be severely disappointed. All the posts sound like those of you still playing are trying to hang on because of your love of Tolkien, investment, and no desire to play anything else.

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Melissa McDonald

Yes, and there is nothing wrong with that.

OneEyeRed
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OneEyeRed

Well I never stated there was for you Melissa. I was speaking from my own perspective obviously. I am not new to LOTRO; I was a very early beta tester and have played the game off/on since release. I love the world but I very much dislike the rubber banding effect, the animations (especially warrior), and the aches and pains of F2P dissolved both clans I was part of.

The forum posts by Turbine peeps and the new owners are most times harsh, arrogant, and confrontational. This has been a constant issue in communication with its customers. This is not new news either. Its as though even the new company thinks like Turbine in the idea of consistently shooting itself in its own foot.

With all that said, I digress; i strongly want to come back to the game but am hesitant to be utterly disappointed yet again. Like you, I tolerated the negatives because it was a living, breathing world of Tolkien. However, that only lasts so long for me…

Furthermore, Daybreak ruins everything it touches and I refuse to give them any money.

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Paragon Lost

Pretty much. I have fun in limited ways, mostly with running up alts at the lower levels. The way they work the store and go about driving you to the store is pretty bad honestly. Even for someone like me who isn’t afraid to throw money at them. :/

outbound_flight
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outbound_flight

LOTRO is probably one of my favorite games, but it’s been frustrating over the last few months to witness just how out-of-touch SSG has been. Well-intentioned and really nice folks, but it seems the management is intent on ignoring the issues that keep the game from flourishing. And I say flourishing because given the state of the genre right now, players are looking at older games to scratch certain itches. LOTRO had an abnormally large influx of players for Mordor, and it seems like SSG is intent on doing zilch to capitalize on it.

In my mind, they need to tackle three really big things if they want to keep going for years:

1. They desperately need to dig into the game’s client. The fabled 64-bit client needs to be made a reality, and the game also needs to play nice with multi-core systems. The game just need to run smoothly.

2. Rebuild their F2P model from the ground up. There was/is no reason for a lot of the game’s content to still be priced like it was just released yesterday, rather than 10 years ago. Consolidate all of the legacy content into a package that’s priced accordingly. Give new players the ability to unlock everything up to The Black Gate/Mordor for a single price, instead of the clustercuss of a purchase model they still retain. (Subscribe, then don’t, subscribe, then don’t again, then purchase the expansion, then subscribe, then don’t, etc.)

3. Communication needs to improve. I defended them initially, but now they turtle up in the face of any controversy. For such an old game that leans so heavily on a smaller community, it defies logic to do anything but engage that community as openly as possible. Severin needs to pop on the forums to do more than tell players, “Tough luck.” Also, that launch trailer. Their more recent ones have been better, but dang.

LOTRO still has so much life left in it, but SSG have been gradual showing signs that they are either unable or unwilling to do what it takes to keep it chugging along.

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2Ton Gamer

Your grades are somewhat rosy.

Performance is a strong D-, possibly an F.
PvP (MP) – is a stinking F. Every update/expansion moves any sort of fairness or reason to do this further and further away. There are some very good ideas in the forums to make it worthwhile again.
Communication is a D-. Their CM runs terrible Lotro streams and the snark is strong with him.
Business Model/Marketing – F. Their Lotro store guy QU had several missed opportunities to entice the new players that came in by the droves during Jan-Mar. Reddit and the forums was flooded with people asking about Quad Pack sales. With the new hype surrounding the acquisition SSG squandered that free good publicity by not having a sale on old content that most games will steeply discount to get them hooked. We were all telling people to wait until the Anniversary event because surely they would capitalize on that momentum and did they? NOOOOO. Then the Mordor expansion pricing was a fiasco and was the final nail. They could’ve at least given people expansion packs with that deal or Lotro points and they did neither. Instead we get more snark on their 12 hour stream from Cordovan and QU.
Festivals – D+ – While the festivals in Lotro are usually fun, the grind was flat-out terribad. Then the whole disaster with the 10th anniversary was a disgrace and ran off many new players who had hoped to join in. Not saying that everyone should have been able to obtain everything, but they needed a path for these new players to be able to accomplish something and they did not cater to them at all. That anniversary unlike all the rest before it were not all-inclusive.
Future Potential – C-. They need to leave stuff in the oven longer. They need to learn how to schedule things better especially since they are trying to juggle two games. They need to get a real CM in there who knows even some of the basic lore and one who is not full of snark. Do these things by next year and this grade could easily be a B+/A

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BalsBigBrother

Community in Lotro is A+++ (for the most part)

Case in point the Lotro streamers are currently running a 24 hour Extra Life stream on Twitch which had a $5000 goal. They have smashed that already and still have six hours or so of the stream left.

Stream details: https://www.twitch.tv/lotrostream

Extra Life details: https://www.lotro.com/forums/showthread.php?658912-2017-Extra-Life-Marathon-on-LOTROstream-and-Donation-Drive

Extra Life donation page: https://www.extra-life.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.team&teamID=36519

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2Ton Gamer

Agreed, without the community this game would not be around today, PERIOD.

OneEyeRed
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OneEyeRed

The MMO I always have gone back to since my exit in DAOC. I loved LOTRO but the last update before Turbine left and the initial dump left me salty. The server was getting far worse and I was just fed up. Not playing a MMO is something I miss and I want to come back to it yet I don’t. However, I am never going to get another Tolkien world I know this…

Seeing how it is handled now just makes me blaghh. So my next question: how is it for a sub now? Because that’s the only way I have played it since release anyway. I am on what I think has always been the best server (Landroval) and would hope its still a strong RP server. I have no kin anymore so I am more a solo player and my warrior is sitting around lvl. 77 in Rohan I think.

Also graphics wise, download the High-Res texture client and the game still looks really good in many places. Suggestions anyone?

P.S. the individual that stated the community sucked I don’t get it. This game has always had one of the best communities around; try Landroval.

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BalsBigBrother

Yeah I would add a vote for Landroval, it is for the most part one of the better communities. Not perfect and I would personally say it was better before the f2p but there are still a lot of nice helpful folks around.

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Paragon Lost

Past tense, the community isn’t what it once was for many of the servers. After the server merge many of just went to whatever server that they could. I choose Arkenstone and I’ve regretted it ever since. I don’t want to pay to move all 10 characters and all 6 monsters to Landroval. I would add up rather quickly. SSG doesn’t appear to enforce TOS/Policy much on servers these days and some of the names of characters and kinships are just really bad.

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BalsBigBrother

I would suggest just creating an alt or two on Landy or which ever server you want to try and give it a test drive. I have at least one alt on all the servers (apart from the EU language restricted ones) but my two main ones are Laurelin and Landroval

It might seem like a pain to start over but if things don’t work out then you haven’t made any commitments that you might later regret. As I said above I personally have had a pretty good experience on both Landroval and Laurelin but as always ymmv depending on what you are after.

In any case good luck and hope you find what you are looking for :-)

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2Ton Gamer

Sub is still the way to go, but you still need to purchase the expansions if you have not already done so. I myself will be waiting for some sort of Mordor sale (possibly Black Friday??) and I won’t be going back maybe even then if they cannot pull a 64 bit client out of their rears. For me, Rohan forward was just not fun or playable. The constant rubber-banding while mounted is just so bad it’s not even fun. I seriously doubt they will pull out a 64 bit client though because most of the things they said they would do this year have already had concessions made and they have already been making excuses as to why a 64 bit client might not even be possible.

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Diego Camargo

Same goes for me! I’ve been playing Lotro on and off since 2010 and early this year I came back strong, put a sub up and was having a blast. But when I hit Rohan… oh my, that was bad, bad to a point of NOT being fun and playing a game that is not even remotely fun isn’t my thing.

The mounted combat thing was ridiculous, it was so bad actually, that I used the mount for getting from point A to point B and then fighting mobs without it…

I’ve been away since June and I dred every time I think about loggin again.

OneEyeRed
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OneEyeRed

Thanks 2Ton much appreciated. That was another thing that really killed it for me the drag in Rohan.

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MesaSage

I think your assessment is spot on with one exception. The future potential is not nearly bright enough to give it a B-. As time goes by and the dated client and backend grow more and more mossy, there’s little hope that it can be made into something that will be acceptable for current MMO player expectations. Most of us who’ve been playing it recently accept the poor performance, mediocre content and shameless monetization for the sake of being in that incredible world, or playing with long-term friends or relatives.

I truly love two parts of the game – Pre-level 50 and between 72 and about 95. In there you’ll find the best stories, the best content the best scenery and the most fun you’ll have in the game. I still look forward to each of those regions. The people who created those parts of the game did it with love, attention and skill and it shows.

Too much of what has come since is merely filling time until the end. A mindless slog of unimaginative, lazy and downright abusive content practices that are designed mostly with the idea of keeping you connected and paying, rather than enjoying.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

LOTRO is my home MMO. I played beta and bought 2 lifetimes memberships when it launched. But I play less regularly now, maybe every month or so. The lag is horrific. And the Epic, which everyone touts, is so boring that the only reason I do it is to advance questing and get rewards.

But I’ve never been a fan of the Epic. I’ve always been largely bored by it, even if parts of it have been stirring. Right now, my two mains are sitting in Minas Tirith trying to finish the epic quests there but are bored out of their minds with being sent all over the city to do silly, mindless stuff while the world burns.

Nonetheless, I still go back to it and enjoy it when I do. But it’s time to acknowledge that for whatever reason the main problems LOTRO has come right out of the development team, not the publisher, not the IP owner. If it were either of those, we would have seen a new broom with the change to SSG. But we didn’t. We saw a continuation of all the same things we disliked and were free to blame on WB or Turbine. Now we know. It’s the dev team making those decisions.

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Paragon Lost

Minas Tirith while beautifully painted as such a drag to keep being sent back to do errand tasks of the most mundane sort. What made MT worse is that the client crashes for me were really bad and often. I finally tried uninstalling the game and reinstalling, a total clean install and got it to run better but still it’s a lag show most of the time. That 32bit client and those servers just aren’t doing it well.

Figure with a high end system that I have even if it’s now four years old that I’d have a fine experience running it but nope. My wife’s system is not even a year old if I recall and doesn’t run much better as an aside and it’s not a slouch of a system either, it’s not as high end as mine but it’s very good. Actually I’ve noted that her Nvidia 1070 gpu is actually out performing my Nvidia Titan Black Edition gpu. lol. Darn tech keeps dramatically improving.

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CMDR Crow

I love LotRO but it has certainly crested and is more of a “living classic” than anything that can realistically match more contemporary offerings. That said, the worldbuilding and community (along with the old school tab target style) make it my go-to for fantasy MMOs.

But like all classic MMORPGs, it exists as a kind of self-perpetuating community. Post-Mordor, I’d bet, will look more along the lines of FFXI’s more recent “maintenance mode” than pre-Mordor development. And that’s fine by me, really. No other MMORPG out there can come even close to the kind of unbroken storytelling and atmosphere that LotRO has created over the entire last decade.

Fair marks, but they won’t likely get much better. Even if all development stopped today, LotRO would still be a monumental achievement. In many ways, I think LotRO is one of the only MMOs from the “WoW-clone” period to actually become what was possible with themeparks’ large, open and shared worlds.

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Hirku

LOTRO is the only time I’ve experienced a video game I genuinely love but will never, ever play again. I agree with your ratings but you left out Questing, which gets a big solid D- from me. What started as an epic adventure parallel to the original story turned into a miserable grind, hours of fetching wolf pelts for No-Name Ranger #38271 so I could get fed a few drops of the story. Wonderful world and community, though.

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life_isnt_just_dank_memes

The community is fantastic. I’d give updates, performance and communication lower marks personally. Their world building is the best. They really captured what Middle Earth is. The scope and size are there as well. Things feel appropriately huge and personal moments have the proper weight and intimacy to them.

I think Middle Earth deserves a face lift and new game though. I’d love a new MMO with much needed modernization. That game is tired mechanically.

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Nick // Genghis

I have had a lifetime sub since ’07 and I’ve loved the game much like folks have obssessed over WoW. However, over the last idk 3-4 years I have decided to aschew my annual visitation and dungeon check-ins for greener pastures. LOTRO is and will always be, imo, one of the best MMOs in terms of setting/world, play space, wardrobe/cosmetics, RP, and story. Probably the best Middle Earth full representation possible in a game still available on the market right now.

I’ve decided to finally hang my hat with the game due to the fact of the older engine and lag that is still present (and has been since launch), the broad spectrum of other types of games out, and the fact that there are still gear blunder/progression issues at the high end where I know all my old friends are hanging out and I would eventually make my way back to, just leave me feeling real “meh.” I’ve made tons of lasting friendships extending onto social media and we keep in touch and make sure we know about all the cool stuff in the LOTR sphere, but there are only a choice few of our original Kinship that still even think let alone touch the game unfortunately.

If they could muster enough funds to find a way to get a team fluent in UE4, import the quests and stories, update the animations and combat to fit the current MMO landscape they could make a ton of money off that. Especially if we do ever end up seeing a Silmarillion film/tv/miniseries by Peter Jackson to market this new iteration of game with. I wish them luck and hold the game dear in my heart to this day.

P.S. Hell, even a revamp of DDO would be awesome in a more modern engine.

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Alex Js.

My personal grading: “F” for every category. I did purchase it back in 2007 (on April 22nd according to my Amazon’s purchase history) and greatly enjoyed it over the years (I believe I spent more time in it than in WoW), however that was then and right now this ancient game needs to die already, so it can possibly be rebuilt few years later with modern engine and competent developer.

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Bryan

This statement is so lacking in understanding of the MMO market today. If Lotro dies there will likely never be a another Lord of the Rings MMO and if there is it will be done is such a simplistic way that it wouldn’t be worth the bother after all most of the big players will just look at the fact that it died as a meaning there isn’t enough interest. While I agree this game is long in the tooth it is still surprisingly entertaining. The only real hope is to get some real engineering time spent on it to try and lock down it’s worst aspects and perhaps get a 64bit version…(I don’t expect either of these but they would be so nice).

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2Ton Gamer

I won’t come back unless they can get a 64 bit client and it makes a difference because I got into Lotro, not just for the Shire through Moria, but also Rohan – Mordor and when you get to Rohan, the lag and rubberbanding on horseback is just unplayable and embarrassing.

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roo woods

If you are grading the community as F I can’t take your comment seriously .

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Alex Js.

Well, the quality of community is certainly excellent (as it always were), however the “quantity” of community is just as important to me as the “quality” and there’s barely any left (based on my personal experience last time I’ve bothered logging into the game, which was a few months ago), to the point that all the cities felt like “ghost towns” at basically any time of the day (especially if there isn’t any seasonal festivals currently running), and I don’t know about you but I don’t enjoy playing MMOs if they feel like a barren single-player game at most locations.

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roo woods

The two servers I play on Evernight and Landroval have plenty of people playing on them .

Landroval especially seems to be active even in the lower level areas (even when its off peak ) . It is the one I would recommend most to anyone thinking of playing and wanting a good community and a busy game .

I have friends on Laurelin people tell me it’s ok there but not as good as the two I have just mentioned .

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2Ton Gamer

I don’t know where you logged in at, but on Landroval the community and amount of people there surprised me for such an old game. The one and only A+ this game deserves is the community because without it, it would be dead. It still has more community run events across many servers than most other MMO’s. It’s insane.

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agemyth 😩

There is not going to be a new Lord of the Rings/Middle-Earth MMORPG. This is all you get for the foreseeable future.

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Hirku

Let’s cover all the bases while we’re at it: There’s never, ever, ever going to be a new Star Wars Galaxies. Ever.

dixa
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dixa

good. game was trash. make an in-game macro with in-game tools, get some doctor and dancer buffs, hit ctrl+alt+shift+enter to start eh camera slowly rotating, hit macro, go to bed.

wake up heavy sword master

yeah. game was not that great and was not a true star wars game.

wpDiscuz