LOTRO Legendarium: My LOTRO wish list for 2018

Ever since I’ve been writing this Lord of the Rings Online column — which spans back to 2010, if you can believe it — I’ve started out every year with a little tradition of making a wish list that I’d like to see happen for the game. This year, I actually debated whether or not to do it, because Standing Stone Games has already sort of laid out its big plans for 2018 (or at least some of them) and I know that the studio’s smaller stature means that we probably can’t expect as much as we once did.

But then I thought, hey, it’s tradition. And why is it a bad thing to aspire to greater things and encourage the studio to reach for those? Should we just roll over and give up on this title that we love? Far be it! So I’m dusting off some old ideas and tossing in a few new ones to give to you my list of 11 things (for 11 years) I want to see happen in 2018 for LOTRO. Let me know what some of your wish list items in the comments too!

1. Fixes to the server lag and performance

I don’t know what’s more distressing: That we have had to live with horrible lag and rubberbanding for years now, or that the studio has pretty much stopped even making lip service about fixing it. LOTRO should be running smooth as silk at this point, and this should most definitely be SSG’s top priority. Get your code monkeys in there, sort it out, and get your house in order so we can properly enjoy this game that we all love!

2. Look to other games for business model improvements

While once the free-to-play standard for the industry, LOTRO’s business model is a bizarre mess of good ideas and terrible experiments. Last year’s increased push for lockboxes and the incredibly expensive expansion editions were disturbing, more so because it gave the impression that the studio was rushing these ideas through without really thinking about them. Nobody likes a tinge of desperation! So take a long look at what successful MMOs without cringe-worthy F2P additions — like Warframe and Path of Exile — are doing, and draw in some of those ideas.

3. Consider a new server type

As an experienced MMO, LOTRO really does have a good opportunity to create some buzz and draw back players with a launch of a new server. Whether it be a progression server, a true “classic” legacy server, or simply a fresh start server, these could be promotional gold and give been-there-looted-that players a reason to start anew.

4. A revamped leveling experience

By now, Lord of the Rings Online is an absolutely massive game with days and days of leveling content and zones packed into it. While that’s a good thing, it can also be intimidating to those trying to catch up or have fun with alts. And yes, SSG’s answer here is to sell level boosts, but I would propose taking a look at the leveling process instead to see where some streamlining or revamping could be made. How about allowing all alts triple experience for doing the epic story quests so that they could level through that alone? What about reworking the deed log to make it more rewarding and noticeable, so that there feels like there are immediate goals to chase? And what about a clear, in-game guide explaining the ins and outs of the business model, possible directions to take, and what you can do when?

5. Sunshine, and lots of it

I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that Mordor fatigue is real and we don’t need to be going back to that dismal land for a long time. Sure, there’s a lot more that can be added there and Minas Morgul is coming, but can we be officially done with Mordor for now? We need sunshine and beautiful zones of the variety we were getting in Rohan and Gondor, because those are the lands that boost spirits and make coming back to the game day after day a joy.

6. Overhaul the wardrobe

I don’t know about you vets, but my wardrobe is so packed full of options that to add anything else new, I have to throw something old out. And that kills me, because I don’t want to be taking away possibilities for fashion in the future. Again, LOTRO should look at what most other MMOs are doing with cosmetic outfits and start allowing us to save any armor or cosmetic item that we loot or purchase.

7. Rohan housing

I’m ready to move to a rustic log cabin-inspired abode, and Rohan has the answer for me! Lets get some honest-to-Eru Ilúvatar housing neighborhoods set in Rohan so that we can make this an option. And speaking of housing…

8. Yup, more housing improvements

I appreciate that we finally saw some neat housing options in 2017, but I don’t think that calls for a complete moratorium on housing improvement discussions. There’s more, so much more, that could and should be done with the game’s housing system, even if we’re sticking with the hook setup. More flexible hooks types, for starters, and many more of them! Some functional housing items would be appreciated — for example, I like what Guild Wars 2 is doing with its new gardening plots. I just would like fun and beneficial reasons to return to my house more often.

9. Increased communication

SSG hasn’t been lax in its communication over the past year but it hasn’t been consistent, either. Dev blogs can come in spurts and then not at all for a long time. The lead-up to Mordor was eerily silent, and often the only time we hear from the studio is when it’s addressing some problem or the other. I do like the weekly community bulletins and streams, but more communication with players would definitely be appreciated.

10. A better LFG dungeon tool

I talked about this a few weeks back, so I won’t go on and on about it here, but I really think that LOTRO could benefit from giving us better tools to access groups and get into its wide array of dungeons. The game is almost exclusively solo by design and yet has a wealth of group content that is used only by a minority. That’s a shame.

11. Another Bingo Boffin-like series

I truly hope that SSG doesn’t consider the Bingo Boffin experiment a one-off idea, because I thought it was absolutely marvelous to give us a year-long quest series that reused old zones, gave us interesting new stories, and showered us with fun rewards. Let’s see more like that!

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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32 Comments on "LOTRO Legendarium: My LOTRO wish list for 2018"

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MesaSage

Good list. Would be nice to see even a portion carried out.

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2Ton Gamer

Where is the 64 bit news at SSG? That should be your priority here if you really want to make more regions and increase the story and map. That comes first. We can all wait for more and some of us have plenty to do in the meantime.

Rohan (or some other housing) I could see because I think they made some pretty good money off of the Gondor housing.

I’d like to see more account Store items (for a higher price of course) like horses that are not just for 1 character, but for your entire account. Same goes for other items like map cd’s, maps, and storage.

ALSO – MORE HOUSING HOOKS!

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Melissa McDonald

I have one wish for LOTRO. A buyout from Amazon, a maintenance mode that will last until a new game is launched, and the dev team migrating to a new game and new game engine that will replace LOTRO and fill the needs of the new audience of their LOTR TV series into the next 5-10 years as an Amazon game release. Using Lumberyard. Amen.

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Alex Malone

I agree with the general sentiment, just not Amazon to buy them out.

To me, Lord of the Rings remains an old fashioned IP, its a strong part of it’s appeal for me. Having Amazon take on the IP would undoubted result in a twitch-focused game, both streaming and gameplay wise, so it would stop feeling like Lord of the Rings and just become another generic fantasy game.

Even in LotRO itself, you could feel this happen with Mirkwood and F2P. For a while it stopped feeling like LotR, what with the terrible zone design of Mirkwood (damn patchwork quilt) as well as the f2p overhaul.

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2Ton Gamer

Can’t argue with ya here, excellent suggestion.

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draugris

I would like them to return to the books and a bit stricter following the lore. Regarding servers i would like them to open real RP servers again.

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Michael18

I agree with most points, just one major difference:

Special servers (e.g. classic or progression servers) could become a huge risk as they might split the population. Also, they are not required imo, because LOTRO wasn’t turned into a different game over time (as was WoW). The leveling expierence is still close to what you had many years ago, except some more quests here and there, it was sped up a bit by giving more XP, and book quests were made solo-able.

The only leveling-related thing I’d personally like to see is a means to gradually decrease the XP gain. Currently we can only either turn it off completely (with the turtle) or stick to the default. I’d like to set this to a value, e.g. 70%, that gives me progress but avoids outleveling the zones.

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Alex Malone

LotRO was turned into a completely different game, it’s just most of those changes occurred very early on.

For example, LotRO was a very group-focused game at launch. Got your first group quest at lvl 3 and they never stopped. You couldn’t hit the level cap without grouping a lot, if you tried to completely solo you ended up grinding mobs for hours on end at multiple points. It was this group focus helped LotRO develop it’s now famous community focus.

Then they added Evendim, Tal Bruinen, Goblin Town and Forochel, to ensure you could solo to lvl 50. Then, from Moria onwards, they ensured all new content was soloable. Then they started revamping old zones to make them more solo friendly.

So, to me, the leveling experience now (1-50) is completely different to how it was at launch. It’s only level 50+ that has remained unchanged, because that was all designed to be easy and soloable.

There was also a fundamental shift in itemisation. At launch, the game used horizontal progression at endgame. A full set of crit-crafted gear was roughly equivalent to a full set of Helegrod raid gear, which was roughly equivalent to a full set of Rift raid gear. The emphasis was placed on player skill, not gear. This was another thing that greatly contributed to the initial community feeling – gear barely mattered! I was able to bring casual players onto raids because they knew how to play, despite crappy gear. When Moria launched, they switched to vertical progression, instantly killing off half the endgame scene. It shifted the focus onto gear, rather than skill.

TL;DR – LotRO was a vastly different game at launch to how it is now. It was better then and I would be in favour of a “classic” style server.

wsninja
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wsninja

Less blurry looking UI and a dynamic map i can zoom in and out of.

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zoward

I’m not convinced a leveling overhaul is necessary- in fact I hate the idea, at least on paper. One of LotRO‘s charms is that it’s full of players of all levels. How many PvE MMOs do you know where everyone is at the level cap, and the company is straining to provide more content for those players while 90% of their world lies vacant? Yes, you can roll an alt, and players certainly do, except that a “streamlined” leveling process will now go much quicker, the achievements therein go by so quick they mean very little to the players after the second pass, and you’re back at the level cap that much faster. I understand that players want to play with their friends, and that people need to be at a level where they can actually use an expansion before they’ll buy it. SSG solved both those problems by including a boost with the expansion, and got a little extra cash on the side selling extra boosts for alts.
The leveling overhaul in Cataclysm is pretty much what killed my interest in mainstream World of Warcraft and drove me to the private servers. It dumped close to the entire population of the game into the end zone, creating a problem that Blizzard is still battling – how to keep players amused long enough to keep playing until the next expansion release, so they don’t end up with the population that shrinks by half before the next release. Blizzard can weather such fluctuations since they have the income from Hearthstone and Overwatch to keep their finances stable. Also, since no one was in the early levels any more, nothing craftable for those levels would sell on the auction house, which made crafting pretty much irrelevant. If you’re a crafting-heavy player, that alone can signal your exit from the game. Even if you’re not, the game has now eliminated one more thing you might be interested in doing as a player. Ironically, Blizzard is adding more festivals and level-scaling (and legacy servers!) to make the rest of the world beyond the endgame relevant again. This is a solved problem for SSG, but won’t stay that way with a level revamp.
I bought the Mordor expansion on release, and spent about a week there, then went back to playing alts in the earlier levels because it was just too depressing and frustrating. I’ll probably go back at some point, but it’s nice that I don’t feel any immediate need to do so. If as a player I felt like the only worthwhile content was in the endgame, I would have left the game at that point. A thriving base world thus acts as a “buffer pool”, giving players something else to do in case an expansion doesn’t work out entirely as planned.
SSG could do a limited level revamp by simply increasing the amount of XP you get while leveling, but why would they want to? It would kill the market for their leveling boosters.
There are many things on the list above that LotRO does in fact need, and system stability is (correctly) at the top of that list. I don’t hear a lot of complaints in the game or here at MOP about the time it takes to level, mostly just grumbling about the cost of XP boosters. I know SSG has a lot of plans to add a lot of quality-of-life extras to the world – I pray a leveling revamp isn’t one of them.

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Dreema

I’m fully against any kind of leveling revamp. Part of what keeps bringing me back to LoTRO is the absolutely massive amount of leveling content and I’d hate to see it go the same way WoW’s leveling has gone with leveling being just that boring stuff you do to hit the level cap. The end game in every MMO I’ve played has been dull as dishwater – run this dungeon, run that raid, do a bunch of repetitive daily quests, fill that reputation bar up, etc, etc. But I’ve played LoTRO off and on for a decade now and never really bothered with the end game because there’s so much more interesting stuff to do. Please don’t take that away from me.

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Michael18

agree 100%.

mosselyn
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mosselyn

My list is less ambitious, I guess.

  • – Improve stability. The game crashes a lot more for me than it used, which is heading in the wrong direction.
  • – Improve performance, as Justin said, though I’ve kinda given up on this.
  • – A class balance pass.
  • – Treat crafting like a first order game system again.

I also wish for less stuff that gives you an in-game benefit to leak into the store. First it was virtues, then the gawdawful imbued system with crystals and scrolls, and now the lockbox keys. All those things are also available in game, but at considerable time investment. I feel like the slope is getting more slippery every year.

outbound_flight
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outbound_flight

Once again, I think I agree with everything on that list! Performance and the F2P model getting overhauls are currently at the very top of my wishlist, since they’re by far the two biggest factors affecting player retention from my point of view.

The 64-bit client that they’re working on is a fantastic first step, but there are many other things they could potentially be improving. Simple things like allowing VIPs to purchase quest packs when they’re on sale, bundling all of the older content, and maybe making more content available to F2P accounts. (I’d give F2P accounts everything up to Moria if it were up to me.)

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2Ton Gamer

but…. is the 64 bit client dead because it sure as hell wasn’t mentioned in the producer’s letter in Nov. ?

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Knox Harrington

You’ll sooner get a new Tolkien MMO than even a third of the things on this list