Perfect Ten: 10 little things that I love about LOTRO

I’m a details man. I like to stop and check out the small things, to drink in my environments, and to notice how all sorts of elements connect (or not). In MMORPGs, I often find myself stumbling to a halt while I investigate some strange sight or find a perfect moment for a screenshot. For me, it’s not just the big set pieces that are impressive, but also the small touches that add unappreciated depth to the world.

When you’ve been in a game world for a long time, you pick up on many of these details and have them ingrained into your subconsciousness. I’ve been playing Lord of the Rings Online since launch, and even today there are still parts of that game that charm the pants off of me (which is not a pretty sight, so I’ll thank you to eject it from your imagination). And I’m forever noticing the little things that don’t get much attention in press release bullet points but are just as important to me when it comes to the full experience.

So why not, here is a list of 10 little things that I love about LOTRO. Minute and inconsequential as they may seem, they’re still important to me.

1. Auto-looting

I forget which update added the auto-loot function, but it was one of the most wonderful changes to any MMOs that I’ve ever played. I mean, who really enjoys having to run around like a macabre scavenger after fights, clicking on sparkly corpses to get their hard-earned loot? LOTRO finally said, “Forget that!” and just dumped all booty in our bags once a mob was killed. Not having to constantly stop to loot made the experience feel more smooth and enjoyable.

2. Dark clouds and dread effects

Ever since launch day, LOTRO has had an interesting set of tools to show when evil was encroaching and your character was deeply terrified. In some of Middle-earth’s more troubled areas, dark clouds would roll in over the sky when you crossed an invisible boundary, and if your character was especially scared, the color would bleed out of the visuals and the sides of the screen would start becoming hazy and indistinct. I’ve always liked this, because it communicated emotion and danger in a way that is hard to do otherwise.

3. The quiet, ambient tunes

Everyone always harps on (pun intended) LOTRO’s generally excellent soundtrack. And while the main pieces are enjoyable, I’ve noticed that there are a set of much quieter and more ambient tracks that play between them in zones. They’ve always contributed greatly to the questing experience and weave in great with the ambient sounds of nature and fantasy life.

4. Freeze tag

Another odd little staple of the game that stretches back to launch day, in the ruins near the Bree-land festival grounds is a sort of social mini-game that allows players to engage in actual freeze tag. There are no achievements and no rewards, but it’s kind of fun all the same and a fun option for kinships looking to get together for some mischief.

5. Festival centerpieces

Practically each one of the game’s seasonal festivals are accompanied by at least one significant activity that serves as that event’s centerpiece. Whether it be Bilbo’s haunted burrow, the giant hedge maze, shrew stomping, or the interactive theater in Winter-home, I’ve always been impressed with the creativity involved in these activities. Oh sure, they all get a little stale when you’ve done them a thousand times, but it’s great that they’re there.

6. Pipe smoking

I’m not a smoker in real life, but there’s something so perfect about LOTRO allowing players to grow and smoke their own “pipe-weed.” It feels old-fashioned and part of the culture, and roleplayers especially appreciate that option to do something while standing around and gabbing in character. Plus, there are different smoke ring effects!

7. The archaic writing

Tolkien’s novels were intentionally written with a more archaic-sounding language than people used at the time, and compared to modern fantasy works, The Lord of the Rings can come off as downright old-fashioned. But that, I’d argue once again, is part of its overall charm, and the game writers do an excellent job creating mountains of quest text and dialogue that fits in with this IP instead of trying to sound like a PG Game of Thrones.

8. Emotes

As I hinted at before, LOTRO has a really strong roleplay community, but even those of us that aren’t always “in character” do seem to appreciate the array of RP tools at our disposal. I am amazed how many emotes are in the game, with many of them needing to be earned through various deeds or festivals. And more and more as the years have gone on, I’ve seen the devs weave in emotes as part of the quest system. It’s kind of neat to see your character actually perform gestures that go along with what’s happening in the story.

9. Cosmetic weapons

Oh man, how wonderful is this feature? For years and years, players beseeched the devs to add a cosmetic option for weapons in the same way as LOTRO had for outfits, and relatively recently, it was added. For those of us who truly disliked the tacky legendary item appearances, being able to sport the look of the weapon you liked was a delightful present. I actually enjoy having my Lore-master wield a natural-looking wood stave that I got back around level 10 instead of some elaborate king’s ephod.

10. Details from the novels

If you never read the books or are only passingly familiar with the Middle-earth franchise, you can still enjoy LOTRO for what it is. But there’s an added layer of fun for those who are intimately familiar with the novels, because the game devs are forever putting in all sorts of details straight out of the books that wouldn’t be noticed unless you really went looking for them. It’s not a 100% faithful adaptation, but it’s far more accurate than any Tolkien scholar could hope to see in a video game adaptation.

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at or with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”

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The details with the novels are absolutely astounding. I love the article Justin. #7 is a blessing and a curse for me, because the writing is so good, but for some reason the font size for the quest text cannot be adjusted, and when this game launched you didn’t even have 1920×1080 resolution, so the text is now ridiculously small on high resolution, large monitors and cannot be adjusted in the UI. It got to a point it started giving me a headache trying to read it so I had to stop playing. But I agree, this is such a great game for all the above reasons and more.

Chad Logan

I used to have the same issue but then I found out about the very easy-to-use magnifier tool called Glassbrick and let me tell you – it is a blessing for this game!

All you have to do with the tool is to either hold down Alt, Ctrl, Shift or Win and then use the Scroll Wheel to zoom in to the quest text. It also doesn’t overlay or interrupt while playing, unlike the Magnifier tool from Windows. Finally, I was able to enjoy LOTRO on my 2560 x 1440 Screen Resolution monitor. :)

Glassbrick Screen Magnifier Introduction Video


I agree with all 10 of these little things and many others. If it wasn’t for the horrible grind and insane lag I’d still be loving LOTRO to pieces.


Auto-looting was added when they added the overflow system during the rise of Isengard expansion


I love your list. I’d have to add that I appreciate that Lotro keeps mounts fairly tame and respectful of the lore. I also think the Shire needs its own category.


Agree on all points, also the weather effects are things i enjoy for immersion.

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Tobasco da Gama

You forgot the number one best thing to love about LOTRO:

Isengard bids five.

Melissa McDonald

Agreed on all 10 points. I also like that you can actually, physically play musical instruments by mapping the keyboard to your keyboard :) I am a bit of a musician so I sometimes amuse myself with some freeform jamming. Blues-jazz or jazz-blues? I dunno, Lemme ask Nigel and David. :)

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I may be the only person who dislikes auto-looting. I’m an immersive player, stopping to pick over the loot is part of the experience… and I do like seeing a pile of fallen foes when I’m done. With auto-looting, corpse decay is sped way up (the reduction in corpse-lag is probably part of the reason the feature exists).

Though I’ll admit the temp storage is terribly handy when short of bag space.


My first reaction to your comment was really negative but as I thought about it more I realized the looting systems in games, especially immersion based ones are missing the point.

Looting should be something you think about, not loot all and vendor trash it. I understand inventory space is the way games try to give you some remedial loot strategy but I think it’s time they come up with a more dynamic system, one that isn’t laden with frustration (like weight and space issues) but more a game in itself.

Something that defines your class and character more.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Last night on Gladden, WC was full of a conversation held by trash loot. “I see your bid and it isn’t worth [pitted wright fingerbone]. ” “I woke up this morning with [rough skin].” It went on at length, getting ever more creative as people searched their bags and imaginations to join in.

So you can add Trash Loot as another aspect of the game players appreciate to your excellent list.

There’s a kin on Gladden called the Green Water Yacht Club. I always get a chuckle when I see them. (For the un-LOTRO’d, green water is deadly.) And then there’s the Is Lost kin, which when name and kin are displayed proudly announces “Ordenus Silvertoes Is Lost”.

I love this playful aspect of the game and the fact that so very many players engage in it. And while WC is often filled with garbage, it is just as often taken over by punsters and lore jokers. It’s the only game whose WC I do keep on for the entirely unexpected delight that might come my way.


The magic of lotro truly does rely on the little things.

So many of us gamers point to one rp thing or one sandbox thing like housing and claim that xyz needs this feature to move to the next level.

The fact is, in a lot of ways the lotro team (past and present) tried very hard with the engine they had to work with to pour in little details and mechanics outside of the run of the mill tab target grinder to make middle earth come alive.

While I agree that big IPs often make terrible games, every once in awhile a big ip can surprise you because there is so much to pull from that the game can’t help it but to drip with detail.

I still think the sheer volume of non combat stuff in lotro is horrifically undervalued.

When I think of this game I think of the soft ambient shire music while fishing on the bridge to bywater, not fighting orcs or killing 10 boar.

This article is spot on, these concepts are hard to put into words, especially if you’re ham-fisted like me.