After 10 years, five expansions, and hundreds of patches, the Lord of the Rings Online that we play today is by far larger, more complex, and different than the one that launched in 2007. It was inevitable that the team would introduce various systems and features that took off, became popular with the community, and have been heavily supported ever since. It was also inevitable that the opposite has happened too.
I polled some of my fellow LOTRO players about the subject of abandoned features in the game and received quite a few responses. Most of us agreed on a core seven features that the devs originally had grand plans for… and have since neglected and ignored. So let’s take a look at seven features that the team would probably rather you not pay attention to these days!
I’ve often joked that this was LOTRO’s greatest typo — that it should read “hobby,” not “hobbies,” since there has only been one of these ever made. Fishing is fishing, and at least it’s gotten a little bit of play with festival activities and giant fish trophies hanging on the wall of player houses.
But the devs have never created a second (or third or fourth) hobby to flesh out this category, so it feels like this was a placeholder that never received attention and further development. The hobby of golf was often bandied about, particularly back in the day, but chances are that the dev team of today doesn’t care nor has the resources to create such “frivolous” activities.
2. Looking for group tool
For all of the dungeons, skirmishes, and raids that are in LOTRO, it’s a crime that so few people seem to ever run them. And I place a lot of this blame on the neglected instance finder tool, which doesn’t work to find pick-up groups because no one uses it to find groups (a lovely catch-22). The tool is functional, but it honestly needs to be more prominently placed and more enticing rewards attached to it to get players to actually use it. It’s 2017 and players are primarily using the /LFF channel to assemble parties. What is this madness?
Speaking of instanced content, skirmishes are by far one of the best forms of dungeons that the team has ever created. They’re accessible, flexible, variable, and offer useful rewards. And they’ve also been more or less abandoned following the expansion that saw their release (2009’s Siege of Mirkwood). Players continuously call on the team to create new skirmishes only to hear deafening silence on this front. Considering all of the possibilities in the content following Mirkwood, that is such a shame. Maybe one day… but probably not.
4. Fellowship maneuvers
Fellowship maneuvers — also called “FMs” and “conjunctions” — was a way for player groups to activate a group-based event during a fight to perform a special attack. By selecting different icons and assembling them into specific patterns, a FM could trigger a massive heal, power restoration, or various types of attacks. In short, they could turn the tide of battle, and some classes had the special ability to start up a FM, theoretically making them very desirable in a fellowship.
FMs was a launch feature, and to my knowledge, hasn’t really been updated ever since then. They still exist, but I don’t think they ever caught on the way the original dev team hoped. Some players have called for the current team to revisit and revise this system to make it current for the 2017 crowd, but so far that hasn’t happened.
5. Destiny points
Some features get abandoned while others are intentionally dismantled, and destiny points represent the latter. This used to be a special type of currency that you would accumulate via leveling and then could spend on special buffs or your monster play characters. Somewhere along the line, the team disabled the acquisition of destiny points, allowing the current supply in the game to gradually dwindle out and disappear forever. This wasn’t any sort of super-awesome system, but I liked it and felt that its death coincided with the rise of the in-game store (which, incidentally, sells a lot of the same buffs for real money).
One could argue that monster play never was supported that strongly, even at the start of the game, and I could definitely see that point. Yet this was LOTRO’s answer to PvP, and it was definitely pushed into a corner and forgotten about for long stretches at a time. Oh sure, every so often one of the devs had pity of the small crowd of PvMPers and got some fixes shoehorned into a patch. And after years of whining for a second map, the PvMP community did receive Osgiliath. But this system has just not been that supported, and the game wasn’t really made for it. It’s never going to receive the love that PvMPers hope it will, and as a result, the game will always disappoint these players and stir up resentment.
7. Mounted combat
Mounted combat was a major selling point of the Riders of Rohan expansion, and one that I think a lot of us were anticipating strongly. It certainly fit well with the expansion theme and resulted in a much more wide-open countryside that lent a different feel than what we had before.
Unfortunately, LOTRO’s engine just couldn’t handle the faster pace of mounted combat very well, and the buggy system quickly fell out of favor with many players. It was, to excuse the pun, a one-trick pony, and that trick was used up by the time we got into Gondor. Every so often the devs made a weak stab at justifying the system with some sort of roaming warband, but nobody I know actually uses warhorses other than a faster mode of transportation, especially if they have ranged attacks.