At PAX East recently, Standing Stone Games teased some details of Lord of the Rings Online’s future. I’m going to hold off on talking about this for now in the hopes that the studio will put out an official producer’s letter in the next couple of weeks, but what I did want to discuss was the fact that the devs teased the possibility of a new legendary server.
While Lord of the Rings Online is a very casual-friendly game, there is always a subset of the population that is craving a good challenge. Back in the first years of the game, LOTRO was arguably tougher with sections of endgame maps being chock-full of epic baddies and parts of the epic book that required groups to complete.
So what about a hardmode server, where enemy damage and health is cranked up, say, 50% or so? Suddenly, those wolves in the Shire have actual teeth and giants might strike terror in the hearts of players. Some folks might love the increased danger associated with such a server and band together more for safety and fun.
Along that same mindset is the notion of an ironman — or permadeath — server. LOTRO’s sister game Dungeons and Dragons Online successfully ran its first “hardcore” server last year and people actually seemed to like it. Now, I know that the two MMOs are structurally different, but it would certainly be interesting to see how LOTRO might function if one death put your character on ice forever. Players love trying to get that level 20 “haven’t died yet” title, after all.
To compensate for the inevitable demise and to encourage players to stick around, I’d think that there would need to be a way to pass down equipment or some sort of “legacy” to subsequent characters in order to give them a better chance to survive. Perhaps every 10 levels your character survives, you get a stat package that goes into your server’s legacy that will benefit all future characters. Or even special skills!
Let’s get off the super hardcore side of things and look at other ways that the ruleset could be adjusted. One possible change would be to offer a server where only the epic storyline was available — all other quests, unless they were required by the epic book, would be stripped away. The epic would need more rewards and experience to compensate, but the end result would be to give players (especially veterans) a way to go through all of the volumes without any side distractions. Just one huge long saga from start to end.
Shadows of Angmar-only server
While the legendary servers are still fun (I still play on one), they were the most exciting in the opening months as the community got to experience the border limitations that were present in the Shadows of Angmar period. I know that more than one of my friends mourned the opening of Mines of Moria on the progression server because SoA-only restrictions felt like a self-contained experience that didn’t have need for more content.
So what about a Shadows of Angmar-only server, where the level cap would stay at 50 and no expansions would be added? It wouldn’t be a legacy server, obviously, but it could serve the desires of players who had the most fun romping around just Eriador.
No legendary items server
Hear me out on this one before scoffing, OK? I don’t think that legendary items need to be fixed in LOTRO. The LI system is too unwieldy and not very enjoyable no matter how you tinker with it. So why not just have a place where they don’t exist at all?
It always irks me when quests and mobs drop neat weapons that my character can’t use past Shadows of Angmar because, of course, legendary items always have to occupy those slots. Yes, this server would require a lot of rebalancing, but why not? Why not have a server where we just forget the abomination of LIs and get back to traditional MMO gear like all of the other stuff in the game?
I’d play that in a heartbeat. Who’s with me? OK, don’t answer that, but maybe drop your own suggestions for LOTRO server rulesets in the comments below!