Lord of the Rings Online has so much to offer players, from an expansive world to thousands of quests to, um, chicken soccer. But the problem with this mountain of content and a leveling scheme that has gone largely unchanged since LOTRO’s launch in 2007 is that leveling up alts — additional characters — is a very prohibitive proposition for many. It simply takes too long with too much work for it to be feasible the way it tends to be in many other MMORPGs.
How long does it take to level up an alt?
I will admit that a big part of chewing on this subject is the fact that World of Warcraft has made great strides this past year in how it approaches alting. With Patch 9.0, it completely streamlined the leveling process, gave players options as to how they wanted to level, and vastly reduced the time it takes to bring a new character up to the cap. Now, it takes me a week, perhaps two, to get a brand-new WoW alt into Shadowlands — and a week or two past that to hit max level and be doing regular endgame activities.
In Lord of the Rings Online, taking a brand-new character to the cap would take me at least a year. Maybe a year and a half, depending on how many deeds, side quests, and epics I did. It’s not just about the levels themselves, either, but the sheer towering skyscraper of zones, deeds, quests, epics, legendary item grinds, rep grinds, and (lest we forget) running pies back to Holly Hornblower. And that’s not even considering the question of paying to unlock all of that content so that it can be consumed!
It’s no small deal to start a new LOTRO character because of this. I know some players who are all-in on the game and have cultivated a whole stable of characters over the years, but I bet a lot more are like me: a player who creates alts for a fresh experience, levels them to about 30, has that crushing realization of everything ahead, and gives up and returns to the main character.
SSG has made baby steps in making accounts more flexible for potential alting. It finally put together a more affordable content bundle and allowed for changing players’ races if they ended up dissatisfied with their original pick. Still, there’s very little in this game to encourage the creation, management, and upbringing of alts, and I think it’s high time that changed.
Ideas to make LOTRO more alt-friendly
So without further ado (I have ado’d enough already), here is a list of suggestions that could make this MMO environment far more conducive to alting:
Epic-only leveling: For players who have already taken a character to the level cap and through the whole epic — at least through Mordor — SSG should unlock an option so that future alts could level up solely through the 600-plus epic quests. By ratcheting up the experience gain and associated rewards in the epic, alts could save hundreds of hours of side-questing that they’ve already done and just focus on the best part of LOTRO’s narrative.
Class trait point restructuring: If you haven’t noticed, the way LOTRO assigns class trait points to characters is really scattered and weird — and it forces you to re-do a whole lot of content on alts you may not want to. Trait points should simply be handed out by dinging levels to simplify this and give alts maximum options.
Give every max-level account one free Aria boost: How cool would it be if you got to the level or content cap and LOTRO said, “Well done! Here’s a free boost to roll up a second character that could jump right up here with you if you want some variety?” When you’ve poured in hundreds and hundreds of hours into a character, you may want to continue that journey while trying out a different class, and this would accomplish that.
Unlock more account-wide bonuses: SWTOR’s legacy system is a great idea of encouraging alts by letting players unlock account buffs and skills for all of their current and future toons. This is something I think could work very well in LOTRO’s environment rather than making every single deed beneficial only to that one character.
How do you feel about alting in LOTRO? What could SSG do to make this playstyle better? Sound off in the comments!