LOTRO Legendarium: How can LOTRO become more alt-friendly?

    
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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.

For a couple of months now I have been mulling over this topic in my head and wondering what SSG could do to make LOTRO far more friendly to alts than it currently is. As I see it, a game that encourages and nurtures alts is one that invites players to stick around even longer rather than put all of their Hobbits in one basket.

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!

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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Mark Temby

1. Make LI caps account wide so that you only need to add SOE’s to a main weapon and a class item once per account. You would still need to level the LI’s but you only need to level the LI CAP once, instead of for each LI.

2. Remove the A->B->A quest line rubbish. There is waaaay too much time spent running back and forward during quest chains. Yes the landscapes are beautiful but encourage wandering with flow rather than frustrating time sinks.

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treehuggerhannah

By far the biggest thing that would make the game more alt-friendly for me is if they had a system where if you have completed the necessary quest chains with one character, you can travel to the locations the quest chains open up with any other character of appropriate level.

The main thing that holds me back from wanting to make alts in LOTRO is that you can’t just take your new character to your favorite places even if you get them high enough level – you have to slog them through all the prior content every single time. I don’t want to have to replay hours and hours of quests to get to whatever I actually want to be doing… so I just don’t do it at all.

Taking the long path through quests is good for a first character, but after that I want the option to go wherever I choose as long as I am the right level and can find a travel route.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

I agree with others that LOTRO is built around the store. There is no other feasible reason for nerfing empowerment scroll grinding. Any reason they give is just so much justification BS.

When things don’t make sense in LOTRO, there’s only one reason: It’s the store.

As a lifetime VIP, I’ve got few complaints with QoL, but I’ve also easily spent many hundreds of dollars on the game over the years, mostly on Deed accelerators. These, I eat like candy on all my alts because the landscape slayer deeds are utterly punishing. And you HAVE to do them because that’s how you get your virtue points. So it’s either a grind for deeds or popping for Store advancements.

Back in the day I eagerly pushed all 9 of my significant alts to level cap. Around about Dol Amroth, I realized I was never going to be able to keep my alts up respectably, and settled on simply playing my main two, Champion and Minstrel. (I have two lifetime accounts, with one of my mains on each; I now play them both at the same time. Yeah, Herbalist Deed, I’m looking at you.) My kin, very active up until Gondor, began to fall away as people realized there was no fun to be had in this.

Recently, I joined a slow game kin with a new alt because I wanted to play LOTRO and enjoy it and the higher level grind was never going to be attractive for more than my main characters. I wanted to be able to do instances again without the go-go-go of those that are grinding many for scroll tokens. I wanted to play with folks interested in exploring the game and not just getting to level cap to . . . grind.

But there’s no doubt that the massive wall of content and the ever increasingly complex and complicated grind systems is hurting the game.

How to make things better?

There are two account-wide systems I’ve played that I like. Diablo III’s Paragon points and SWTOR’s Legacy.

SWTOR’s system puts all your alts in a Legacy, or family, which you name. Everything you do in the game accrues Legacy points, which levels your legacy, allowing you to unlock more perks as you go along. In other words, nothing you do in game is wasted and can be of benefit to you no matter what alt you are playing.

D3’s Paragon points unlock once one character hits level cap (70), which can be done in a matter of hours. From that point forward, you begin earning Paragon points for ALL your characters. Since level cap is so easy to achieve, this again is a system where very little of your time is wasted and benefits all your characters.

Integrating some kind of perk points that can be spent account-wide to enhance the experience of all alts seems essential.

Also, there’s no reason that all wallet currency cannot be unlocked account-wide. The decision to keep some types of currencies character-only but unlock others is simple an old-timey attempt to keep players doing content. SSG needs to rethink this for the modern age of gaming. This would vastly speed up some types of grinds.

I’d also argue for unlocking a stable once it is unlocked by any character.

From my perspective, I hate doing the Epic. I never thought that much of it and now that they have tied skill points to it, I hate it even more because now I have to do it. While I love the story and have often been very moved by it, the obvious time sink way in which it is done annoys the hell out of me. I’d rather grind landscape mobs.

Which is why I feel that once you’ve completed volumes of the Epic on one character, the rewards should be released to all your alts when they reach the appropriate level. Doing the Epic 5-6, 7, 8, 9 times is simply brutal and drives me away from the game faster than even the legendary grind.

I doubt any of these issues will be addressed. SSG seems obdurate in its locking the game to the Store. I’m convinced that the excuse ‘we haven’t hit upon a good rework of the Legendary system’ from SSG really means ‘we haven’t figured out how to maximize monetization with a new system yet.’

Nonetheless, hope springs eternal.

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MrReaper

Integrate everything like virtues, trait points, race skills, legendary legacies and class skills into the one skill tree with the source of xp earning these coming from anywhere you want to quest be questing areas, epics, epic battles, instances, skirmishes, missions, and crafting. Lower the level cap to 80.

For any new player or casual player looking at level 140 (coming soon)for endgame then trying to work out all the different systems and then to see the horrible horrible horrible legendary weapons would be a game killer for most.

Valars can still be the source of income with a lower level cap.

Change the level requirements per area so more areas are available to a ten level block with a max level of 80.

The problem I have with epic books is keeping awake travelling from point a then b. This would need a revamp if it was made a primary option to level an alt.

PS. the legendary grind is a disgrace and should never have gotten to this stage.

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rk70534

Drop the legendaries, make soloable versions of all instances as mentioned here (a huge task, nevertheless most of the under-130 instances are beyond basically all non-130 players, and no help in leveling), increase XP gain, reduce numbers needed for deed completion and for god’s sake – give subscribers at least vastly more fast travel routes and bindings to major hubs!

cambruin
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cambruin

Let it go already, it’s not meant to be alt-friendly, it’s designed to be extremely alt-unfriendly. The Valars are one of their biggest sources of income, together with LI. My kinship has (had? Haven’t logged in since the empowerement fiasco) 20+ lvl 130 chars on, pretty much 24/7. I can tell you with 100% certainty that over half of them are store-bought lvl capped chars.

While other games build a store around their game, LotRO has become so extremely reliant on it’s store that instead the game is built around it. And from the looks of it, it’s current community seems to accept that and fully deserves the game they’re given.

Stormsong Minstrel
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Stormsong Minstrel

1) Remove so-called “Legendary weapons”. Cry a river, pray-eat-love, send them with Elves to Neverland. Period.
2) Remove restrictons to reputation items. No more level/quest restrictions.
3) Increase vault and inventory space.
4) High elves have items that grow up with player. NOT being reforged – just grow up. Add something to these. You know, memories of old ages when Dwarves were not grumpy, Elves were not xenophobes, Humans were not a bunch of drunkards and Hobbitses weren’t horde of noisey thieves…
5) Allow to pick ANY three crafting professions. So that I could be self-efficient.
6) Lessen crafting Guild reputation grind. Now it’s complete madness.
7) Make crafed items matter. Right now, i have either to hunt recipes that have some 5% drop chance…When players ask for some lvl.20s quality items and there are none? Sorry, make it that crafted items are better than landscape drops.

Folks told right things about free Aria ov Valar, about more slots (free!) for alts, Trait points.

Yet, nobody will listen to this. Developers do not play their own game, they have no clue about problems simple player faces. if they read massivelyop, they would just put all this to ignore. Lotro, you deserve quality devs.

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Darkedone02

My perspective on being alt-friendly:
1) have enough slots for people to make alts
2)Make the max level shorter (like level 60 – 90), make earning experience faster
3)Make a end-game leveling system (think GW2 mastery system, Diablo 3 paragon system, a system that helps other alts even when leveling it up to max).
4)Bank should be account wide, or have at least 30 shared slots)
4b)Have a universal unlimited storage for raw resources and certain resources to be stored and used without it being in your main inventory (GW2 crafting system to an extent)

I don’t play LOTR:O due to it’s lack of appeal to me, I don’t think the story is strong for me, and it felt boring due to that imo. however this is what I have witness that is more Alt-friendly thanks to how other games have run something similar, if the devs could make this happen, I think it be easier for people to get into LOTR:O and level alt’s at the same time so everyone can find out which class is better for them for end-game purposes.

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NeoWolf

I guess it all comes down to what people mean by Alt friendly? To me for example Alt friendly means a) giving me enough slots to have alts and b) enough content to enjoy playing my alts. However to most people, alt friendly seems to mean some shortcut mechanic to speed up the leveling or progression of all characters after the first and I don’t like that personally.

I’d much sooner some system for giving all alts some tangible performance bonus in play rather than a means to speed level them, like how ESO’s champion point system works. In that way, you get a tangible benefit for playing alts but you are not raced through content and can still enjoy playing through it at the intended pace.

I really do not understand this need people have to be max level as fast as humanly possible as if somehow the game gets a million times better once you reach the level cap. Newsflash folks it doesn’t, invariably end game in all MMO’s is garbage your rush to level cap meant nothing and just simply now turned into a gear grind, congratulations all those stories skipped and raced through for nada.

Alt friendly should mean a means to complement and reward further play via alts, not replace it by shortening the experience.

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Munchmeat2

The LIs are the biggest hurdle for new players and alts. It was an extremely poor system that basically killed getting weapon drops. LIs are probably one of the biggest time and money sinks I’ve ever seen in a MMO.