LOTRO Legendarium: A look back at Lord of the Rings Online in 2021

    
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It’s that time of year again! As we get ready to make the psychological transition to a new year, we pause to look back at the journey that was the previous one. And for Lord of the Rings Online players, it was quite the journey indeed.

In today’s column, I’m going to recap all of the major developments that happened in and around LOTRO this year, trot out every single LOTRO Legendarium column, and post a few wishes for 2022. The road goes ever on, my friends, so let’s not dawdle!

LOTRO in 2021

Lord of the Rings Online started one of its most dynamic years fresh off Daybreak’s acquisition by EG7. In January, SSG offered a more price-friendly expansion bundle — even though it tried to get greedy with legendary item sales. Speaking of sales, the War of the Three Peaks “mini-expansion” started selling for LOTRO Points in February.

The yearly producer’s letter arrived in March with a rough roadmap of the remainder of 2021. It wasn’t long after that Update 29 arrived with the new Wildwood region.

Leaks about the Brawler class started to emerge in April, the 14th anniversary arrived, and a mid-tier patch — Update 29.5 — gave us some further adventures with Bilbo Baggins. The next month, LOTRO ended Windows XP support, shut down the Ithil server, and brought on board a new game producer┬ánamed Oleg “Raninia” Brodskiy.

Update 30: Blood of Azog arrived in June with a new raid and zone, followed by the introduction of the Shadowfax and Treebeard progression servers (with the new difficulty slider). As summer progressed, we got Weatherstock XIII, Anor walked into Mordor, and Shadowfax blitzed into Moria.

September brought back the popular quest pack giveaway, followed by the Brawler, housing hook consolidation, and legendary item revamp in October. Update 31: Fate of Gundabad brought the long-awaited expansion to the game in November, although several features had to be delayed. Meanwhile, EG7’s investor report spoke about UI and graphics projects as well as a possible console version.

LOTRO ended the year with a new dungeon, a further unlock for Anor, and the tease of new Dwarven premium housing.

LOTRO Legendarium in 2021

Here’s a quick summary of all of the LOTRO Legendarium columns from this year:

Looking ahead to LOTRO in 2022

As we head toward LOTRO’s 15th anniversary next year, I have very mixed feelings about the MMORPG.

On one hand, I’m very encouraged by how active the game’s development and community was this year, and just looking over the summary of all of the updates emphasized how much the game grew. SSG did not sit around, and the addition of a new producer and other employees helped to bolster development. Communication was much better this year on the whole, and I am still cautiously excited to see what might come out of these EG7 initiatives.

On the other hand, 2021 wasn’t perfect. Server issues continued, SGG has yet to restore closed server character transfers, and the marketing leadup to Fate of Gundabad was horribly lacking. The expansion wasn’t as big of an event as it could’ve been because of how quiet the studio was in promoting it, and that’s a huge missed opportunity. The new legendary item system, while better, still ended up a confusing mess with its reward track delayed.

So yeah, it’s one step forward, one step back, and a lot of twirling in circles of uncertainty for the game. I guess my greatest hope going into 2022 is that SSG really gets its act together — starting with getting those server fixes going, putting in a better business model, and instituting more thorough testing cycles — giving lapsed players and curious tourists a reason to come check out this title. SSG did better in 2021, make no mistake, but it’s still got a ways to go before it’s shored up its multiple weak spots.

Even so, I’m looking forward to another year of grand adventures in one of my favorite MMO settings. Here’s to pleasant surprises, good company, and solid growth!

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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