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.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.
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 named 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 Legendarium in 2021
Here’s a quick summary of all of the LOTRO Legendarium columns from this year:
- LOTRO’s history in 2020 and hopes for 2021
- It’s long past time to delete legendary items
- Ranking Eriador zones from worst to best
- How can LOTRO be more alt friendly?
- How much value does a VIP subscription offer these days?
- Analyzing the 2021 producer letter
- Finding the purpose in Wildwood
- Bilbo’s further adventures are anything but adventurous
- Six essential LOTRO store purchases for new players
- How the landscape slider is changing the rules of the game
- A tale of two progression servers
- What returning to LOTRO feels like
- Six suggestions to improve LOTRO’s business model
- 10 features that would make LOTRO more fun
- Exploring LOTRO’s choose-your-own-ruleset
- Why LOTRO is worth playing in 2021
- Ranking Rhovanion zones from worst to best
- Analyzing the first look at the Brawler and legendary items 3.0
- Why do we know so little about Fate of Gundabad?
- Fate of Gundabad is shaping up to be the expansion LOTRO needs
- Embracing the journey that is Lord of the Rings Online
- Maximizing your character’s first 20 levels
- Six ways to renew your love of Lord of the Rings Online
- Returning to LOTRO after seven years away
- The double-edged sword of being past the books
- OK, let’s talk about LOTRO on console
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!