Sometimes column topics come from idle inner dialogue, while other times they may arise from a desire to do some personal research that ends up getting out of hand. In this case, it’s a bit of both. I was thinking about the topic of ranking the different races of Lord of the Rings Online and whether or not it was possible to come up with an objective “best” and “worst.” This sent me ping-ponging down various wiki pages to see if I could narrow it down to criteria that could be sorted with a logical eye.
In a sense, the question of whether or not you should pick a Boerning pretty much begins and ends on whether you want to play a Beorning. There’s only one race for the same-named class — and vice-versa — so shapeshifting bears have no other option.
Still, let’s take a look at the race itself. You do get to be a more “wild” variant on the race of Man, with some different looks, hairstyles, and even vividly colored tattoos. They’re better with clubs and axes, if you like to fight in Man form, and the race is more hardy thanks to better vitality, some resistances, and an extra heal.
But the drawbacks are several. The racial port is to a very out-of-the-way lodge, the honey-cakes have a ridiculously short five-minute duration, and let’s not forget that this race has the fewest class options of the whole game. Don’t get me wrong — that one class is amazing, but the attached race is less-than-thrilling.
Considering that I’ve made more Hobbit characters than all other races combined, you can say that I’m a big fan of these pint-sized powerhouses. Not only are they the heroes of the books, but they’re a whole lot of fun in the game thanks to some fun racials (throwing stones is a hoot and flopping to play dead is surprisingly useful), an always-helpful port back to the Shire, and looking cute as a button.
Drawbacks? Well, their running animation sometimes looks like they’ve got a full load in a diaper and you’re going to have less physical real estate for outfits, so that’s a consideration. They also only have five class choices out of the 11, which is the second-smallest pool of all races.
The newest race on the scene, the Stout-Axe enjoys better Dwarf visuals (I am partial to the mohawk), a much more streamlined tutorial zone, and the ability to finally roll a Dwarf Burglar. Other than that, they don’t honestly feel that much separated from the regular Dwarves, what with a predilection to tanking and a quick trip back to Thorin’s Hall. Even with the shiny newness of the Stout-Axe, it doesn’t seem like we’ve seen a big influx of Dwarves in Middle-earth. Maybe it’s the race to pick when you really want to come off as the rebel?
Everyone loves the Elves, and it’s not hard to see why. Their virtues kick off with a hefty seven-class selection, they are better than everyone else with a bow, and they get a port to Rivendell — which is always needed. Sure, their stealth is laughable and their skills more bend toward offense than defense, but that doesn’t scare most people away when making their Hunters, Lore-masters, or Wardens.
Typically in MMOs, human races are as popular as they are functionally dull. The race of Man does have more of an identity than you may first think, and there are no better choices if you like a wide breadth of options. Save for the Rune-keeper and Beorning, this race can roll any class it wants, including the Captain (which used to be a race exclusive). The port to Bree, meaty self-heal, increased sword damage, and better defenses are across-the-board terrific.
Now that High Elves are a free unlock thanks to the 15th anniversary, I’m sure their already-popular status will skyrocket. If you’re a pointy ear fan, you’ve got no end to the benefits with this race: eight class picks, a faster run speed, several damage increases, and a super-fancy dance. It’s all about the dance.
Well, it’s also about the fact that High Elves can roll Captains, which makes it the second race to be able to do so. The sword damage bonus helps with that class, but also with all of its other picks except for Warden and Rune-keeper. Not a lot of cons here.
I’ve long since gotten the feeling that Dwarves are one of the more shunned races in this game. They don’t have the cute appeal of the Hobbits, they don’t have a female variant (at least visibly), they have a lackluster list of class choices, and now that Stout-Axe are in the game, they lack those newer looks and whistles.
Still, there’s some fun to playing a burly and surly Dwarf. They are both tougher and more quick to regenerate resources, they’re fantastic with axes, and they can head-butt opposition (which never gets old). Obviously, the racial traits are biased toward building a tank — Champion or Guardian — with the other options an afterthought.
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 email@example.com.