Holy cow, are we already wrapping up another year of Lord of the Rings Online? I’ve been writing this column since 2010, and I still don’t feel like I’m running out of topics. But as always, I like to pause and reflect at the end of a calendar year on this column and the journey of the game itself.
LOTRO’s 2022 in review
LOTRO’s 2022 kicked off with the Shadowfax server progressing into Rise of Isengard and Treebeard venturing into Mines of Moria. SSG quickly stepped into it with proposed changes to currency which garnered so much pushback that the studio decided to nix the idea.
In February, the new and improved LOTRO website went online, and Update 32: Rangers and Ruins went live with the Angle of Mitheithel, legendary reward track, and the Erebor premium housing. This was quickly followed by the release of the Hiddenhoard of Abnankâra raid.
Shadowfax moved into Riders of Rohan in March. That same month, SSG impressed us with the news that a great deal of LOTRO would be made completely free going forward. Allan “Orion” Maki came back to the LOTRO team in April, after which the Anor shard leveled up to Minas Morgul.
April ended up being a huge month for the game, with Update 33: Yondershire arriving and the game’s 15th anniversary event handing out scads of free content and prizes. Heading into May, Shadowfax moved on to Helm’s Deep, and legendary warsteed bridles were retired.
In June, Shadowfax rode into Gondor and Treebeard unlocked Siege of Mirkwood while PvMP was made free to all players. The game’s producer, Raninia, left in July without much of an explanation, but life moved on, and we got to play Update 33.1: The Further Adventures of Elladan and Elrohir.
MacOS support ended in August, as did the Anor legendary server. By early fall, Update 33.2 arrived with a bunch of new class/race combinations — and a controversial Minstrel rebalance pass.
After a short delay, Update 34: Before the Shadow came out in mid-November. This mini-expansion contained two new low-level zones, a class trait revamp, a skirmish, 40 new missions, optional session play toggles, and the delving system.
Probably the funniest thing that happened was a glitch that created a giant boulder in Bree-land that the community adopted as Dwayne the Rock. All in all, it was a crazy busy year — and SSG’s hard work paid off with an 11% bump in players.
Hopes for the new year
In the past, I used to post a wish list for the game of what I wanted to see added/changed in LOTRO. I’ve been stepping away from that, partially because I was repeating myself in certain areas and partially because SSG kept adding stuff on that list into the game proper.
So instead, I wanted to pause and pontificate on what I’d like to see in general in the new year. Obviously, I hope that LOTRO continues to improve in quality, community, and population. This was a really fine year for the MMO, all things considered, and it’s shown that this game has strong legs. But it can’t just tread water in 2023; it needs to keep up the hard work.
Everyone’s number one complaint and priority is the terrible performance of the game, and it continues to run rampant despite SSG saying that it’s throwing engineers and resources at the issue. People are tired of it, and the server lag is giving the game a bad reputation among the wider MMO community. This has to be fixed, and soon. I don’t think there’s anything else I can say to underscore that.
Aside from that, I’m excited to hear about the upcoming expansion (whether it’s a mini one or a full-blown expansion in truth) and other short-term plans for the game. It’s encouraging to see SSG expand the team — one of the best and most passionate in the business, in my opinion — and if it continues to do that and keep the communication rolling, I’ll be delighted.
Personally, I want to continue my adventures and enjoy the scenery, storytelling, and social environment of the game. This will be the first time that I’ll be playing a character primarily through the epic story, and I’m curious if it’ll seem faster because of that.
A look back at LOTRO Legendarium
And it’s certainly been a busy year here at LOTRO Legendarium! For your reading convenience, here’s a roundup of all of the columns from the past 12 months: