LOTRO Legendarium: Six unpopular opinions about Lord of the Rings Online


Just because you’re a fan of a particular franchise or game doesn’t mean that you always concur with the larger groupthink. It’s always a fun exercise when you give yourself permission to go against the popular flow and confess to holding an opinion that might not, strictly speaking, be seen as geek orthodox.


So in this quiet period for Lord of the Rings Online, I’m going to spice things up by sharing a half-dozen unpopular opinions that I hold about this MMO. And whether you agree or not, it’s fine with me! Maybe it’ll get a discussion and debate going to examine some of these topics, which I always find fascinating.

The current talent trees are superior to the old class traits

As someone who’s played the game pretty regularly since launch, I’m quite familiar with how character growth used to be guided and how it changed into what we have today. There’s a lot of torch-holding for the old trait system as a superior model to the trait (talent) trees of the current game, and honestly, I don’t get it.

Class traits weren’t horrible, but they didn’t give us nearly as many interesting choices. Once you locked your trait build in — usually by the time you went to Moria — that was that. It wasn’t going to change much at all because SSG wasn’t releasing new traits and expanding the system. Trait trees, on the other hand, have a lot more in terms of choice and offer continual expansion with new options and more points as the level cap increases. I’ve liked the trait trees just fine since Helm’s Deep and haven’t looked back one bit.

The dances are pretty silly

Seeing as how much roleplaying and partying the community does in this game, this might seem a bit mean, but I’m going to say it anyway. The dance emotes in LOTRO are pretty terrible across the board. They’re either incredibly subdued or just plain weird, and the animation loops are really short.

Here’s an idea: Why not release collectable dance moves that players could custom string together to make their own longer dance sequences?

This game needs to give up on PvP

Generally I’m pretty live-and-let-live with MMO content that I don’t engage with, but I can’t keep quiet about this one. While I acknowledge that there’s a (very) small subset of LOTRO players who like the PvMP content, it’s not a net positive for the game. It’s sucking up resources for a system that isolates players from the rest of the game world and doesn’t really fit within the “we’re all on the same side” format that this MMO champions.

SSG (and Turbine before it) is engaging in a sunk cost fallacy by continuing to balance and improve it. I see no evidence that any of this work is drawing anyone new to this system. It’s a dated relic that needs to be excised — or maybe even replaced with something far better.

The world and playable character designs are generally good-looking

I guess this opinion might be seen as unpopular in some circles and not in others. It seems to me that there’s a large division out there between people who think that LOTRO is a gorgeous-looking game and those who take the stance that it’s dated, weird, and awkward-looking. The more I play it, the more I find the world to be really breathtaking — and the character models (especially with their revisions in the past couple of years) not bad at all.

The smaller, mundane tasks are what make us “heroes”

Yes, there’s plenty of saving the world as we know it in this game, but LOTRO is also filled with plenty of quests that revolve around seemingly trivial tasks that are beneath a warrior of great stature. Finding a lost kid, helping to harvest a field, running pies… that sort of thing. I’ve seen criticisms levied against these activities, saying that they’re just meaningless busywork. I differ. I think that a hero is someone who serves selflessly and doesn’t see anything as beneath him or her. So I’m always glad to have these opportunities in the game for my character to reflect that approach.

We don’t need a LOTRO 2

Hobnob enough in the MMORPG community and you’ll repeatedly encounter wishes and desires for old favorite games to be remade. “I’d play this if it were completely redone for the modern era with my specific feature list in mind,” is the thinking. And if I had a barrel of Old Toby for every time I heard this about LOTRO, I’d be a major player in the tobacco market.

I’ve grown increasingly dismissive of such expressions. I don’t think people appreciate the slavish devotion to the lore and details that have gone into this game, and that’s not something easily copied — especially the way that modern games are made. And performance issues aside, LOTRO simply works really well as a full-bodied virtual world. We don’t need a sequel; we need more improvements, refinements, and adventures in the world that we have right now.

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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