LOTRO Legendarium: Is it worth being a zone completionist in LOTRO?


We need to start today’s column with one important disclaimer: There’s no right or wrong way to play Lord of the Rings Online, only what’s right for your playstyles and interests. This MMO allows for a surprising amount of flexibility in pursuing goals, especially after the team have added multiple zones in the same level brackets, level-flexible missions and skirmishes, and plenty of side activities.

With that disclaimer in place, I do want to talk about the way that I usually engage with LOTRO, which is to fully complete zones. Sort of. I usually squeeze out most of the content in any given area on every character I play, making sure that I hit every single zone in the game. Why do I do that, and is it worth doing at all? That’s what I want to share today.

How I approach zones as a completionist

So let’s start with what I mean by “completing” a zone because for me, it’s not necessarily doing every last little quest. Mostly, my goalpost is doing the meta deeds — all of the quest, explorer, and slayer deeds — for a given region. If I get those done, and the main storyline and epic is finished in that area, I’m usually fine with moving to a new zone.

The best way to do these, by the way, is simply doing normal questing and following the narrative breadcrumbs. Usually a good chunk of those deeds are fully or partially finished by the time questing dries up. Then I’ll devote a gaming session or two to mopping up all of the unfinished deeds, hit that zone reputation vendor to see if there’s anything I want, and call it quits.

Obviously, this approach isn’t slick and streamlined, especially when you factor in a higher difficulty setting (which I’ve been doing since last year) and a determination to go through all of the zones, especially in over-packed Eriador. Then again, when you’ve done it several times before, you get pretty good at remembering where certain slayer farming camps are and how to knock out the other stuff pretty quickly.

One exception I make to the “do as much as you can along the way” approach is to hold off on treasure chests until the end. These are supremely annoying because they’re not labeled in your quest log; you simply are told to find, say, all 18 chests in an area, and there are only 18 chests, period. If you grab a handful during questing, you’ll lose track of which ones you’ve found. So I wait until a session where I grab a map from LOTRO Wiki and find all of the chests in one long and tedious evening. (The Lost Lore Reference mod is another option!)

Have I said how much I hate these treasure chest deeds? I didn’t think anything could be more annoying than slayer deeds, but SSG managed that dubious accomplishment.

Benefits from completing zones

So all of that raises the question of “why?” What do I get out of tackling LOTRO like this?

I’ve found that if you take the time to play this way, you reap many benefits that help you in the long run. First of all, you’re getting gobs of experience, reputation, and tokens. Those last two can be very nice for zones that sell map ports back to that region — more transportation options are never a bad thing!

Second, and perhaps most importantly, this provides a steady stream of virtue XP. That’s very important to growing your character’s stats, and if you don’t deed zones, then you’re going to have to figure out an alternative way to get VXP. I like this way because it gives me more than what I need for my five core virtues, splashing over to other ones that provide passive bonuses.

Deeding is also going to net you a whole lot of LOTRO Points, and those add up over time! Building up a nest egg of LP means that Future You can buy that premium house, zone DLC, unlock, or expansion without paying any real money.

I can keep going with other benefits, such as gold income, finding new cosmetics for your wardrobe, and sometimes getting titles, mounts, pets, and other goodies through the deed log. For example, the relatively new Swanfleet and Cardolan zones gift you with an incredibly cool horse mount (with ALL the saddlebags) if you finish all of the deeds in both of those regions.

Is it worth taking this approach?

Returning to the first paragraph there, I’m not going to assert that this is the way to play LOTRO. This all may sound like hell to you, and that’s fine. But I would say that it’s worth considering.

It’s not just that doing zone completion pays out in loads of benefits, although that’s true and is a great feeling when all of that stuff rolls into your account. It’s that this approach encourages you to experience the fullness of the landscape questing.

LOTRO is a game to be enjoyed and savored, not blasted through in a weekend of no-lifing content. There are characters to get to know, interesting stories tucked in all sorts of out-of-the-way places, gorgeous vistas, and wonderful milestones.

For me, taking this approach makes me feel like Frodo or Bilbo, setting out for a grand, long, and unexpected adventure. By slowing down to take advantage of what each zone has to offer, I divorce myself from that “rush to the cap” mentality and simply play in the moment. Step by step, I’ve crossed this continent multiple times now with this method and mostly enjoyed it — save for some of the truly awful spots that need nuking from orbit.

However, only you can answer whether or not this approach is right for your needs and playstyle. Whether it is or not, I’ll gladly wave to you as I trundle along to my next objective!

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.
Previous articleStar Citizen officially enters alpha 3.23 with new quality-of-life and mission features
Next articleThe Stream Team: Taking a bite out of V Rising’s launch

No posts to display

Subscribe to:
oldest most liked
Inline Feedback
View all comments