The Return of the Gamer…My Adventures in LOTRO

January 28th, 2020

After getting somewhat burned out with World of Warcraft and Ultima Online, I decided to reactivate my LOTRO, Lord of the Rings Online, account. I started playing LOTRO when it first came out and played up to level 48 on a Minstrel. Returning to LOTRO has been fun and challenging to adapt to as a seasoned World of Warcraft player.

LOTRO is a unique MMORPG, it has stunning landscapes rendered in rich colors and is an explorer’s dream. The clouds drift overhead in a dreamlike haze which blends seamlessly into verdant foothills, dotted with hobbit holes. Sadly the rich details and art stop at the landscape and don’t trickle down to your avatar’s weapons or mount.

The horses in Lord of the Rings look horrible as if they were drawn by a 5th grader. Fortunately LOTRO is going to be introducing goat mounts with the new expansion pack, The Siege of Mirkwood. There are also new reputation mounts in LOTRO which sport stylish new barding and are more horsey looking.

As a person who was raised on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, being steeped in Tolkien’s story and lore are a treat. LOTRO was definitely created with the Lore buff and explorer type player in mind. I am more of a social/killer type of player, so I am not sure if LOTRO will be able to hold my interest for long.

LOTRO has many features built in that support role-play and the social play style. For example, the kinship system or guilds in LOTRO encourages players to band together by allowing kinship only auctions, the best housing and other perks. LOTRO’s landscape is dotted with stages, ruins, and interesting places to role-play. However, unlike Ultima Online, you cannot build your own customized venue, create books and the communities are quiet and under populated even on large shards. So when you visit your Apex Legends stats checker, you’ll see that it has quite a different setting.

To Lord of the Ring’s Online’s credit, they have expanded the endgame play with interesting new instances, raids and legendary weapons that players can create and customize. LOTRO has also added the Rune keeper class which is a hybrid nuker/healer. I started a Rune keeper because I have found I enjoy playing casters, especially casters that can heal, as healers are generally highly desirable in groups. I am looking forward to finishing off my minstrel and exploring all of the endgame instances.

In all, I find LOTRO much more playable than it was when it first came out and enhanced with useful features like a quest tracker, improved maps, easier leveling requirements, reputations, housing and a more robust client over all. Will it be enough to convince me to stay? Perhaps I will stay in Middle Earth if I can find just the right kinship and friends to make it worthwhile.