Saturday, 30 April 2016

The things I love about LOTRO

As the last day of DAW is upon us, I find myself writing a love letter to Turbine. A disclaimer: you might grumble that this post is very optimistic and free of critique, and you're right! After all, it's Developer Appreciation Week, the one week of the year in which the gaming blog community gives game developers some time off from being under constant fire of their customers. DAW is about the people behind the company, despite all the vitriol from the playerbase hardworking persons with a passion for gaming - of this I am convinced. So yes, fangirl mode is engaged once more; better save your whining for tomorrow!

Dear Turbine,

If something is there for a long time, one tends to get used to it being around, taking its beauty for granted. Lord of the Rings Online is one of such games for me, having played it since 2007. It deserves better, though: it opened my eyes to the world of gaming and has shaped me both as a player and a person. Today I would like to stop and share the six things I love about the game you've created:

1) Incredibly beautiful landscapes

I don't know how you do it, but here is a sense of realism about the world you have created that convinces me I am traveling through Middle-earth when I login. The screenshot above I took a few weeks ago on my hunter in Eregion is just one example. Digital Middle-earth is a vivid world with many details that is so worth exploring. After nine years, LOTROs landscape is still competitive with freshly launched MMOs. That should say enough.

2) Character diversity

I consider myself a Tolkien fan, but am the first to admit that The Professor's writings resonate the Zeitgeist of that age, with all the downsides that come with that. The amount of meaningful women in The Lord of the Rings (the books) is alarmingly low and some expressions seem borderline racist. Then Lord of the Rings Online: plenty of powerful women (the female thanes of Rohan deserve a special mention) and even often overlooked minorities such as slaves and children featuring prominently in the stories. All things considered, you effectively made a better version of Middle-earth.

3) Uniqueness of classes

There is no rigid holy trinity in LOTRO and this is something to be cherished! Every class has its own flavour and unique abilities, and although this makes class balance a huge challenge, it also creates the opportunity for players to come up with creative solutions in group content.

4) Appropriate clothing

I get so tired of playing (female) characters that show huge cleavage or undies in other MMOs. LOTRO is a positive exception to this rule. Not only don't I get sexy armour forced upon me, I don't even have to suffer other people standing around in hubs looking ridiculous. This all combined with a huge amount of outfitting possibilities, of which the countless LOTRO fashion blogs are an expression.

5) Well-written quests

"LOTRO is the only MMO where I read quest text." I ran into this on a blog the other day, and it's not the first time I've read this. Your quests are cute and heartwarming, as well as cunning and original. Some MMOs need voice acting and cut scenes to keep the player involved, you do it without and you still rock!

6) A game for all

Finally, LOTRO is one of very few MMOs that I would recommend to people of any age, even the youngest players. The game has a wide array of content for all difficulties and the friendly community is a logical extension of this.

Thank you for enriching my life with all of the above. Keep up the great job!

Ravanel Griffon


  1. I think there have been many staff changes since I was playing originally, but in those early days, the development staff was the most dedicated group I've ever seen. It seemed that they were truly working to bring to life the literary world of Tolkien, and one of the ways they accomplished that was through the quest writing. It was beautiful, and told a compelling story, which drew you into the world in ways that simpler writing would not have done.

    1. You are right of course: the points posted above were not initiated by Turbine, they merely built upon them. I think they did a great job at that, though. The landscapes and fashion options, for instance, have only become better over the years. :)

      It is a great shame that those things that happened, happened, and that the original crew is no more. I can only agree there.

  2. Agreed to all.

    When the mini-Reds wanted to play MMOs like I did, they originally wanted to play WoW. After all, that was what I was playing at the time. However, I knew that WoW's community had plenty of toxic elements to it, and I steered them in the direction of LOTRO instead. They'd seen the LotR movies and read The Hobbit, so they were on familiar territory. And the community in LOTRO is still the nicest in MMO space. Sure, you'll still get the asshats from time to time, but in general it is the best MMO to start with.

    And as for the quest text, yeah, I read it all here. A lot of it has to do with that the quest text is so integral to the story, and it is written in a Tolkienesque style, but there's also something rewarding when you blend a literary piece with an interactive video game that says "hey, you might want to read this".

    1. I wouldn't know another MMO either that is so child friendly. The world chat is as bad as any MMO, I suppose; no escape there. I guess a certain type of people (fond of lame jokes) is just the most vocal regardless of game. But even in LOTRO world chat there are nice people now and then. For instance the tradition to give things away for free in world chat: how often do you see that in SWTOR? (Answer: never.) I once tried to give some earpieces away in SWTOR fleet chat, and only got negative responses from people who told me to vendor it instead!

  3. Good list. I think I spent all of ten minutes in LotR as a dwarf lost in the starting area surrounded by wolves. Wasn't the best experience, and I was already going in biased. Seeing all the love people have for this game is really making me want to give this game a serious try.

    1. Whaha. Sounds like a traumatic experience alright. If you're a Tolkien fan, I'd definitely recommend giving LOTRO another try. If you're not, prepare for the age of the MMO. Starting anew in LOTRO is a bit like time travelling!

  4. Wait, there was a developer appreciation week? Crap, I'm pretty sure I spent that week ripping quite a number of developers a new one... including Turbine. Whelp they deserved it.

    Though to be honest I'm not sure what you're talking about with uniqueness. Every class in LOTRO is ripped straight out of D&D in a sense of poetic justice considering how much D&D borrowed from the real lord of the rings trilogy. It's about as unoriginal copy/pasta as you could get.

  5. Wonderful list, I couldn't agree more.


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