A few thoughts on #LOTRO’s potentially boring year

There have been lots of recent posts and tweets predicting doom and gloom for Lord of the Rings Online. I sure hope they’re wrong, but I do wonder if this year won’t be quite a rough patch for the game.

When Turbine announced no new major content this year, people assumed the demise of the game. While the devs quickly assured us that wasn’t true, the subsequent layoffs of several LOTRO team members seemed to confirm a pullback in resources going to LOTRO. Sure, they’ll redo some early areas, but that may not be compelling for all us level 95 players. But those areas are not exactly what I’m writing about.

The problem that I see in LOTRO, even more than for Star Trek Online, is that the top-level content is becoming less and less compelling with each release. For example, when my first character, a Lore-Master, hit Mirkwood years ago, I loved it! I had so much fun there, running skirmishes and instances with friends, getting max reputation with the elves there, etc. Even the crafting location was great, so I worked hard to get the “return to” skill so I could use it as needed.

Then Rise of Isengard came out, and everyone raced to hit level 75 so we could do the Dragioch raid and get the dragon cloak materials. I got lucky and got those dragon scales on my first run through (I think I /rolled a 99!). So life was pretty good. Then Great River came out and we all ran over there and finished it, but the repeatable missions into the Limlight Gorge were fun, but not great. At that point, half my kinship got bored and bailed out of the game, never to return.

Then came Riders of Rohan. I was late to RoR, because I didn’t want to pay full price for it. Once I bought it, I loved the mounted combat. A lot! My friends didn’t like it nearly as much, though a few times, a friend and I would romp through the fields of Rohan thumping down any enemies in our path! The big end-game draw were the Erebor instances, but I didn’t have a high level Minstrel or Captain, so nobody wanted a lousy Lore-Master (emphasis on lousy) for those missions, so I didn’t get to play. Then I tried hard to level my Mini and Warden up to 85 so they could join in, but medical issues took me out of the game for a few months. I didn’t quite get them to level 85 before Helm’s Deep arrived.

Not wanting to make the same mistake as with RoR, I bought Helm’s Deep on pre-order, so played it right away. But this time, there were no great end-game instances. Instead, there were the Epic Battles at Helm’s Deep, but they can be run solo and by any level over 20. So there’s no really compelling end-game content to make me want to level all my guys up to 95 so they can join the fun. They can already do those missions at their level.

Now I really enjoyed the story lines in Dunland, East Rohan, and now, West Rohan. My Lore-Master does every quest and I enjoyed almost all of it. But I have a lot less interest in doing all the same quests over and over and over again with all my other characters. So they’re slowly languishing, while my LM is retired-in-place at the Aldburg crafting hall (nowhere better to be!), while I play more Star Trek Online than LOTRO.

Might be a long year for LOTRO…

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