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Lord of the Rings Online

The Road to Mordor: Has LotRO grown too big for its own good?

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Road to Mordor

lotro
Jumping into an MMO that's been out for several years -- let's call it "more than five" -- lends itself to several blessings and curses. While the game has more content, stability, and a playerbase that isn't drunk on launch drama, it can be overwhelming and even lonely to the latecomer who is just trying to figure out the basic ropes while everyone else is milling around at the Level Cap Country Club. Often I see people asking whether it's "too late" to join an MMO, wondering if they're getting into a game that everyone else is getting out of, not to mention considering how long it might take to do meaningful content with those who have been around longer.

Lord of the Rings Online is now most assuredly in that zone. It's been out for seven years, adding along the way numerous updates and systems, a free-to-play conversion, two classes, 50 more levels, a class overhaul, and five expansions. A game that used to occupy a relatively small swath of Middle-earth is now an empire that stretches from the icy bays of the far north to the shoreline of southern Gondor. It's absolutely huge when you step back to consider it, which is what both a new player and a reroller must do.

My question this week is this: Is LotRO getting to be too big and too long for a player to start from scratch these days? Is it suffering from a case of too much of a good thing?

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Global Chat: A blast from the past

World of Warcraft, Asheron's Call, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Opinion, Vanguard, Guild Wars 2, Global Chat, Miscellaneous, ArcheAge

As many of you know, Massively doesn't really believe in reviews of MMOs, as they are ever-changing and shifting targets. Instead, we've provided impressions and continuing coverage of these games during their lifespans (and even after), which is something that many bloggers also favor.

In this edition of Global Chat, we have several hands-on impressions of MMOs both new and old from the blogosphere. What is it like to head back to Asheron's Call after a long time away? Is Guild Wars 2's and Lord of the Rings Online's new content hitting the mark? And what will we miss most of all now that Vanguard has departed? It's all there and more, right after the break!

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Jukebox Heroes: Lord of the Rings Online's housing music

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Housing, Jukebox Heroes, Music

lotro
One of the interesting features (but by no means unique) of Lord of the Rings Online's housing system is the option to slot a music box item so that visitors can enjoy your favorite tunes while they check out your pad. Like the rest of the housing system, music boxes haven't been added to or expanded much over the years, but I still think they're pretty keen.

Most of the music boxes contain a medley of three or so similarly themed tracks. Most of these are pulled from all over the game, but some are rarely heard outside of houses, so I thought these deserved another look. Plus, the original music for LotRO is quite gorgeous in spots and holds up very well over the years.

For those looking for a buyer's guide to these ambient themes, may I point you to CSTM? For the rest of us, I have six favorite music boxes waiting for you after the jump.

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One Shots: The green marble

Screenshots, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, One Shots, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Final Fantasy XIV, Miscellaneous, WildStar

wildstar
Man, Bunglerm00se is so lost right now, you can't even imagine it. At least he's getting a great view as he contemplates having to trudge back. If you haven't heard, space is, like, really really big. Costco-family-packages-of-goldfish-crackers big.

"WildStar is shaping up to be one of the most immersive, interesting, and (above all) fun MMORPGs I've played in over a decade of mMm-Mor-Pu-Guhing, and I'd recommend it to just about anyone!" Bunglerm00se enthuses. "This is from the first shiphand mission your character can run. In this case, my character was asked to liberate a moonbase from a deadly menace. Is there any other kind of menace, you ask? On and around Nexus, the answer is 'no.' But the scenery sure is pretty."

You know what else is pretty? Everything after the break. Just you wait and see, my friends.

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The Daily Grind: What MMO company has given you good customer service?

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Bugs, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Daily Grind

A couple of Lord of the Rings Online's Inn League deeds are broken, which is unfortunate because the main reason I showed up for this year's Summer Festival was to finish the Inn League stuff on my newest character.

I submitted a customer service ticket, and after having it closed with no action because I was offline (Turbine CSRs can't email, I guess?), I opened another one and remained online for a couple of hours so that I could be told that there is nothing to be done about broken deeds.

All of this is a long-winded way of saying that I find Turbine's customer service off-putting. It's also a prelude to today's Daily Grind question. What MMO company has given you good customer service, and what was the circumstance?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

LotRO's Summer Festival runs July 22 - August 5

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play

There's no shortage of things to do in Lord of the Rings Online these days, what with the recent release of Update 14, Western Gondor, and the level cap bump to 100. If you're already burned through all of that, though, you'll be glad to know that the game's annual Summer Festival starts tomorrow and continues through August 5th.

Events include keg races, horse races, fishing challenges, the Taste of Hobbiton, and the usual Ale Association vs. Inn League shenanigans.

One Shots: Life isn't fair

World of Warcraft, Screenshots, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, One Shots, RIFT, Final Fantasy XIV, Miscellaneous

ff14
Today, this boss mob woke up to the harsh realization that life just is not fair. Even with his impressive stature and the rather expensive sword that his grandma gave him for Christmas, he's unable to hold down any full-time job. What's worse is that every would-be "hero" in the world keeps ganging up on him. Even if he emerges victorious, everyone sneers and jeers at him. He just can't win.

So let's meet our first antagonist, reader William, who documented this shameful moment from Final Fantasy XIV. "The new hunts are incredibly fun and have added a lot of variety to the game!" he chirped. "My friends and I recently tackled this S-Rank Hunt, Agrippa the Mighty, along with some additional help from people in the zone. Don't worry; I healed that poor Black Mage lalafell after taking this screenshot."

But did you heal Agrippa and try to make friends with him? That's what would lead to a true storybook ending!

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The Daily Grind: What's your favorite LotRO update or expansion?

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Daily Grind

I'm kinda slow-poking my way through Blackroot Vale in Lord of the Rings Online's latest update. So far it's pretty standard fantasy themepark fare, but I'm enjoying it well enough thanks to the setting (Gondor!) and the general ease with which I can wander through it.

As far as LotRO updates go, I think my favorite would have to be the Riders of Rohan expansion, both because of its sweeping vistas and a delightful soundtrack. What about you, Massively readers? What's your favorite major update or LotRO expansion?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

Lord of the Rings Online has a free epic battle and story in store for Update 15

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Patches, Previews, Free-to-Play

lotro
With Update 14 fresh out of the door, Lord of the Rings Online is free to fully focus on developing Update 15. Executive Producer Aaron Campbell teased a few more details about the upcoming patch during a recent stream.

Update 15 will be adding on at least one more zone, with a new part of the epic story and an epic battle that will be free for all players. Players will be teaming up with Aragorn to retake Pelargir and fighting the Haradrim in Gondor. Campbell said that the decision to nix the level cap increase to 105 allowed the team to work on the legendary item revamp instead.

Between Updates 14 and 15, the team will release a smaller patch with four session play encounters in the Dead Marshes.

LotRO Update 14 is now live

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Game Mechanics, Patches, Free-to-Play, Dev Diaries

Gondor archers
Today marks the official release of Lord of the Rings Online's Update 14, and with it comes the highly anticipated West Gondor content, as well as Epic Story Volume IV, the new Essence System, the level 100 cap, inventory tweaks, class balancing, bug fixes, and more.

While none of this is a surprise to players, what did come as a surprise was some changes mentioned in executive producer Aaron "Rowan" Campbell's letter in the forums. First off, there will be no more level cap increases for this year to allow players to take their time and explore the new content. In addition, a new advancement system is being added to legendary items allowing them to grow with you without deconstruction for a new item at level cap. And lastly, the upcoming Beorning class will start at level 1 and include its own starting experience through Eriador.

Be sure to check out the complete Update 14 patch notes as well as Rowan's Producer's Letter in the official forums.

The Daily Grind: Do you tend to believe dev statements?

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Daily Grind, Dungeons

Fangorn waterfall
Lord of the Rings Online community manager Rick Heaton created a stir recently when he said that raiders are few and far between in Middle-earth. After he explained that Turbine's data show raiders, PvPers, and forum posters as tiny fringe groups, he ended his announcement with the following statement.

"I fully appreciate and understand you won't believe a word of this. That's perfectly fine. It doesn't change the facts of the matter."

Predictably, a slew of comments ensued in which Heaton was accused of lying. Plenty of commenters, both on the Turbine forums and here on Massively, then posited that of course there are no raiders because LotRO's raid content sucks, Turbine's definition of "raider" is different from the commonly accepted definition (whatever that is), and dozens of other reasons. Which leads to an interesting question regarding official dev statements. Do you tend to believe them? Even when they irritate you or don't align with your personal wishes for a given game?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

LotRO's Paths of the Dead coming July 14

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play

Got MMO plans for next week? If you're a Tolkien buff you might want to reconsider them, since Turbine is publishing Lord of the Rings Online's Paths of the Dead update on Monday. The firm has unveiled a new section of the game's official website that details all the Update 14 content. It includes a level cap bump to 100, the continuation of the epic story, a new essence system, and three new regions that expand the game's footprint into Gondor.

Paths of the Dead is free for VIP players or available for purchase via the West Gondor quest pack in the game's cash shop.

Don't forget to check out Massively's hands-on preview for more specifics!

Global Chat: Being the bad guy

Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Guild Wars 2, Global Chat, Miscellaneous, Destiny

gw2
As an MMO enthusiast blog, Massively has always had a special appreciation of the dedicated (and unpaid!) writing that gamers put out on their own blogs every day. Every week there are dozens if not hundreds of terrific posts on MMOs out there, and since I'm the resident loon here who reads pretty much all of them, I decided to start up a biweekly column to point you in the direction of some of the best discussions going on in the blogosphere. We'll see posts on specific games and general topics, geeky gushings and zany rantings.

For our inagural edition of Global Chat (yes, I'm recycling the name from a long-dormant feature on this site), we'll take a look at how outfits tie into identity, surviving MMOs as a chicken, a requiem for a gold farmer, and so much more!

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The Road to Mordor: A tour of LotRO's update 14 and majestic Gondor

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Patches, Free-to-Play, The Road to Mordor

lotro
With Update 13, Volume III, and the good nation of Rohan in our rear-view mirrors, we now turn ahead to see Gondor, next six exits, straight ahead. Lord of the Rings Online players have a lot to be excited for when Update 14 arrives, not the least of which is a new country that was central to the events of The Return of the King.

Update 14 is scheduled to release on Monday, July 14th, because marketers always get a special little thrill when they match up similar numbers. It's a pretty sizable content patch that's almost a mini-expansion, with five additional levels, a new epic book, three questing regions, well over 100 quests, and a new essence system for gear. This past week I sat down with Turbine to get a whirlwind tour of what lies beyond Rohan, and after seeing it, I think that LotRO fans have good reason to hope for an exciting summer.

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Turbine: Raiders make up the smallest player group in LotRO

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Lore, Free-to-Play, Dungeons

lotro
If you've wondered why Turbine has decided to forgo developing new raids for Lord of the Rings Online (at least for the time being), it all comes down to numbers. According to CM Rick Heaton, raiders make up the smallest portion of the playerbase even if they are quite vocal on the forums:
Raiders comprise the smallest, by far, group in our game. PvMP players are far larger and even they are small. in fact together the two groups wouldn't comprise 10% of the total player base and never have (this is important. it's not a new thing, it's a long standing historical fact).

Forum posters comprise a slightly larger group than the combined group of PvMP and Raiders. However, Raiders and PvMP players make up the overwhelming majority of forum posters (More than half. Though raiders are the smaller group of the two (PvMP/Raiders)). So you have a tiny group, inside a small group that is grossly disproportionately represented on the forums.
[Thanks to Dan for the tip!]

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