Lord of the Rings Online is closing in on its 10th anniversary and its player base has been surprised with news about it breaking off from WB and Turbine. An interesting twist for a game as old as LOTRO and for something some might say has peaked a few years ago.
But Lord of the Rings Online has fought against the odds and either won or drew a tie in its battles. What is keeping LOTRO alive? Is it the quality of content, design or lore? I would assume that the deep story Tolkien has provided and the developing team has even filled in at times is actually this games biggest treasure. We play and come back sometimes after years of breaks from the game just to relive some moments from the books and movies, to explore the new content, be a part of the world we so much love and possibly beat some of the newest challenges. And since we do enjoy these challenges too, we can not ignore the work that goes into content creation.
Recently the player base has gotten great news regarding these challenges and content creation. For a while LOTRO has lost some of the players who were desperate for hard content and raiding experience. Some players and raiding kins have left the game or disbanded because they did not see anything for themselves in the game that was a little bit, at least compared to it today, stagnant. But now we got the new raid, which can even hold its own against, if not even surpass, the ones from Mines of Moria or Isengard. And Turbine, now SSG, even announced at least one more raid and an expansion we had given up on. This has made some players who loved the raids and the raiding kins to reactivate.
As far as new content goes, so far the developers have introduced the raid, which was, and for many players still is, challenging and fun. But also, they have introduced a new system of getting the best gear, which is flora or flower picking. These are essentially landscape nodes similar to ore or wood which a player can collect and turn in for armour, cosmetics and jewelry. It is only unfortunate that this was at least not locked behind some reputation. Even though the teal flower jewelry was only slightly better than the raid one this has caused a large outcry of the raiding players for, in their own opinion, making 50% of the loot from the raid obsolete. Is it really obsolete is questionable, but for those who like to have the best gear possible and min-max their characters, this can be an issue. And with the rate the updates are coming out and with them new armour, jewelry or essences, for some players this is neverending.
And what does the future bring? Well, given the recent SSG news we can safely say that “The licence renewal is a non-issue, it was a non-issue and it remains a non-issue, so it is a non-issue”, to try and quote Cordovan from memory. Also as per Cordovan, we are expecting U19.3 to appear sometime in early February and U20 in March. Given that we have seen a sneek peek of full gold jewelry set and the trend to introduce it slowly over the updates I wouldn’t expect SSG to push those items to a full number update like U20 so I would guess that 19.3 is bringing the rest of the gold jewelry or at least some of it – maybe earrings from the flower picking and necklace and pocket from a quest line or some group content… Who knows?
For some reason the developers are not big fans of pocket items and cloaks, since we rarely see good updates to those. For the hilt we could argue it’s a good thing given how hard it was and still remains to get, but some players still use the golden cloak from the lvl 100 epic line. The most recent epic line cloak with slot has disappointed many players. Hopefully these items will be given some love too. And at the rate we are getting new updates as of recently we probably won’t need to wait for any of those for too long. SSG is keeping busy with the updates U19.3, U20, the LOTRO 10th anniversary and the Mordor expansion and they are certainly keeping us busy too with introduction of new gear, deeds, essences, etc.
Speaking of essences, the main concearn now remain the new Ithilien-Tempered essences, which players can not sell. One wonders if some ways to recycle those will be introduced and if the resources we are spending now are going into nothingness. Hopefully, we can expect some kind of upgrades of the current ones we have, but with new special ingredients or something similar.
But for now… It remains a mistery.