Among the many MMOs I’ve been visiting this month, it was my return to Lord of the Rings Online that perhaps made me the most glad in my heart. I don’t think I realized how much I missed this game world until I came back after many months away only to find the heartbeat of Middle-earth still thrumming away.
When last I left — back on my old, faltering computer — I had just finished Update 18 and the Battle of Pelennor Fields. It felt as good a place as any to make a departure, having emerged victorious from a very long and trying battle (although far more interesting than epic battles of the past). But with Update 19 beckoning me to see what happens next, I return… and found myself mentally cataloging a whole bunch of reasons why this game isn’t quite as dead or antiquated as some might think.
So here are six quick reasons why LOTRO is still kind of rocking:
Sure, it’s an aging game engine and some of the character models/poses/animations drive me nuts, but there is still a vast array of beauty on display in this game. I’m still deeply impressed that Turbine pulled off a huge and explorable Minas Tirith — three versions, depending on where you are in the storyline. Now that I’ve emerged post-battle, I’m treated to a Gondor where the sun is shining and a winsome countryside welcomes me. Even some of the interiors are quite detailed and lovely.
2. The music
We might be in the post-Chance Thomas era, but that doesn’t mean that good music isn’t being made for this game. There’s been a lot of terrific stuff put out for Gondor, the new housing area, and the Battle of Pelennor Fields that is worth listening.
3. The journey
Our trip through this game’s epic story might have taken a very roundabout way of getting to Mordor, but it’s been a progressive journey that connects all the way back to our start in Eriador to the gates of the Black Land itself. And what makes it worthwhile is that the journey has seen so many ups and downs, a quiet moment for every epic one, and a deep appreciation for the tale being told.
4. The world
I’m not as head-over-heels for Tolkien as some, but I have never encountered an MMO game world that feels so very world-like. This is a place that feels like it has history, culture, and cohesiveness. I find myself slipping into immersion so much easier because of that.
5. The community
I’ve come back to many MMORPGs after a long absence only to find my guild dissolved and the community on life support. Yet I can’t say this about LOTRO at all. My kin is always active and chatty, and I’m still seeing stories of how this tremendous community puts on regular events and encourages each other. Easily one of the best MMO communities out there and I love being a part of it.
6. The shouts
LOTRO is a shouty game. I used to find it slightly embarrassing and annoying for my — and everyone else’s — character to be shouting at various skill activations, but now it’s part of the charm. Come at me, bro, and I’m going to scream in your face when you do.
I’m kind of excited to see what next year’s expansion will be like, so for now I’ll be visiting LOTRO off and on to get reacquainted with my Captain and see her through the rest of Gondor.