We’re kicking off our Lotro 10 year anniversary tribute early. The game officially turns 10 this April 24th, and to celebrate, we’re piecing a compilation of milestones. The Lord of the Rings Online has gone through so much as an MMORPG. It started as a fresh-faced MMORPG in 2007, finding its place in the genre. It was a virtual tribute to Tolkien’s Middle Earth, with regions, characters and stories all weaved in from the source material.
For its time, the engine, the combat, the gameplay and the graphics were industry standard, top of the line stuff. The turn of the decade saw a huge shift in the genre, with more and more MMORPGs cropping up. Lotro held its ground due to the love for the IP. And the fact that it’s been around for 10 years today is a testament to the game’s dedication to see the One Ring destroyed, and even allow players to venture onward.
Here are the 10 biggest milestone events that helped shape Lotro into the game that it is today.
1. Free To Play Transition
Probably the biggest and most impact milestone in Lotro was its transition to F2P. Toward the end of 2010, The Lord of the Rings Online announced that it was dropping the subscription model. Mass promotions and marketing followed, and everyone remembers that Gandalf ad with the “You shall not pay!” line.
2. Solo Player Focus
“The Barren Years” as Lotro raiders like to call it, was between 2013-2015. The game under then management Turbine Studios and WB Games shifted the focus away from group content. The Helms Deep expansion saw the rise of Big Battles, which indicated a new form of instanced group content that many players disliked. The official forums were also a place of controversy, with the former community manager explaining that the reason for no new raid content was because raiders were the minority in Lotro. Today, raiding is back and in a big way.
3. Server Consolidations
A big milestone for The Lord of the Rings Online came in 2014 when the game closed down 20+ servers. Players on closing servers were given the option to transfer their characters to the remaining servers for free. At the end of the transition, 10 servers remained. 5 in the US and 5 in the EU. This was a significant change that brought the playerbase together, and saw the population spike again. Prior to this, there were a lot of “dead” servers which did no good for new players looking for a populated MMORPG to play.
4. Changing Developers
Turbine Studios handed over the Lotro reigns including the liscense to the IP to Standing Stone Games in late 2016. The move caught a lot of players by surprise, but is seen as something positive. Turbine in the past few years had begun to move towards the mobile gaming industry, and could no longer provide any meaningful updates to the game. Standing Stone Games on the other hand, is an indie studio formed by the same developers who worked at Turbine doing Lotro. All in all, a great move to keep the game alive.
5. Introducing Mounted Combat
Anyone familiar with the books and movies know that mounted combat is a large part of Middle Earth especially when it involves the people of Rohan. In 2012, the game released the Riders of Rohan expansion, where players can finally venture into the Riddermark. The game also introduced mounted combat, which was a huge mechanic addition that showed the game was willing to take risks. Did it pay off? That’s an entirely different story.
6. Legendary Weapons
Another milestone system that still stands today is the Legendary Item system. With the Mines of Moria expansion, players could now use legendary weapons that grew with them. The concept was great, in-line with their source material counterparts such as Sting or Glamdring. But the meta was flawed, proving unnecessarily grindy every few levels. Lotro has amended this in recent years with the imbuement system, and as a result, your legendary weapons now truly grows with you instead of having to look for a replacement every few levels.
7. Rise & Fall of Epic Battles
The Epic Battles or Big Battles was a mixed milestone in Lotro. It’s arrival in 2013 signaled the start of instanced and scripted content that helped move the epic story along. The problem was, the addition of these Epic Battles meant the developers could not produce new traditional dungeons. Many players voiced their frustration at the passiveness of these instances, and as a result we have not seen a new one since. The return to traditional group content is also on the rise.
8. 105 Levels & Buying Levels
For a game that is as old as Lotro, it comes to no surprise that players are able to get to level 105. As a brand new player today, it is a daunting task to go through every piece of content. For veterans with alts, even more so, and there wasn’t a way to quickly jump to the end-game. That all changed with the introduction of the Valar packages. Players can now buy level 50, 50-95 or 95 boosts out right from the store.
9. Embracing Live Video Content
Technology forces developers to keep up with trends, and the Lotro team does a great job at that. The community prospers thanks to dev’s support of events and livestreams, and even encourages players to livestream their content under the Lotro banner. This does the game great service as it promotes Lotro not only to players who play the game, but the live content on demand audiences too.
10. Three Class Additions
To-date, Lotro has introduced three new classes since launching in 2017. The Warden and the Rune Keeper were the first two to arrive back in 2010 with the Mines of Moria expansion. Unfortunately, the game went many years without a fresh class and that may have driven off players who wanted something new. In 2014, the Beorning class arrived, and added some much needed class diversity to the game.