Is the honeymoon over for LOTRO?

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If you have taken a stroll around the various communities as I have it would appear that way. Lately LOTRO has been receiving a lot of heat for everything from chicken play to lack of content both group and solo, and for reasons that seem to be made up on the fly. For me Lord of the Rings Online was not very different from the normal fantasy MMORPG’s out there that focus on leveling, questing, and loot. Why then are people so upset?

I have begun to feel the burn myself. I log in each day and pvp a little, maybe raid a little if I’m invited, and I kill a few spiders to try and move that experience bar closer to 50. Right now I have full rest exp for the remainder of 49 and I know that if I were to stay online and grind mobs in Angmar I could hit 50 tonight. But why am I losing this urge to log in? I think the answer to my burnout is that I have seen and done it all.

LOTRO from the get-go decided that it wanted to cater to all forms of gameplay. Solo, grouping, raiding, pvp, casual fluffers… they all have their piece of the pie. That’s the mistake! Turbine has stretched themselves too thin. To borrow the analogy, “Like butter scraped over too much bread”. There is solo content but it’s lacking and there is far too little. There is grouping content but it’s far too tedious in both time and requirement.

To expand on the grouping content Turbine has made the 3-4 end-game 6 man group instances take 4-5 hours each. This is too long! Unless you have a guild that will take advantage of the “stage” system you will never be able to do a pick-up group and never have a fulfilling experience. In terms of quests, Turbine has made them far too group oriented as well in the 40-50 game. You spend most of your time trying to find a group just to get one quest done and have someone leave thus starting the avalanche.

Raiding is run of the mill in LOTRO. There’s nothign that sets it apart from any other boring raiding except that right now… it’s not even worth it! The gear that drops is not better than 90% of the gear you can get outside from quests (albeit the quests are nasty as described in the previous paragraph). I guess this is considered by some a “Good thing” because you don’t have to raid to get your gear but if people would stop and realize for a second what that’s caused perhaps they would think differently. What am I referring to? I’m referring to underdeveloped content. The reason we are not seeing raids developed as they should be is because they are trying to balance things far too much. They’re worried about the groupers, the soloers, the questers, and now let me start on the fluffers.

The fluffers in LOTRO are more vocal that the groupers and raiders combined. They want chicken play, *cough* oh excuse me you prefer “Session play”, and other unessential fluff added to the game. Now normally I am absolutely fine with this because one man’s fluff is another’s content. But please try and see the other side of the coin for just one minute. Regardless of the claims that separate devs are working on separate things we are not seeing crucial game elements fixed that are causing the woes upon the other play styles.

Turbine definitely has their work cut out for them. LOTRO is far from being cast into the fiery depths of Mount Doom but it’s no beacon of hope right now either. As for me I will likely continue playing until something better comes along. My advice for Turbine is pick one or maybe two things and focus on them. Make SOMETHING in the game feel fleshed out and fulfilling or you will leave everyone hungry.

  • That might strike the nail on the proverbial head, Keen. They’re trying to do too much. Hell, right from launch, they were trying to do more and please more than Blizzard did. Blizzard was good with content patches for the most part up until BWL was added. (I know you’re not a fan of WoW but bear with me before recoiling in disgust.)

    The content that came in the patches was great. I believe the 1st thing we saw was Mauradan, then MC, then the PvP system, then the BGs, and then Dire Maul, or something along those lines.

    The difference between these patches and LotRO’s?

    LotRo’s are coming far swifter sure, but in each patch they seem to be trying to focus on everyone to not displease their crowd. But doing so seems to make the features not fully developed. Half (quasi-exaggeration) of the Evendim solo quests are not very solo friendly at all, and Helegrod, like every dungeon in LotRO before it, takes forever to go through so that even many raiders are displeased with it.

    They’ve designed a really GOOD game, but it could be so much more if they just focused on one major thing per patch. Flesh out the ideas before publishing them.

    But then again, people would be just as ticked if their preferred playstyle wasn’t covered in a patch by anything shiny and new. So it’s a lose:lose for the Turbies.

    They’re going to have to stick to their goals and in the meantime keep their ears open for voices of concern. At least they’re good at this, unlike some big gorilla I know.

  • While I hate WoW now there was a time that I loved it and that was absolutely up until BWL. WoW, like you said, covered their bases perfectly by adding content that was polished and flowing in one direction. After BWL the content was TOO narrow into raiding – so you can see it’s a fine line devs have to walk at least for me.

    And yeah, Turbine has a solid game on their hands. Hopefully they can recover from the delusions of grandeur that keeping everyone happy is possible and realize that in the process they’re making no one happy.

  • Keen,

    I think that many mmorpgs suffer from this at launch. One of the best examples of this is Everquest 2. When it launched the world seemed small, linear and uninspiring. However, with each new expansion more and more content has been added. Now the world seems huge. In fact, you have to turn off xp in order to see all of the quest content and even then you will out level the content.

    Maybe LOTRO will be able to overcome this hurdle through expansions.

  • Very true Fred. LOTRO is still very young and I do believe it will eventually find it’s niche. It can sometimes take a company over a year to find that comfy spot. EQ2 is a great example, like you said, because the game now is almost an entirely different game from what it was at release.

    LOTRO faces a huge problem like EQ2 did though. There are 3+ MMO’s coming out that can trump it and if so the game may feel the hurt.

    I’m rooting for LOTRO to pull through though. Even though I am currently disgruntled over the lack of focus I still enjoy the game overall. Will it be enough though? Time will tell.

  • At this point I am just hoping LOTRO stays afloat long enough to implement more of Middle-Earth (like Moria and Lothlorien). I’m disinclined to play it now because there’s not enough there yet, and I don’t want to burn out on it before they really get it implemented.

  • Good approach Jadawin. I’m also going to hold out as long as I can with hopes that Moria and Lothlorien come sooner than later. I just may not be able to hold on long enough though. 🙁

  • Many of us hit the same point that you did. I myself found the same faults, and even after hitting 50, the time grinds of Carn Dum, Urogoth, Helegrod.. I thought to myself that I could be doing this in WOW, and spend not only less time, but at least I might get something decent from it. I left WOW to come play LOTRO, looking for something more casual, but it is so casual, trying to be everything to everyone, they end up not doing anything very well, but just mediocre. I hope they do find their path, but again, they may be trumped by the next FOTM (flavor of the month) MMO that comes out, or others will just return to the MMO they were playing before.

    However, there is something to be said for MMO’s who have been out for several years – they have found thier direction and usually have plenty of content.

  • […] – Introduction – What are we playing now and what are we looking forward to? – Wrath of the Lich King and why we won’t be playing. – Is the honeymoon over for LOTRO? (Blog Post) – Are Fantasy MMO’s a one way street? (I’m all leveled out on Fantasy MMORPGs) – Question the Norm and change things up! – Melmoth’s Tree Analogy – Our hopes for Pirates of the Burning Sea – We talk Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning – Wrapping it up – Bildo’s Blog – Common Sense Gamer – The Ancient Gaming Noob – Cuppytalk […]