Wednesday, 22 March 2017

When MMO love is complicated. The ambiguous relationship of a seasoned raider with LOTRO

I have an ambiguous relationship with Lord of the Rings Online: I seem to be part of an eternal cycle of embracing and rejecting the game. On the one hand, virtual Middle Earth calls to me, always. I love immersing myself in its gorgeous landscapes and if there's something new, I want to check it out. On the other hand, it's hard for me (as a seasoned MMO progression raider) to ignore fundamental flaws in its combat system. For reasons already stated elsewhere, the gameplay simply isn't what it used to be.

After my return to LOTRO in the spring of 2016, several of my guildies or kinnies (your pick) joined in to try out the new group content. We had fun times doing the Osgiliath and Pelennor instances on tier 2 challenge mode with Asylum. Even that bugged one (Silent Street T2 Challenge) we managed to do as intended (say no to bears, kids!) - but in the end the gear grind proved too steep to ever get a full group of twelve of us together. This really disheartened me, because what I've seen of the the Throne of the Dread Terror raid on tier 2 is actually quite good! It deserves to be played way more than it is. If you have read my thoughts on (gear) grind both in LOTRO and in SWTOR, though, you know I can't blame my friends for not having the time and commitment to invest in a game that is, unfortunately, unbalanced and broken in many ways. The most frustrating thing is that it doesn't have to be this way: I honestly believe that all issues could be solved if the developers would put their minds to it. But, as these things seem to go in MMO world, it's all about forgetting what is and adding more and more new things. Seeing all this unfulfilled potential in an MMO I so deeply care about eventually makes me feel depressed about LOTRO, after which I typically login less and less to focus on group content in more modern MMOs. Then, after a few months of going cold turkey, virtual Middle-earth starts to call again and we've come full circle.

Somewhere in the fall of 2016, around the time of SWTOR's Eternal Throne expansion, LOTRO reverted to being my 'secondary MMO'. I more or less only logged in when something new and exciting was added, such as the much celebrated housing changes. It is only now, in March 2017, that I felt like playing seriously again, to check out LOTRO's latest update 20: Battle of the Black Gate. The game is approaching Mordor and that, of course, is not something I would want to miss!

When Conrad and I logged in the other day, we found that, in our absence, we had missed an entire quest line revolving around curing Eowyn, Faramir, Meriadoc and others in Minas Tirith's houses of healing. So we spent the whole evening doing that rather than trying out update 20 (gotta do everything in the right order!). I was meaning to write a review of it today, but when I started typing this came out instead. Guess some things needed to be heard.

Ravalation must be a super confusing blog to new LOTRO readers. Especially to the masses that look for a LOTRO guide to picking Ithilien flowers in a search engine, only to end up at my call to arms to Occupy Ithilien (true story, happens every day)! There are parts of the game I really love and write super enthusiastic posts about and then there are aspects I really dislike and write critical posts about - the latter of which never fail to evoke the wrath of hardcore LOTRO fanboys and girls. I am the only blogger left (as far as I'm aware) that writes such critical posts and has first hand knowledge of LOTRO's endgame - and I'm aware that I'm writing for a type of playerbase that may no longer exist. I have promised myself to stay true to my feelings in my writings and blog about what is important to me, rather than what other people would want me to write about, though. And thus I will.

In the foreseeable future, you can definitely expect lots of posts about LOTRO's new content (update 20), but when SWTOR's War for Iokath launches, I will probably play more SWTOR instead. Quality endgame calls. And so my ambiguous relationship with LOTRO will likely continue to direct my choice of MMOs in 2017.


  1. Oh Rav, I just wanna give you a hug.

    Also, looking back at that flower-picking post I only just saw some of the comments there, some of them calling you of all people a troll and a hater... that's just so absurd I don't even know. XD

    1. Thanks, Shintar! I do accept digital hugs and I certainly can use them every now and then when it comes to LOTRO.

      While the flower picking article is more emotional than my average writings, I took great care to explain factually why I was upset. I respect people that have a different opinion, but obviously that respect isn't mutual. Although I knew beforehand that many LOTRO players can't take any criticism on their favourite game, the amount of hate was still baffling. As comments were still coming in ten days after publication (when comment moderation is automatically turned on for Ravalation) I had to moderate many - and I was extremely lenient at it: I allowed basically anything that contained a vague sense of argumentation. Still, I had to deny the first comment in the history of this blog (other than spam) for only containing colourful language directed at me. It was a sad day.

      Nevertheless, I stand by what I wrote and I trust that comments that need to rely on vitriol for empowerment are identified as such by more intelligent readers (such as you). It just makes me cherish the thoughtful discussions that develop on Ravalation even more!

  2. I just have to smile, thinking that you're past Ithilien, and I'm trying to grind enough deeds to land Riders of Rohan. (At least now I can skip in and out of Moria without the weight of the mountains crushing down on my spirits.)

    But have fun! That's the important part. And really, your blog is focused on SWTOR and LOTRO, as opposed to some other ones (Bio Break comes to mind) where the focus is more like.... "SQUIRREL!!!"

  3. I like how you write about the game. Your appreciation for the world comes out clearly even in the critical posts. I actually find myself agreeing with your critical posts, especially when it comes down to grinding gear. I hate grinding gear which is why I will probably never group in LOTRO. One would think that in this day and age more MMO's could figure out a way to keep players occupied with something other than a gear treadmill.

    Play the game that you have the most fun with. That is why we play them after all. :)

    1. "One would think that in this day and age more MMO's could figure out a way to keep players occupied with something other than a gear treadmill."
      One would think so, indeed! While I can see the point of some measure of grind to keep people engaged (activities do feel more worthwhile when they reward with useful stuff), I will always verbally fight excessive grind in my blog posts. It's really astonishing to what lengths some LOTRO players go to defend the direction of intense gear grind (even with borderline P2W mechanics) as 'endgame'. It's like they feel the need to justify spending so much time at it themselves.

      Don't worry, I will always play what brings me the most joy! There are too many fun things in this world to waste free time doing things I don't enjoy. :)

    2. Oddly, I like grinding for fluff stuff. House items and cosmetics. I may be weird in that but looks matter to me. Probably one reason I play Fashion Wars 2. :) But tons of time to have end game thank you!

      I totally agree. Life has too many fun things to do for spending it on none fun things. :)

  4. I'm hesitating about going back to LOTRO as so far behind, but I can still enjoy the scenery and our house in Belfalas. So it will be SWTOR for me - when the annual Armistice event is over in Defiance and I have some new weapons.

    1. Tons of things to do in both games! I wouldn't worry too much about being 'behind on the curve', though. Especially in LOTRO: what's there at the end is just a huge gear grind. There's no content that requires having that gear, so I wouldn't rush it. There is plenty of time to smell the roses on the way. :)

    2. Oh dear, I may just have made an incidental flower reference there. Sorry about that. Never forget: Fourletterword flowers and Occupy Ithilien!


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