LotRO: Home, The Long Way Round

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Lord of the Rings Online is one of those games that I just keep coming back to, and, while I don’t usually stick around nearly as long with LotRO as I do with, say, Guild Wars 2 or SWTOR, there’s a certain quality to it that you don’t find in any other game that I really start to miss after a while. Toward the end of last year, I had several friends and fellow bloggers express a desire to return to a more traditional/WoW-like/tab target game after the recent glut of survival sandbox and action combat MMOs. At first, I didn’t feel the same pull–after all, I was thoroughly enjoying WildStar’s combat and overall experience–but then, be it because of peer pressure or just similar action combat burnout, a couple weeks ago the tab target bug bit me too.

LotRO wasn’t actually the first game I looked to. Proving the old adage that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” all of this negative press about Rift moving previously free stuff into its cash shop has reminded me that Rift is still a thing, and that I enjoyed what little I played of it. Once in the game, I found out that my friends who used to play Rift haven’t been on in months, and remembered that I hated the character creator, both of which are big turnoffs when I’m first starting out. Long story short, I ended up doing the exact same thing as last time, which is make a couple of characters, run them through the tutorial, then get distracted by other things. Maybe some day I’ll actually get into Rift, but it is not this day.

Once I settled on LotRO, I spent a lot of time deliberating about which character to pick up, probably far too much. The obvious choice was my highest level character, my level 52 Captain, but when I actually logged in and played her, I just didn’t feel the same connection to the class that I did the first time around. I don’t know if it’s the changes to the combat or just my own preferences, but either way, I had to put her back on the shelf for now. I also considered rolling a new character, as I often do when returning to a game, but, as much as I love Bree, I’ve done it so many times that it has effectively cured me of my altaholism in this game. So that left me to choose one of my existing alts. After collecting all of the characters I cared about all on one server (Gladden), I spent a good amount of time and stress simply staring at the character select screen trying to decide. I really loved my minstrel back in the day, I’ve always been intrigued by my low level Rune Keeper, and the Lore Master was a really unique mix of pet class and glass cannon mage. What I ultimately ended up with, however, really shouldn’t really come as a surprise: my Beorning. The Beorning is the most recently added class, and the one that I primarily played last time I played LotRO (which appears to have been about six weeks shy of a year ago). The Beorning is probably the most comfortable I’ve felt in a class in this particular game, largely because of its great survivability and sustained DPS. He is now only my second character to break the level 40 curse. My first character in the game, a Burglar, stalled out at level 39 because I decided I didn’t like the way he played, thus beginning a long tradition of abandoning characters after investing hours of time into them. Since then, I’ve only gotten my Captain past 39, and that was after a year or so of off-and-on playing during college. All of the others have been doomed to mediocrity either by other alts or shinier game releases. Of the seven characters I moved to Gladden, five of them were in the 30s (the other two are my Captain and a low level crafting character). I’m looking forward to finally delving into Moria with my Beorning. I know there’s a lot of hate for the zone (especially before the revamp), but I’ve always weirdly enjoyed underground/cave environments, so we’ll see.

So, while it’s been quite the ordeal settling back in, I’m happy to be back in LotRO. I’ve been a bit worried recently about how much time LotRO has, with Turbine losing Infinite Crisis, their first new game since LotRO’s launch in 2007, and LotRO’s looming Tolkien license renewal next year. I’ve decided that, be it next year or later, the game can only last for so long, and, I want to experience as much of Turbine’s version of Middle-Earth as I can while it’s still here.

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