What is it with LOTRO and alts?

The grass is always greener in The Shire

The other day, Syp over at Bio Break wrote a blog post about what he’s calling S.O.S., or Start Over Syndrome. I like this term a lot better than “altaholism,” which seemed funnier before I knew people who struggled with actual alcoholism. Can we, as an MMO subculture, switch to this term? Thanks. 

Anyway, it’s funny because I’ve been feeling the same urge in the same game lately. I feel guilty that my highest level character is currently outleveling Mirkwood, and yet I’m also mixing in leveling old content on my 50ish Burglar and 25ish Guardian. 

This made me think, what is it about this game that drives me, and Syp too apparently, to make so many alts? Of all the MMOs I’ve sunk a lot of time into, this is probably the one with the most content I haven’t seen, the slowest progression, and the most linear story path (though that’s changing a little). Logically, I am actively disincentivized to make alts in this game. 

I can’t speak for my esteemed colleague, but I think, for me, the above arguments against alting are some of what pushes me to make alts. I know that there is a ton of story content in this game, and I want to experience it with a character I really like. I know it’s going to take me years to get a character to endgame at the pace at which I move through this game, even if I focus on just one, so I want to be sure it’s the class that fits me best. And I know that, once I do it once, any subsequent characters are just going to be experiencing the exact same content with no real agency to make different choices. 

Like Syp, I’m also in a bit of a holding pattern till the new class/race combos drop. At first I was pumped to play a Hobbit Lore-Master, but then I took my old LM from Anor for a spin (did I really level him to 40?) and remembered how bad I am at playing that class. I died… several times… in a very short period of time. I’m sure it’ll come back to me better if I level a character from scratch instead of picking up one I haven’t played in years, but it was discouraging. 

Then I remembered that Dwarves are also getting access to Captain! I was a Cappy main on Gladden for quite a while, until I made the mistake of boosting her to Mordor, and, between the awkward way this game does boosts and the slog that is Mordor, I never played her again. Then I played a lot of Cappy on Shadowfax, before deciding that Legendary servers just aren’t for me. So I think it’s high time to start a new one on Gladden. I’ve always like LotR Dwarves, especially after playing through Moria. For whatever reason I haven’t made more than a couple of them, maybe because a lot of their cosmetic options, both Longbeards and Stout-Axes, are unappealing to me. Not that there aren’t any options I like, it’s just that many of my dwarves end up looking same-y.

Why is it that sometimes my favorite pastimes, which are supposed to be relaxing, end up giving me anxiety? Is that just me, or is this a thing? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve logged into an MMO, only to stare at the character selection screen for a while, not be able to decide who to play, then logged out. And yet, sometimes when I decide to buckle down and ignore the possibility of playing any other characters, I get burnt out even faster.

I don’t have an answer to this conundrum. I just know that S.O.S. is real.

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One thought on “What is it with LOTRO and alts?

  1. I have an alt problem just for openers, I want to try all the things. But in LOTRO I have started over and played through to Moria so many times, yet I haven’t played any content past Mirkwood. There are a few reasons for this. I find Mirkwood uninspiring and the legendary item system, as I have said many times, takes the idea of a weapon that grows with you and turns it into a needy baby that needs constant tending, which breaks whatever flow or immersion I can get going. Add in the fact that whenever I come back after a break I can’t remember how to play my class and my bags are full and mechanics have changed… and it just seems like more fun to start again fresh.

    And I do enjoy most of the 1-50 run. It is light and easy and I know the locations and remember half the quests and a fair number of the NPCs and the landscape is beautiful and I just feel more relaxed and at home in that part of the game. So, despite playing off and on since beta and owning all of the expansions, I’ve never seen anything in the game past Mirkwood, except for the character I boosted up into Rohan, only to find that the character boost left me laughably under powered unless I spent money in the cash shop.

    So the next time I go back to play I will probably, once again, start fresh and run through the 1-50 content, maybe get a ways into Moria, and then call it a day. That is just my relationship with LOTRO at this point.

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