In the world of MMORPGs, World of Warcraft (WoW) is king. No other game has even remotely the popularity, player base, or revenue. While WoW may be the top of the market, there are numerous good and popular games that continue to thrive despite the competition of such a juggernaut.
Lord of the Rings Online (LotRO) is one such game. Based on the popular Tolkien series of the same name, this beautifully rendered MMORPG allows you to explore the tale of elves, men, dwarves, hobbits, and orcs. While the game doesn’t have the following of WoW, it has a number of truly inspired features that makes it one of the more impressive MMORPGs on the market today. The following are the five best features of LotRO.
5. Locking Items – This incredibly convenient feature is surprisingly absent from most competing games. By clicking on a small lock symbol, you can prevent an item from appearing in your inventory when selling items to a vendor. This means that you can’t sell the item until you unlock it. If you lock all of your key items, you can then simply click the “sell all” button and sell all non-locked items in a single click. This helps reduce the time you need to spend at vendors and allow you to spend more time exploring the game.
4. Free to Play – LotRO wasn’t the first game to switch from a subscription model to a free-to-play model, but it was one of the most successful. It is also one of the biggest name games to do so. The free-to-play model actually increased revenue for the company and has made the game more enjoyable to play. Free players populate the world, helping to fill servers and adding more life to the game.
3. Turbine Points – The main way Turbine makes money from LotRO is by players buying Turbine Points. These points can then be spent on in-game perks. But, the real brilliance of Turbine Points is the fact that you can earn them without ever spending a dime. By completing various in-game tasks, you can slowly earn these points and get all the same benefits of paying players. This may seem like a poor business model, but it encourages free players to spend more time playing the game, which helps keep servers full and provides companionship for paying players. Many other games on free-to-play models allow non-paying players to slowly gain benefits, but few to none give those players as much control of their ability to earn those benefits.
2. Appearance – Players of MMORPGs usually try to cultivate a particular look with their characters. LotRO has a unique way of allowing players to do so. In your character tab, you equip a set of gear simply for the purpose of your character’s appearance. Even if you later remove, sell, or even destroy the gear, it continues to set your character’s appearance until you choose to change that appearance. This means that you no longer have to make hard decisions between aesthetics and mechanical benefit. Surprisingly, WoW hasn’t actually fully incorporated this idea yet. It has allowed players to change the look of their gear, but in quite as smooth a way. In fact, with the exception of games like City of Heroes where appearance isn’t linked to gear at all, no game has found a better way to approach this.
1. Virtual Bag – A new innovation for LotRO is a way of increasing bag space, at least temporarily. Bag space is a very limiting factor in the game. LotRO has found a way to maintain this limit while also keeping the game fun. Whenever you loot an item from an enemy, it goes into a temporary bag that has 50 slots. The item gains a one hour timer. At the end of the timer, the item disappears. At any time before it runs out, you can move that item to your normal bag. This extra space allows you to run longer dungeons without constantly needing to visit vendors or destroy stuff to make room. It is a convenience factor that simply helps increase the quality of life in the game.