LotRO Legendary Server Malaise

1,099 words.

Lord of the Rings Online opened their Legendary Server the other day. It’s another of what has become known in the industry as a “progression” server, although I feel like they’re stretching that definition in this case. (Then again, nobody has ever defined what a “progression” server is, except Daybreak. Or maybe it started with SOE, I don’t remember.) In this case “progression” seems to mean a new server with a level cap of 50 and nothing else, which to me is the bare minimum of effort.

Lord of the Rings Online is one of the two MMORPGs that I wish I played more (the other being EverQuest II), but for various reasons I have a hard time with it. One problem is the fonts, the awful, awful fonts, which at this point I think we can assume will never change even if LotRO lives another twenty years. My most recent strategy to read anything on the screen (like the quests, the main reason I’m there) is to run in a crazy low resolution. I actually screenshot all the quest text screens so I can look at it later and zoom in and, you know, read it.

But another of my personal beefs is that it’s a real slog for me to level in the game, and the combat quickly becomes repetitive and mindless. When I play it, I want to observe the the world and the story-the main draw of the game for me-but when I go out to fight monsters for quests, it takes a long time to get there, I get bored very fast, and I have to launch Netflix or something, then I can’t pay attention to the story when I get back to the quest hubs, because by then, I’m involved in the Netflix show.

Apparently I have a minority opinion about the leveling though because universal opinion seems to be that leveling in LotRO is too fast. So fast that they are slowing it down for the Legendary Server. I have never experienced anything but slow and painful leveling, of the kind where it takes a week of playing every night to gain a single level, and where sometimes you run out of quests at your level and have to find creative other ways to gain levels (or break down and buy quest packs or subscribe). At least, that’s been my experience of the game between about level 40 and 60, which is where my “main” character has been for many years (screenshot evidence tells me it has taken over five years for my character to level from 38 (in 2013) to today’s level 62). And I think I remember the slow leveling curve going all the way back to the 20s in the Lone-Lands (which is where most of the rest of my alts are stuck).

I think that might be one of the reasons I’m not interested in this Legendary Server. It’s targeted for people who have been at the level cap in LotRO the entire time and kept up, and haven’t seen the “old” zones in a decade. Me? I just left the “old” zones. Those nostalgic old zones everyone distantly remembers from their youth are the only zones I’ve ever known in the game, and I’m pretty sick of them at this point.

I’ve purchased two higher level characters, one is 95 I think, and the other is 105 that I got with Mordor, but I haven’t played them very much. I’ve found it’s not very fun to “skip ahead” in LotRO. The main thing that I like about LotRO is following along with the Epic Quest story. When I skipped right into Mordor I couldn’t get into it. (Also because as soon as I walked into Mordor it took a week to kill every mob. I soon gave up.)

Still, I quickly patched up LotRO (which took about two hours) and peeked at the game again. I tried to see if there was any way to “cheat” and get onto the new server with Turbine Points instead of cash (like you could with Rift Prime), but I couldn’t find anything. There’s apparently no way to obtain VIP status by spending Points, you have to give them a credit card for a subscription, minimum of one month for $15. (It would be nice if there was a way to pay in smaller increments, I like ex-Trion’s two-week passes, for example. One week passes would be even better, for these MMOs that you only play a couple of days a year-which is basically all of them now, *rimshot*.)

It’s tempting to jump in anyway, just to see the game with masses of people in it, because frankly I haven’t experienced LotRO as anything but a single player game for years. But when I think about it, the last time I saw other people in LotRO was in the very same early zones that everyone will be playing on the Legendary Server. So it wouldn’t really be all that different of an experience for me. For myself, I would have preferred to see a Legendary Server that started at level 50 or 60. Just after leaving the Mines of Moria would have been ideal for me.

It’s still tempting to join in despite my rational objections and continued efforts to talk myself out of it here, because of all the excitement online. But to further talk myself out of it, I recall from Rift Prime that most of the excitement died out in a week or two. In fact, all the exciting zones over-packed with people that everyone takes amazing screenshots of were gone in a few days, leaving slow starters on a relatively ordinary server by comparison. It’s one of those things where if you don’t start on day one, you’ve missed the boat. So I’ll just grit my teeth, choke down my FOMO for a few days, and wait it out.

But I might chip away at another level or two on Brandywine while I have the game patched up. I’m somewhere back in the Mines of Moria. I escaped into Lothlorien then the Epic Story sent me back into the Mines! What a cruel joke that was by the developers. (Actually I didn’t mind the Mines so much. I gather it was universally hated but I thought the zones were kind of cool.) For home viewers following along, I am on Volume II, Book 8: Scourge of Khazad-dûm. I’m having a lot of trouble paying attention to it because it’s a whole lot of running back and forth.

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