A Review of the Legendary Server
The announcement of Lord of the Rings Online’s (LOTRO) legendary server was met with much anticipation and excitement. I know of players who have not played since 2010 coming back to the game, eager to ‘relive the legend.’ This phrase was Standing Stone Games’ (SSG) promise to fans of the aging MMO. After a few weeks of playing, I believe I have enough experience to deliver an adequate review for the legendary servers. Firstly, for those who are not aware—what is LOTRO and what is a legendary server?
Lotro was an MMO launched in 2007. Shadows of Angmar was the first end-game content players got to experience, and like Classic WoW, is considered harder than the current iteration of the game. Moreover, a lot of people have fond memories of those days. Players traversed notable places from Tolkien’s universe, such as Bree-land or Rivendell. Then, at level 50—players would assault Angmar: The abode of the witch-king.
The legendary server attempts to bring back old content, starting with Angmar. It does not, however, revert back to 2007. Talent trait trees are still present even though they were added far later, crafting is not notoriously challenging, and most new features remain. Notably, the LOTRO store (an in-game shop) is also present. Available to VIP players only, the servers hope to bring players together to experience old content.
First Thoughts: Leveling and Story Pace
I started a Captain and began leveling in Bree-land. I noticed right away how slowly I leveled. This is due to SSG’s story pace debuff on the servers. All experience is cut by 40%. This is meant to slow down players and let them experience content without over-leveling it. Instead, many players are using experience buffs to obliterate landscape content. They have an over-abundance of LOTRO points to spend on these buffs due to many of them having a lifetime subscription (and getting 500 points a month as a result). Thus, the leveling experience may seem less daunting because it is only 50 levels instead of 120, but seeing other players with four experience buffs while I struggle to hit level 10 is disheartening.
Granted, the class I chose is notoriously bad at dealing damage, so that may skew my opinions on the pace of leveling. Although, on live I level at roughly the same speed as a level 110 Guardian as I do my level 20 Captain.
For those who are unaware, LOTRO’s strength has always been its community. People are far friendlier than any other game I have partaken in. I logged in yesterday to mail from random players, giving me extremely helpful crafted items for free. However, the slow population decline and level disparity among the normal servers has caused rifts between the community. Having a population doing the same content is amazing.
The various kinship are recruiting in numbers I haven’t witnessed since Siege of Mirkwood. The auction house actually has goods available, as well as crafting having a purpose once more. Moreover, gold-sellers cannot spam chat due to the VIP only restriction.
The community resurgence is not confined to Anor and Ithil. I have noticed a large rise in active players on my normal server, Landroval. The kinship are actively recruiting there, as well. Additionally, and to my surprise, many new players have flocked to the Legendary servers. The daunting 120 levels seem to have stopped many people from trying the game. It is wonderful to see players in chat asking about buying their first house, or debating which class/tree is the best.
Anyone who loves Tolkien will love Lord of the Rings Online. This has been true since the game’s first days. Therefore, while the questing is the familiar collect and kill, the quests are full of lore. As far as group content goes, skirmishes are not in the game yet. The legendary servers operate on four month intervals, though. For the time being however, marks and medallions are confined to instances.
I cannot speak on any of the higher level instances or raids, as I am only level 20. However, I ran the Great Barrow as a captain healer with minimal difficulty. I have heard that since the last update, a lot of the lower level content does not scale well. The raid tuning is far too easy. Granted, trait trees were not in the game in 2007, but even the gear itself is optimized poorly.
The difficulty and tuning aside, it was a breath of fresh air to actually get a group together to do early content. Most of the time, I was stuck doing solo play until max level. Having players at the same levels has reinvigorated the early instances, some of which are the best in the game.
LOTRO is an old game that has aged well for Tolkien fans. Other MMO players or gamers in general might find the combat and leveling is slow. On the legendary server, SSG hopes 50 levels will be less daunting and get players to participate in end-game content. However, with four months between this iteration and the Mines of Moria, anyone who hiccups will miss the Angmar content and have to level to 60. However, perhaps four months is just enough time to make things fresh again as people get bored. We will have to see.
Update 23 broke a lot of older content and players on the legendary server are reeling from the effects. Gear is poorly optimized and a lot of content is too easy. Thus, the servers are a great opportunity for SSG to get feedback and fix a lot of longstanding problems with the game.
The community remains unbroken though. This is the main reason I would give to people wanting to try the server out. Having mail from random people wishing you well, helping you on quests, or role playing in some random farm makes Tolkien’s world come alive.
The legendary servers are not re-rolls to 2007, nor are they entirely nostalgic. If anything, they merely push people in the direction of LOTRO’s wealth of content. The servers have problems, but if you can overlook them, you will find a sprawling RPG that still stays true to the old MMO style.
What do you think of all the LOTR content? Let us know in the comments below.