I really haven’t played all that much LotRO, although my history with it goes back to the open beta. All this time, I’ve been fairly consistent on the game. Meaning that my opinion today is the same as it was when I allowed my original subscription to lapse after the 30 days I got with the retail box: it’s a good, solid, feature-rich game, but it lacks some punch that it’s hard to put a finger on. But if I had to say, I’d probably point to the combat system as what I find dry and a bit boring about the game.
On the face of it, LotRO offers something no other MMO does. Nothing mechanical like housing or PvP or anything like that. No, the cool thing about LotRO is the chance to venture into Moria – not some abandoned Dwarf city inspired by Moria, but Moria, the Dwarrowdelf of old. And face down not some big flaming demon thing but a Balrog, the fire-sprits corrupted by Morgoth in the Elder Days. And Orcs who are more than just knockoffs of Games Workshop’s with all the Cockney taken out, and spiders from the brood of dread Ungoliant, who even Morgoth fled from in fear.
That’s appealing. That makes me want to play LotRO. The richness of the game’s features make me want to play LotRO – the only game comparable to it is EQ2. But the gameplay, while not bad, just isn’t catchy.
I have no doubt that sufficient exposure to the game would get me past this. But up to now there’s always been some other title available that brings more immediate fun to the table, and the $15 is getting thrown in that direction instead. So it’s fair to say that no, I have never given LotRO the shot it deserves. But it’s also fair to point out that it’s a game’s responsibility to appeal to me, rather than my responsibility to give it a lengthy and considered evaluation. (This is why my opinion of Aion was totally justified, by the way.)
A switch to free-to-play, now… that’s likely to get me dabbling with LotRO at least here and there. And the longer I do, the more likely it is that I will find some point at which the game will click, and I’ll want to stay in and keep playing. And given the model as I understand it today, that almost certainly means spending some money on it. In this sense the switch overcomes my own anti-subscription inertia, and means that there’s every chance I will spend more money on LotRO over the next year or two than I would have otherwise. Money that Turbine would otherwise not have gotten.