We began July with a stellar -- if I may say so myself -- two-part tour
of the F2P content update. This included first word of the Halloweentastic Haunted Burrow, an examination of the LotRO store, and a peek into Enedwaith.
The beta was the hot ticket this month, and everyone wanted in; fortunately, it wasn't that difficult to get a key
if you were determined. While the NDA remained in place, Turbine released a handful of beta testimonials
to give us a glimpse into the process. The company also announced that LUA scripting would be allowed in the game
on a limited scale, sending modders into a tizzy.
You were either a beta tester or a waiter in August. Testers got their hands on all of the shinies of the F2P patch early, while the waiters took orders and complained about their tips. Also, they waited. Once the NDA for the beta dropped
, we analyzed the class changes
and other features in excruciating detail.
Turbine announced a September 10th launch date
for F2P, and everyone cleared his schedule accordingly.
Beta testers were less-than-pleased with some of the prices and items in the LotRO
item store, and they were particularly vexed about the inclusion of reputation mounts
. Turbine heard the controversy and yanked the mounts from the store prior to launch.
Free-to-play was on everyone's mind
in September as Lord of the Rings Online
experienced what could be called its second launch with the change. We met with the devs at PAX Prime
to pick their brains about the soon-to-be-released update, which happened a couple of weeks later. Reactions were mixed but generally favorable, and LotRO
shot back into the spotlight in the MMO industry (and got a spiffy new TV commercial
It wasn't just the F2P business model that players welcomed, but the many other quality of life improvements
as well, including the region of Enedwaith
, UI plugins
and the awesome wardrobe system
Unfortunately, EU players were told that F2P would not be launched at the same time
, and Codemasters
scrambled to come up with humorous ways to deal with the frustration
And don't forget about Talk Like a Pirate Day
! I know I won't.
The free-to-play move seemed to pay off after the first month; Turbine reported that revenues doubled
as a million new accounts were created following the switch.
The most daring of hobbits dared to venture into the Haunted Burrow
, the brand-new addition to the Fall Festival
that opened up the spooky depths of Bilbo's cellar to the population. Secrets, prizes, and mysterious ghosts lay within, but nothing was more desirable (or rare!) than the skeleton horse mount.
Meanwhile, the EU LotRO community continued its long wait
for the F2P update due to legal issues
-- a wait that would stretch all the way to November 2nd
This month Turbine took the wraps off the next expansion: Rise of Isengard
. Come fall 2011, we'll be pushing through three zones into Saruman's fortress -- as well as pushing up to level 70!
Ever since the launch of free-to-play, LotRO
fanatics looked ahead and asked, "What's next?" Turbine gave its answer this month with the November Update
, a "kitchen sink" content patch that included Rune-keeper
and Lore-master improvements, the Task system
, the wonderful Vault 3.0 revamp
, the barter wallet, and several other features.
store continued to generate controversy, this time with the new Steed of Night mount
. This horse, which cost around $20, easily rivaled the best in-game mounts and irked those who put in the time to earn reputation mounts with similar stats.
By November the LotRO
community had grown to record numbers of blogs, podcasts, and fansites, and I attempted to catalogue as many as possible
The new and improved Yule Festival
was the talk of the town in December as players flocked to Winter-home for a taste of holiday cheer. While the town was infested with mood-dampening beggars, players could flee to Frostbluff Theatre
to partake in a play -- or participate in one.
Otherwise, the year ended on a quiet note, with the welcome return of both the LotRO lotteries
and the design-a-horse contest
The year 2011's looking even brighter for our favorite MMO, with Isengard, Legendary Item improvements, and hopefully many more updates to LotRO
. See you on the flip side!
When not enjoying second breakfast and a pint of ale, Justin "Syp" Olivetti jaws about hobbits in his Lord of the Rings Online column, The Road to Mordor. You can contact him via email at email@example.com or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.