In our case, it's the impact of Guild Wars 2 on the industry and what it might have to teach Lord of the Rings Online. Yet I don't think it's quite fair (or true) to just look at it from the lens of "Everything GW2 has is better"; it's more productive to theorize how to swap the best of both games in order to improve them.
So here are three things that LotRO could use to implement from Guild Wars 2 -- and three that Guild Wars 2 could use from LotRO.
A while back I spoke about the need for Lord of the Rings Online to streamline several of its systems, specifically the ones pertaining to how your character grows. While some of you disagreed, I haven't changed my position: From stats to virtues to LIs, it's all too complex, convoluted, and obtuse, particularly for a new player.
Guild Wars 2 shows us how a more modern MMO can place a priority on clarity and user friendliness. It has relatively few stats in comparison to LotRO, allows players to change builds by swapping out weapons and skills on the fly, and has a straight-forward trait tree. Meanwhile in LotRO, we still can't even create or save multiple trait builds, and with the addition of a third LI and advanced mounts in Riders of Rohan, the complexity is only getting worse.
What LotRO needs from GW2: Daily and monthly achievements
Out of the many delightful discoveries I've had in exploring Guild Wars 2, the connection between its achievement system and significant rewards has proven to be the most compelling. I know that by accomplishing several different goals on a daily or monthly basis, I'll be earning a nice goody box full of useful rewards. Since I'm pretty much already doing most of those activities, it's not a hardship to make sure I round out the list.
So why not add something like this to Lord of the Rings Online to encourage players to try out a large range of activities instead of narrowing down to a select few? If I knew that by doing a little PvMP, a handful of quests, a multiplayer skirmish, and finishing up any deed in my log that I would be given a reward chest, it would certainly shake me out of my established groove.
What LotRO needs from GW2: Downleveling
Here's something I can do in Guild Wars 2: I can team up with my wife to help her in the beginning zone, even though she's level 5 and I'm 31. Oh wait, you say I can do that in LotRO? I meant to say that I can team up with her and still earn XP and other rewards due to the system's automatically downleveling me to match the zone I'm visiting.
To me, it keeps the game interesting because one-shotting everything gets boring, fast. And since it's still a little bit of a challenge, I feel that I'm earning that XP and those rewards. It's a boon to players of varying levels who want to team up, and it's something that I'd like to see in LotRO. Heck, don't make it automatic; take RIFT's approach and allow players to manually downlevel their characters so that they can team up with others and still earn XP. Any of these would be a boon to connecting the playerbase instead of keeping them segregated by levels.
OK, enough about how Guild Wars 2 is the cat's pajamas. What can Lord of the Rings Online teach this newcomer a thing or two about doing MMOs right?
Yes, GW2 has a wonderful system of instant waypoints, but I still very much miss mounts in the game. It's just... wrong for a fantasy MMO not to have them, and quite often I find myself wishing I were on horseback while careening across the zones.
Lord of the Rings Online has always treated its mounts as an essential part of the game world, and now with Riders of Rohan, these mounts are getting a chance to shine with mounted combat and leveling. I'm not saying that GW2 needs mounted combat (although that might be quite fun combined with dynamic events), but it would do well to take a cue from LotRO and give us a few four-legged friends to haul our butts around.
What GW2 needs from LotRO: Instant-access skirmishes and dungeons
As I understand it right now, Guild Wars 2 lacks any sort of organizational system to get players together for dungeon runs. I'm finding that not having a dungeon finder at launch is standard these days, even though players always demand them and the devs eventually put one in the game. LotRO, on the other hand, has not only an instance finder tool but skirmishes, dungeons, and raids compared to just Guild Wars 2's dungeons.
Organized group content is certainly one area in which Guild Wars 2 needs to improve, and it couldn't go wrong to take a cue from LotRO's skirmishes along the way.
What GW2 needs from LotRO: The wardrobe
In my opinion, when a game does a specific system well, you just go with that from then on or at least try to improve it somewhat. You don't take six steps back and make it a lot less user-friendly, which is what I feel that Guild Wars 2's transmutation stones do.
LotRO offers a robust wardobe system that allows players to put together outfits from both armor and cosmetic pieces, swap sets at will, and have several outfits saved at the same time. And there's no price to do so unless you want to pay for more outfit slots.
Guild Wars 2, on the other hand, has only two outfits: your combat gear and your town gear. Town gear is more cosmetic, but it's severely lacking in options right now, and you can't fight in it, making it useless for the most part. Combat gear needs transmutation stones (a cash shop grab) to change appearance into a second item that you find. While I really appreciate GW2's ability to dye on the fly, making cool-looking outfits is a few steps more annoying than it should be.
That's it from me, so I'll hand the mic over to you. What could these two games learn from each other?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.