On the whole, 2012 was a pretty great year for Lord of the Rings Online. The expansion into Rohan, mounted combat, and the addition of a great new soundtrack added so much to the game, giving us a spectacular high-level zone that's full of lore and amazing setpieces. The devs have been smoothing out the middle of the game with a Moria revamp, open tapping, and remote looting, which should make leveling that much better. Players had four sizable updates to consume. Even Mac users had something to cheer as Turbine created a client for the platform.
Of course, it wasn't all peaches and cream. The expansion faced a delay, the pricing and features of Riders of Rohan stoked controversy, and we're still waiting for the second half of the promised instance cluster to arrive. The store kept stepping on people's toes, from the barter wallet to the infamous hobby horse. And the new festival, the Farmer's Faire, was kind of a dud.
So let's see whether LotRO fulfilled any of my wishes from last year, and then I'll share my desires for 2013!
Here are the 12 wishes I made for the past year, some of which came true and some of which remain but a twinkle in my eye. What made the cut?
1. Housing revamp. Yet again, the housing gods were not kind to us; housing saw naught one bit of improvement. A big disappointment to me, to be sure, especially in the light of a certain other fantasy MMO that came out with one of the best housing systems of the year.
2. Cosmetic weapons. Denied. The wardrobe and cosmetic system remain pretty popular, however.
3. A new expansion. Wish granted! Riders of Rohan gets two big thumbs-up from me, pretty much encapsulating everything I wanted from an expansion.
4. Mounted combat. Another wish granted. Expect an article dedicated entirely to this topic in the future.
5. New music. Wish granted, big-time! Man, we're on a roll here! I absolutely love the RoR soundtrack and consider it some of the very best music in the game.
6. More quest choices. Wish semi-granted. There are a couple of quests in the expansion that offer a little bit of a choice, but the consequences are mostly absent.
7. Summer festival improvements. Not really. It's still lacking the big fun of some of the other festivals.
8. A new class. HAHAHA... no.
9. More class deeds. Wish denied. Unfortunately, class builds get stuck in a rut around level 50 or so. The expansion did very little to change that.
10. Reduce the grind. Hm... I'll give Turbine points for smoothing out the leveling in Moria, but the game still has the same level of grind as before.
11. Faster combat. Mounted combat is definitely faster and remote looting helps, although that's not quite what I meant.
12. A new social system or hobby. Not a whiff of a new system.
So we're looking at three big wishes granted, a couple in the middle, and plenty on the "nope!" side of things. Of course, this is just what I want; I certainly don't speak for everyone. So what 13 things do I want next year? Here we go!
1. Housing revamp. Listen, I'm just not going to give up on this. LotRO needs a great housing system, especially with its population that skews far more toward "living in the world" than other MMOs that I've seen. I'm slightly encouraged by the recent dev chat, but it still doesn't look like a priority for the studio.
2. A new expansion covering the second half of Rohan. I think we have a good shot at seeing this, especially since we're two for two with expansions in 2011 and 2012. Helm's Deep or bust!
3. A virtues or legendary skills revamp. Listen, I'll settle for one or the other, but I'd absolutely love for Turbine to man up and admit that both the virtues and LI system need more than spackle and duct tape. Let's make these systems fun again!
4. A new class. I'm a hopeless romantic to keep wishing for this, aren't I? A new class would go such a long way in adding fresh blood to the game and to get more players to roll alts and populate lowbie areas.
5. More class options. Forget the paltry handful of skills that come with each expansion that usually just give us an updated or consolidated skill. I want to see more class traits, more legendary traits, a fourth trait line, or a whole new system so that I can "grow" my character in a meaningful way once more.
6. Better character visuals. OK, I'm finally on board the train where people consider LotRO's characters to be visually off-putting. In light of how good the newer NPCs look, I'd really like to see an upgrade or overhaul of our own avatars.
7. Do something meaningful with PvMP. Give those players a new zone, a PvMP server, or something more than this prison cell they've played in for the past five years.
8. Ease up on the store greed. I know I'm not alone in thinking the business practices of Turbine's cash shop are feeling skeevy at best these days, and it really would do a lot of good for the studio to evaluate where the friction is with the fans and perhaps remove it. For example, make the full barter wallet free and refund those who purchased it. Think of the goodwill, Turbine!
9. A mentoring/sidekicking system. As the level range in the game grows ever more broad, players have an increasing need of a system to either temporarily downlevel or uplevel characters so they can easily play with friends.
10. More incentive to use the instance finder. It's a decent system that actually works, but I don't get the feeling that many people use it. Maybe it needs to be more up-front and rewarding?
11. War-goats. Don't make me come over there and program them in myself, devs!
12. Cosmetic weapons. Legendary weapon skins just look so blah compared to many of the other great designs out there. Let us wear those!
13. Rabbit-sled mounts. Hey, it was in the movie! OK, I'm just joshing you. What about golf? It's lore-appropriate and would definitely be a unique feature in the industry!
Those are my 13 wishes for 2013; what are some of yours?
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.