The Road to Mordor: Happy sixth birthday, LotRO!

The Road to Mordor Happy 6th birthday, LotRO!
Uh, seriously guys, it was just yesterday that I was celebrating the third anniversary of Lord of the Rings Online with you in this column. At least it felt like yesterday. Really, has it been six years already? I guess it must be. It just seems like time moves so rapidly in MMOs, especially ones you've been in for years.

Even if you don't count my first six months in the game prior to and after the game's launch, my current stint in LotRO is the longest period of time that I've ever played an MMO. It's been a little over three years now that I've been playing and covering this game for Massively, and my interest in it has yet to wane. That amazes me; just when I think I might burn out on it, I find something about LotRO to rekindle my interest and passion.

There's something special about this game world that I haven't found elsewhere, I've concluded. Perhaps it's the IP restrictions and continuity that makes Middle-earth more "real" to me than other virtual worlds. Maybe it's the sheer breadth of content or the goofy hats. I can't decide. But I'm happy to raise a glass to LotRO as it turns six and look back at some of my favorite moments over the years.

The Road to Mordor Happy 6th birthday, LotRO!
Sixth anniversary gifts and celebration

When you read this, the sixth anniversary celebration will be in full swing, continuing on through the 30th. The revamped version of the festival is in its second year now, so we pretty much know it's going to be about fireworks and beer battles. A Casual Stroll to Mordor has a great guide to the festival that is kept up-to-date, so check it out if you want to maximize the fun and rewards. There are a lot of terrific cosmetics to grab (the face guard and fireworks backpack are my personal favorites), not to mention gift boxes that are dropping all over the world.

Turbine's added the sixth anniversary gift
, which is a new faceplate and a war-steed cosmetic set of the Azure horse. More free war-steed cosmetics are always welcome, in my opinion. Of course, you'll get rewards for every year you've been in the game, so everyone will get something at least.

It's a great time to either return to the game or give it a first try for those who aren't among the fold right now. In my opinion, LotRO's riding high off of a great expansion, awesome quality-of-life fixes (such as remote looting), and a stable, encouraging community.

The Road to Mordor Happy 6th birthday, LotRO!
My favorite Road to Mordor columns

Since LotRO's anniversary comes around the same time that I have my own Massively anniversary, I thought I'd go back through the past three-plus years of Road to Mordor columns to list my personal favorites and why I like them.
  • Ten reasons LotRO is worth picking up over shiny new MMOs: My very first column, and it's obvious how hard I was trying to be all professional and stuff here. Now fart jokes are the norm, huzzah! In all seriousness, I still agree with these points and I'm glad I began by laying out the case for playing the game.
  • A haunted tour of Middle-earth: LotRO has a lot of great spooky and scary locales, and here I listed just a few of my favorites. It's amusing to think that this was written two entire expansions and a free-to-play conversion ago!
  • The Codemasters conundrum: Remember Codemasters? EU players might. This was the first column I wrote that was overly critical of what I considered a badly bungled situation. I was not sorry to see Codemasters leave the LotRO scene at all.
  • Free Frodo for life!: The week after we found out about F2P. I really did not think that Turbine was going to go this route for LotRO, but how wrong I was. This was huge news at the time instead of a routine bullet point that F2P now is.
  • The Professor: A tribute to J.R.R. Tolkien and the cool little questline that honors him.
  • A conspiracy of hats: My way of poking gentle fun at the goofy and much-maligned hats in this game.
  • The horse-whisperer: Everyone once in a while I make an attempt to get more "in character" and be amusing. Did this succeed? I have no idea, but it was a lot of fun to write!
  • The superiority of goats: Goats rule. This is why.
  • Making music together: Music and this game are inseparable buddies, and instead of doing a mere guide, I looked at the history of the player music system and why it's important to have it in this world.
  • Ten things to do in East Bree-Land before you die (The Shire, Ered Luin): A trio of columns that went rather in-depth into a few of my favorite locations and activities in the beginner zones.
  • Convenience, not advantage: I love Turbine's devs, but sometimes I disagree with the studio's stance. Here I called them out on a former promise not to sell stat armor, something that the studio retroactively denied. Anyway, I felt it was an important battle to fight to keep the game from literally selling out.
  • For want of a horseshoe, my sanity was lost: And we still don't know what that stupid horseshoe is for. I've long since stopped thinking that it's funny.
  • Frozen in time: A look at one of the more odd in-game activities in LotRO: freeze tag!
  • My love-hate relationship with legendary items: I attempted to explain my conflicted feelings over the LI system, feelings that persist to this day.
  • A prisoner of Isengard: I was so impressed by this part of the epic storyline that I had to write a spoiler-filled column about my adventures in captivity.
  • Double dragons: This is my essay on why I feel that LotRO upholds as much of the letter and spirit of the lore as possible -- and why lore purists make me roll my eyes a lot.
  • Scratching the surface of Rohan: This expansion is by far my favorite for so many reasons, and when I first got into it, I was so enthused that I just had to write this.
Three years is a long time to be writing about a single game, but I don't feel as if I'm slowing down. I want to thank all of you for reading Road to Mordor and sharing your opinions and thoughts in the comments. It's a great community to be a part of, and I think we're just getting started!

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 justin@massively.com or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.
This article was originally published on Massively.