LOTRO – Major Initiatives for 2016
Turbine has published their 2016 road map (or major initiatives as they now call them) for LOTRO and as ever, it is being hotly debated on both the official forums and on sites such as Massively Overpowered. Next year LOTRO will see a level cap increase to 105, the inclusion of a new instance clusters, a twelve player raid and the start of a collection system. The two yearly updates will take players to the Battle of Pelennor Fields and then on to the Black Gates of Mordor. Turbine are also promising to regularly fix bugs and improve what they call “quality of life”. Overall I think this is just “business as normal” as far as LOTRO goes and once again I think we have to be realistic about the sort of new content you get in an MMO of this age. If Turbine can deliver all the above then frankly I’ll just roll with it.
First and foremost what strikes me the most about this road map is how near we are to the “end” both in terms of the story of The Lord of the Rings and the license that keeps the game afloat. If we find ourselves at the Morannon in late October 2016, then the following year will really be about rapping up the storyline and giving players a satisfactory conclusion. Personally I don’t think there is scope for any further license extensions or stays of execution and that once the expiry date of the current legal agreement is met, then the game will fold. Therefore I want to see the epic story in LOTRO concluded in a satisfactory way. The road map for next year seems to be addressing this. The game dawdled too long between 2010 and 2012.
Popular opinion on the nominal level cap increase seems split. It raises such issues as a new gear grind or more specifically a new set of essences to obtain. Once again many of those debating the pros and cons of this forthcoming change fail to see that they are not really representative of the majority of LOTRO players. My primary character is a level 100 Lore-master and I have elected not to pursue essences for slotted gear. I only play the PVE content and have found that not having the highest stats on my gear has not been an impediment. As for my LI it is imbued and I see no reason to throw any further resources at it. It can simply level as I do. Again my gameplay is not suffering as result of this decision. If you don’t want to grind then don’t do so.
Something else to ponder is that Turbine have responded to player concerns in the past and deferred such things as level cap increases. It may not be likely that they’ll do it again but I think it demonstrates that there is scope for augmentation to the 2016 road map. Plus there is the major hurdle of completing the new server migration and the technical revisions being made to the in-game chat system. If these prove to be problematic and swallow precious time and resources then it could prove ill for LOTRO. Only time will tell. In the meantime for the average LOTRO player it’s been an adequate year and it looks like the next twelve months will be so to. Considering that the MMO genre is no longer the paragon of virtue and cash cow that it use to be, I think we should consider Turbines 2016 plan to be the best option available.