The Lord of the Rings Online
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|The Lord of the Rings Online|
|Developer||Turbine, Inc. (2007-2016) Standing Stone Games (2016-Present)|
|Publisher||Midway Games (2007-2010)
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (2010-2016)Daybreak Game Company (2016-Present)
|Platform||Microsoft Windows, OS X (Beta)|
|Release date||April 24, 2007|
The Lord of the Rings Online (commonly abbreviated to LOTRO or LotRO) is an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) for PC and OS X that takes place in the world of Arda during the time of The Lord of the Rings. It was originally branded as The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar, but with later updates, that subtitle was dropped.
The players take on the role of adventurers of the Free Peoples of Middle-earth. The events of the game are concurrent with the events of The Lord of the Rings but most of the game revolves around events that occurred elsewhere or in the wake of events in the books. The game draws inspiration from people, places and events only mentioned in the books, combining these with original concepts to expand on parts of Middle-earth Tolkien did not. The main quest series of the game, known as Epic Quests, are divided into volumes, books and chapters, emulating the structure of The Lord of the Rings.
There have been many expansions to the original game, including: Mines of Moria (2008), Siege of Mirkwood (2009), Rise of Isengard (2011), Riders of Rohan (2012), Helm's Deep (2013) Mordor (2017), Minas Morgul (2019), Fate of Gundabad (2021) and Before the Shadow (2022) with regular updates, adjustments, and "mini-expansions" in between.
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Development of The Lord of the Rings Online began in 1998, when Sierra started work on a game called Middle-earth Online. Following Vivendi Universal Games' takeover of Sierra in 1999, the game's production was shared with Turbine. Turbine secured the rights of the entire game in March 2004, and it was renamed to The Lord of the Rings Online. It was originally subscription-based, but later became free-to-play with optional paid subscription and microtransactions.
A closed beta was announced on 8 September, 2006. An open beta began on 30 March, 2007, and was open to all who pre-ordered the game's Founders Club edition. In April 2007, the beta opened to the public. In 2010, the monetization model of the game changed to allow a free-to-play experience. Subscribers were given benefits for their patronage, while all players could access the game for free, but with certain limitations. In 2016, development of the game was handed off to a new spin-off company formed specifically to maintain LOTRO and 'Dungeons & Dragons Online'.This company is named Standing Stone Games.
As an online game, development continues with regular enhancements, additions, and changes to mechanics and game systems.
Main article: The Lord of the Rings Online player character classes
Like many RPGs, The Lord of the Rings Online has a system of character classes and levels. Each character chooses a race and a class on character creation, this cannot be changed. Players are able to play as any of the Free Peoples - Elves, Men, Dwarves, Hobbits, Beornings, Stout-axe Dwarves, or High Elves. Male or female characters can be created, except in the case of Dwarves. As per Tolkien, Dwarf-women are very rare and seldom leave their mountain halls, though the addition of Stout-axe dwarves as a playable race in 2019 allowed players to create dwarf-women. There is no difference in appearance male and female Stout-axes. There are eleven classes: Beorning, Brawler, Burglar, Captain, Champion, Guardian, Hunter, Lore-master, Minstrel, Rune-keeper, and Warden.
Customization of the character's abilities can be done by changing equipment and traits. As of the Helm's Deep expansion, class traits work on a tree system, with each class having three "trait trees" where traits can be selected with earned points and unlocking enough traits in a particular tree allows higher-level traits to be selected and applies additional bonus. In addition to class traits are racial traits, such as Men being able to slot a trait to do additional damage with swords or Hobbits being able to slot a trait that allows them to throw a stone, and virtue traits which boost the character's stats.
Levels are significant, with much lower level enemies being extremely easy to defeat and much higher level enemies being nearly impossible to defeat. Each region has enemies and quests with a range of levels usually consecutive to those of an adjacent region. Quests over five levels above the character's level are inaccessible. In addition to being able to complete quest and defeat enemies in more locations, characters gain access to additional equipment, skills, traits and instances as they level up. Levels are increased by gaining experience, which is earned by completing quests and instances, defeating enemies of an appropriate level, and crafting.
The Lord of the Rings Online is an "open-world" game in which most locations that have been released can be freely accessed on an open landscape (although some places, such as Moria, require certain quests to be completed first.) The game world is split into "lands", large areas of Middle-Earth. As of Update 21, the four lands in the game are Eriador, Rhovanion, Gondor, and Mordor. Each land is in turn divided into regions, e.g. Bree-land in Eriador, and each region contains areas, e.g. Andrath within Bree-land.
Although most of the land is available to all for exploration, most regions require non-VIPs to purchase a quest pack to access quests, deeds and instances associated with that region. A few regions, such as East and West Rohan, require expansion packs to be purchased to unlock content, even for VIPs. Each region is generally seen as it was in a certain time in the War of the Ring, for example Lothlórien is visited by the player at the same time as the Fellowship of the Ring rested there, and Pelargir just after Aragorn liberated the city from the Corsairs of Umbar.
Reddit users /u/lallapalalable and /u/exploderator estimated the total size of the map at no more than 250 square km (97 square miles) in 2017, making it one of the largest game maps ever made.
Much of the game's completable content is in the form of quests. Quests consist of a series of objectives, often including speaking with NPCs, defeating certain enemies, and recovering certain items from the ground or from defeated enemies. Most quests have a small number of objectives but may unlock additional quests upon completion to form a quest chain. Quests are usually started by started by speaking with a particular Non-Player Character (NPC), indicated with a ring icon above the NPC's head. The forms of ring icons and what they indicate are as follows:
- Gold ring with blue aura: the NPC has a quest that is approximately appropriate for the character's level.
- Gold ring with blue aura and fiery inscription: the NPC must be spoken with to advance the quest.
- Bright gold ring: the NPC has an Epic quest available.
- Gold ring with orange flames: the NPC must be spoken to to advance the Epic quest.
- Blue ring and quill: the NPC has a comment about an active quest, speaking to the NPC will not advance the quest but may give additional information.
- Gold ring with hourglass: the NPC has a quest with a cooldown, the player must wait for the cooldown to expire before accepting the quest.
- Silver ring: the NPC has a quest that is too high level for the player to accept at that level.
- Transparent grey ring: the NPC has a "trivial" quest, one far below the player's level.
- Gold ring with anvil: the NPC has a crafting quest, and involves the crafting system in some way.
- Gold ring with sword: The NPC has an allegiance quest; quests that are unique to the Mordor Expansion.*Gold ring with map: The NPC has a missions quest; quests that are unique to Missions-related quests.
Some quests are started by obtaining unique items dropped from specific enemies. The Riders of Rohan expansion introduced auto-bestowed quests, which bring up a quest prompt when the player defeats a specific type of enemy or finds a certain location. Such enemies are marked with ring icons similarly to how NPC quest givers are. Players have the option of accepting these quests automatically or choosing to manually accept or decline each prompt. Most landscape quests can only be completed once, some special landscape quests and most instance quests can be completed once a day any number of times, and a few landscape quests can be repeated at any time up to a certain number of times.
Quests are categorized according to what area, instance or other section they are associated with. Of note are the Epic Quests, a series that tells the main storyline of the game. In imitation of the Lord of the Rings book, the epic quests are divided into Volumes, which are divided into Books which in turn are divided into Chapters. Each Chapter is usually an individual quest. Epic Quests bring the player through the landscape but are considered apart from it, therefore most Epic Quests are available to all players regardless of whether or not any quest packs are unlocked. A notable exception is the end of Volume III: Allies of the King, which requires purchase of the Helm's Deep expansion to complete. The Black Book of Mordor, the new main storyline for quests after the Epic Books, has eight chapters, all spanning various areas in Middle Earth including Mordor, the Strongholds of the North, the Iron Hills, and the Ered Mithrin.
Deeds are non-repeatable achievements recorded on an interface window called the Deed Log. Common deed objectives include completing a certain number of quests in a particular area or region (Quest Deeds), defeating a certain number of enemies of a specific type in a particular region (Slayer Deeds), discovering specified locations (Explorer Deeds), and reaching the next tier of reputation with a faction. Most Deeds award Turbine points. Deeds in a particular region usually award reputation in that region's faction. Deeds also commonly reward marks, virtues, and titles.
Instances are locations in the game separated from the open landscape, not accessible through normal travel. Instances can take place in either separate versions of the locations available on the landscape (for example, Pelargir while Aragorn's host retakes it from the corsairs) or in locations not accessible anywhere else (such as Dale). Most instances are private instances, that is, only one player or group of players can enter it and it closes when they complete it, while public instances can be joined at any time by any number of separate players. They are often repeatable, with ones associated with landscape quests being replayable through a Reflecting Pool in the associated region and others accessible through the Instance Finder window. Most private instances have associated quests automatically bestowed upon entering the instance and cancelled upon exiting.
Fellowships and Kinships
Most open landscape content and associated instances are designed to be completable by a solo player, while some locations in the game and Instance Finder instances are meant for a team of players. A group of players with a maximum size of six is known as a fellowship. For larger groups, a raid of up to four fellowships can be formed, for a maximum group size of 24 players. Players are free to group on the open landscape and in public instances, but private instances have a limit on how many players may enter.
Players can found and join lasting organizations known as Kinships in the game. Players in a kinship can communicate in their own kinship chat channel to socialize and plan events with their fellow members.
The game is primarily Player vs. Environment (PvE), with most combat being player characters against computer controlled enemies found throughout the landscape and instances. However in the Ettenmoors region, players can participate in Player vs. Monster Player battles (PvMP). Players can create Monster characters that only have access to PvMP areas where they battle standard characters, who fight on the side of the Free Peoples. Each monster player class is limited to a specific race. The monster classes are the Blackarrow (Uruk), Defiler (Orc), Reaver (Orc), Stalker (Warg), Warleader (Uruk), and Weaver (Spider) As of Update 16.2 a new PvMP area, set in Osgiliath before Boromir's journey to Rivendell and accessed via a banner in the Ettenmoors, was released.
Towns and settlements provide Vendors where players can purchase or repair their armour, weapons, and supplies. Towns also often include Mailboxes, Auction Halls, Class Trainers, Forge-masters, Relic-masters, and Stable-masters who allow swift travel between regions.
The player interface allows other aspects of gameplay such as Character screens, Quest and Deed Logs, a Social Panel where players can interact, and a Crafting panel where players use skills to craft new items.
Releases, updates, and expansions
Shadows of Angmar
- Main article: The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar
Shadows of Angmar was released on 24 April, 2007. It included books 1 through 8 of Epic Volume I: Shadows of Angmar. Approximately once every two months a major free update was added to The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar. Each update added a new book to the volume.
Book 9: Shores of Evendim
The first free content update was released on 14 June, 2007.
- A new region - Evendim - is added, including locations like Annúminas.
- The epic story is expanded with book 9, Shores of Evendim
- 100 new quests are added.
- A 24-player raid is added, Battle for Helegrod.
- Nine new monsters are added.
- New Collectible armour sets are added.
- Updates to the music system.
Book 10: The City of Kings
The second free-content update was released on 21 August, 2007 in North America and on 24 August, 2007 in Europe.
- Continuation of the Story Line.
- Legendary Play – Players can now use Destiny Points to play as a Ranger of the North or as a Troll.
- Critter Play – Players can now explore Middle-earth from a different viewpoint as a chicken.
- New Reputation and Bartering Systems – The Reputation system enables players to earn positive and negative standing with different races and groups in Middle-earth based on both monster kills and quest completions. The Bartering system allows players to trade trophies earned in battle for rewards, such as armour sets or mounts.
- Over 100 new Quests.
- More customizable user interface.
Book 11: Prisoner of the Free Peoples
Updates included (complete release notes):
- Continuation of the Epic Story arc, including 13 quests.
- Player housing – players will be able to customize their houses with items such as furniture and doormats.
- Second raid called "The Rift" – 12-player raid in which players encounter a Balrog for the first time. Turbine has stressed that this is not the Balrog from Khazad-dûm.
- Two new areas – Tâl Bruinen in the Trollshaws, where Gollum will be introduced for the first time, and Goblin-town in the Misty Mountains, featured in The Hobbit.
- More than 100 new quests.
Book 12: The Ashen Wastes
The fourth free content update was released on 13 February, 2008 in North America; and 14 February, 2008 in Europe.
Updates included (complete release notes):
- Continuation of the Story Line.
- Character customization - Increased character customization "ranging from haircuts, to some (possible) additions to the trait-system." In addition, the Outfit system, along with special social clothing designed just for it, will be introduced where a second or third set of clothing can be slotted and displayed while retaining the statistical bonuses of the currently equipped items.
- The Delving of Frór - A new Monster Play PVE (and PVMP under certain circumstances) area was introduced: An expanse of caves and catacombs located beneath the Ettenmoors.
- The Great Angmar Revamp - A revamp of the most high-level region of the game's current 9 PvE regions. The revamp included the reworking of many quests, areas and other changes, such as new horse routes.
- Barbershop - You can customize the look of your avatar in-game with around 50 new haircuts and second set of details.
- Updates to the Burglar, Guardian, and Champion classes.
Book 13: Doom of the Last-King
The fifth free content update was released on 24 April, 2008 in North America and on 1 May, 2008 in Europe.
Updates included (complete release notes):
- A new playable map area: the Ice Bay of Forochel.
- Players being able to see the ocean for the first time, confirmed as the Ice Bay of Forochel in recent developer chats.
- Fishing - the first of a new system in Lord of the Rings Online, called 'hobbies'.
- New PVMP Monster Healing Class - Orc Defiler.
- Looking For Fellowship- and Quest-panel improvements.
Book 14: The Ring-forges of Eregion
The sixth free content update was released on 22 July, 2008 in North America. It was released on 24 July, 2008 in Europe.
Updates included (complete release notes):
- Climax of the "Shadows of Angmar" storyline.
- Added selected sections of Eregion (Region leading towards the Gates of Moria).
- Epic Quest events that will allow interaction between players regardless of server.
- Prelude quests for and leading up to the Mines of Moria expansion, which would have updates leading to Lothlórien, Fangorn, Rhovanion and Rohan.
Book 15: Daughter of Strife
The seventh free content update was released on 18 November, 2008. This update was released in tandem with the Mines of Moria expansion for players who did not purchase the expansion release.
Updates included (Epic - Vol. I, Book 15: Daughter of Strife Quests epic):
- Conclusion of the "Shadows of Angmar" storyline.
- Added the zone of Eregion expanding on the selected sections from Book 14. The zone does not include the Hollin Gate leading to the Black Pool.
- Added UI enhancements
Mines of Moria Expansion
- Main article: The Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria
Mines of Moria was released on 18 November, 2008. It included Vol. II books 1 through 6 of the epic quest line. Like Shadows of Angmar, Mines of Moria continued to regularly release updates. Updates were less frequent than Shadows of Angmar.
Book 7: Leaves of Lórien
- Continuation of the Epic Storyline in Book 7, Leaves of Lórien.
- Expansion of the Lothlórien Area, including Caras Galadhon.
- A new raid, named Strange Happenings, has been added.
- The Galadhrim are added as a new reputation faction.
- Crafting instances enable players to gather resources.
- The Ered Luin Introduction and, on lesser scale, the Bree-land Introduction are revamped.
- Several new Monster Play emotes are added.
Book 8: Scourge of Khazad-dum
Book 8 was released on 23 June, 2009. This update included:
- Book 8, Scourge of Khazad-dûm, continues the epic story.
- A radiance-gated multi-boss, 12-man raid - named Dar Narbugud is added.
- One 6-man instance is added: The Halls of Crafting.
- Two 3-man instances are added:
- Continuation of the revamp of the Bree-land Introduction.
- The Crafting system has been revived.
Siege of Mirkwood Expansion
- Main article The Lord of the Rings Online: Siege of Mirkwood
Siege of Mirkwood was released on 1 December, 2009 in North America and 3 December, 2009 in Europe. Unlike the second expansion this edition was only available via a web-based download. It included Book 9 and the epilogue of Volume II: Mines of Moria.
Kate Paiz, Executive Producer for The Lord of the Rings Online, released a letter on 22 October, 2010 stating that updates will be more frequent but will not always be accompanied with a new book continuing the epic story.
Book 1: Oath of the Rangers
Updates include (complete release notes):
- The beginning of Volume III in the epic storyline.
- The ability to solo the Volume I epic storyline.
- A duo mode for most skirmishes.
Book 2: Ride of the Grey Company
Book 2 was released on 10 September, 2010 in North America. (8 September, 2010 for subscribers). It was delayed in Europe because of contractual reasons and was finally released on 2 November, almost two months after North America.
Updates included (complete release notes):
- New region: Enedwaith.
- Lord of the Rings Online Free to Play subscription.
- Book 2 in the Volume III epic storyline.
- Scalable instances.
- Improvements to the vault, and a new wardrobe system for cosmetic items.
- Updates to the Captain class.
- The LOTRO store, where players may purchase convenience items. Points either earned through gameplay, through the VIP program or by being purchased.
- The introduction of Lua Scripting.
- DirectX 11 support.
- Ranger session play.
Update 1: Journey to Winter-Home
In 2010, LOTRO altered its monetization model and became "free-to-play." The first post Free-to-play update was released in November 2010. Due to changes to how updates work this did not contain an epic book.=
- A Barter Wallet for skirmish marks and anniversary tokens.
- Opening of Moria, Lothlorien, Mirkwood and Enedwaith to free-to-play players. Volume II and Volume III will also be available, as well the legendary item system, and the level 65 level cap all to free-to-play players.
- Vault improvements.
- Tasks: a new quest type for all levels.
- Improved reputation mounts.
- Updates to the Lore-master and Rune-keeper classes.
- Ered Luin starting area revamp.
Update 2: Echoes of the Dead
- Two 3-man's, two 6-man's, and a 12-person raid were added for level 65 players.
- A special item required to craft a First Age weapon which drops from the above raid.
- Radiance was removed.
- Legendary Items were updated.
- Character panel and cosmetic system were revamped.
- The Minstrel, Hunter and Burglar classes were updated.
- Volume III Book 3: Echoes of the Dead was added.
- Volume II was revamped and made soloable, including three instances which have been converted to skirmishes.
- Improvements to the PvP starter tutorial.
- Evendim was revamped, with Annúminas being scaled down to level 40.
Update 3: Lost Legends of Eriador
- Two new 3-man scalable instances starting mid-game.
- Two new skirmishes.
Rise of Isengard Expansion
- Main article: The Lord of the Rings Online: Rise of Isengard
The third expansion for The Lord of the Rings Online is entitled Rise of Isengard. The expansion was made available on 27 September, 2011 and only as a digital download.
Update 5: Armies of Isengard
- Four new instances and a 12-man raid in and around Isengard.
- Book 5: The Prince of Rohan of Volume III: Allies of the King is released.
- A new Instance finder, to form groups more easily.
- Barter currencies of skirmishes, classic and instances are unified.
- Changes to Reputation items.
Update 6: Shores of the Great River
- A new region, the The Great River, was added, featuring seven new areas - including Parth Celebrant - in the upper Anduin. 
- Mists of Anduin, Book 6 of Volume III, was released, in which the player seeks the wisdom of Galadriel about troubling dreams and fights Easterlings, Brigands and an ancient enemy of Rohan.
- The ability to summon skirmish warriors outside skirmishes.
- Updates to the Instance finder.
- Currency-change in Monster Play: "Destiny" will be replaced with "Commendations". Commendations will be available for both Freeps and Creeps.
Update 7: Shades of the Past
- Continuation of the aforementioned currency-change.
- A new skirmish, "Storm on Methedras."
- Revamp of the Fornost instance and Moria region.
Riders of Rohan Expansion
- Main article The Lord of the Rings Online: Riders of Rohan
The fourth expansion for The Lord of the Rings Online is named Riders of Rohan. The expansion was released on October 15, 2012. 
Update 9: Against the Shadow
Against the Shadow is the ninth update and was released 17 December, 2012. =
- Three new three man instances.
- Scaling of Dol Guldur instances.
- Completion of Moria revamp.
- Ability to quickly travel to turn in quests.
- Update to the Yule Festival.
- Combat revisions.
Update 10: Against the Shadow, Part II
Against the Shadow, Part II is the tenth update and was released 6 March, 2013.
- One six man instance and three twelve man raids.
- In Their Absence instance scaling.
- Mithril Coins, a new currency used for special services.
- Agility made Wardens' primary stat.
- Changes to critical defense.
- Unification of currency for scaling instances.
Update 11: Treachery of the White Hand
Treachery of the White Hand is the eleventh update and was released 13 May, 2013. =
- A new region, Wildermore, located on the previously-inaccessible plateau in the north of East Rohan.
- Book 10: Snows of Wildermore of Volume III: Allies of the King is released.
- Updates to mounted combat.
- Hobbit presents, daily free random items with the ability to unlock more rolls with mithril coins.
- Lalia's Market, a shop where cosmetic clothing and dyes can be purchased with mithril coins.
Helm's Deep Expansion
- Main article The Lord of the Rings Online: Helm's Deep
The fourth expansion for The Lord of the Rings Online is named Helm's Deep. The expansion was released on 20 November, 2013.  After the Helm's Deep expansion, Turbine has discontinued for three years paid expansions in favor of quarterly updates with content free to VIPs. 
Update 13: The Breaking of Isengard
- Release of a new landscape consisting of post-Battle of Isengard Nan Curunir as well as the Entwood, an area consisting of the south-western part of Fangorn.
- The fourteenth and final book of Epic Volume III: Allies of the King, The Waters of Isengard.
- Misty Mountains, North Downs and Trollshaws region revamps.
- Resizable inventory bags.
- Level scaling from level 20 up for players in the Ettenmoors and temporary Ettenmoors passes for free-to-play purchasable with Mithril Coins.
Update 14: Paths of the Dead
- Release of the West Gondor region, consisting of the areas the Paths of the Dead, the Blackroot Vale, Lamedon, the Havens of Belfalas, and Dol Amroth. 
- A new Epic series, Volume IV: The Strength of Sauron, beginning with Book 1: The Road to Gondor.
- The Essence System, allowing specially slotted armors to be fitted with a variety of Essences for customizable stats..
- Level cap increase to 100.
- The Dead Marshes region was added later in the minor Update 14.2, released September 15 2014. This area included a Session Play featuring Frodo, Samwise, and Gollum's passage through the marshes, casting the player character as Sam.
Update 15: Gondor Aflame
- The region of Central Gondor, consisting of Ringló Vale, Dor-en-Ernil, Lebennin and Pelargir.
- Beorning race and class.
- Epic Volume IV Book 2: The Dawnless Day.
- A new Epic Battle, Retaking Pelargir. Initially only available in solo/duo mode, a full fellowship version was released in 4 February, 2015 with Update 15.2.
- Roving Threats, a new type of open landscape group content. Additional Roving Threats were added to other regions of the game beginning with Update 15.2
Update 16: Ashes of Osgiliath
- The region of Eastern Gondor, consisting of Upper Lebennin, Lossarnach, South Ithilien and Osgiliath.
- Epic Volume IV Book 3: Voices of the Past.
- Cosmetic weapons and shields, more Roving Threats, and new PvMP map set in Osgiliath were released with Update 16.2 on 17 July, 2015. A new quest series of weekly episodic content, following the adventures of the Hobbit Bingo Boffin, was begun the Wednesday after the update, on 22 July.
Update 17: The Siege of Minas Tirith
- The region of Old Anórien, including Minas Tirith, the Pelennor Fields, and Talath Anor.
- Epic Volume IV Book 4: Siege of the White City
- New crafting tier, hidden cosmetic weapon toggle.
- New Epic Battles: Defence of Minas Tirith, Hammer of the Underworld.
Update 18: The Battle of Pelennor Fields
- The region of Far Anórien, including Taur Drúadan, Beacon hills, and the Pelennor Fields during the battle.
- Instance cluster including two 3-man instances (The Quays of the Harlond, The Blood of the Black Serpent), one 6-man instance (The Silent Street) and a 12-man raid (Throne of the Dread Terror).
- Epic Volume IV Book 5: The Ride of the Rohirrim and Book 6: The Battle of Pelennor Fields.
Update 19: March of the King
- The region March of the King, including North Ithilien, after battle Minas Tirith, after battle Osgiliath, and after battle Pelennor Fields.
- Flora barter system to exchange new gear for flowers.
- Epic Volume IV Book 7: March of the King.
Update 20: Battle of the Black Gate
- The region The Wastes, including Noman-lands, Slag-hills and Dagorlad which surround the Black Gate.
- New reputation items to exchange for armour.
- Epic Volume IV Book 8: Battle of the Black Gate.
- The region Plateau of Gorgoroth includes five different areas, Udûn, Dor Amarth, Lhingris, Talath Urui, and Agarnaith.
- The conclusion of the Epic Questline (and Volume 4), with Book 9.
- A new series of quests, the "Black Book of Mordor", becomes the main storyline after the conclusion of the Epic Quests. There are four chapters introduced in this update.
- The Allegiance System is introduced, players can pledge to one of four factions to gain greater rewards in Mordor. They are the Kingdom of Gondor, the Court of Lothlórien, Durin's Folk, and the Hobbits of the Company.
- A new instance cluster is introduced, featuring a 3-man instance (The Court of Seregost), a 6-man instance (The Dungeons of Naerband), and a 12-man raid (The Abyss of Mordath).
Update 22: Legacy of the Necromancer
- The new region "Eryn Lasgalen and the Dale-lands" (otherwise known as the "Strongholds of the North" or "Northern Mirkwood"), features the Forest of Eryn Lasgalen (including the Halls of the Elven-king (known as Felegoth), The Dale-lands (featuring iconic locations such as The Long Lake, Lake-town, Dale, and Ravenhill), and Erebor, the Lonely Mountain.
- Three new reputation factions are introduced; the "Elves of Felegoth", the "Men of Dale", and the "Dwarves of Erebor".
- The Black Book of Mordor continues with two new chapters exploring the new region.
Update 23: Where Dragons Dwell
- The new area "The Dwarf-holds", consists of two areas; The Iron Hills, and Ered Mithrin. An expanded area of Erebor is also opened.
- A new instance cluster is introduced, featuring two 3-man instances (Caverns of Thrumfall and Glimmerdeep), a six-man instance (Thikil-gundu), and a 12-man raid (The Anvil of Winterstith).
- The Black Book of Mordor continues with two new chapters exploring the new areas.
Update 24: Vales of Anduin
- A new region, the Vales of Anduin was released, containing several key locations such as the Beorninghus (Beorn's Hall), The Carrock, the Eagle's Eyrie, the Gladden Fields, Rhosgobel, and various settlements of the Woodmen.
- Update 24.2 brought the "Gladdenmere" sub-region to the Vales, along with a single six-man instance, "The Depths of Kidzul-kalah.
- The Black Book of Mordor continues with two new chapters exploring the new area, in addition to a "Prelude" to the Minas Morgul Expansion.
Minas Morgul Expansion
- The expansion consists of two new areas, "Mordor Besieged" consists of the upper half of Gorgoroth during the final stages of the Siege of Barad-dûr in the Second Age, and the Morgul Vale, which consists of the areas between Ithilien to the west, and Gorgoroth to the east. The city of Minas Morgul is also available for exploration.
- A new playable race, the "Stout-axe dwarves", became available.
- New Crafting updates, including a new tier to crafting guilds.
- A new instance cluster taking place in the Morgul Vale, with four three-man instances, three six-man instances, and a raid, the Remmorchant, featuring battling with Shelob in Torech Ungol.
- A new level cap of 130 is introduced.
Update 26: Mists of Wilderland
- A new region, the Wells of Langflood was released, featuring the upper-lands of the Vales of Anduin, and the merging of the Greylin and Langwell rivers into the Anduin. In addition, there is the beorning settlement of Limlok, the stoor village of Lyndelby, and the ruins of Framsburg, once the capital of the Eotheod.
- A new reputation faction, the "Protectors of Wilderland", situated in Limlok was introduced.
- A brand new epic questline, "The Legacy of Durin and the Trials of the Dwarves" is introduced to follow the Black Book of Mordor, and follows Prince Durin's efforts in leading the united dwarves to retake Mount Gundabad from the orcs who dwell there. Two initial chapters were released.
Update 27: The Great Wedding
- A new area, Minas Tirith (Midsummer), was introduced, situated after the destruction of the One Ring, situated around the wedding of King Aragorn Elessar and Arwen Undomiel.
- The Midsummer Festival was introduced, based in Midsummer Minas Tirith, featuring all new quests, items and deeds for players. In addition, the Summer and Farmer's Faire festivals were merged to make way for the Midsummer Festival.
- The Epic Questline continues with Volume V- The Peace of Middle-earth, in it's first book.
Update 28: War of the Three Peaks
- A new area, Elderslade, is introduced, and features the lands north of the Wells of Langflood and west of the Ered Mithrin, situated before the very gates of Mount Gundabad.
- The Missions mechanic was introduced, allowing players of any level over 20 to aid Durin's war-effort, and gain rewards through one of two new reputation factions: The Gabil'akka.
- "The Legacy of Durin and the Trials of the Dwarves" continues with two new chapters, featuring the Battle of Elderslade, and the challenging of Gorgar the Ruthless, Lord of Gundabad, and son of Bolg.
Update 29: The Wildwood
- The Wildwood, a new zone, was released as part of the Bree-land starting at level 45. Includes new quests along with two reputation factions.
- New Missions were added for The Wildwood.
- The Bree-land map was updated accordingly.
Update 30: Blood of Azog
- New Missions for new dwarf factions were released.
- "The Legacy of Durin" storyline continued with a flashback to Battle of Azanulbizar. The flashback is told by Hersegg, granddaughter of one of the heroes of that battle.
- The Fall of Khazad-dûm raid was also released with new gear to be earned. In this instance, players help the dwarves of Moria in TA 1981 in their final stand against Durin's Bane.
- This is the final content update before the next major expansion, Fate of Gundabad, released on November 10th, 2021.
- This update did not contain any new quest content for the game, but did release several significant features leading up to The Fate of Gundabad expansion, along with smaller quality of life changes.
- The Brawler class was introduced to the game.
- A fully revamped Legendary Item system released publicly after many months of beta testing
- The housing system saw an update that removed the size signifiers for housing items, making it easier to customise player housing
Fate of Gundabad Expansion
- The expansion adds the new "Gundabad" region, which consists of seven distinct areas; five of which are located under the mountain itself and two others are outside, to the north of it.
- "The Legacy of Durin and the Trials of the Dwarves" storyline is conluded with seven new chapters taking place inside Gundabad.
- The new instance cluster includes two three-man instances and one six-man instance.
- A new level cap of 140 is introduced, and new Missions are added within Gundabad.
Update 32: Rangers and Ruins
- A new raid, "The Hiddenhoard of Abnankâra", was released, featuring Prince Durin's final confrontation with Hrímil Frost-heart within the ancient treasury of the Greymaul Rebellion.
- A new premium housing area in the Abodes of Erebor was released, located within one of the last of Smaug's treasure hoards.
- A new sub-region, the Angle of Mitheithel was released, filled with elven ruins, and the outposts of the Rangers of the North.
- The new 'Legendary Item Rewards Track' was introduced to compliment the new Legendary Item System. Players use their item XP to gain special rewards to help increase the power of their items.
Update 33: The Yondershire
- This update was released alongside the 15 year celebration of Lord of the Rings Online. This event runs from the 20th of April up until 12th of May.
- A new sub-region, "The Yondershire", was released, connecting the Ered Luin directly to the rest of Middle-earth for the first time. Hobbit villages such as Nobottle, Tighfield, Gamwich, and Long Cleeve are also featured.
- All content including and prior to the Helm's Deep Expansion, including the Rune-keeper, Warden, and Beorning classes, as well as the High Elf race were made free and available to all players.
Added elements and deviations from the book
The Lord of the Rings Online does not only follow the story as told in The Lord of the Rings, but also tells original stories about events happening during the same time period as the War of the Ring. These chiefly involve player characters following the trail of the members of the Fellowship and other main characters from the text. As such, there are a number of elements that do not appear in any of the published works. This includes characters, lineages, objects and locations. A selection of these are described below.
Major original characters
- Amarthiel served the Witch-king of Angmar during his first reign over Angmar and wore the lesser ring Narchuil. She was slain by Narmeleth at the Battle of Fornost and her soul wandered Middle-earth for over a thousand years. She managed to possess Narmeleth and disguised herself as Sara Oakheart. She eventually revealed herself after the defeat of Mordirith by Golodir and becomes the Regent of Angmar.
- Ronald Dwale was a Hobbit from Dwalling. He was an author and a member of the Inklings, that meets in the Bird and Baby Inn. He was based on J.R.R. Tolkien himself.
- Éogan was the second in command of the Blackwolds and took over leadership of the group after William Skunkwood's death.
- Gorgar the Ruthless was another descendent of Azog who led the Orcs of Gundabad against the Gabil'akka during the War of Three Peaks.
- Gorothul was a Black Numenorean sorcerer high in the ranks of Dol Guldur.
- The Huntsman was a spirit found in Enedwaith who took the shape of a large man with horns of a stag. Many players thought this was Oromë. The developers confirmed that it wasn't Oromë but a Maia of Oromë.
- Ivar the Bloodhand was a Gaunt-lord from the First Age.
- Karazgar was one of the Gúrzyul seeking to claim power in Mordor after Sauron's defeat.
- Mazog was a descendant of Azog and leader of the Orcs of Moria.
- Mordirith was the Steward of Angmar.
- Narmeleth was an elf maiden of Rivendell and daughter of Laerdan. She slew Amarthiel during the Battle of Fornost and became possessed by her soul over a thousand years later.
- Mundo Sackville-Baggins was a Hobbit who was mistakenly identified as having the ring.
- William Skunkwood was the leader of the Blackwolds.
- Skorgrím Dourhand was a dwarf and leader of the Dourhands. He was slain during the Battle of Edhelion. His corpse was used as a vehicle by Ivar the Bloodhand who possessed it with a fell spirit to trick the Dourhands to ally themselves with the forces of Angmar.
- The Dourhands was a clan of dwarves aligned with the forces of Angmar. They were the dwarves that stayed behind to rebuild the Dwarven Halls in the Blue Mountains which were destroyed during the War of Wrath.
- The Gúrzyul were powerful Black Númenoreans who served near the top of the chain of command in Mordor.
- The Inklings are a group of Hobbit-authors who discuss literature. They meet each other in the Bird and Baby Inn. Prominent members are Ronald Dwale, Owen Farfield, Carlo Williams, and Jack Lewisdown. The group and members are based on the real Inklings.
- The Iron Garrison was a group of Longbeard Dwarves that sought to find Balin and retake the Mines of Moria.
- The Stout-axes were a House of Dwarves lost to slavery in Mordor. They were eventually freed after the demise of Sauron.
- The Warriors Three were a trio of Rohirrim adventure seekers.
- The Zhelruka were an eastern House of Dwarves who migrated westward after the War of the Ring.
- Zigilburk was a legendary mithril axe discovered in Moria by the Iron Garrison.
- The Vandassari were a set of stones brought from Númenor to Middle-earth. These are the Oath-stones with the power to hold those who swear upon them to their promises, such as the Stone of Erech.
- The Black Book of Mordor was a mysterious text discovered in the Iron Hills.
- Agamaur was a vast swamp of the Lone-lands. It was a site of a major battle between Arthedain, Cardolan and Rhudaur. To the west were the ruins of Ost Guruth, a fortress of Arnor claimed by the nomadic Eglain. To the east lay the ruins of Garth Agarwen, a fortress of Rhudaur ruled by Hill-men loyal to the mysterious Red Maid.
- Esteldin was a ruin of Arnor in the North Downs. At the time of the War of the Ring, it was used as a base of operations by the Rangers of the North.
- Falathlorn was a green and beautiful region of the Ered Luin favored by the Elves. It contained the Elvish havens of Duillond and Celondim. Not far from this region were the chilly Low-lands, site of the Dwarvish cities Gondamon and Kheledul.
- Galtrev was one of the largest towns of Dunland, the nominal capitol of the country.
- Luntil's Ferry was a secret crossing of the River Anduin in Lossarnach.
- Maur Tulhau was a Stoorish Hobbit village in Enedwaith located in the forbidding Gloomgens. It was an remnant of the time when the Stoors lived in this region before most of their number moved north to The Shire.
- Nar's Peak was a cleft along one of the spurs of the Misty Mountains. Thorin and some other exiles of Erebor dwelt for a time.
- Stangard was a Rohirrim settlement near the Great River Anduin. Its inhabitants were mostly exiles sent to protect Rohan's outer borders.
- Tinnudir was an island in Lake Evendim. It was used as a headquarters by a group of Rangers called the Wardens of Annúminas, protectors of the ancient capitol of Arnor.
- Wildermore was a small plateau in the northern portion of Eastemnet. It suffered an unnatural winter due to the machinations of Saruman.
- Woodsedge was one of the main towns of the Woodmen living in the Vales of Anduin at the edge of Mirkwood.
- [US]Arkenstone (Unofficial Oceanic)
- [EU]Belegaer [DE-RP]
- [EU]Evernight [UK]
- [EU]Gwaihir [DE]
- [US]Landroval [EN-RE]
- [EU]Laurelin [UK-RP]
- [EU]Sirannon [FR]
- Anor [Legendary]
- Shadowfax [Legendary]
- Treebeard [Legendary]
The European servers were originally created and hosted by Codemasters, but on 1 June 2011 LOTRO Europe was taken over by Turbine, who are based in the Easter U.S. This arrangement continued with Standing Stone Games who currently host the European servers.
European servers are further distinguished by other languages, French and German in particular.
Legendary servers are special worlds with a progressive level cap. The first legendary server, Anor, was launched in 2018, while Ithil was opened shortly thereafter to accommodate congestion. Due to inactivity, Ithil was eventually closed in 2021.
In fall of 2021, two new Legendary servers were announced. Both would follow the previous legendary model, by starting at the original level cap of 50 and slowly expanding from there, but each had its own take on progression. The Shadowfax server gave players 50% more experience points than the standard servers, while Treebeard slowed experience point gain y 70%. Each server would also receive expansions at a different pace, with Shadowfax gaining expansions more quickly than Treebeard.
To encourage players who wish to enjoy the game as their characters, some servers have been designed RP as roleplaying servers. In these worlds, it is expected that most players will interact together as the characters they have made, imagining themselves as actually being in Middle-earth. As a special case Landroval is designed RE, roleplay encouraged.
Over time, due to shifting player populations, worlds have been consolidated. Players transfer their characters to a new world and the old server is then closed. Below is a list of closed worlds.
- [RU] Fornost
- [RU] Mirkwood
- [RU] Aglarond
- [US] Vilya
- [EU] Maiar [DE]
- [US] Firefoot
- [US] Meneldor
- [US] Windfola
- [EU] Morthond [DE]
- [EU] Gilrain [UK]
- [US] Nimrodel
- [EU] Withywindle [UK]
- [EU] Vanyar [DE]
- [US] Dwarrowdelf
- [US] Riddermark
- [EU] Anduin [DE]
- [EU] Estel [FR-RP]
- [EU] Eldar
- [US] Imladris
- [US] Silverlode
- [US] Elendilmir (Oceanic)
- [EU] Snowbourn [UK]
- Ithil [Legendary]
For The Lord of the Rings Online, Turbine (and subsequently Standing Stone Games) has licensed the rights to the content and lore of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. As a result neither Turbine, nor Standing Stone Games, does not have license rights to the New Line Cinema film series by Peter Jackson, nor The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, The History of Middle-earth books, or other posthumous works that were published recently, such us The Children of Húrin.
The Lord of the Rings Online has been received very positively thus far, as reviews continue to appear since the game's initial release.
GameDaily awarded the game 9/10, praising its rich, fantasy-themed universe, well-integrated trait and title system, and a story that remains true to the works of Tolkien. Yahoo! Video Games wrote a review with few negative mentions, awarding the game a score of 4/5, while Computer and Video Games called the game an essential purchase for Lord of the Rings fans, scoring the game a 9.2/10. Eurogamer scored the game a 9.0/10, calling it tough to resist. Gamespy gave it 4.5/5 stars, claiming the game "opened up Middle-Earth to the masses" but commented negatively on its weak PvP content, while GameTrailers awarded it 8.5/10, citing its interesting tweaks to the MMO genre. IGN.com ranked it a similar 8.6/10, praising it for its solid experience, though criticizing it for its lack of major improvements to the genre. GamerNode.com awarded the game an 8.8/10, calling it the best MMO launch experience since Ultima Online. The New York Times called the game "a major achievement of interactive storytelling, the first game truly worthy of the ‘Lord of the Rings' franchise and a must-play for just about anyone with an interest in Tolkien or the future of online entertainment." In a GameSpot review, the product was awarded an 8.3/10, praising its appealing polish and intriguing Monster Play feature. Gamepro.com's review gave it an overall 4.25/5, pointing out how engaging the epic quests are, as well as how faithful to the novels the game managed to stay. GameSpy declared The Lord of the Rings Online 'Game of the Month' for May 2007.
In August 2007, Codemasters announced that The Lord of the Rings Online had received five Golden Joystick Awards nominations for the five applicable categories for the game, and in October 2007 that it had won the "PC Game of the Year" at these awards. and again won the same award on October 2008. In December 2007, GameSpy awarded The Lord of the Rings Online 6th place in the top 10 PC games of 2007. On December 18, Turbine announced it had also won the GameSpy MMO of the Year award. In January 2009, mmorpg.com awarded Turbine both MMORPG studio of the year 2008, and MMO Expansion of the Year for Mines of Moria.
In North America, players who pre-ordered the game were offered a special founder's offer, a lifetime subscription for $199 or reduced cost of $9.99 per month. Standard monthly fee is $14.99 with three, six, twelve month, and lifetime discounts available. European players had a similar program from Codemasters.
A Holiday subscription was available in December of 2007 and January of 2008 for $9.99/month for a 3 month commitment. A one year anniversary addition includes a $9.99/month subscription or a $199.99 Lifetime subscription, which was again offered during the lead up to the release of Mines of Moria.
Warner Bros. announced on June 4, 2010 that Lord of the Rings Online will offer a free-to-play model starting in the fall of 2010. On August 18, 2010, Warner Bros. announced that the free-to-play model would go live on September 10, 2010. On October 21, 2010, Codemasters announced that a preview of Free-to-Play would be available in Europe on October 25, 2010.
- Official website
- LOTRO Community Forums: The official Lord of the Rings Online forums
- LoTRO-Wiki: The most complete source of information for the game
- LoTRO Players: Long-running news site and podcast
- Dadi's LOTRO Guides: Useful guides for various game systems.
- Turbine spin into action to secure Tolkien license - VideoGamer.com
- /u/lallapalalable, "Been trying to calculate the area of the map" dated 20 March 2017, Reddit (accessed 29 October 2020)
- Book 9: Shores of Evendim Release Date Announced
- "Book 9: Shores of Evendim Release Date Announced!" dated 5 June 2007, The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 19 February 2012)
- | Codemasters Online and Turbine unveil Book 10: The City of the Kings
- Turbine and Codemasters Online Gaming to Unveil Book 11: Defenders of Eriador for The Lord of the Rings Online
- Codemasters Online and Turbine to unveil Book 11: Defenders of Eriador
- Book 11 Preview: The Balrogs are Coming
- Lord of the Rings Online: House of Commons
- "Volume II: Book 7: Leaves of Lórien Spotlight", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 19 February 2012)
- "Volume II: Book 8: Scourge of Khazad-dûm", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 19 February 2012)
- Producer's Letter, October-2010 lotro.com, Dev Diaries
- Volume III: Allies of the King has arrived!
- Massively, V-E-ME Day: LotRO Europe announces launch date for free-to-play, dated 29 October, 2010 (accessed 11 November, 2011)
- The Lord of the Rings Online: Rise of Isengard Official Homepage
- Justin Olivetti, "Riding into Rohan: LotRO maps out in 2012" dated 25 January 2012, Massively (accessed 29 January 2012)
- "Update 6 Great River", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 19 February 2012)
- Jaret Pruett, "http://www.lotro.com/gameinfo/devdiaries/1776-update-6-commendations-developer-diary", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 19 February 2012)
- "Update 7", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 12 May 2012)
- "WARNER BROS. INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT AND TURBINE UNVEIL THE LORD OF THE RINGS ONLINE™: RIDERS OF ROHAN™", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 30 January 2012)
- "LOTROs Update 9 Coming December 17th", www.tentonhammer.com (accessed 27 July 2015)
- "Riders of Rohan Instance Cluster, Part I", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 27 July 2015)
- "Developer Diary: Revisiting the Mines of Moria, Part II", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 27 July 2015)
- "Update 9 - Travel To Quest Location: Behind the Scenes", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 27 July 2015)
- "Update 9 - Yule Festival", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 27 July 2015)
- "Update 9 - Combat Revisions", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 27 July 2015)
- "Update 10 - Instance Cluster Developer Diary", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 27 July 2015)
- "Update 10 Mithril Coin Q&A", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 27 July 2015)
- "Update 10: Warden Stat Change – Agility Wardens!", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 27 July 2015)
- "Update 10 - Critical Defence Revision", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 27 July 2015)
- "Update 10 - Seals and Medallion Conversion Diary", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 27 July 2015)
- "Update 11: Treachery of the White Hand Release Notes - Official", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 27 July 2015)
- "Lalia’s Market Now Open in Bree-town!", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 27 July 2015)
- "Updated: Turbine Temporarily Delays LOTROs Helms Deep Launch", www.tentonhammer.com (accessed 27 July 2015)
- "A letter from Executive Producer Kate Paiz - Looking Ahead to 2014", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 27 July 2015)
- "Update 13: The Breaking of Isengard – Official release Notes", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 27 July 2015)
- "Dev Diary – Update 13 Quest Notes", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 27 July 2015)
- "Update 14: Paths of the Dead - Release Notes & Known Issues", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 27 July 2015)
- "Update 14: Paths of the Dead Now Available", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 27 July 2015)
- "Update 14.2 Release Notes", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 28 July 2015)
- "Update 15: Gondor Aflame Now Available", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 27 July 2015)
- "Update 15 Release Notes", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 27 July 2015)
- "Update 15.2 Release Notes", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 28 July 2015)
- "Update 16: Ashes of Osgiliath – Official Release Notes", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 27 July 2015)
- "Update 16.2 Release Notes", The Lord of the Rings Online (accessed 28 July 2015)
- In the game the Witch-king reigned over Angmar again shortly before the War of the Ring.
- big D, small d Jonathan Rudder, lotro.com forums
- "Turbine's LOTRO Service Goes Global" dated 24 April 2011, A Casual Stroll to Mordor (accessed 2 January 2012)
- Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar, The - Review metacritic.com
- The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar Review Yahoo! Games
- PC Review: Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar Computer and Video Games
- Review - Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar Eurogamer
- The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar Review GameSpy
- The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar Game Trailers
- The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar Review IGN
- Lord of the Rings Online GamerNode
- Lord of the Rings Online Press Release Lord of the Rings Online
- The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar for PC Review GameSpot
- Review: The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar for PC Gamepro
- Game of the Month: May 2007 GameSpy
- Music and vice top games awards BBC News
- Gears Wins Big at Game Awards Next-Generation
- GameSpy's Game of the Year 2007 GameSpy
- LOTRO Wins Top Honors from Gamespy! Lord of the Rings Online
- MMORPG.com Best MMO Studo of 2008 mmorpg.com
- MMORPG.com Best Expansion of 2008 mmorpg.com
- Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Announces The Lord of the Rings Online™ to Adopt Global Free-to-Play Model Turbine, Inc
- The Lord of the Rings Online Europe Preview Event