Is LOTRO Worth Playing in 2023?

Is LOTRO worth playing in 2023? Should I play The Lord of the Rings Online in 2023?

2022 saw in the 15th Anniversary of The Lord of the Rings Online, which is one heck of an achievement. I believe I have been playing it for over six years now. Despite the potential of a rival LOTR-based MMO, LOTRO continued to build and develop, write and create. Yet it is one of many MMOs for gamers to choose from. So with this amount of choice, is LOTRO worth playing in 2023? As I still play, clearly I think so! Let’s look at why – as objectively as I can, while also balancing this with additional observations.

1. Faithful to LOTR Lore

The first thing to cover is, I believe, the most important one. LOTRO has the rights/IP to use The Lord of the Rings in creating its MMO and quests. As a mere player of the game, I don’t know what that includes and excludes. But fans of Tolkien’s work wanting an online game in Middle-Earth have a right to expect that it is faithful to the novels and history created by JRR. Here are some examples of how LOTRO has achieved this:

Re-telling the Story

You can play as key LOTR characters at certain points in LOTRO.
Through quests and mini videos, LOTRO retell the story of The One Ring, the Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo and Samwise and more. You can be drawn in and experience it, especially during “Session Plays”. These allows you to be a character from lore, and see events from that person’s perspective.

While some quest dialog boxes can be long to read, it’s not like sitting to read a novel. I think the volume of reading in LOTRO is accessible.

Not Altering the Story

Aragorn and Gimli as portrayed in LOTRO - meeting key characters is one reason why LOTRO is worth playing!
While your character interacts with the Fellowship of the Ring, you do not formally join it. You see the Fellowship off from Rivendell, but then have your own story to follow until you intersect with them next.

If you join a key character in a quest and they are defeated, you fail the quest and have to start over. You cannot kill a character before their time! Whichever lore-based character you meet, you cannot alter the course of the War of the Ring. But you can play an important role within it.

Inclusion of Languages

LOTRO NPCs use Languages derived from Tolkien's Work
The languages mentioned explicitly in LOTR are Sindarin/Noldorin and the dwarven tongue. Both of these can be heard, and read, from character NPCs for a start.

Moreover, if your combat class has “shouting” abilities, then Elves use their languages and dwarves may yell “Baruk Khazad!”.

You Don’t Need to Know LOTR Lore

It’s worth saying at this point that you do not need to know anything about The Lord of the Rings to be able to jump into LOTRO. Pick a class and race that sounds fun for you and enter Middle-Earth! LOTRO’s writing, quests and other tidbits effectively teach you it.
Right from the character creation screen, you can read about Hobbits, Elves, the Race of Man, Dwarves and more. LOTRO achieve this through text snippets and mini introductory videos. Even the options you have available when creating your character’s appearance subtly reinforce what they can and cannot look like.

It Made Me Want to Learn More

While I had read all of The Hobbit and the LOTR trilogy before I started playing LOTRO, I have learned loads through it. On top of that, it made me even more curious about the history of Middle-Earth. That means, the MMO sparked an interest to read The Silmarillion and eventually, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. I have just been gifted The Fall of Númenor too, which I will definitely be reading!

Knowledge of Middle-Earth is No Barrier

You do not need to be a LOTR buff. You may not know anything other than there was “One Ring to Rule Them All”. Your answer to “is LOTRO worth playing in 2023?” does not need to depend on the idea of how much or little of lore you’re familiar with. Learn it through playing and reading!

Creativity around Lore

Not everything was explicitly written down by the Tolkiens. But what LOTRO has done is developed their own stories, quests and NPCs within the framework of lore. All that is required is for an idea to either be clearly allowed by what the Tolkiens gave us, or at least plausible.

So, they have been able to write new stories that are engaging.

How the Dwarves (and you) re-entered Moria:
The anguish of Laerdan and his daughter:
The story of Horn falling in love with a Dunlending girl Nona:
Your capture and enslavement in Isengard:

And these are just a few of those that spring to mind.

4. Catering to All Playing Styles

The reasons people play MMOs vary wildly. I know in the past, people asked me why I played MMORPGs if I only want to partake in solo content for most of the time. But it is the very fact that I can that shows the flexibility of the LOTRO team to incorporate our gaming preferences.

Landscape Soldier

Example of using a Skirmish Soldier in the field for Normal Quests.
Other MMOs have more options to fighting with an NPC/Companion. However, in LOTRO, unless you’re a specific class like Lore-Master or Captain, your character can seem a tad lonely.

Thankfully, the Soldier you gear up and customise for Skirmishes can also be used during landscape quests.

They’re not permanent, so you need to use a Landscape Soldier TokenExternal Link (Opens in New Window/Tab) to let them join you for a time.

5. Consistent Production of New Content

Now, I don’t mean this in terms of the frequency of new content, or the time gap between releases. What I mean is that you can be sure LOTRO are working on new regions, quests, stories all the time. In 2022, around LOTRO festivals, I was able to write guides on the following newer areas or features:

The Wildwood of Bree-land

LOTRO Wildwood of Bree-land Guide - How to Get Started in the Wildwoods!

The Angle of Mitheithel

LOTRO Angle of Mitheithel Starter Guide - Rangers and Ruins Quest Pack


LOTRO Yondershire Getting Started Guide

Before the Shadow

LOTRO How to Start a new Character in Before the Shadow | How to Choose Your Tutorial at Character Creation

Further Adventures of Elladan and Elrohir

LOTRO How to start the Further Adventures of Elladan and Elrohir Missions

Further Adventures of Bilbo Baggins

LOTRO The Further Adventures of Bilbo Baggins | Missions

And those areas do not include expansions for those at the “endgame” position (which I’m not), such as Gundabad.

6. New Classes and Races

7. Community Events

LOTRO Events Schedule 2023 | LOTRO Events and Festivals CalendarGive an MMO new features, and it could still fall apart if there’s no community behind it. LOTRO’s community has always been amazing to me; at the start in answering newbie questions, later in taking part in player-created gatherings and concerts and now in reading my guides.

Official Events

As well as great player-created events, LOTRO has a regular Festival and Events Schedule. This includes celebrations such as Midsummer, the Anniversary Event, Fall Festival and Yule Festival.

What Rewards Can You Earn?

If you can think of it, you may be able to get it! At Festivals and events you can earn:

And, even if you’re new to LOTRO, you can pick up event rewards from years ago, simply by playing that event’s quests.

8. Role-Playing and Speech Bubbles

9. Earning “Money Store” Currency

As with all the MMOs I’ve tried properly, LOTRO has its own “Money Store” where you can acquire a wide variety of goods for LOTRO Points LOTRO Points. None are essential to your progress, though you may find many desirable – especially storage space! But what the others do not do – or do in a very limited way – is allow you to earn the currency to spend in their stores. This is achieved through the Deeds system.

What are Deeds?

A person is judged more on their deeds than their words. As you venture across Middle-Earth, various LOTRO Deeds will trigger. It may be that you need to kill 90 wolves, or find five enemy strongholds, for example. Once completed, these “deeds” give a variety of rewards, such as

Some deeds grant LOTRO Points LOTRO Points. Thich can be spent in the money store alongside any other points you either manually pay for, or are granted for being VIP.

And a lot of deeds grant LOTRO Points LP!

10. Public Beta Server

One of the fab aspects of LOTRO is their public beta server called Bullroarer. Although it has to be installed separately to your main Lord of the Rings Online game, when Bullroarer is open, you can preview and test features that are not live yet. This shows that LOTRO understands the importance they place on community feedback.

With Bullroarer LOTRO can squash bugs earlier, and also helps you to look forward to new content yet to go public.

11. Plugins Are Allowed

LOTRO has an API-restricted plugin system. This means you can develop your own useful utilities or use those others have made. LOTRO Plugins cannot mess with the game files as they must stick within the API, but it means you can safely develop them without wondering if you’ve accidentally broken the ToS.
Over 20 LOTRO Plugins and Addons for you to enjoy, here's my guide!

12. Tons of Free Content

During LOTRO’s 15th Anniversary Event regions and quests up to Level 95 were made free for all players, including F2P. If you were to do every quest and all the Deeds, you’re talking weeks and maybe months of time in Middle-Earth, with no obligation to pay anything.

Should you choose to, you can always add LOTRO Points LOTRO Points to your account for treats, but you don’t have to!

LOTRO Points - How to Buy and Earn Free LOTRO Points (or LP)

LOTRO’s 2023 Roadmap

Not only do we have a full LOTRO Events Schedule for this year, but Orion at SSG has published an initial overview of a 2023 roadmap. Here we have four more bonus reasons that LOTRO is worth playing:

Read the Full Announcement External Link (Opens in New Window/Tab)

What Could Be Improved?

No MMO is perfect. Heck, nothing in this world is perfect! So, in the interests of balance and not being proclaimed a fanboy – though I kinda am a fanboy – what should be improved? Here are my humble ideas – and no, I won’t be covering “lag”. While it can be an issue, SSG have said on multiple occasions that they are working on it.

Without being overly critical, these are my observations:

  1. NPC Design
    While LOTRO’s newer regions, such as Yondershire and those in Before the Shadow, include brand-new NPCs with much more detail, many in the Middle-Earth need replacements making. And please can we get NPCs blinking and make them more “alive”
  2. Updated Outfit Textures
    My other MMO has this issue too. Older craftable gear and some cosmetics have low-res textures, which makes them blurry on a modern system. It would help to have these updated when landscape ones are also improved.
  3. New Hairstyles
    You can change your character’s hairstyle as often as you like using a Barber. But, unless I’ve missed something, there have been no new hairstyles for pre-existing races for a long time. Newer races do – such as High Elves and Stout-Axe Dwarves. It would be great to port some of these into the original races.
  1. Don’t Let It Rain All Day!
    Currently, whatever weather you have at the start of the “day”, you’re stuck with for the entirety of that day. LOTRO’s day/night cycles are longer than FFXIV – and I prefer them longer. But it is quite tiring adventuring through rain or thunder for 2-3 hours. Shared weather conditions would help too.
  2. Font Customisability
    While the quest text size has been scalable for some time, we cannot change the font rendering it (Garamond?). I find times-like fonts tiring to read, so others must too. Bonus points for saving the adjusted text size.
  3. Instance Finder → Group Finder
    Occasionally I spot in chat someone asking why Instance Finder isn’t helping them form a group. And, honestly, I think it should. Yes, players can and do use the (LFF) channel, but Instance finder would be both smoother and help newer players who want to do quests and instances with other people.
  1. Character Loading Screens
    When you “Enter Middle-Earth”, you are presented with one of a random selection of loading screens. They may promote new content, current sales, or simply a feature of the game. But they are stretched. The original JPG files are 2:1 ratio, which can make even sharp original files look poor and unpolished.

    The client startup screens always look great, and I think the loading screens need to match that.

TL;DR Is LOTRO Worth Playing in 2023? Yes, definitely!

The Lord of the Rings Online offers an immersive, feature-rich and well-written experience in Middle-Earth. You can play your way and still progress – right from your preferred combat style to whether you want to chill out or challenge yourself. It is an accessible MMO and really requires no prior knowledge of LOTR lore to jump in and start questing.

With SSG on an almost-constant stream of producing new content to appeal to new and veteran gamers alike, you can choose to level whichever way you want to. While I’ve highlighted a few areas for improvement, none of those have prevented me from enjoying a gaming session. So, is LOTRO worth playing in 2023? For me, it’s a big yes. Why not give it a goExternal Link (Opens in New Window/Tab) for a few weeks and see how you get on?

About the Author

Fibro Jedi
Fibro Jedi

I have been playing MMOs for about ten years and began writing guides to The Lord of the Rings Online in 2017. I've only been creating content about Final Fantasy XIV since 2022, but I am glad for the mix. My current games include LOTRO, FFXIV and the occasional Palia session too.

LOTRO Posts | FFXIV Posts | Please support me on Ko-Fi Donate Coffee | Author Page

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