Amazon Game Studios cancelled its long-awaited Lord of the Rings MMORPG over the weekend and for a hot second there, I was really bummed about it. But then I remembered that we’ve already got an incredible Tolkein MMORPG – Lord of the Rings Online (LotRO) – and it deserves more respect.
The now-axed project was planned to be a free-to-play role-playing game for both PC and console and was to be set “at a time long before the events of The Lord of the Rings, exploring lands, people and creatures never seen before by fans of the Tolkien universe.”
The game was a collaborative effort between Amazon Game Studio and Athlon Games (owned by Leyou). However, it appears Leyou’s recent acquisition by Tencent Holdings might’ve thrown a spanner in the works, with Amazon telling The Verge that it was “unable to secure terms to proceed with this title at this time.”
Any cancelled game is a bit disappointing, especially for fans of such an iconic franchise. But the silver lining of this otherwise grey cloud is that the whole situation has reminded me of my introduction to MMORPGs — LotRO.
LotRO was first launched back in April 2007, a much simpler time for all of us. But almost 14 years to the date of release, it’s still being updated and still has a pretty significant fanbase.
Sure, it may not ever be on par with the likes of World of Warcraft or The Elder Scrolls Online, but I still firmly believe that LotRO manages to hold its own.
Why? Because like Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, you’re going on an adventure.
The game is the perfect amalgamation of something so familiar (the LOTR franchise that we all know and love) with something so unknown (the open world for you to explore).
Playing LotRO as a child was like getting to be in the movies for yourself. Instead of having your experience limited by the 9 hours and 3 minutes of the films Peter Jackson gave us, you were only limited by your imagination.
I imagine LotRO is what inspired other film/book-based RPGs like the highly-anticipated Wizarding World role-playing game due to be released in 2022. And honestly, I don’t blame them because the game still slaps.
Like any good MMO, LotRO is super flexible and can be played however you feel like it. Whether you’re down for a casual questing/levelling experience, or you’re more focussed on endgame content, or maybe you just want to run around and live your role-playing dreams, there’s a community for you.
And it’s just so immersive. Maybe it’s because LOTR is so familiar, but it truly just hits different from other role-playing games.
Perhaps my opinion is shrouded in nostalgia because LotRO was my first experience with an MMO before World of Warcraft won my heart, but I really think this game is worth a revisit.
I’m doubtful that it’ll be your new favourite MMO, but if the cancellation of the Amazon Game Studios project left you feeling a little bummed, I highly recommend binge-playing LotRO over a weekend. Oh, and did I mention it’s free? Yes, a quality MMO that doesn’t require an expensive monthly subscription.
You can download Lord of the Rings Online here. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going on an adventure.