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What really killed Lotro for me was its focus on solo gameplay rather than group (or rather "Fellowship") based questing. To me it is the ultimate immersion breaking element to the game, taking themes of unity and topics like Utilitarianism and dumbing them down to a "Hero's Journey" rather than the journey of a people and civilization.
The story felt real and unique, even with the instanced questing, but it was the fact that we were always doing these tasks and quest's solo, with only rare exception, further disconnecting us and dividing us from the gravity that was present in the books and film series that, "This world could be destroyed at literally any moment."
To me if the game had been more dangerous, more EQ like in its execution, and focused on intelligently and subtly figuring out the game's story through events in the world, events that held real weight...and required a real "Fellowship" of adventurers to conquer them and their many trials. The game might have become a staple of the genre. As it stands the game was made to appeal to a market, rather than stay true to its core IP.
I get upset with games like ESO and LOTRO, because they both present these worlds capable of being transformed into massive online revisions with players interacting in essentially a digital fan fiction...and more often then not they focus on how easily they can mold the IP into familiar gameplay, rather than making the IP into a unique experiance.
The game honestly could have benefited from more sandbox elements, the only one that stuck around from the pre-development "MEO days" was Bards playing instruments, hardly a worthy pick out of all the other possible elements to keep. I mean hell, they could have at least kept the Dark and Light character system, anyone remember that?
J-Hun Lookin to Creep Yall!