As the granddaddy of fantasy settings, Middle-earth has a storied pedigree and a massive, rabid fan base that must be very intimidating for developers. It’s quite an accomplishment then when a game like Lord of the Rings Online manages to encapsulate that setting in a way that appeals to the most hardcore diehards while also being slick and accessible enough to lure in newcomers. LOTRO has been continually expanded on and updated throughout its existence, including a transition to a free-to-play model.
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On top of genre standards like crafting and questing, players are able to purchase and decorate homes in one of four districts, all of which provide easy access to banking, healers, bards, and other amenities. LOTRO also includes unique modes like Player vs. Monster Player, which allows gamers to step into the shoes of an orc, warg, or other servant of Sauron. LOTROs diversity of gameplay and high level of polish show its roots as a premium MMO, and it continues to pile on fun new content. The game is currently transitioning from its original developer Turbine to its new home at Standing Stone Games, but the new team promises an uninterrupted experience and a re-commitment to further development.