The Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) Expansions Ranked From Best to Worst
The Lord of the Rings Online aka LOTRO is a classic MMORPG based on Tolkien’s trilogy. The game follows the books closely rather than PJ’s movies, which is great for fans of the lore. Now in its 11th year, LOTRO has seen numerous expansion releases. Each for their time added new content and features that enhanced the game. Other times, some tweaks were not well received by players. This resulted in players leaving for greener pastures or taking breaks. And since the Mordor expansion is on sale right now for 30% off, we’re ranking all LOTRO expansions.
1. Mines of Moria
The Good: Size, Instances, Atmosphere, LI System, Revamped
The Bad: LI System, Lighting, Gets old after taking 6+ characters through
Thoughts: MoM is my favorite expansion in Lotro. Taking my main character through Moria the first time was an awe-inspiring experience, filled with exploration, great questing stories, a creeping sense of claustrophobia, dread and finally freedom at the end. For the sheer scale and atmosphere of Moria, it is a must try. I say this to new player kinnies who often say they weren’t looking forward to hitting Moria: You haven’t really experienced Lotro unless you’ve survived the long dark of Khazad-Dum.
The expansion has been revamped twice, making the Moria experience more player friendly, with the addition of more stable travel routes and a revised quest hub crawl that is more cohesive. MoM introduces you to the Legendary Item system, which grants players the ability to wield legendary weapons. This marked the beginning of weapon optimization which can either be good or confusingly bad – a system that continues to draw heated debate until today. The real gem in this expansion is the instances that come with MoM. They are well designed, well paced, story driven and offers hours of fun, not to mention the gazillion deeds and meta deed.
2. Rise of Isengard
The Good: Instance cluster, ToO, Draigoch, Quest reward cosmetics
The Bad: Stunland
Thoughts: Good old Stunland. I mean Dunland. Starting with the bad, this expansion will stun you into oblivion. Every mob out there – from Dunlendings, Boars and Cows appear to have a stun skill – and my gosh it’s annoying as Elrond. Minor gripe aside, the story in RoI picks up right from the get go. Everyone’s favorite masochist band of Dunedein Rangers progresses with you in RoI, and the story line grips you and will emotionally effect you on your first time through the expansion. For plus points, RoI has many. It boasts the second best instance cluster in my book. The Tower of Orthanc raid is my favorite, and is a benchmark T2 raid for most raiders.
3. Riders of Rohan
The Good: Mounted combat, Instance cluster, Size, Atmosphere, Hytbold, Soundtrack
The Bad: Mounted combat
Thoughts: The biggest selling point for this expansion was mounted combat. The system excited players, and depending on your class, you either enjoyed it or disliked it. Mounted enemies and Warbands are ton of fun in groups, but in today’s Lotro, good luck with that when going through RoR. The downfall of the system is the dev’s reluctance to think outside of the box with mounted combat: there is so much potential, but sticking to Warbands seems like all they want to do.
RoR is huge, and riding through the plains atop your Warsteed is a great feeling. Quests are well written, and when you get to Hytbold, I think you’ll enjoy it. Lotro’s phasing system does wonders here, as you get to rebuild the town of Hytbold and watch it visually transform by completing daily quests. Upon completion, you are made Thane of Hytbold – a neat title reward plus access to armor vendors that allows you to barter armor (level 85 teals which can last you all the way to 95) not only for your main, but also for your alts on the same server. And now, it only takes 1 token of Hytbold to complete rebuilding quests, so its a fast process
4. Siege of Mirkwood
The Good: Epic book, Atmosphere, Dol Guldur instances
The Bad: Size
Thoughts: Dark and gloomy, I liked how Southern Mirkwood was portrayed in Lotro. Besides the Epic Story that flows through this expansion and how it ties in to Skirmishes however, nothing else stands out for me. Too many kill bats and spider quests break immersion, and the setting really deserved a darker story line for its quests. Not the greatest expansion out there, but for $2.50, I’d still buy it for the instances. Dol Guldur looks great.
The Good: Size, Story, Challenge
The Bad: Obnoxious grinds, Price
Thoughts: Mordor was supposed to be the game changer for LOTRO. For one, it’s the first expansion in over 4 years for the game. And secondly, from a narrative point of view, this was the climax. The expansion didn’t disappoint in that regard, tying up the One Ring story that the MMO launched with. It’s huge in size, and offers a ton of good gameplay for story and gear progression. What’s the one thing I’m most critical about in the Mordor expansion? It’s the quest designs. It’s so painfully bad that it hurts. Shame, because the story payoff is good, but it hurts that you have to slog through petty fetch/kill quest chains in large areas densely populated with hard mobs in order to reap the rewards. To make matters worst, you know they’re stalling you. Long travel rides and plenty of back and forth quests will suck the life and motivation out of you sometimes. The designs themselves are just uninspiring. The price at launch didn’t help either, with the pre-orders costing a lot more than previous expansions did.
6. Helms Deep
The Good: Size, Story
The Bad: Epic Battles, Epic Story fiasco, class trait trees
Thoughts: I’m going to be bitter and say that HD made me quit the game for a good few months. With HD came the new Epic Battle system. They are sort of like skirmishes, but you don’t fight in them, instead you slow hordes of Orcs by deploying and utilizing balistas, catapults and barricades. I got nothing good to say about it. Except perhaps, that if you stick to it and grind your Epic Battle trait points, you’ll be a Rank 6 Engineer in no time and you’ll be able to get decent medals for good rewards. The epic story is tied to the Big Battles, which meant that they are not free. You had to buy the expansion to play through the HD epic story. Not sure if this has been changed, but at the time, you could understand the outrage.
And then we had the class overhauls. For me, it’s a case of if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. They went ahead with it anyway. So regardless of wether you purchased the expansion or not, class changes have been implemented.Now we have trait trees, class trait points and the lot. Cookie cutter builds and color prejudice (“Blue Cappy only/”You’re not in red? Noob!”). You get the point. Anyway, the setting and atmosphere of Rohan at war is great in this expansion.