#LOTRO: £10, 7 useless soldiers & 1 unsubscription…

You all know I’ve been unhappy with all the non-fun stuff in LOTRO of late, right? From the dumb grind of gathering pages for books in a fashion that makes no sense, through the headache-inducing confusion of Legendary (ha!) Items to the just plain stupid amount of travelling about at the end of Volume 1 of the Epic Story, LOTRO has become, for me at least, a meal of steak where for every one bite of delicious, tasty prime rump I have to chew my way through five mouthfuls of sawdust first.

I still enjoy it, but in the space of a two months I’ve gone from rampant lover to going through the motions partner and frankly I don’t want that. I don’t want my game time to be mostly repetitive grind (although don’t mistake repetition for grind – look at Left 4 Dead 2 which masters repetition wonderfully) and therefore I find my eye wandering, although not too far just yet because of one simple factor: I have paid for a year of LOTRO and I don’t really want to waste my money by not playing it. Of course this strikes me, as no doubt it does you too, as not the best of reasons to stick with a game but I’ll let it slide for now as I have a bigger fish to fry as you’ll see.

Back when Turbine migrated our EU based servers into their NA based ones (June 2011) they offered the subscription deal of £99 for 12 months, effectively giving 2 months free over the per-month price. I snapped it up as before then I’d been paying more than the monthly fee in micro transactions in the store therefore it seemed a sensible move. But lately I’ve been wondering if I should bother renewing the subscription and instead drop back down to free instead and here are my reasons why:

  1. Guild Wars 2 is coming. I simply think I will be playing this more than LOTRO therefore why pay money for a game I won’t get the benefit from?
  2. The grindy nature of LOTRO has finally got to me. I completed Volume 1 (the story of which I loved!) not with a feeling of “Wow! Give me Vol 2 now!” but rather more of “Thank fuck that is over – at least I have one character who has completed it and I never want to have to do that again!”, and that doesn’t strike me as good.
  3. All the new content coming to LOTRO is bringing no benefits to me what so ever – it’s all end-game stuff, level 65-75 content and it will be months and months before I get there. Hell, even then so what? It’s just more of the same – kill 300 boars, 400 trees, 1,000 soldiers of X, Y or Z denomination. The upcoming Great River and Rohan content will give nothing to me whatsoever.

Yet even with all that I was still contemplating renewing as I love Middle Earth so much and really get a thrill from being a part of it. But then Turbine went and did two things that have pretty much made up my mind for me. They have asked me to pay for things I don’t believe I should be paying for.

Now I’m not a Store hater. Turbine have to make money, they have to satisfy their shareholders and pay their staff as well as invest in developing the game further, but when they ask me to cough up *more* money than my monthly subs for features that should be just a free part of the game, well that’s the point I cancel my sub and move to another game. So, given I *don’t* hate the Store and I *do* love the game, what are these things Turbine are asking my to pony up for? What could possibly be so offensive as to make we want to drop back to a free player? Well, let me tell you:

The first is the ‘skirmish soldier coming into the game’ feature, called by Turbine the Landscape Soldier. Turbine have teased us all with the promise that soon we’d be able to take our skirmish soldier anywhere with us and I was genuinely excited by that because I mainly solo-play and some extra help, even LOTRO’s not-very-good AI-help, is always welcome. Except now it appears that this will not be an awesome ‘free’ feature that a rival game like SWTOR just has built in, instead it will be a feature I will have to pay to use. I will have to buy tokens from the Store (or via skirmish tokens, but don’t get me started on my ‘tyranny of skirmish barter items forcing you to stop play and skirmish for days on end instead’ rant) to allow this soldier to help me, and even then only for an hour at a time. Jesus. Where do I start? What if I don’t want to, or suddenly can’t play for an hour? That will be a token only partly used and these things cost real money! A quid a pop by the look of it over on Contains Moderate Peril (and excellent site, btw)! So essentially Turbine are offering this feature to the wealthy (or careless) and the rest of us can go swing for all they care. Nice.

But that pales into comparison next to the barter wallet. Oh god, if Turbine ever do this I will be disgusted with them (I say *if* as it is currently on their test server and looks set to be released any day now but as things stand it hasn’t gone live yet). Essentially Turbine are offering an upgrade to the current in-game wallet that will allow it to take all the various bartering currencies out of valuable inventory space and into this one-stop interface. Nothing wrong with that, I hear you say, especially as this is an improved (i.e. collects all of the currencies rather than just some of them) version of a feature they added to the game a while back and I would agree with you were it for one teensy tiny little ickle wickle point. They want to charge me £10 for it. Ten fucking quid. TEN! Ten quid to fix to an in-game feature they added in a half-arsed/broken way in the first place. This is akin to some dodgy builder badly installing a new window for you and then asking you to pay him to put it right and that, my friends, stinks to high heaven.

So fuck that! That’s done it for me. No one tries to fleece me so blatantly. Thank you Turbine for making up my mind. Come June I shall save myself a full £100 (ha! and the bloody rest! I hope the missus never finds out just how much I spent on this game) by not re-subscribing to your game. Oh I’ll still play, but I’ll stick to the epic storyline & exploring as that’s what I love – all the grinding you make me do, all the barriers you place in the way of me having fun just so you can slow me down enough to need the cash services of your shop, well I’ll say goodbye – and good riddance – to those. Instead I’ll spend my money elsewhere. Guild Wars 2 I guess, maybe Star Trek online. Anywhere but with a company that thinks so little of its customers to try and pull such a low-down, sneaky, cheating crappy stunt as selling them a fix to its own nalls up.



  1. you know… I actually thought I’d go and post on the forums about the soldiers / wallet deal as I thought it was so shit… I got a bit put off by all the fanbois who are all for turbine fleecing us… I’m not now – I shall go and post! for all the good it will do 😛

    yeah we’re also wondering whether or not to re-sub at this point (we also took advantage of that deal)… in our case, we haven’t really got enough to do at 75 especially as we’re in a quiet kin… we shall see. (we actually may be heading into eq1 norrath when it goes f2p – shock horror!)

  2. While I agree with you on the Wallet thing(they should at least reduce the price if they are not going to make it free), I have to make a few comments on the Soldier. From the people I have talked to who have tested it in bullroarer, the soldier token has a one hour timer yes, but it only ticks down while in use, so when you need your soldier you summon them, beat the baddie, and then dismiss them, then assuming the battle took you 5 min you now have 55 min left on the soldier that does not tick down any more until you resummon him. Also, part of the reason for making it this way(and making it so expensive both in the store and from skirm barter) was to keep people from using it.

    I agree they did a horrendous job of marketing the thing, but given how many people I saw go to the forums and wine when they first announced it I understand why they did it that way. Some of the complaints I saw there were:
    That it is another grind(ie. you have to skirm to level up your soldier and give them skills and there are some people in game who do not skirm at all because of its grindy nature)
    It would cause more lag(some peoples comps can barely handle the game when several things come on screen so the increased population would make it worse)
    It would force people to have pets(if they made it so everyone had them all the time either the game would become way to easy in general for everyone or Turbine would have to scale all content to assuming it is at least you plus 1 soldier at all times and if they make it required then it is not an option and I know some people who have a disdain for pets, some even refuse to play games like SWTOR because it has a pet system).

    The way it is now is pretty lame for many people, but the idea is, if you run into a quest that you cannot beat and for any reason you cannot get a fellowship together to do it, you can run to the skirm camp and spend some of your hard earned marks/medallions(or TP) to get some and if budgeted right and only used when absolutely needed it could last you quite some time. Is it perfect:No, could there have been a better way of doing it:Probably, are there just as many people happy about it as there are ticked about it: based on forum reactions and fighting right now, it seems so.

    TLDR: I agree the wallet price stinks, but there are some decent reasons why the Soldier was done the way it was(besides Turbines greed).

    1. Hi Tared,

      First off thanks for such an informed and measured comment which adds a lot more information to my post which was based on 2nd & 3rd hand information (albeit from good sources),

      Whilst I take you points & clarifications on the landscape soldier, I still can not see a point where I would pay a quid to have my skirmish soldier pop up and help, even if the counter pauses in between uses. I still think the fact we will have to pay is just terrible (especially given the AI for these guys isn’t exactly good – they are horrible agro fiends, that or they sometimes just freeze and do bugger all). Would I use the LS even with the hour limit and crappy AI if they didn’t charge? Absolutely. Would I use them all the time every time I played? Nope, just the same way I don’y just pop food or battle scrolls all the time, what would be the point? So I think it is disingenuous of Turbine to claim overload as a valid reason, even if some folks have systems that can barely cope. Hell, on that point I think it unfair that decisions such as this take this user system power into account – bottom line is if a minority are under-powered the majority should not suffer. If the minority is significant in terms of numbers and/or income then it behoves Turbine to create a better client for them.

      Now on the wallet I disagree that even a price drop would be acceptable. This is a game feature upgrade, not new content. Turbine are just being greedy and I despise that. Still, it doesn’t matter, I’ve made my decision now. I’m going to look at Star Trek today and there is the glittering promise of Guild Wars 2 on the horizon. LOTRO is being relegated now, not removed, just relegated.

  3. The wallet did it for me, too.

    I loved LOTRO’s pay-as-you-go model. I haven’t subscribed since it went F2P, but I have bought the expansions, almost of of the quest packs, some skirmishes, some crafting guilds, some riding skill – they’ve done well out of my piecemeal purchases.

    But releasing a broken half-arsed feature and then charging ten bucks to fix it? That’s it, I’m done, they’ve seen the inside of my “premium wallet” for the last time.

    1. Hi Carson – I understand you completely. I sit here with a large chunk of TPs in my account, some from my 500 stipend but the vast majority from buying the largest double point bundles when they appear. I am someone who likes the F2P model but is also willing to drop real cash to turbine in the form of a monthly sub and frequent point purchases and store transactions, yet when they so blatantly try to milk me for my money… well that’s me done too. They will have no more subs from me, no more TP purchases and once I am a freebie player again the TPs I have now will be all I shall ever spend with them.

      I don’t have any feelings of betrayal as I’ve seen other people claim those upset by this move are shouting about, rather I am disappointed that Turbine think so little of us to try and run a crippleware scam.

  4. I don’t like the solider functionality either, but it’s largely just because it was never explained well. It went from being a neat idea to just being a novelty that most of us will likely never try. Maybe that’s part of the point — a lot of people instantly complained that this would make content too easy or lessen the need for groups, but more importantly the game was never designed for this.

    So now it’s just something I don’t even see myself using. But considering nothing is being designed around it, do I even care that much? Not really.

    I will note that the hour use of the token only decreases when you’re using it. It’s not going to count down if you’re logged off or anything.

    1. Hi Tony, yep I have read much more about the landscape soldier now and I doubt I’ll ever use it, which is a shame on several level, not least because it must have taken some developer resources to implement it. Ah well, maybe one day Turbine will do something awesome other than create a Middle Earth for us to explore.

  5. I haven’t been playing as long as most (highest level is only L68) but in the 18 months I’ve played the Wallet upgrade is the one thing that has really made me think about leaving. I agree completely that it should be a natural upgrade to the game (it’s half done already).

    The landscape soldier I view as a help-me item, like scrolls, food, hope tokens, other Store upgrades. I do view Lotro as getting more simplistic (clicky items to get faction even though you’ve never been to the place /rant) and this is just disappointing.

    I’m interested to see mounted combat and another new area, so I’m not gone yet, but…..

    1. I’m not leaving either – I still love the world so much but I’m taking a break (actually playing some Left 4 Dead 2 which I simply love) before I pre-purchase Guild Wars 2 in April. I will be back, I’m not sure when, but I’m going down to free player status (well, premium I guess as I have bought items from the store). I have all the quest and areas packs up to and including Isengard so I think I’ll be kept busy for quite sometime and as long as Turbine keep the epic Story free I doubt I’ll buy another pack from them again. Like I say, the fact they are willing to try and pull the crippleware trick shows how much regard they hold their customer base in.

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