Josh Strife Hayes first came to my attention for his videos about New World, which was then going through the many problems… and poorly considered fixes… that seemed to plague its opening wave of popularity. In particular, his What Went Wrong? video, which chronicled the timeline of the game and the problems and responses was a real eye opener.
It was enough to get me to click “subscribe” and keep an eye on his other videos.
Among his videos is a long running series called Worst MMO Ever, where he attempts to play a wide range of titles allegedly in search of the titular worst of the genre. I have watched a few of the entries in that series, and they are generally pretty fair and charitable, as opposed to being a quest to tear down every title he plays.
Still, I was a bit nervous when I saw Lord of the Rings Online come up as the focus of a recent video in the series. Something to spoil the 15th anniversary?
This was because my own relationship with the game is somewhat mixed. There is a lot in LOTRO to like and even love. There is a reason I still care about the game despite having spent 99% of my play time in the base game and Moria, and I feel keenly the failings of the game despite my investment… or because of it, take your pick.
So it was with a bit of trepidation that I went into watching the video.
Here’s the thing… I really liked it.
He has a very upbeat approach to titles and he took a lot of time to recognize, up front, how much charm the game has and how good some of its early player experiences are and how the story isn’t strictly in the mold of the genre. There were aspects of the early game he mentioned that I had forgotten about.
I mean, sure, it does dig into some of the issues… things like the responsiveness of the UI… but people have been harping on that since 2007.
And I felt for him and how lost he was when he used the free level boost he got. It is definitely not something for new players without high level friends around to help guide them. My one level boost, back when it sent you into Rohan, was pretty much a disaster, a character dead ended and never to be played again.
But it was still a good look at the early game and a lot of the pluses that it has going for it overall. It made me want to go back and roll up a new character and enjoy the early game.
In the end, clearly not the worst MMO ever.