Making LOTRO Playable for Me in 2023

If you’ve been a regular reader for a while you may have seen me moaning about how LOTRO looks and plays on my widescreen monitor.  It is not that I want to complain about the game, it is that I want to play it now and then and I find the wide-screen experience keeps it from being enjoyable.  3440×1440 was not a thing back in 2007, but it is very much so now.

It irks me that Turbine, then Standing Stone, have known and acknowledged this since 2016 and have done very little to address the issue.  At some point this is going to become an existential issue for the title.  At some point new players are going to be put off by a game where the UI really looks bad above 1920×1080.

And yes, if it doesn’t bother you I am happy for you.  I always seem to find somebody who believes things are perfect the way they are right now.   But I find the UI where you have to try and scale every bit by itself and some bits look awful scaled while others fail to persist their scaling between sessions to be such an annoyance that it is effectively a barrier to me enjoying myself when playing.

Anyway, enough of that.  This post is about finding a way past that.  I do want to play and am going to experiment with some potential third party solutions that Scott Jennings posted to Twitter last week.

The second item he posted was OneLauncher, which is an improved unified launcher for LOTRO and DDO.  If there is something I have complained about for almost as long as the UI (and I was complaining about some poor UI design choices back in beta) it is the launcher.

The launcher isn’t make or break for me.  I am old and have developed some level of patience over the years, but it is still a rough spot in the game where you have to set aside 15 to 45 minutes for the game to patch after a big update because the launcher goes through and checks and downloads each file one by one.

OneLauncher fixes that and just works.

OneLauncher set for LOTRO

The only thing that annoys me about it is that SSG hasn’t done this themselves.  Seriously, if the community can build a better launcher… shit, if the community can build something that replaces your launcher… I have a lot of questions.  But it works… you just have to point it at your install directory… so we’ll let that stand.

The other, and more important of the two items is a utility on Steam titled Lossless Scaling.

Lossless Scaling

This utility uses video card magic, to use the technical term, to try and scale up your game to a full screen usable.  It basically takes a smaller version of the game and scales it up bigger on your screen.  This, among other things, means that dealing with scaling up the fiddly UI of LOTRO is all done in one fell swoop.

How do you make this work with LOTRO?

Bring the game up, go into the options, and put it in windowed mode if it is not already.

Then you need to pick the windowed resolution you want to work with.  Lossless Scaling will take that resolution and scale it up to full screen, so the smaller the resolution you pick in windowed mode, the bigger everything will be when you kick in the scaling.

The catch here is that things look best when you find a resolution preset in LOTRO that matches the aspect ratio of your monitor, only smaller.  Otherwise things will end up being stretched out, like SD TV on an HD screen.  Since we have pretty much established that I am fussy about such things, that was a baseline requirement.

And it was a bit of a trick because 3440×1440 is a 21:9 aspect ratio and there were not a lot of options that matched that.  Fortunately there was at least one on the list.

LOTRO Resolution Options

As it turns out 2560×1080 is on the list, which is 21:9 and small enough to make scaling up worthwhile.

You then get Lossless Scaling launched and set it up for scaling up.

My settings

There isn’t a lot going on there.  I have an NVidia card, so I chose that for my scaling type.  There is also an option for AMD.  I notched the sharpness up one position, preferring a bit more jagginess over blurriness, and otherwise left things alone.

Then you put LOTRO in the foreground, hit the key combo to invoke the scaling (control-alt-s by default) and bang, there was the game in full screen with everything scaled up.

My initial reaction was… this works pretty well.  But that was just looking at a character and not going out in the field to actually play.   And being able to play reliably is the real test.

So, as is the norm for any return to LOTRO for me, I rolled up a fresh character.  As I wanted to do something new I continued to follow Scott’s advice and rolled up a hobbit brawler on Landroval.

I had to buy the brawler class, which was 1,000 LOTRO points, but as a lifetime subscriber who has been getting 500 points a month since then went free to play back in late 2010, I wasn’t too worried about the price.  The brawler showed up as a class in October of 2021, so is both new to me and somewhat new to the game.

So I have a punching hobbit.  Now to get out in the world and see how far I can take him… and what has changed with the game since I last played.

These guys are still hanging around the Mad Badger in Archet

My initial reaction has been pretty favorable.  My main problem has been that the cursor disappears unexpectedly at times.  Also, if you’re on a Discord server with me you won’t see that I am playing LOTRO and Discord favors the Steam title, so it looks like I am spending time playing Lossless Scaling in the evenings.

It is lossless, so I never lose

Expect further posts both about how this solution works and my latest attempt to play through Middle-earth.  Past attempts have been thwarted in Mirkwood, a zone that has put me to sleep on previous runs.

10 thoughts on “Making LOTRO Playable for Me in 2023

  1. bhagpuss

    I was quite excited by the prospect of a LotRO launcher that actually works but sadly the OneLauncher doesn’t, or not for me. I installed it but it couldn’t find my LotRO instalation. I pointed to it manually and it told me I didn’t have an up-to-date client, which would seem to be the job I was asking the launcher to do but still….

    I opened the official launcher and updated that, then closed and and tried OneLauncher again. this time it just said “Error. Cannot patch”. The official launcher can patch at its usual glacial speed so I don’t know what the problem is. There’s supposed to be a “huge upgrade” version 2.0 coming so I guess I’ll wait for that.

    Did you think of trying the new(ish) Before The Shadow “expansion” for your new character, by the way? It has two new huge starter zones so it would be a different levelling experience, at least.


  2. Pendan

    Discord did not show that I was playing LotRO until I clicked on the “Keep launcher open” in the default installer. If you are able to run the default installer after starting up OneLauncher that might get discord to show others what you are playing.

    I have a 2k monitor so was not in as bad of a situation as your larger monitor. The biggest issue I has was the tiny dressing room. fixed that and added some other nice things. I had to disable the map changes as found in the FAQ info.


  3. flosch

    Iiiinteresting. I’ll definitely be interested to hear your experience about that. I have similar problems with LotRO, though with only a 4K screen.

    I also clicked on your screenshot to see what the quality was like but noticed it was scaled down, so it’s hard to say how well the scaling works. I’ll see what you have to say about it after a few hours.


  4. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Bhagpuss – I actually saw that error as well, so let the real launcher patch things up on the theory that maybe OneLauncher requires a patched baseline from which to start. But if it fails after this I will note it in an update.

    I had not even thought about the new content that was added… and nothing in the game pushed me in that direction. Alas.

    @Knifesedge – Thank you!

    @Pendan – Honestly, I think Discord reporting that I am playing Lossless Scaling is pretty funny.

    @Flosch – Yes, the screen shots should all be at the initial resolution I picked, 2560×1080, because that is all the game is displaying as far as it is concerned. It only fills the screen due to upscaling via the video card.

    I think I can use NVidia’s overlap app to take screen shots at the full resolution. Until then I will say it looks pretty good. Generally the flaws I see are things I would see in the game anyway… sometimes things render really low ress and take a bit to resolve as an example… that just seem more obvious because they are bigger on my screen.


  5. flosch

    Ah, that makes sense, of course! Since the game still runs at the lower resolution, Screenshots that come from the game will use that, and not the upscale one.


  6. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Bhagpuss – OneLauncher seems to consistently fail to patch. Looking through the guide to see if I have it setup wrong. I will say that at least it comes up faster than the LOTRO launcher.


  7. Lunshea

    Hi, the disappearing cursor in Lossless Scaling is fixed (at least) as soon as I have either an enemy, a npc or a interactable target, so that the cursor changes from the standard arrow to either a sword or something else. The problem sometimes reoccur when i Alt-Tab to other applications while ingame, but this fix always works.


  8. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Lunshea – That tracks with what I have seen. The problem is always getting that cursor to come back when I am in town and need to do some interaction.


  9. Lunshea

    Yes, anoying bug :) However, if you do Alt+Enter twice, the cursor should also reappear. Cheers!


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