The Lord of the Rings Online 5th Anniversary Retrospective

The folks at From the DPad have cooked up a retrospective of The Lord of the Rings Online for the game's 5th anniversary, and compared the state of the title today to how it played at launch. They seem to be quite pleased with its current incarnation:
It's amazing how much an MMO can evolve in just a few years' time. When I put away MoM, they had just introduced Legendary Weapons and expanded the zones to include Lothlorien. Since that time Mirkwood, and now the Rise of Isengard have been added. Both are massive zones full of quests and adventure.

Besides geography, the game has undergone a complete transformation. There are now two versions of the client you can play: standard and high-res. This allows the game to compete with high-end games like Skyrim, Dragon Age, and some other more graphically advanced MMO's (WoW isn't even on this list).

Turbine has revamped almost all aspects of game play from questing to crafting, from travel to the economy. And, best of all for gamers on a budget, the game is completely free to play. There is an advantage to being a VIP (subscribed member) though; you have access to all quest lines and game content. Being a free subscriber means you can play pretty much to max level, but if you want all the perks, you have to buy them individually through the L0TRO store or spend $10 a month. Not a huge price to pay for one of the most graphically stunning MMO's out there.

One more thing.


Horses, horses, and more horses. (Remember Rohan from the book/movie?)

Not just any horses, however; but the most fabulous graphical models I've ever seen in a game. They don't have the bulky, thick-legged, oddly shaped characteristics you find in most other games. The body is anatomically correct from the nostrils, to rippling muscles, down to a slender fetlock and hoof. Perhaps the only downfall is that their manes and tails are slightly too rigid.

Their movement is beautifully choreographed, from jumping like a steeplechaser, to the way they bow as you dismount. Strafing on the horse makes you look like you really know how to ride. You can even purchase emotes to use with your horse: a bow, a rear, and a kick.