I received an invitation from Codemasters to try Lotro again for a week. I made a new character, an Elven Hunter, and decided to see what the game is offering now.
The intro and early quests are, as they always were, pretty mind-blowing. I took my time and read through the quests to follow the story. The beginning of the Elven area starts 200 years before the time of the main game with the destruction of an Elven reliquary by goblins and renegade Dwarves. It's beautifully done and demonstrates the Unique Selling Point of Lotro - that it takes its lore so seriously.
I got as far as level 12 and the recurrent theme of ancient splendor and present decline is very nicely presented. The Hunter character felt powerful, I managed to avoid dying which gives you a special title - a clever form of limited permadeath.
Experience seems a lot quicker than before which makes that title a lot easier to get than in the old days, but still an interesting mark of distinction for us old-school permadeath fans.
I enjoyed it. Lord of the Rings is an interesting place to visit. I suspect it might be more enjoyable soloing than grouping. I'm looking forward to having it on my hard drive when it goes free to play and will dive in for a bit of soloing and story every now and then. I'll probably throw some money in but I don't think it will take over as my main game.