Middle-earth MMORPG The Lord of the Rings Online has received a surge in popularity after its latest update made a huge swathe of premium content free to play. It’s taken the game’s peak concurrent player count on Steam to the highest it’s been in nearly a decade.
The online Lord of the Rings RPG attracted 3,760 concurrent players on April 21, according to Steamdb – as spotted by PCGamesN. That might not sound like a lot, but it’s the highest concurrent player count the game has reached on Steam since it hit 3,965 nearly 10 years ago on June 11, 2012.
As PCGamesN points out, many players will be accessing The Lord of the Rings Online through its native launcher rather than Steam, so we can expect its full player count to be even higher than the Steam figures show.
It’s doubly impressive when you consider The Lord of the Rings Online has just celebrated its 15th anniversary. For a multiplayer game to retain a functional player count after so long is no mean feat, but for its community to be so invested that they return so quickly in response to an update is even more unusual.
Players have come back to the game to take advantage of its most recent patch – Yondershire. It not only adds a new region for premium subscribers to explore but makes all content released up to and including the 2013 Helm’s Deep expansion entirely free to play.
That spans six years’ worth of content, including the Shadows of Angmar, Mines of Moria, Siege of Mirkwood, Rise of Isengard, and Riders of Rohan packs. Together, they introduce several new areas and quests to play through, add the Rune-Keeper, Warden, and Beorning classes, and let you play as a High-elf.
While The Lord of the Rings Online already uses a free-to-play model for some of its content, the majority of the game is locked behind paid DLC. This update massively expands how much the game you can access without paying a penny. It also lets you level up your character to level 95, greatly expanding the longevity of the free content.
VIP members – those who pay a monthly subscription to access bonus content – will additionally receive access to the Mordor and Minas Morgul expansions. But even without that membership, you’ll still have plenty of hours to play through.