Middle-Earth is a much busier place since Lord of the Rings Online went free-to-play. Bree is packed with adventurers running between contacts and crowding around traders. Elves ride giant goats through the cobbled streets. A hobbit stands on a wall, playing the Legend of Zelda theme on a lute. To the east, the killing fields are full of adventurers blasting bats and boars back to the Second Age.

There’s a good reason for this renewed popularity. Free-to-play games are never completely free, but in LotRO there’s a huge amount of content to enjoy before you’re forced to lay down any cash.

It remains a polished but traditional MMO. Fetch quests and monster-slaying tasks are interspersed with choreographed story missions. The focus is on capturing the essence and scale of the Lord of the Rings universe, but keeping you trotting between locations from the films. You’ll even fight alongside Gimli and chums in the Epic Quests, which pit you against the Witch King as he attempts to raise an army in the northern regions of Angmar.