The two biggest features I missed - having riding and mounts available to me as soon as I finish the intro quests on a new character (around level 5-6), and shared storage space in the vault (but I found a way to alleviate that).
Starting new characters on a new account, the tutorial mode was automatically turned on. While I didn't need to be told how to move or loot, there is a little bit of interesting lore at the start that gets missed when you skip the tutorial - for example, seeing how and why Amdir gets stabbed with the Nazgûl blade in the starting area for Men. It's been a while since I'd played through the tutorials so it was good to revisit them. I'll have to make a new hobbit and dwarf soon to see their tutorial lore!
Shared storage space is the best thing since sliced bread and I don't know how I survived without it in other MMOs. Finding out that free players don't get any shared storage space was a horrible shock and became my number one goal to overcome. 995 TP for the first tier of Shared Storage seems like a lot for a new player, but there is another way. By level 15 I had enough in-game money to buy a small house which comes with 30 shared storage slots. It's not as convenient as the vault in most towns, but it'll do.
|Small Bree-land House|
The house is quite empty at the moment, but I could work on the Bingo Boffin quest saga to get some decorations (and pets).
I really missed having a horse - I was almost level 20 before I had enough turbine points and money to buy the Riding Skill (normally 95 TP from the LOTRO Store) and standard mount (500 silver - additional standard mounts are 200 silver each). I was so happy to finally get her - I've renamed the horse Preshus (since the name Precious is not allowed) and we shall be inseparable as we journey through Middle Earth, like Floid and Dewitt.
My next goal is saving up the TP for North Downs. I still have a lot of free content available in Bree-land, the Shire, Ered Luin and the Lone-lands though, so no rush. Getting some decent-looking outfits is also a high priority, but the Spring Festival is coming up soon so I can get some nice gear there for free by participating in the activities.
Having tried a number of other free-to-play MMOs where there are paywalls blocking progress and/or basic features, or frequent pop-up advertisements encouraging you to buy things from the in-game store, LOTRO is pretty good in comparison. It's not that difficult to earn TP just by playing the game, so even though many features are locked to free players, it's only temporary if you have patience.