It’s scary to go alone

9 Dec

Midnight. I’m hunched over in my computer chair, leveling my human champion in Lord of the Rings Online. The epic quest chain has directed me to the house of Tom Bombadil, and I couldn’t be more excited. One of the most memorable and enigmatic characters of the Lord of the Rings universe is in the game, and I’m going to meet him. I can’t wait.

Until I actually enter the Old Forest. It’s dark and filled with fog, and the zone map is a collection of twists and turns, dead ends, and false paths. The southern end of the forest is filled with giant spiders that drop down from the trees to attack you. Dark and menacing trees fill the beaten path. I fled up the road towards Tom Bombadil’s house, hoping to outrun the giant spiders.

I’m fairly certain I’m in the clear as I near the top of the path. The giant spiders are a distant memory, and the wolves only chase me for a short time. As soon as safety is so close I can almost taste it, a tree punted me about twenty feet into the air. The dark and menacing trees were alive, and as far as I could tell, they wanted to eat me. I began to feel my heart actually pound. That one punt had taken my health down significantly; would I even make it to Tom Bombadil’s house alive? I take another turn past Old Man Willow, and find myself in a dead end, with living elite trees coming at me from all sides. Is this the end?

I started playing Lord of the Rings online earlier this year with a group of friends. There are a lot of things I love about this game, from the ridiculous hobbit shield-flapping animation (sadly removed with the launch of free to play) to the in-game music playing system. There’s something incredibly satisfying about busting out a lute and playing some Kaiser Chiefs in the crafting hall. The cosmetic system is something I really wish was included in all MMO’s. You mean I can hide my leveling clown suit with something that looks badass? Yes please!

My favorite thing about LotRO, by far, is the atmosphere. Aside from the aforementioned Old Forest, which nearly made me pee my pants (kidding), LotRO has some unforgettable zones. The Shire is every bit as beautiful as I would have expected, filled with NPC’s chatting, fishing, and trying to stop you from completing that darn pie delivery quest. Flowers dot the hills and lazy clouds drift through the sky.

Then there’s Angmar. I love to explore; an undiscovered map is just an invitation in my mind to run across the whole thing until it’s filled in. The south west area of Angmar contains a wasteland of desert, dotted with scalding hot bubbling pools and elite turtles that made me race for my life (and sometimes lose it) on more than a few occasions. Large ghastly statues stand in the middle of the wasteland. LotRO features a debuff called dread, encountered whenever one dies or enters an area filled with Sauron’s presence. On the map, I could clearly see a pony path on the other side of the statues. Determined, I set out on my trusty steed Buckwheat towards this pony path, only to reach the statues and be filled with so much dread that my character was instantly killed. I later found out I unlocked passage past those statues through the epic quest chain, but I will certainly never forget galloping towards them and suddenly dying.

With the recent launch of free to play, Lord of the Rings Online is more accessible than ever. Even if you’re already busy with a certain other MMO (like me), take some time to check it out.

And try not to scream the first time you’re in the Old Forest.

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3 Responses to “It’s scary to go alone”

  1. Sarai December 9, 2010 at 1:20 pm #

    LotRO is my other addiction besides WoW. And yes, it -is- beautiful. I usually spend half my playing time taking screenshots. >.>

    Also the horses. Man, I wish WoW horses looked like that. And the fact that you can hear them nickering and snorting while you’re riding just adds to the realism of the game.

    But Old Forest is still scary, even after leveling 5 toons through it.

  2. Caulle December 9, 2010 at 2:42 pm #

    LOTRO is the only other MMO I’ve gone back to after quitting, and on multiple occasions. It’s just a really solid game PVE wise, the game world is stunning. The characters are a little boring, but that’s just because they’re going for a realistic style with the armour. I need bigger badder shoulders! They’ve made A LOT of significant changes and improvements to the game since launch. But, I just don’t have the time to play multiple MMOs anymore.

  3. Twitchdoctor December 17, 2010 at 10:08 am #

    When the game went F2P it prompted me to give it a go and I’m glad I did; my impressions agree pretty much with yours. The worlds just feel right, to me, and the way in which the sometimes subtle differences between the different lands are implemented is really striking. For example, the way in which the lush terrain of Bree gradually shades into the more stark and forbidding environment of the Lone Lands is particularly well done. I see a lot of veteran players complaining still about the F2P model and the LOTRO store (yes, this could use some tweaking), but if this move has prompted people like us to try out a game we wouldn’t have otherwise tried, then it seems to be a win for all concerned. Moreover, because I can get a lot of enjoyment out of this game with only a premium account, I am able to dip into a couple of MMOs at a time without feeling guilty that my subscription to another game is going to waste.

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