What I liked (still like?) about LoTRO

This is a response to Sean’s post over at Contains Moderate Peril.

We all have ‘mains’ in the MMOs we play. Likewise, though I no longer play it, The Lord of the Rings Online is, and will likely always remain, the ‘main’ of my MMO career.

I was a latecomer to Turbine’s Middle-earth, arriving on the F2P bandwagon in October 2010 with two other friends. We gave ourselves until ‘the first dungeon’ to evaluate the game – and it didn’t disappoint. Defeating Gaerdring and Gaerthel in the Great Barrow Maze on the very first try, with just the three of us – a Champion of Rohan, a Guardian of Rivendell, and a Minstrel of Mirkwood – ranks among the fondest of my gaming memories. Redwine, Zandir, and Nymphoriastabellevri entering the Lone-lands Two other friends followed, and a hefty Turbine Points purchase, and we five became Middle-earthlings in earnest. At least until one got eaten by real life, another decided playing the auction house full-time was more fun than questing, and a third abandoned us for some hardcore raiding kinship. Those I don’t remember quite so fondly.

But there’s the first of the things I like about LoTRO. It was the first, and the only, MMO that I played with more than just one gaming buddy, and the few times we ran as a troupe felt like the damned Avengers Assemble.

Conveniently, the above screenshot also shows my favorite zone in LoTRO.

When I saw Sean name his, I felt a very familiar weariness. Nothing against hobbitland, of course: it’s a marvelous realization of Tolkien’s rustic paradise (and I adore the idea of little hobbits slipping out of bed at night to play at adventuring in the Rushock Bog).

But it’s far too popular. One of the issues I had during my time roleplaying on LoTRO was that the only roleplay I seemed to see regularly (apart from Prancing Pony roleplay) was garden-variety Shire roleplay: hobbity picnics, nature walks, happy hour in the Green Dragon, and so on. It was as if folks were basing their roleplay off the beginning and the end of the novels, and glossing over everything in between.

No love for the rugged, forlorn beauty of the land beyond the Last Bridge. Where, amid empty wilds under distant stars, with only the great looming shadow of Weathertop for company, a body can come to terms with one’s own place in the wider world.

That makes two things, and for a third, I shall simply say that I like LoTRO because of the first four letters – Tolkien nut that I am. Burger King LoTR Figurines These are part of a freebie series released by Burger King along with the Fellowship of the Ring film. (I didn’t think collecting the rest was worth the fast food intake!) They still sit alongside the Tolkien tomes on my shelf as mementos of the day I went to see Middle-earth at the movies.

Little suspecting that nearly a decade later, I would be living in it – if only in digital form.

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