So the question is, am I stalking Melmoth or is Melmoth stalking me?
Because I too just made the journey last night to Rivendell (cue overdone quote “Welcome to Rivendell” in Agent Smith’s voice), and generally spent 45 minutes or so gawking around the place. Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s like ElfLand there, but you cannot deny that LOTRO can do the Pretty really well in this game. For me, Rivendell comes at a point where I’ve been in the wilds a little too long, plowing through forests, over hills and around ruins, and the thought of civilization is barely a faint memory.
Rivendell feels a lot like the “last outpost” before you head into the frontier, the point at which Frodo stopped being a newb and started being a man. Well, a manly hobbit. LOTRO is one of those rare games that cherishes beauty — and gets you to cherish it as well — because (as in the books) they want you to remember what you’re fighting for. Not just to level or pass through zones, but because the enemy is all about destruction and ugliness, and because the good of the world took so darn long to make in the first place.
It’s also a place where a LOTR fan can appropriately geek out, because not since the Shire are there so many LOTR highlights jam-packed into one place. You can visit Bilbo, Frodo, Gandalf, Samwise, Merry and Pippin, Gimli and a couple elves whose names I’ve forgotten. Legs, I think. Something about legs. There’s also the Last Homely House, which is a fun place to explore and/or skateboard around (check out them ramps!). All in all, it’s a screenshot-taker’s paradise.
There’s also a neat little quest that you get from Gandalf when you arrive just to take a walk with Frodo at night. This comes at the point in the story when Frodo has accepted the quest to carry the Ring to Mt. Doom ‘n Gloom, and he’s a bit disturbed by the thought of it. So the entire quest — which is instanced — has you just walking around with him and listening to him vent. That’s it. It might sound boring, but it’s a clever way for the devs to pull you into the story and have you feel as if events are progressing instead of standing still. Frodo’s made this journey to Rivendell, as have I, and we both have a long way to go. I know how he feels, but he’s the lucky one — he doesn’t have to grind out 200 crawlers before leaving the zone.
That’s okay, I’m generally enjoying The Trollshaws so far. It makes use of a season (autumn) that game developers rarely address — usually it’s either summer, winter or Hell in game zones. So I’ll continue on, kicking up leaves and hunting down the remaining black rider for the time being.