One of the crown jewels of LotRO is its epic storyline — a giant string of quests that propel players on a great journey of their own through Middle-earth, often crossing paths with or influencing the Fellowship’s own journey. The epic storyline is divided up into volumes (1 and 2 are complete, the third is currently underway), books and chapters, and feature memorable characters, unique instances and sparkly rewards.
People, myself included, love to gush about these quests because they have the affect of drawing us into the game on a deeper level than the rest of the fetch-FedEx-kill quests that populate this and other games. In the epic storyline, the tale is king, and we can get caught up in a movie-like experience.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been focusing on finishing Volume 1 before entering Moria, a task that’s gone on longer than I’d anticipated. For one thing, these books can be really long and/or tough to solo; although the devs claim that you can solo your way through Volume 1 right now, to do so at level presents many difficult challenges. For another, I’m starting to experience what veteran players are well aware of — that Turbine, for whatever reason, really likes stretching out these books by making you do a heapload of traveling.
At times, it gets downright silly: talk to guy one, who tells you to talk to guy two on the opposite end of the zone/continent, and when you get there, guy two says a couple things and then sends you packing back to guy one. When you’re spending more time traveling than talking or fighting or questing, something’s gone a bit off the rails.
I’ve also started to get a bit peeved at quests that are the result of NPCs being extremely lazy. You see this a lot, where a NPC fully has the ability to do a medicre task, but hey, you’re there and willing to debase yourself for a few coppers. A specific example of this is at the beginning of book 14, where grumpy Ranger dude — who made you go off by yourself to fetch him one of the rings of power in book 13 — decides to saddle up for a trip down south. This is all well and peachy, except that he tells you that he can’t leave until you get him food, a horse and his chestplate, all from three wildly different parts of Middle-earth. It’s kind of like living in Michigan and preparing to go on a trip to Florida, but you ask your mom go to Maine, Utah and Puerto Rico to pack your suitcase. So not only am I fetching his underwear from Mordor, but I’m doing it simply because he’s too much of a lazy butt to do it himself.
Really, this is not “epic”, at least, not in a positive way. As always, I’d rather have shorter quests that are full of quality than padded-out ones that are blatant time sinks.