Just a couple weeks ago I was worried that the rest of 2010 would be a “run out the clock”-type situation. I felt a bit restless, there wasn’t anything on the horizon that got me excited, and 2011 still (for whatever reason) seems so far away.
What a difference a week or so can make. Now my excitement is not only roaring, but split between two imminent events: the November Update in LOTRO and the start of the Rift closed beta, which I happily will be seeing with my brand-new VIP beta key.
While LOTRO’s November Update has a lot of decent quality of life improvements, its the addition of Winter-home to the Yule Festival that has me pumped. Turbine’s really stepped up their festival improvements this year — the Spring Festival got the new shrew-stomping event (among other things), the Fall Festival saw the addition of the lauded Haunted Burrow, and now the Yule Festival gets a completely new mini-zone dedicated to the event. Only the Summer Festival remained relatively untouched this year, and that’s pretty impressive.
I know that in-game holidays aren’t everyone’s cup of tea (and some folks actually get pretty irked by them for whatever reason), but I’m a huge fan of their inclusion. They shake up the static nature of the world, they take our focus off mindless killing for a bit, and they often coordinate well with our real-world holidays to create a unified feel.
The two new activities that we know about in Winter-home are snowball fights and interactive theater. Seriously, interactive theater. It’s so crazy that it just… might… work! I don’t think that many other MMOs could get away with this sort of things without the devs being laughed out of a job, but it’s right up the LOTRO playerbase’s alley. I definitely like the new cosmetic outfits and the choice between pandering to the rich or poor that the event gives to you. I think I’ll do “poor” on one character and “rich” on another to see how it goes.
As for Rift, I’m dying to see if my initial impressions were misled or perhaps even understated. Every week I’ve been digesting the latest Rift Podcast, where they usually bring on a Trion Worlds dev or two to chat, and my respect for this title is growing. It doesn’t sounds as radically different as, say, Guild Wars 2, but there are strong indications that it’s simply well-made, polished and hits all the right spots even so.
So next weekend is the first beta event, and although I’m usually not one for betas, you couldn’t tear me away from this one. Hope to see some of you in there too!