If there’s one thing that I’ve learned about Lord of the Rings Online over the years, it’s that this game is in no absolute hurry to get through its story. On the contrary, it’s almost a running joke of sorts to me that LOTRO looks for any and all opportunity to slow down and delay the progress of the character from getting through the overarching story. It’s one of the problems/opportunities presented by a fixed narrative, but it does result in an awful lot of mundane quests in which you, a hero for the ages, is sent on any piddly errand that the dev team can think up.
Flowers need to be picked? That’s you. Lost child? Find her. People forget their belongings? Go back to their house and play butler. Someone hungry? Fix dinner.
Now that the Battle of Pelennor Fields has concluded, you’d think I would be in for a few weeks of well-deserved rest. The NPCs, such as Aragorn, Gandalf, and Legolas certainly seem to be relaxing, just hanging out in the king’s pavilion and chatting the day away. Me? I’m the guy they send to identify corpses, to notify widows, to bury the dead, to scout out any remaining enemy forces, and to find Aragorn’s lost car keys somewhere on the battlefield (“near the dead oliphant,” he told me).
Not true on the car keys, but man, they do drag out this aftermath of the battle for all its worth. I probably did at least six missions involving I.D.ing dead bodies (which is always a treat when an NPC runs up and bawls, “OH MY GARETH NOOOO!”). Then of course there was a long funeral sequence in which I had to stand around while the NPCs droned on and on about these other characters I had long forgotten about, because let’s face it, Tolkien had a baby naming book’s worth of characters going on here.
And just when Aragorn starts talking about marching on the Black Gate to give Frodo some time — you know, the last half hour of the Return of the King movie? — we don’t actually move. Nope, I’m sent back into my least-favorite city ever, Osgiliath, to do more Ranger roundup stuff.
Wasn’t I just whining about Suramar earlier this week? At least Suramar is pretty and full of life. Osgiliath is a tomb in rubble, and I don’t understand why these Rangers are just hanging around like they’re on a Boy Scout camping trip. Come ON guys. Let’s GO. We got to throw ourselves into a meat grinder so that a Hobbit can run the football to the end zone without interference.
Did I pull off that sports metaphor? I sure hope so.
Even though I feel like I’m treading water in this storyline so far, at least I’m leveling up, getting some gear, and enjoying the reacquaintance with LOTRO on the whole. My kin seems fairly calm about the new studio and future direction, which is a good sign in my book.
I did have a moment of lunacy when I thought about starting up a brand-new character because, hi, I’m Syp, this is what I sometimes do. Then I looked at the game world as a whole and mentally calculated how long it would take to get a new character up to where I am, and I think that it would put me somewhere around 2019. So no, it’s Captain or bust from here on out.