There’s kind of this running joke-slash-trope among MMORPGs that developers tend to get lazy during their game’s anniversary and throw fireworks at the players as the “big reward.” Fantasy, sci-fi, ponies… always fireworks. Don’t get me wrong, fireworks are neat, but they’re garnish when we’re looking for a real dish.
In 2012, LOTRO started to center its anniversary festival around fireworks, perhaps to a greater degree than we normally see in MMOs. Still, fireworks. Not as thrilling as a haunted burrow or interactive theater. But this year for the game’s 10th birthday, Standing Stone has given a new centerpiece for the festival that’s definitely main course material.
The new content this year is the scavenger hunt, in which players try to fill out themed cards in order to unlock new quests and rewards. The concept is that there’s a tier for every year the game’s been active (so, 10 in total), and in every tier there are three different cards. Just by doing a single card (say, a Year One card), you access the next tier (Year Two), but if you do all 30 of them by the time this wraps up in the summer, then you get some really nifty rewards.
Last night, our kin was on fire for the scavenger hunt. With 30 ahead of me (and yes, I’m going to attempt to do them all), I need to pace myself. One a night feels about right, and I started out by doing Frodo’s Year One tour of Middle-earth. There’s a lot of nostalgia here, and in this particular card, I had to visit some key locations for Frodo’s journey and perform some basic tasks (such as dancing on the table at the Prancing Pony). The main difficulty was trying to figure out how to traverse the map, as I don’t have that many teleport skills on hand.
All in all, it took me about 40 minutes, with the most difficult section being a return trip to the Dead Marshes, which tripped me up because there’s no stable master there. I ended up with a housing item, Farmer Maggot’s dog as a pet, and… a SCRAP OF PAPER! BEHOLD ITS MIGHTY POWER! Also some tokens, which I put into the “Buy Syp Another Goat” fund.
Oh, and we all got this incredibly sweet dragon fireworks launcher as a 10th anniversary gift. I take back a little of the shade I threw at devs for their fireworks obsession, because I’m going to use this all of the freaking time.
There’s some controversy going on about the scavenger hunts right now, namely that they’re pretty difficult if you are low-level (or even mid-level). I’m assuming that the devs thought of this and have at least one card per tier that can be done by a lowbie, but even so, some people are going to be rankled that the 30-quest rewards are going to be out of their reach.
For me, I might be in trouble with Year Two. There’s one to do a bunch of Volume I instances, which would be no problem except that I’ve never done them before (I skipped Volume I on this character) and can’t access them in the pool of reflection (or so I assume). So if I’m going to do that, I’m going to have to suck it up and do the entire Volume I, which could take a while. Maybe there’s a way to group up and have a friend pull you into their instance? I’ll check into that.
The crowd was certainly rowdy and celebratory pretty much everywhere I went, especially the Party Tree and Bree. Lots of impromptu concerts, feasting tables, and (of course) fireworks displays. It really felt like a genuine party, what with all of the food and dancing and crazy social gatherings. LOTRO hosts a community that kind of likes being together, and that shows.
I think that the scavenger hunt is a brilliant idea, capitalizing on the game’s enormous landmass and repository of content to date. It also is a wonderful shot of nostalgia, a nostalgia tour if you will, and I really don’t mind going back over the places that I used to haunt. If nothing else, it’ll keep me busy enough as we continue to twiddle our thumbs and wait for Mordor.