Now that we’re rounding on week four (of ten) of Lord of the Rings Online’s 10th anniversary scavenger hunt, I’ve done enough of these — seven so far — to get a feel for this format and generate some thoughts on the subject. Overall, I like the idea and (mostly) the execution of these hunts, and I think that this is a great concept for a long-running MMO.
So let’s divvy the scavenger hunt thoughts up into two categories: How it’s hit right on, and how it’s missed (and what could be done about that).
Scavenger hunt hits
- LOTRO has an enormous amount of landmass, with dozens of areas and dungeons added over its 10-year history. This hunt is not only a great way to reuse those older areas but also is a welcome respite for high-level players who have been stuck for a while with their noses right at the edge of endgame content.
- There’s a welcome variety to these cards. Some repeats in format, but so far we’ve had a pub crawl, hunts themed around key areas for specific characters, and one memorable hunt that had us climbing to the top of some of the tallest places in Middle-earth.
- Just being encouraged to revisit these areas has brought out a lot of nostalgia in me, a lot of “oh man, I remember this zone!”
- Having a faster horse, more quick travel options, and a better grasp of the world helps with hopping around.
- I’ve seen the community band together to help others with ports and protection, not to mention advice and guides. Great stuff, that.
- These hunts have also taken me to places I have honestly never seen in the game before — little bits of zones or dungeons I’ve never crawled. This game’s so big that I’m still finding out about it.
- I like that we have a choice of three different cards per week and only have to do one to get the really great rewards (housing items! pets!). Having that choice is very welcome.
Scavenger hunt misses
- Despite Standing Stone’s comment on the situation, this hunt is heavily skewed in favor of high-level characters. In fact, if you’re level 40 or lower, you often don’t even have a single card that can feasibly be done. In my opinion, at least one of these cards for each year should have been level 40 or lower in terms of zones. As a result, this hunt has not been as inclusive as it could’ve been.
- The excessive travel between wildly different areas shows how frustrating and archaic LOTRO’s stable system is (do you remember which stables connect where? Why isn’t there a connection map in the game or with each stable master? And what these weird town names are that you haven’t been to in literally years?). In fact, part of me cynically wonders if a side benefit of this event for the studio is that it’s pushing mithril coin usage for instant travel to stables when players (such as me) get frustrated just trying to figure out how to get to places.
- The hunts feel wildly uneven in difficulty. Some simply take way more effort or are locked behind time-intensive activities (instances, mostly). Unless you’re going for all 30, it makes you evaluate each year to see which is the quickest to do rather than the most interesting.
- What is up with the “rememberances?” So many of these hunts have you collect them, and when you do your character scratches her chin and looks thoughtful like she was recalling a fond memory. But… what was that memory? What was the story? I really expected the writer to include at least a short blurb with these about the significance of these places, but nope, they’re empty memories.