Posted in Lord of the Rings Online

LOTRO: That’s a big rock

Hey, you know what are historically the worst weeks to try to carve out time to game? Holiday weeks, in which I ironically have extra time off work. Theoretically. Yet as I’ve found, holiday weeks — especially Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and International Talk Like A Pirate Day — throw a massive monkey wrench into my routine. Suddenly I’m doing more work in the fewer work days I have to make room for these special off days, which will then be filled up with non-gaming activities. A holiday back in my youth might’ve meant a 12-hour window of uninterrupted gaming. A holiday in my adulthood usually means cleaning dishes and vacuuming up the shed skin of packaging.

This is all to say that last week wasn’t kind to my gaming schedule at all. LOTRO kept beckoning me with lambas bread and Hobbit tomfoolery, but it only got scraps from me. Just a half hour here, and a half hour there.

Fortunately, LOTRO these days is a perfect game for smaller sessions as well as longer ones. I’m not charging toward the endgame, after all, so my character has the luxury of going on a long and leisurely adventure. I can log in, chill out in a zone while doing a few quests, take some screenshots to clutter up your Twitter feeds, and then log out and be OK with it.

Swanfleet, the first of the two new zones that came with Before the Shadow, is tremendous for relaxed gaming. It’s pretty, it contains humorous quests and characters, and I’m getting to watch the quest level slowly approach my Hobbit Lore-master’s actual level of 17. Man, it’ll be nice to gain XP again, I think. In the meantime, there are more quirky chores to do for the local populace!

I have been impressed with the variety of Hobbit (well, Stoor) villages around these parts. There are three of them, and each has its own distinct layout and theme. The Stoor do seem a little more rough and country bumpkin-ish (is that a term?), but in an endearing way. I have nothing against country denizens anyway, and these people looked like miniature Amish to me.

The only eye-rolling part of this zone were a couple of points where quests would try to strong-arm you through side features of the game, like crafting or fishing. The fishing quest was actually bugged — you couldn’t complete it unless you logged out of your character and back in, a fact that I only discovered after some forum searching.

I did take a brief journey back up north to see Dwayne the Rock, sitting squat in the middle of the Bree-Trestlebridge route like the world’s biggest misplaced art asset. It made my heart glad to know that this lumpy boulder brought so much hilarity to the community.

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