Having finally gotten a good chunk of time to play LoTRO, it was time to take a trip back to Evendim and continue our adventures there. Previously we had completed a few of the lower level quests, but left the zone around level 33 to finish up the Lone Lands and take down the Red Maiden, after which we finished up most of the North Downs quests, leaving only a few group quests behind.
Coming back at 37 opened up many new quests for us, along with allowing us to travel without the fear of getting hoof stomped by some overly aggressive deer. Traveling only a little ways to the North of the first quest hub we found a gathering of NPCs among some ruins, most of which had a quest or two for us. In the end, I believe we picked up close to 10 new quests, most of which seemed to indicate the enemy/item/location was north, so rather than setting out with one quest in mind, we just went out and killed anything new we ran into, and if it counted towards a quest, we would kill the 8-10 others we needed to finish the quest. If we saw something shiny on the ground, we would head over and see what it’s about, and more often than not it was a quest item for someone. Using this method, we fully completed 5 quests before hitting the northern border of the zone, at which point we used our map to get back to town and turn them in. With the quest log trimmed down, it sets us up nicely to finish the remaining quests in the more traditional fashion.
While its no surprise that the ‘head out and see what happens’ method works well in LoTRO in terms of getting quests done, it certainly degrades their importance and meaning. We just went out and scanned over a general area, and anything we picked up we turned in, regardless of the quest.
What saves LoTRO in terms of quest importance is that the really important quests have their own tab and title, the Book quests. I think without these LoTRO would be one big series of ‘who cares’ quests until you hit 50. Turbine was smart to put extra emphasis and care into the Book quests, making them far more interesting and involving. When you finish any of the books, you not only get a great reward, but also a true sense that you accomplished something major in the world of Middle Earth. The fact that some steps in the books require grouping is a wise choice as well, as those moments feel more ‘epic’ than they would it you did them alone, and finding a group is generally not too big an issue, as everyone needs to do the same quests, and the group parts are generally fairly short, making helping your kinsmen more possible.
Another nice aspect of the Book series is that each major update, which are currently set for one update every other month, contains another book, meaning you will get at least one great quest chain per update. Book 10 is set for release shortly, and Book 11 is slated for October, an update that will also bring player housing to LoTRO.
While initially LoTRO might appear as a WoW clone, the quality and pace of the updates from Turbine continue to move it further away from the dev style of Blizzard and WoW. If Turbine can continue delivering this type of quality, they will keep many of their fans very happy and entertained, and give some very compelling reasons for others to come over and see what LoTRO is all about.