[LOTRO] Wintershome

Amidst all the Cataclysm excitement (has it really just been a week?) I slipped back to LOTRO this week for a visit. And I’m just in time for the Winter Festival.

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Now this one took me by surprise because usually the LOTRO festivals follow a sort of pattern. There will be events and dancing in specific party locations in the starting zones – the party tree in the Shire is a particular favourite. Then probably some sort of a pub crawl for the inn league too and maybe some extra horse racing.

But they have been really working on their holiday events over the past year. (One might argue that given the slow pace of content otherwise, it’s probably just as well.)

At Halloween, there was a hobbit instance. And now, at Winter Festival (which they probably should have called Yule, just for consistency) an entire new mini zone. It’s called Frostbluff, and .. I’ve no idea where it is in Middle Earth, just that you can get a horse ride there from the usual suspects. We talk a lot about theme park MMOs vs sandbox MMOs, but this area does actually feel like a small enclosed theme park.

There is some lore behind it, the town was settled by people and the mayor made his life’s work establishing a famous winter festival. (ie. he build a theme park.) I won’t quibble any more about the themeparkness because there’s a ton to do here, and from what I have seen so far, it’s nicely put together. Not only that but right at the beginning you are confronted with a sense of injustice, of wronged workers who are being starved so that the mayor can get rich from the tourist trade.

I’m not sure if this was intended but it makes me wonder if I am supporting The Man just by trying any of the winter games. Or will the devs let me show the miserly mayor the error of his ways and bring some winter cheer to the poor workers and their families. I kind of hope the latter … but this is a F2P game now, so maybe they are trying to subtly press home the idea that imaginary people suffer when we buy shiny ponies from the cash shop.

But then again, can I really pass up the chance to see Mr Shakesburrow’s acting company, the Green Lily Orators, Bards, and Entertainers (G.L.O.B.E) for short? (The theatre, incidentally, is very cool. Player characters take roles in the play.)

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This screenie is taken from inside the G.L.O.B.E theatre. Those are PCs in the audience and also on the stage; the audience is also prompted to throw rotten fruit or flower petals at the stage from time to time also depending on how well the actors perform, measured by whether they use appropriate emotes when prompted.

I am probably more morally torn by the introduction to this zone than I have been for the entirety of Cataclysm. And therefore I do want to spend more time there, figuring out what’s going on. Either way, this is definitely one of the coolest, most intriguing, and most expansive holiday festivals I’ve ever seen. A whole mini zone complete with storylines, activities, minigames and (of course) rewards … Yet, at the same time, it’s a strange theme park that isn’t very Lord of the Rings-ish in feel, even though they’ve really tried hard.

Maybe it’s just a paradox of holiday events that they will always tend to break the 4th wall, being seasonally themed amusement rides for players to correspond with RL festivals.

Having said that, some of the holiday rewards this time around are very cool. You could get a little stage to put in your own garden, to put on miniplays, and you can pick up titles such as “Star of the Show” or “Extra.”

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10 thoughts on “[LOTRO] Wintershome

  1. It’s kind of cool, but I’m a bit cranky they took away one horse you could previous buy and made it a “store exclusive”. I just joined as Yule festival was going on a few years ago, then only got one horse (the then-new horse) last year. Was going to pick up the old horse this year, but no such luck.

    Kinda sucks that stuff is being taken away (at least from subscribers) and put into the store.

    That said, the new stuff is pretty cool. Very theme park-like and not necessarily fitting with the overall story, but it fits the feel of the game.

    • Think of that as an extra perk for people who were around and got the horse when it first came out?

      Seriously, I think there are too few exclusive perks which are gained by being around and doing the content the first time around. If they want to put it in the cash shop, fair enough, as long as there is other stuff you can get.

      • Eh, except there was no indication that the items would be removed, at least not that I noticed last year. If I would have known, that might have changed the decisions I made last year.

        The fact that it’s then added to the store leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Most people here know I’m a big fan of the microtransaction model, but quite blatantly taking something away form the players to add to the store is kind of slimy in my book.

  2. Must be something about Christmas and breaking the fourth wall

    Once things have quietened down a bit, I reckon the G.L.O.B.E. will be a great venue for guild nights out with additional dialogue from the PC actors and some audience participation (“Oh no it won’t!”, “Oh yes it will”, etc…)

  3. I stray into LOTRO when the queues are big on WoW, as I’m not paying to play it I feel less inclined to play it than my WoW subscription but I probably do need to do more with my Loremaster.

  4. I know from a thread on the official forums that there was moral indignation at some of the content, but stories like ‘A Christmas Carol’ are ever popular for a reason. A pair of quests have the player either shooing from the streets or giving some of the festival currency to the same set of beggars. Maybe it’s just me but I don’t see anything wrong with doing both quests one after the other, the reward you get from the former goes partways towards fulfilling the more generous quest. But there is one other quest that I think more dubious, it’s practically theft, but you are hinted that you should use the reward for the donations.

    The theatre is a lot of fun, and very well done. I’m starting to learn the parts and then looking through all the emotes for the most or least appropiate gives it more lasting apppeal for me after the initial buzz.

    • I think it just makes you feel a bit like an idiot to do one quest and then immediately do one that has the opposite effect (like giving money to beggars and then making them move on.)

      I’m not the biggest RPer ever but I like my character to be vaguely consistent and have vague reasons for doing things.

  5. Pingback: [LOTRO] Flogging a dead horse « Welcome to Spinksville!

  6. Pingback: Psychochild's Blog » The state of MMOs in 2010

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