The schedule for Lord of the Rings Online’s special events keeps us hopping most of the year-round, as Standing Stone Games weaves major festivals, bonus periods, and smaller activities (such as Hobnanigans) into each month. But it’s the former that I want to discuss today, especially as we’re just coming off of a Yule Festival encore and heading into the 12th anniversary celebrations.
Worst: Summer Festival
With each of the major festivals these days there is a centerpiece activity that serves as the main draw of the event — all except for the Summer Festival, which doesn’t really have one. It’s not a bad festival, it’s just one that is more reminiscent of how the game’s festivals used to be: a scattershot of quests and lesser activities without something amazing that really binds them together. I guess if you’re into fishing, this is the festival for you, but I almost never participate in it.
This is a curious festival that’s kind of a halfway compromise: more than a smaller event but less than your quarterly celebrations. I actually like the idea of this festival (Hobbits and food!) way more than its execution (egg hunting and various fetch quests). Sneaking past Farmer Maggot’s dogs to grab mushrooms is inspired, but past that I’m not sticking around for much. At least it does feature the typical festival events (horse riding, dances, Ale Association/Inn League) for those who need to get them done.
With the addition of the hedge maze a few years back to compliment the shrew stomping, the Spring Festival has come into its own as a powerhouse festival. There are about as many things that I love about it as dislike, however, which is why I’m putting it in the middle here. I don’t find either of these two main activities that engaging (they’re actually a bit stressful) and farming tokens seems more difficult with this festival than some of the others. But the cosmetics and pets are cheery and fun to collect, so I at least show up to put in a bit of effort during these weeks.
I had such a hard time ordering these last three since I love each of them almost the same! But Yule Festival has gotten a little long in the tooth while the other two have been updated more recently, so that’s why it’s getting the third place slot.
In any case, this is such a terrific twist on the standard (and often boring) MMO Christmas event. Turbine-that-was created a little medieval town of Winter-home to host this festival and packed so much into it, including a branching storyline (!) that let you choose to aid the rich or poor inhabitants as if you were part of a Charles Dickens novel. Plus, the interactive theater is one of the most inspired things the game has ever done (I just wish there were more plays, to be honest).
Up until a few years ago, LOTRO’s anniversary festival was a snorefest of fireworks and… um, fireworks. But that all changed with its 10th anniversary, at which time the devs completely overhauled the event and added a world-wide scavenger hunt to the mix. Essentially 30 (and this year, 36) quests to complete, the scavenger hunts took players back to old stomping grounds, had them collecting all sorts of weird things, and even went on pub crawls. And the best part — aside from the bounty of rewards — was the fact that all of them are themed (such as to a character). Since that started, I’ve been so incredibly excited when the anniversary has come around.
Best: Harvest Festival
But as good as the anniversary and winter celebrations have been, neither can top what I see as the pinnacle of every year’s event schedule: the Harvest Festival. The inclusion of the Haunted Burrow a while back gave us one of the coolest public instances to explore, and last year’s addition of spooky Westmead took a great thing and made it even better. Plus, there are free tokens to get every hour, a daily chance at a skeleton horse, Bingo Boffin quests, and really awesome cosmetics and housing decorations. How can you not love this?
What do you think? How would you rank these festivals from your own experience? Let me know in the comments!