Dearly beloved players, we are gathered today to celebrate the release of Lord of the Rings Online’s Update 27, and with it, a great wedding indeed. For the moment, the war in Middle-earth has quieted. For the moment, all eyes have turned to the future, to hope, and to love. For the moment, there are a billion dailies to do and a laggy city with which to contend.
Long in the making, the wedding between Arwen and Aragorn feels like the culmination of a huge journey that began with us bumping into a dark figure known as “Strider” in Archet back in 2007.
In fact, as I wandered the streets of Minas Tirith, witnessing the celebratory atmosphere and listening to that incredible new wedding music, I had a feeling like this was the wrap party. I’m not saying that I want LOTRO to be done, far from it. But if it did end on this note… it would kind of feel right, you know? It’s like the finale of so many CRPGs where all of the characters you met return for dancing, drink, and merriment.
Considering that we’ve been through the gloom of Mordor these past few years, I think the LOTRO community deserves a time to let its hair down and enjoy a well-deserved party. And because this MMORPG has always stressed non-combat quests that draw you into the life of the world, it feels very natural to have both an event and an update that puts aside mass slaughter for horse grooming, present collecting, and flower picking.
So let’s get to the downside of this update because I’m not here to blow smoke up your tailpipe. I think any LOTRO player could have told you, going into this patch, that there was going to be an issue centering a brand-new festival on Minas Tirith. Now, Minas Tirith is an absolute triumph of an MMO fantasy city. It’s amazing and I’m still finding places to explore in it. But it’s not ideal for a festival for three reasons:
- It’s cramped
- It’s confusing to navigate and find the ramps up and down tiers
- It’s laggy like you’ve never seen lag before
The developers’ solution was to wall off parts of the tiers and create a separate instance for this version of the city, but… yeah. It’s still cramped, still confusing, and still laggy. Personally, I didn’t experience terrible lag or any of the crashes that I heard about, but I wasn’t exactly leaping for joy at the thought of spending the next few weeks hitting my head on my desk while I tried to find the next quest objective only to realize that I was on the wrong tier.
In this respect, I also think that the festival went way overboard on its quest offerings. There are so many that I don’t think I’ll even get through a single round of them before the event ends, nevermind all of them! Our kinship was talking about this, and the common consensus was that most of us would try to do all of them — once — to see what they were like, and then concentrate on repeating a mere handful of the more convenient ones to grind out currency.
The patch also saw some grumbling from certain classes that saw nerfs come out of the recent PvP server’s performance, and that has proven to be a sore spot in some quarters. That’s a shame because you don’t want people grumpy at a wedding.
That all said, I find myself in a sanguine mood as I explore this update. It’s actually pretty impressive that Standing Stone Games delivered a new epic book, a brand-new festival, and a new version of Minas Tirith all at the same time. And I’m not even going to go into the wonder that is the ability to circumvent the bothersome epic battles!
Midsummer Minas Tirith is simply beautiful, and every time I log into it, my heart lifts. The decorations (over the battle-scarred stone), the music, and the jubilant crowds serve to put the player in a good mood. I have no problem getting into the swing of the festivities and performing seemingly mundane tasks that contribute to the fictional wedding.
The epic book has been a great addition as well, bringing back a few old NPC faces while also reuniting us with much of the Fellowship of the Ring. I barked a genuine laugh when I saw Merry and Pippin up to their old tricks, and I was heartened to see Gandalf still in the business of making fireworks.
It doesn’t hurt that there are a slew of great rewards to be had for the festival, nor is it a problem to get them. The myriad of dailies means that players can pick and choose among them, either to get variety or to do the ones that they enjoy the most. All paths lead to the same rewards.
Lord of the Rings Online has grown into an MMORPG known for its annual festivals, and I deem that the Midsummer Festival is a great addition to the current roster. We’re often without really fun stuff to do in the middle of the summer season anyway, so I’ll allow for two holidays during the hottest time of the year.
If you’re looking for a good guide to the Midsummer Festival, I’d highly recommend FibroJedi’s guide, which includes visuals of many of the rewards.