Still in awe after Orr

I’m wondering how many MMO players research their MMOs before they start playing them? The majority, I suspect, do in fact indulge in fair degree of Googling before and during their initial tussles with a new MMO. However, I don’t fall into that category. I prefer to go in almost bind.

I’ve only ever played two MMOs that have ‘stuck’; those being LoTRO and, more recently, GW2. So it is then that I’ve now come to the realisation that my personal modus operandi involves actively avoiding information about the games that I play, until I’m thoroughly and completely engaged.

So how does this avoidance manifest itself in my play-style? Well, for LoTRO and GW2, I only started playing the games on the recommendation of others, so I really had little or no idea about either, before taking the plunge.

My first forays around Thorin’s Gate, way back in 2007, were all the more enjoyable for not having a clue where I was, what I was supposed to do, or what my aims were. Indeed, I ambled my way to level 50 (the then level cap) in LoTRO, by a very slow and meandering path. Everything was new and I couldn’t stand to leave any discovered quests uncompleted, so much of my time was spent completing activities with little or not ‘gain’. And boy did I have fun!

Lord of the Rings Online

Lord of the Rings Online

My period of ‘blind’ enjoyment and exploration in LoTRO was, in the nick of time, extended by the arrival of the Mines of Moria expansion – which hit town only a week or so after me hitting level 50. MoM increased the level cap from 50 to 60, and the LoTRO’s epic story pulled me through the Eregion region and then into Moria itself, without me having much of a clue what joys I was in for. I remember seeing kin-chat at the time covering topics such as ‘legendary weapons’ and ‘Grand Stairs’ and not having a clue what they were. By the time I crossed Durin’s Threshold, many were already wearing their first pieces of the Moria armour set with ‘Radiance’ holding a new meaning for them. However, for me, ignorance was happiness.

Time passed. I eventually found my way though Moria and, for the first time, hit a level cap that was not to change for some considerable time. And this changed things. ‘End Game’ became a reality. Only now did I find myself looking around thinking…’Now what?’

Well, the ‘What’ entailed starting to run the Moria dungeons in pursuit of that ‘end-game’ armour together with its (now thankfully defunct) radiance stat. As a casual player, this meant I needed to undertake research in order to become competent with my toon within group environments. No longer could I potter along doing what I liked, when I liked, wearing whatever gear I liked. Now I had to start looking at game mechanics; understanding how my toon worked and how to get the best from his skills.

So, finally I began to read about the game that I had been playing for so long. I discovered blogs, web sites and pod casts. As my experiences changed, and my knowledge increased, my view of the game subtly shifted. No longer was I an explorer of a strange and unknown world, but now instead a dwarf with a mission. The ‘wonder’ was replaced by a determination to accomplish. Being content with ‘not knowing’ was replaced with a desire to know everything, to understand as much as possible, to be the best (well, to be at least viewed as competent by my piers!).

Looking back now, the loss of that ‘wonder of exploration’ was permanent. Every time an expansion and subsequent increase in level cap has come along since, within LoTRO, my main aim has been to get to level cap and deck my toons in the best gear I can, as quickly as possible. I now see this as real negative, and probably the main reason why my love affair with LoTRO has waned to an occasional fling. It’s also the reason why I’m currently in love with GW2.

Darkness and Light

Guild Wars 2

Playing GW2 has brought back the wonder of exploration, of the unknown. Of course, that doesn’t happen by chance – the GW2 world, Tyria, including the character classes and races, have thoroughly caught my imagination. I love the look and feel of the game, the game-play, and the overall change in ‘style’ when compared with LoTRO. A different type of polish, I think.

I know however that at some point my ‘wonder’ will begin to fade; my play style will become more focused…indeed, I can see it happening already, as I finish off gearing my elementalist with exotic pieces, and start chasing daily and monthly achievements.

For the moment though, I’m in the here and now, and I’m still walking around Tyria, wide eyed and full of awe.


6 Responses to “Still in awe after Orr”

  1. I think being full of awe is something you only truly experience the first time you play an MMO. At least, that’s what it was like for me when I started to play LotRO. My experience is actually much like yours, and I too started with end-game content in the depths of Moria. Instead of GW2, my second game was SWTOR, and there too the awe was there at the start, but it was never as big as initially in LotRO.

    Perhaps this is why many experienced gamers ‘hop’ games, in search of their new awe?

    • Like most aspects of our lives, with familiarity comes a change in perception and attitude, I think. In any case, it’s an inevitable part of the MMO experience for sure.

  2. I agree with your description of the feeling of awe… my first MMO was EQ and I loved it for that reason. I went back to it after a break and was a much more focussed/ driven player.

    Playing Lotro gave me some awe back, particularly in the Trollshaws, a rich visual wilderness feast that I still love. After that MoM was a fun, frantic, group filled place, since then the game plateau’d somewhat (I only hit level cap for the first time at 75). I have now just returned to wander around Rohan and make my way slowly to 85… I have just started riding a war horse and it’s fun, frantic and full of ‘wtf am I doing?’ moments.

    GW2 was great fun and another visual treat, but imho the gameplay was a little too simple/ lacking in options. We did various group content bits and the Halloween invasion event- which was excellent- and full of wtf/ awe moments. Since then it’s sort of paled somewhat, so I’m back to Lotro (via XCOM, which was also great and I would recommend if you break from MMOs again).

    That feeling of awe (and the search for it) is still one of the reasons why I play games.


  3. Hi. I came to your blog by googling ‘a relic in lumul-nar’: it had kept me up until 2 am (I started late), I was doing the last mirror-puzzle then my mouse batteries ran out & I fell! It’s a great guide: thanks. I was doing OK but I just wanted to check that I was on the right track, I probably could have stuck at it & worked it out myself but I was getting fed up with it! Especially as I now have to start again

    My journey is very like yours: I most enjoy the story & exploration, & look for an immersive experience, esp. as I’m a life-long Tolkien fan.
    After nearly 2 years my main is still only 62! I’ve never hit level cap.
    I hate LIs, I hate all the overcomplication, they’re just annoying.

    I now too mostly play GW2, it’s a revolutionary MMO. I started to miss aspects of LotRO ‘though so I’m playing it agian but I still fiind much of it annoying

    Great blog: I’ve subscribed 🙂

    • Thanks for your comments – it’s always nice to get positive feedback!

      I think the best way to get the most out of any MMO is to take your time and simply enjoy the journey. The final destination, in my experience, is not as interesting as the path that leads to it!

      • Just about everyone I’ve played with in Kins or Guilds has been in a huge hurry to level up, to get to the ‘end-game’ content, & don’t seem to understand why I’m not. Like you I enjoy the journey, for me that’s what it’s all about. I’m glad I’m not that impatient & restless! The end stuff is there for me to enjoy when I get there. That’s why I like your blog; it’s great to find a like-minded gamer 🙂

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