Lord of the Rings Online, a Glorious Waste of Time

Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

Commonly attributed to John Lennon, this quotation suits this game perfectly in my opinion. Time that I spend playing LOTRO is certainly not “productive”–nor is playing any game very “productive”–but I certainly enjoy it, more than most other video games that I’ve ever played. In fact, I blame LOTRO for my present website hiatus. I haven’t been “productive” where this website is concerned, because I’ve been “wasting” my time with this computer game lately.

You see, as a teacher, I choose to not play video games during the school months, because I have very little time to “waste”. So when the summer rolls around and I have a little more time on my hands, I tend to spend it video-gaming, and LOTRO has been my go-to game of choice for the past couple summers. It has been almost exactly three whole years since I wrote my first review about Lord of the Rings Online, and wow was I naive about MMORPGs back then. I didn’t realize how much fun they could be, that they could be so much more than just a visually and aurally gorgeous world to explore.

That being said, I stick by what I wrote originally: this game has “spectacular visuals” and “breathtaking music”. It did back then and the visuals and music have only gotten better, and those reasons are probably still the biggest reasons why I keep coming back to this game. As I said then, “I want a game where I can just walk around in it, wherever I want, whenever I want, and just look at and listen to everything.” However, I have gotten into the gameplay so much more than I did back then. I also haven’t crafted a single thing in the past several weeks since I started playing again this summer. I don’t think I crafted at all last summer either. Why did I focus so much on crafting in my previous review? I really don’t know.

I also talked too much about the “need to form a fellowship” in order to advance in the game. Again, my naivety is showing. I’ve actually managed to do just fine in the game while only accomplishing solo quests, though I did press through a few quests that should have been fellowship quests, where I think the NPCs helped me out a bit more than usual.

When I started playing again probably about six weeks ago, I’ve put in maybe 42 hours of playing time. That might seem like a lot of hours to a non-gamer, but calculated down, that’s seven hours a week, or an hour a day–though some days I didn’t play at all and others I played for several hours at a time. In those 40+ hours, I leveled up 10 times (from level 29 last summer to 39 right now) and explored two new regions–I finished up outstanding tasks (from last summer) in the Lone Lands, spent some time in the North Downs, and am now nearing the conclusion of my tasks in Evendim (pictured)–ridding Annuminas of those darn Angmarim, which is proving to be a far more difficult task than I have been so far prepared for.

I’ve surprised myself by how quickly I’ve leveled up when I have focused my energy on doing just that–rather than taking breaks here and there to increase my crafting abilities or update the decorations in my house in the Bree Homesteads. I’ve surprised myself by how much of Middle-Earth I’ve explored this quickly. I’ve been through the Trollshaws and to Rivendell–my favorite location in Middle-Earth–several times, and often for no reason other than to have a look around. I even took a horse up to Forochel at one point, just because I wanted to see what that region was like, and honestly, I am not eager to ever go back. I’m from Minnesota. I see more than enough of cold, dark, snowy tundra in real life.

That’s one thing I love about gaining higher levels, though: more and more Middle-Earth is open for me to explore. I was once irritated that I couldn’t get to Rivendell. Now I can go there at any time. However, now I’m itching more and more to explore Lothlorien and Rohan (especially Edoras), but I’ve finally learned the patience that I need to make it through the Misty Mountains/Mines of Moria to get there, so the getting there will be that much more rewarding.

So what’s next? Finishing Annuminas, I suppose, then head back southeast towards the Trollshaws. Even though I’ve been through that region many times, I’ve never stopped to accomplish any tasks there, so I’ll probably do that first before moving on to the Misty Mountains, or wherever the Epic Quests take me. I hope there are some options involved. I’m not very keen on heading northeast to Angmar, particularly since the location was not featured in the main Lord of the Rings books or movies, even though that’s what the first LOTRO release was all about: the “Shadows of Angmar”.

No, I’d much rather follow Aragorn’s Quest (not unintended reference to another great game) through the Mines of Moria, Lothlorien, the Argonath, Fangorn, and on to Edoras and Helm’s Deep (and eventually to Minas Tirith)! Let’s hope that I can level up my character enough to make that happen (or rent a horse that will take me to those locations)!

Do you play Lord of the Rings Online? On what server? What’s your character’s name? Play with me? Great! Share your info in the comments section below. Awesome. Thanks. See you in Middle-Earth.