One of the potential downsides of going back to Lord of the Rings Online is that I have been through the level 1 through 30 content nearly a dozen times now.
As you grow older it has been my observation that your tolerance for repetition goes down. When I was 20 or so and sharing an apartment with a buddy, we had a VCR. It was his family’s first VCR, one of the giant RCA models that was so big it looked like it was powered by a coal fired boiler, which he got when his family upgraded to a newer, and presumably smaller, model.
Back then, we could and would watch the same movie over an over. I recall that we watched Better Off Dead four times in one day. Somebody would come over and we’d just run it again.
This was before the internet was a big thing, before I even had a modem, so we were either going to do that or go out and get in trouble.
But now… now there is some combination of age and the wider variety of entertainment options that makes it difficult to sit through anything I’ve seen before, with few exceptions. It is just the way I respond in the world we live in today. Plus, I don’t think movies like Better Off Dead have aged all that well. Even Caddyshack seems… well… rough around the edges 30 years down the line.
Fortunately, when it comes to games, my brain is wired to enjoy finding efficiency in my efforts, and running the same set of quests over again lets me tickle those neurons. When I figure out how to stagger my quests so that I get three or four updates for a single kill, I feel a nice pulse of self satisfaction.
Plus, nothing makes you feel like a hero in the game than knowing the landscape like the back of your hand.
Helping the Rangers of the North? I am better than the Rangers of the North. If you have a problem, even a boar problem, I can solve it. I am the master of Bree, the Bree Fields, the Barrow Downs, The Old Forest, the North Downs, Ered Luin, the Shire, and the Lone Lands.
But beyond that, things get a bit sketchy.
I’ve been over the last bridge and into the Trollshaws. I’ve even been over the ford of Bruinen and into Rivendell. (Ironically, on that trip, the real danger came AFTER I crossed the ford.)
Questing though, that seems to peter out for me around level 33 or so.
There are still some quests in Esteldin to follow, but they rapidly start becoming fellowship quests. And since I am moving ahead of the group with a character solo, I will have to leave those by the wayside until the group gets there.
There are still some quests left in the Lone Lands, but they are 5 or so levels below my characters, so the rewards get pretty sparse.
And while I have knocked off the initial quests in the Trollshaws, those rise rapidly in level making them a very tough path to pursue.
So I was back in Esteldin running down a few quests when I picked one up that said I should go speak to someone in Evendim.
If I recall right, Evendim came in after launch. It was certainly an area I had never managed to visit. And all the quest had to say was that it was located north of the Shire and west of the North Downs.
But looking at the in-game maps for the Shire and the North Downs, neither had an obvious road headed in the right direction. It looked like it was time to go exploring.
I went out with Silinus, my ranger, who had just hit 35 and had saved up the 4 gold for his first fast horse.
Of course, I had Silinus out because I had decided to make Terentia my main and focus on her, and nothing gets me to stop playing a character faster than deciding it is my main character on whom I should focus.
Scouting the western end of the North Downs did in fact lead me to a pass into a new area.
And that moved me from “more knowledgeable than a ranger” to “explorer in a new land” status.
And there was much to explore. I started straying off the roads just to see what was out there.
Of course, off the roads I had to deal with some of the local fauna. I saw no boars, though I ran into an aggressive form of deer.
I found a bridge across the upper Brandywine, the river that starts at Lake Evendim and runs through the Shire. It was in the classic Numenor Gothic style, where they were obviously trying to compensate for something… like the loss of their home.
I had to pull so far back to get the statue of the king atop the bridge into the frame that it is hard to tell that there is a bridge there unless you click on the picture an look at the full size version.
Past that I came upon some ruins. Tomb robbery seems to be the main economic activity of the locals. The place was crawling the NPCs identified as such. And, of course, they weren’t happy to see me.
And then, in the distance, Lake Evendim came into full view.
Skirting around the shoreline I eventually came to the camp that contained the NPC I had been directed to seek out when I was given the quest in Esteldin.
I was a little disappointed when I got there.
It turned out to be the quest hub I expected it to be, and there were plenty of quests to pick up. But the quest that sent me there was a level 35 quest, but many of the quests I picked up were close to level 30 in target range. There were a couple of higher level quests as well, but I obviously found my way into Evendim a little later than I was supposed to.
Still, it is nice to have a new zone to explore. And, while there is a stable master present at the camp, there is also a boat master. The lake is a major feature of the zone, so travel by boat seems to be part of the plan.