This new end-game system allows players to pledge their allegiance to one faction at a time. Pledge yourself to the Dwarves, Elves, Hobbits, or Men, and unlock rewards through activities in Mordor, including a unique story arc! Players will accrue Allegiance Points which advance your character along a given Allegiance. These points can be earned through acquiring items found in Mordor, completing repeatable quests, and more.
-Allegiance Mechanic, Mordor Release Notes
Here we sit, waiting for the Mordor expansion to go live.
The launch was planned for Monday, but was postponed until today. Now we have entered the period of downtime, after which the expansion should be available.
Nothing left to do but wait and wonder and look at the patch notes for Update 21, which covers the expansion.
Of course, that leads me back to what we’re going to be doing in Mordor, how we’ll be interacting with the main story, and just how far we might be asked to stretch canon.
Mucking about with the core of the stories has been, as has been brought up elsewhere, has been a concern of mine since Lord of the Rings Online was announced. Almost eleven years back, about ten posts into this blog, I was already writing about those concerns. How was Turbine going to handle building an MMORPG with thousands of people wandering around while keeping the linear framework that is the story itself?
The team has done a pretty good job so far. The player sees the story advance. You get to interact with some of the key actors in the story, but they aren’t strewn about the landscape to bump into over and over again… except in Rivendell… no matter how far you progress you can still go back to Rivendell and find everybody still hanging about.
Most of the time as a player you are occupied with subordinate tasks, things that move the story along behind the scenes, but which wouldn’t get you a mention in the book. And so it is that you spend a lot of time helping the quartermaster corps of the local Dunedain contingent by slaying bears, boars, wolves, and the occasional servant of Sauron.
So while there was no chapter about the brave battle against the tomb robbers of Esteldin, if there had been my character would have figured prominently.
Once in a while you get to be an uncredited extra in a key scene in the story.
Of course, the flaws of the MMORPG genre are manifest in the game. The servants of Sauron pop up again as soon as you wander off… as does the mass of wildlife you spent all that time slaughtering to help provision the various outposts of the free peoples.
And their outposts are many. It was a bit much in the early part of the game. I don’t recall Eriador being that densely populated. And the game moved along, the population density became more out of character.
While Moria was a delight to explore, the dwarves did seem to be devoting a lot of time and resources to fixing up their old home when there was a war raging. But at least they had a reason to be there. I’m not sure why Mirkwood has so many people wandering about. If any place was more barren of life… save the odd dark squirrel… and spiders and elves at the far end… it was Mirkwood. But you cannot run an MMORPG zone without a half dozen quest hubs.
So I do wonder what we will encounter in Mordor, and when in the timeline of things we shall be doing that. There is, after all, no time between the battle at the Black Gate and the destruction of the one ring (spoiler), the former only ending with the latter. The up front promise of the release notes…
Witness the fate of the One Ring and Sauron! The Epic quest line reaches a major milestone, and remains free to all players.
…is pretty much the end of the tale save for the cleaning up afterwards. We can’t even go find Frodo and Sam, really, as the eagles arrive and whisk them off to rejoin the remains of the fellowship.
Still, I am keen to see Mordor, even if the tale there is going to be another series of supply runs for the free peoples and some sort of post-war favor buying system. Tourist of Middle-earth, that’s me.
I still have yet to decide which character is going to get that level boost into the expansion. I had best decide soon.