Recently I wrote about my more or less triumphant return to The Elder Scrolls Online, a game which I dearly love and continue to play. I lauded its suitability for the roleplayer-at-heart, its attention to detail and endless lore. Which makes it all the more ironic that, this past week, I turned back to my first love seeking what I really, truly want out of an MMORPG: a solid RP community.
I’m not taking back what I said about ESO, and I might come back in a month or two and sing an entirely different tune, but the fact of the matter is that since I’ve been a regular in Tamriel again, I’ve been unable to find a group or guild that I really click with for RP. And it’s not for lack of trying – I spend every dull moment at work browsing the official forums, Reddit, Discord hubs, anywhere that the perfect guild advertisement could catch my eye. I’ve met some great people with great character development, but the consistency and the content I guess I’m looking for just hasn’t cropped up. In my experience so far, ESO feels very focused on one-to-one RP than group, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s not precisely what I’m looking for.
Long story short, my wandering gamer’s eye wandered over to LOTRO, not only because I have exceedingly fond memories of it from when I played it close to launch, but because it’s still spoken highly of on the internet for its roleplaying scene. I had a few toons on Landroval, the US “roleplay encouraged” server, so I decided to check it out. After a little poking around, I was told in no uncertain terms that if roleplaying was what I wanted, then Laurelin, the EU “roleplay enforced” server was where I needed to be.
Not to be discouraged, I rolled up a new toon on Laurelin and dove straight in, only to be rewarded immediately by World-chat advertisements of an annual Elven ball happening a few days later. The kinship leader encouraged me to attend, and so I took their advice, showing up fashionably (or not so fashionably) to the party in time to miss the dancing and festivities, but just in time to meet a couple friends and have an intimate chat by the fireside over wine and haunted elf-memories (the best kind).
Dear Reader, this is the first real, quality experience I’ve had in an MMORPG since before Battle for Azeroth launched on WoW and my guild scattered to the winds. Needless to say, I was enchanted. I immediately applied to the kinship hosting the ball – my application hasn’t gone through yet, but I’ll be sure to keep you updated – and went “home” with a warm, fuzzy feeling in my belly that was more than virtual wine.
While ESO certainly has the lore and the detail perfect for a roleplay scene, LOTRO was practically built for it. You can’t find a world richer than the one Tolkien spent decades building and that the devs spent years embellishing. The Middle-Earth of LOTRO feels truly lived in, loved, and well-equipped for roleplayers, from the music system to the housing. I am at once excited to have potentially found my community and deeply saddened that I missed this game in its RP heyday. It must have been amazing.
I’ll be sure to keep track of any further shenanigans I have in LOTRO (or elsewhere, of course) here, but for the time being, I’d better get back to leveling my character – Middle-Earth won’t save itself!