I have not seen Gilneas yet. I heard it’s rather impressive. It would hardly cost me any effort to visit it. And yet, I haven’t done it. Does it not put a dent of sorts in my claiming that I want to have “more to do than just raiding” and “a world to experience”? As a matter of fact, it doesn’t. Because of the two E – effort and experience.
All I have to do is hop on my flying mount, zip over and look at it. The same way one would look at screenshots on the internet, or a YouTube video. Okay, I’m exaggerating. Of course being there in person means you can run around, climb around, get interesting looks and perspectives, some of them may be pretty awesome. But still, it’s not a matter of “going to Gilneas” or “exploring Gilneas”, but really just happening to be in Gileas. Consuming Gilneas. And then getting the hell out of there, because you need to catch the teleporter to where you need to be next.
I often hear Melmoth complain about the need to travel in LotRO. Funnily, I mostly didn’t perceive travel in LotRO as an annoyance (with the exception of Forochel, where the main epic story mostly consisted of two people sitting at opposite sides of the Bay and making you ride back and forth around that damn freezing-cold thing carrying meaningful one-liner messages). I used to think of it as an experience. When I was in Bree and there was a reason to go to Rivendell, there was the possibility to take a swift ride (i.e. instant travel) from the stable master at the South Gate, but I would rarely use that. In most cases I would mount my own horse, just a plain, simple, brown horse, no pink elekk or angry mammoth, and get on my way.
I would ride eastward through Bree-land, circling around the Midgewater Marshes and remembering the little stories and events I was part of when I was just a beginning adventurer. I would enter the Lone Lands, pass the Forsaken Inn and ride on, frequently looking up towards the Weathertop, towering impressively and visible even from a distance. I would reach The Last Bridge, a monumental construction. I would usually stop there for a bit, especially if the sun was about to rise or set (LotRO doesn’t follow the real-world time of day, but instead a roughly 3 hour cycle, with 6 times of day and 6 times of night, each about 15 minutes in length), because the colours at those times were amazing; and especially when travelling with a friend, because it was a good place to halt and enjoy the scenery.
Then I would enter the Trollshaws, not quite where the lore would have them, but moved south for a greater gameplay relevance and experience, with their beautiful red-leafed trees and the winding road leading further east. At night, a couple of stone trolls (elites) would patrol the road. We used to kill them to make life easier for young adventurers who might have been travelling nearby. We’d sometimes steer off the road a little and towards a stone troll den, killing a few and looking intimidatingly at the others, so they’d remember to fear us and not dare to make too much trouble. Then we’d continue our travel.
We would cross the Bruinen and climb the steep path towards the last part of the journey, a barely touched wilderness where Turbine really managed to capture Tolkien’s description of the journey, the path gradually getting lost between plant and beast, confusing and making the traveller think he’s ultimately lost, and just then he would realise that he’s already there. And then you would descend into the wide valley to the swelling sounds of cheesy string music and the colour palette turning brighter and more vibrant, The Last Homely House in view.
This experience is what made Rivendell an actual place, rather than a postcard motif. We’d sometimes travel there on the eve before a raid night, so we could meet up with the others near Glorfindel the next day. Sometimes we’d go there for a quest, sometimes we’d go there so Alqua could do her scholary business in Elrond’s unique library. Sometimes I’d travel there because I wanted to mine ore in the Misty Mountains. Or for whatever other reason.
The only location I’m lacking to Explore Kalimdor is Orgrimmar – not even Durotar, just Orgrimmar. All I need to do is take the portal to Hyjal, jump on my gryphon, fly, reach, ding, gratz, done. I can do it any time. And since I can do it any time, I can’t be bothered to do it at any particular time. It just doesn’t feel like there’s an experience attached to it.