Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Mate Isernore

Feelin' a bit low today so instead of doing anything productive I tried once again to jump into the tried-and-true escapist fantasy of middle-earth.
So I picked up my main character's quest progression in LotRO where I left it a few weeks ago after leaving it weeks before that, somewhere in Western Rohan. In the ten minutes or so it took me to get disgusted and log out again, I was faced once again with LotRO's (and MMO's overall) current philosophy of unassailable post-ironic self-ridicule. Such works of art have frequently been called "theme-park" games because of the lack of choice offered to players... but Mate Isernore sort of takes the cake.

You're sent there from another location of course by a convenient map ping because asking you to do any actual exploration, to take a look at the world you inhabit, would be too much of a burden. So as you autopilot your way to the foot of the mountain, several different quests instantly pop into your quest log. Kill this many orcs at Mate Isernore. Click this many glowing objects at Mate Isernore. Kill this many of the bigger orcs at Mate Isernore. Complete both of the orc-killing quests at Mate Isernore. It is trim, it is economical, it is straightforward, containing no confusing divergence. It is right in front of you. Soldier on, oh undaunted hero of middle-earth, for nothing might daunt you here.

If this were an attraction in a Florida theme-park, it might be called Goblin Mountain. Having paid your entrance fee, you scale it along the completely linear catwalks, killing orc after orc, clicking glowie after glowie, all lined up for you like pre-recorded compliments. Once your reptilian brain slithers to the top replaying the all-too-familiar motions a couple dozen times or so, you find that the totality of killing and clicking was precisely enough to complete all the so-called "quests" you were assigned. The orcs below you have already started respawning for the next paying customer. You have reached the top. You are at the pinnacle. You are amazing. You are now free to teleport back to receive your hard-earned reward, to ride back down on a euphoric rush of undeserved success. Don't forget to pick up something at the concession stand, a pop-up reminds.

You will never have cause to return to this spot. Your actions here have done nothing at all to influence any other player in this supposedly multiplayer game.

We hope you enjoyed the ride.

(pssst: concession stand!)

No comments:

Post a Comment