Maybe it’s because I feel like I need a vacation these days, but I’m getting a bit nostalgic for certain places. Not in the real world, which is good as my budget doesn’t currently stretch further than a trip to the in-laws for Christmas, but for places in various MMOs that I have explored, adventured through and most likely have been the been the site of a goblin slaughter or two.
The first time I remember being awed by the online world around me was in Lord of the Rings Online. As a lowly level 5 or so, I was ‘ported by a hunter friend to Rivendell which I knew to be a much higher level area. As Theonath had neglected to mention it was also a safe zone, I dared not twitch my mouse lest I get one hit by something. Despite that, I was totally enraptured by the waterfall as it flowed past the Last Homely House and under the Bridge of Rivendell. The pine forests spilled down the hill into the secluded valley and the whole thing was quite idyllic.
Perfect World International has it’s Zen Temple hovering high above the continent. Or even the bustle of Archosaur with its traffic jam of catshops. Speaking of shopping, I remember a really fond evening once spent just exploring Old Stormwind pre-Cataclysm, hopping from vendor to vendor to see what was on offer. For some reason the Alliance always seemed to have better scenery in the vanilla game…
But each of these places adds to the atmosphere of the game, a large part of why we are so eager to immerse ourselves in one virtual world or another. I definitely think part of playing an MMO, or at least a big part of the enjoyment for me is to be a tourist of a sort. The developers work so hard to bring these places to life, it’s a shame so many players run through them in their race to level.
There aren’t too many offline games that I have the same feelings for, though The Elder Scrolls games are an exception. And while I wish Skyrim wasn’t quite so cold and snowy at times, at least they allow mods which means one can change the whole world to something more tropical when it’s too chilly. The whole Elder Scrolls franchise is so rich in lore and personality, it’s no surprise that their online offering is one of the most anticipated in years.
So though I’ve love to be able to escape the winter doldrums here in England, my bank balance isn’t keen on the idea of Tahiti. It’s virtual travel for me this Christmas! On the bright side, I don’t have to worry about exchanging currency, tacky souvenirs or sending postcards.
I hear Tanaris is nice this time of year….