One of the problems I have with quest-driven leveling in modern games, is that I end up depending on the carrot to lead me around way too much. Eventually, I lose sight of the carrot altogether and then I stop playing. I know it’s kind of a silly metaphor, but it happened to me in both World of Warcraft at level 40 and in Lord of the Rings Online at level 32.
What seems to occur is that I will end up with a group of quests that are too hard to do solo, or else a bunch of quests designed specifically for groups. Since I seem to have some sort of mental block around finding groups, I usually log on a few times and log back off. Finally I cancel the game.
However, since I have a lifetime account for LotRO, I didn’t cancel and continued to pop in once and a while to see what’s new. One day a few weeks ago (with my hunter that was stuck at level 32) I decided to get on my horse and ride to Rivendell. I had not been there yet and I realized I did have one quest asking me to talk to someone there so off I went.
I traveled by day to avoid the trolls in the Trollshaws and made it to the Ford of Bruinen. I chose to make camp alongside the river for the night and continue my journey the next day. The next day I resumed my run to Rivendell but the closer I got, the higher the level of mobs in the area were. It took a few “run away!” moments here and there, but eventually I did make it to Rivendell safely and what a sight that was.
The best part of this whole adventure was that I had a lot of fun and it really was not a quest that led me there but a simple desire to see Rivendell. Upon arrival I found there were several quests and some of them didn’t even require me to leave the area. Before I knew it I had hit 33 and soon after that 34. What a shock it was to level again. Now I was close to 35 which grants a faster horse so I went back to Evendim and noticed I could complete a lot of the quests that were too hard before. I was gaining XP without much effort and I soon hit level 37! All this in only about 2 weeks time (granted the 25% XP bonus has helped a lot).
The whole thing has renewed my interest and I couldn’t stop finding things to do. With my fresh mount I would look at the mountains to the north and wonder what was over them. Or I would see a path and wonder where it went. One of them took me to Forochel without me even knowing that was where I was headed. I found amazing waterfalls, creatures I had not seen before, ruins with strange things to explore and it all left me fully hooked once again.
So next time you find yourself wondering what happened to the carrot, take a look around you and go see what is over that hill. You just might find a whole field full of fresh carrots just waiting to be picked.
UPDATE: After I finished writing this, I logged in and worked on a quest chain that led to killing a mama and papa salamander (The Terrible Secret of the Salamanders). I was defeated about 7 times and did not finish it. My mood changed quickly. Oh well, those are the breaks.
UPDATE 2: After writing that, I tried a Death Knight in WoW. Damn you Blizzard!