In some cases, the main character of any MMORPG is the world you inhabit. The world breathes life into the stories, the people and more in any compelling story. Some of the greatest MMORPGs have iconic locations that stick with us long after we've moved on.
The story of the game world around us helps root all the other stories being told to something. Without Azeroth, the history of World of Warcraft doesn't exist. Same with the sweeping hills, valleys and deserts of Tamriel. Without the divisions on land, we would not have the political division that make up the three factions in The Elder Scrolls Online.
Game locations themselves give so much flavor to the game world that they stick with us long after we've moved onto the next zone, expansion or even game. Thinking back to the traffic outside of Jita in EVE Online always reminds me of how important the trading hub is to the life of New Eden. Kul Tiras' rickety ports and sweeping towers showcase the history and culture of the Kul Tiran people long before you ever speak to someone.
For me, no game world compares to Middle-earth (shocker, I know). If you haven't noticed by now, I'm a Tolkienist - and huge fan of Tolkien's works and the secondary world he created. The world feels rooted in reality - its history, both known and forgotten, feels rooted in our own world so well that you might be forgiven if you heard the story of Eärendil the Mariner and thought it was simply folklore from our ancestors.
I've explored the world Standing Stone Games has created in The Lord of the Rings Online front and back over the 13 year history of the MMORPG, and no matter how awe-inspiring though the battlements of Minas Tirith might be, nothing compares to The Shire in Eriador.
While I've rarely played a Hobbit in the MMO, instead opting for an Elf because why not, I've spent most of my time relaxing in Middle-earth in The Shire. The sweeping grass hills of the four farthings are always beautiful to behold, and watching the stars come out over Woodhall never gets old. Sitting at Bag End, overlooking Hobbiton and the Party Tree is a great way to end a day of long questing, and taking in a pint in The Green Dragon with friends always makes for a great stream.
There is a sense of calm in The Shire, something LotRO does really well to get across even within the confines of the game. A sense that no matter how bad the things are beyond their borders (or even within them during this part of the Third Age), things aren't so bad that you can't stop and smell the roses.
In fact, I find myself gravitating towards that feeling even in my real life right now. That philosophy is helping tremendously as I get through the isolation and sheer craziness that is 2020. As a single dad, dealing with Covid and how its affected not only my work, but also the life of my 11 year, it can start to drain on me. Taking a few moments - sometimes with that 11 year old - and just avoiding nosey Hobbits while running pies throughout the Shire is what I need to recharge for the next challenge.
What is your favorite location in any MMO you've played, and why? What about that place makes it your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.