I've played quite a few MMOs this year - I mean, I would hope that is a given thanks to my job title and the name of the site on the left-hand side of the screen. Throughout those MMOs, stories have been woven and told, some good and some not so good. This year, though, the few MMOs that dominated my gametime outside of work hours really stood out to me thanks to their story.
I mentioned earlier on this year that I was "catching up" so to speak on The Lord of the Rings Online. Specifically I was getting upset that I was sleeping on the Dwarvish stories being told in the northern reaches of Rhovanion, and the trials of Durin the VII. That has only carried into Fate of Gundabad which, while I do think the storytelling is deliberately spread out to get players to spend Mithril Coins to travel instead of hoofing it through the winding passages of Mountain-home, I did enjoy the story itself.
In fact, it's probably my favorite story quest I've played all year. And part of this is because it accomplishes a few things that are important to me.
First, it does resolve much of the storytelling that Standing Stone Games has woven the last few years with the Longbeards, Zhelruka and Stout-Axe Dwarves. While the pacing is a bit suspect at times, and as much as I enjoy knowing that I'm not the "chief" hero in the Lord of the Rings world (that distinction falls to Samwise, thank you), I don't enjoy the mundane stuff that SSG oftentimes send me to do. However, the ending of Fate of Gundabad (thus far) is satisfying, and it wraps up stories in a way that feels like the journey was worth it in the end.
Secondly, and most importantly for The Lord of the Rings Online: the story feels like it belongs in Middle-earth. Without spoiling anyhing for those who are interested in checking it out for themselves, character actions and motivations are quitissentially Tolkienian. Almost to a fault in some cases.
While I do feel the story falls to heavily on Dwarvish tropes like greed for power (and mithril) as well as the Dragon Voice (this time replacing the Dragon Sickness Tolkien used not just on Dwarves but also on Turin (thanks for that, Glaurung), they at least fit into the world. This is something Standing Stone Games has done to great effect over the years, and it's nice to see that, even after the book stories have all but "ended," that hasn't gone away.
How about you, though? Is there a specific storyline from an MMO you played this year that sticks out to you as memorable? Let us know in the comments below.