It is currently the Yule Festival in LOTRO right now. In terms of what there is to do there is nothing new from last year, but in terms of how it is organised it has changed, and in a way that seems to imply further festivals are going to be changed as well. Hitherto each Festival has had its own associated token. Certain Festival activities have been restricted to a limited number of events per day by another token system (you would get one or two tokens free per day) with more tokens purchasable from the store. For this festival however the Yule Festival Tokens have been changed to simply “Festival Tokens” – clearly a common currency that is going to be shared between all festivals. The special tokens have also been made generic. Finally with each festival there has also been a final set of tokens that one could earn in the “horse raises” (essentially time trials around a course) and you had to get two of these tokens, plus some regular tokens, to get the festival horse. These tokens have also been done away with and any existing also converted to the new regular festival token.
The Yule Festival mostly centres around the town of Frostbluff, basically its own small instanced area. The town has its own little storyline and feels to me like a poorly-done faux-Dickensian world. Indeed, I would go slightly further and say it feels like a very American faux-Dickensian world poorly done. Generally I spend as little time there as possible, and in previous years I have been able to get the various tokens I needed for any Festival items I wanted in a series of quests present in the general world. Lots of people had fun in Frostbluff (from all over the world) and I had fun outside getting the festival horse, which is always my primary aim each festival.
This Yule Festival they have changed the way one gets the horse. Now there is a deed which is associated with doing the quests in Frostbluff, and it has three tiers. Each Tier awards a some “Golden Festival Token” and along with regular Festival Tokens these are required for the new horse. In other words, I am forced to do stuff in Frostbluff. I am not amused.
Moreover there are a couple of items which require one to complete all three tiers of the deed, which is not difficult per se but since the Frostbluff quests are daily quests does require putting in the days. The Yule Festival of course occurs over Christmas and New Year, a time when many players will almost certainly be unable to put in the time due to other commitments (such as me going away to see the in-laws). The new special festival tokens can be used to unlock the daily quests to run a second time, but there is no “free” way of acquiring them this festival, they must be purchased from the store.
So essentially I find myself forced to quest in Frostbluff, and if I want to be able to use certain rewards to have to pay real money to do so because, by design, it is only meant to be accomplished if one can quest for the majority of the possible days of the festival.
The last of these is annoying, but ultimately only works me up so much. I mean, Turbine is a company after all and it needs to make money. This is a way to do so. What drives me up the wall, however, is being forced to quest in Frostbluff to get the horse. Fortunately I only need to do one more night’s activities and I believe I will have enough tokens to get the hose, but damned do I dislike it.