…Every morning you greeeeeet me… ♫ ♪
After several days of dailies in Cataclysm (the game with the strong colors and the low polygon count) I finally lost interest in the game, and I thought that would be a good opportunity to check out the new zone in Lord of the Rings Online.
I must say I was surprised how fast I blew through Enedwaith. Somehow I expected it to take weeks, but it only took about four days. However, that does exclude the dailies (except for their initial quests) and all the small fellowship quests in Thrór’s Coomb.
There were two reasons why I postponed Enedwaith. The first and most relevant reason was that the delay of the F2P patch in Europe took so long that I actually lost interest in LOTRO and got involved in other things. And then there were the criticism found in various forums and blogs; the zone was ugly, the micro-zoning made it feel like an amusement park, the textures were off, the canyon in Gloomglens too “American” and so on.
But now, after having played through the zone, I must say that I really disagree with most of the criticism. I actually thought the zone was quite nice. The pennants flapping in the wind and the new bombastic music defined the atmosphere nicely. All the small areas around the zone didn’t feel too exaggerated to me at all – certainly no more than in other zones such as e.g. Old Forest and Barrow-Downs in Bree-Land.
Mournshaws had some nice solo instance quests, and the woods reminded me of Nektulos Forest in EverQuest II (especially at night). Gloomglens is the home of the small canyon and the new hobbits (Stoors) which I found to be a nice addition as well. Right down through the zone there’s a tile road that looks like something out of ancient Rome. Actually I couldn’t help thinking of The Path of the Titans in World of Warcraft (Dragonblight) as well.
I read a few forum posts claiming that the canyon in Gloomglens was difficult to navigate, but in my opinion it was barely a maze at all. You could walk right up on the ridges from several locations. I’ve experienced mazes in the game that were far worse – how about that maze in northern Mirkwood, for instance (i.e. Scuttledells). That was certainly a lot more annoying.
To be honest, some of the other areas didn’t even seem that different from the central area. I have a feeling that some players have had a bad first hand impression because of how the colors have been exaggerated on the map. Maybe if Turbine had been more subtle with that map, players wouldn’t have had so many complaints about its looks.
That being said, Lich Bluffs in south did have a bit too many wights all over the place. There’s even a camp with two NPC vendors and no quests there at all. It feels as if Turbine hit a deadline here and had to finish it off quickly. If you ride around there to check out things, see if you can find the Monty Python tribute. You can’t do much with it, but it sure brought a smile to my face.
The new enemy models were also fine. I don’t really care about the flawless accuracy of the Tolkien lore, so I don’t have a problem with black demon goats or shadow wolves. I particularly liked the big oxen. They looked hilariously silly when they were stunned.
Quests were mostly of the standard “Kill 10 Foozles” variety, but there were also a few nice solo instance quests. In Mournshaws there’s a collection of these that are even quite varied. One was a race with a spirit that was slightly challenging, although luckily I managed it the first time.