Entwash Vale was more hilly and with weeping willows.
The orcs were clearly strong in this region and had burned down a couple of human settlements. However, the first settlement in the middle, Eaworth, was so big that the orcs had only managed to burn the south part of it. Citizens had moved back to cry in the ashy remains of their houses.
Eaworth had an eerie yellow glow in the middle of the night, like city lights bouncing off rain clouds.
The northernmost settlement, Thornhope, was burned all the way down and now sported orcs and goblins. Even so, the thane and some of his citizens had fled to a small grove outside and still had quests for picking up stuff and killing mobs in there. There was even a repeatable quest for abortively attacking it.
The thane had gone slightly out of his gourd because of the defeat. Understandable.
One thing that puzzled me was the strange disparity between goblins and just about any other kind of solo mob I had met so far in Rohan, including orcs. For some odd reason the goblins were stronger and more hardy in spite of their size. They took longer to kill, dished out more damage, and often came in pairs.
What was up with that? Did the developer forget to dial down a setting for small fellowships?
In the first settlement, I got involved in a hunt for a sword by following dog footprints into the field. The footprints were far part and I had to rely on quest text directions. Eventually I found a dead dog. It lead further on to a dead orc, and then a drake. My first thought was that this quest had been inspired by The Witcher 3, but that would have been impossible as it was not released until three years later.
I guess it must have been the other way around.
The quests led me into two big cave systems, probably to make up for the slightly smaller size of this region. One was swarming with draugs but bugged the offering of additional pop-up quests, including one for the boss that I had killed earlier. A lost opportunity since I didn’t want to repeat it. The other cave system had drakes and several nurseries of drake egg nests.
Mobs were mainly orcs and a few landing drakes, but there were also cattle in the south.
Apart from the pop-up quest bug mentioned above, I also managed to open a door in Thornhope that was locked earlier, maybe because I clicked it from a skewed angle. Behind the door was more of the house wall. Nice. Oh, and I also found two quests that didn’t count correctly, so I had to abandon them.
Is it just me or have the bugs gotten worse in this game?
The north west corner of Entwash Vale led into the Eaves of Fangorn, the thick and overgrown forest from the books where Pippin and Merry meet the Ents. I met them too, and they were of course stoic and of very few words. I was sent out to quench forest fires, kill bats and huorns (walking monster trees), help a coward who lost his arrows find his courage, pick up turnips and acorns, and so on.
The atmosphere in Fangorn was terrific. Really solid forest design. It was ominous and it was difficult to spot those damn huorns, as it should be. I had to check all tree trunks on my way.
In the north east end, I had to team up with a big huorn. A camp of orcs had been burning its friends and it wanted a truce to help killing them. The damn huorn obscured more than half of my screen estate but instead of being annoyed by it, I actually found it quite funny. After all, it was a big ass tree.
Further to the west, spiders and spiderlings starting appearing. Apart from those, I also had to take care of three enormous signature spiders. They were so big even King Kong would have raised an eyebrow.
The forest region ended with a touching tale of the friendship of an Ent and a chirping bird. It was missing as I got there, but I later found it dead further into the forest where orcs were surrounding a pond. The Ent followed me back to see its friend dead. It got so mad that it started killing clusters of orcs just by stomping close to them. As my character pondered later, it was a good thing Ents were on our side.
Although I liked Fangorn and its eerie atmosphere, I was happy to be sent down south to the region of Sutcrofts. Fangorn was nice, but it didn’t exactly have a throng of vendors at the ready.