Through the Paths of the Dead
The standard format of MMOs goes that the higher up in levels you go, the uglier and more visually oppressive zones get. Naturally, there are exceptions to this, and this trope does seem to be changing these days, but that’s the rule of thumb. Happily, LOTRO seems to go back and forth between attractive and dismal settings, and being able to explore the beauty of Gondor makes getting up to these high levels worth it.
Even though this is my second time going up through the levels, I’m still incredibly impressed with what the devs did with Gondor. Rohan was admittedly gorgeous and got a lot of press, while Gondor seems to be an expansion that was chopped up into smaller parcels and never given its full due. But it really is a terrific region, with its own music, architecture, and narrative. It even worked in some Elves, if you go for that sort of thing. I don’t, but hey, it’s a break from wall-to-wall Man stuff we’ve had ever since Dunland.
Behind in levels, ahead in spirit
My Lore-master has been racing behind the level curve of these new areas and quests. I could only just get into the new volume of the epic quest at level 91 (it starts at 95 and quickly ramps up to 100). I decided to slow down for a bit in the first area of Gondor to do a bunch of side quests and knock out a few more levels. I think it’s paid off: I’m level 94 and I figure that if I can at least get to 96, I’ll be able to go through the next few books of the epic with no worries (books 2-4 are all level 100 content; book 5 starts going from 101 to 105).
Ugh. So, so pretty. I loved this brook, especially when the daylight hit it. I am still bowled over by the sense of world that LOTRO gives. It’s not just wall-to-wall mobs and quests, but there’s a lot of wilderness and places to explore. It feels big, but not in an “I’m totally lost” sort of way.
I’m not as big of a fan of the Gondor interiors as I was of Rohan, but both are lightyears ahead of the younger region of Bree and those houses.
The Elven cave city is one of the more interesting locales of the game, I have to admit. Seems like a lot of work was done in it for a relatively small payoff. I do have a lot of questions about those Christmas lights and how the Elves put them up there and keep them lit.
A new look
I have hundreds of mithril coins (thanks, lifetime sub for all of those TP), so I splurged at the market and equipped myself with a snazzy new outfit for my Lore-master. Some black die made it look sharp, and I really like the hood design that sort-of covers one eye. I also used a low-level ash staff as a cosmetic weapon, since I prefer that natural look to those weird, funky LI staves.