Quick list today! Out of the roughly 30 or so regions that make up Middle-earth in LOTRO (so far), here are the six that I enjoy the most — aesthetically, design-wise, and for questing.
1. The Shire
Sure, everyone says the Shire, but that doesn’t make it any less of a personal favorite. The pastoral landscape, kooky inhabitants, low-consequence quests, and strong ties to the books all work together to make a zone that’s still a wonderful journey even today. Probably all of the testing and polish as a beginner zone helped too, eh?
The Shire gets a lot of the publicity, but I am also nearly equally fond of Bree-land. It packs so much into one zone, including marshes, the Old Forest, the Barrow-downs, farm country, ancient ruins, a shrine to Standing Stone, and oh yeah, a major city and the hub of Eriador. I love the little secrets found about here, like the graveyard and freeze tag.
I love me some winter zones and neeeeearly put Wildermore here. That seems to make sense, since it’s a lot more Christmasy (if that’s a term), but I have an abiding fondness for Forochel that secured the spot. It’s just so different than the rest of the landscape, a frozen wasteland with water that will literally kill you, mammoths, and stark winter beauty everywhere. Oh, and the northern lights!
4. Southern Mirkwood
This is probably the most “evil” zone on this list, but I am so fond of it even so. Mirkwood has great atmosphere, a nice variety of locations, isn’t too difficult to traverse, and even has a haunted inn to boot. Perfect when you’re in the Halloween mood.
5. Western Rohan
I almost want to put “all of Rohan” here but that’s probably cheating. I’m so darned impressed by how much attention and artistry was given to this country, and there are areas that take my breath away with how beautiful they are. Plus, the architecture looks amazing — I want a Rohan house darn it!
6. North Ithilien
Gondor has an interesting variety and some nice stretches of wilderness. But for my money, North Ithilien is the best of it all, a “garden” of beauty that stretches from the mountains of Mordor down to the river below. I couldn’t stop taking screenshots here, and I was glad to get such eye candy before heading into the ugly Wastes.
What are your favorite LOTRO zones?