You know that things were getting bad when I consider a blood-red swamp of misery to be a marked improvement on the landscape of Mordor so far. But it’s true. Also, hi Puddleglum peeking out of the right side of the frame!
To be honest, I had just about had it with LOTRO’s Talath Úrui. I know I’ve complained about this before, so I’ll keep it short here, but it’s a simply miserable zone in design, looks, and especially quests. The whole place is “take two steps, walk into a giant public dungeon area, spend the next three days slowly finishing quests in it, rinse and repeat.” There’s so little imagination on display and the quest flow is so poorly constructed that it just feels like the devs threw up their hands and surrendered when it came to this place.
And so I was more than ready to move on when I’d finished the epic story in that area. On to the last zone of the expansion, Agarnaith!
Agarnaith, or the “Bloody Gore,” is a huge shift from the ash-strewn volcano zones that mostly came before. Like Lhingris, it offers some visual relief with lighter skies and actual vegetation. Granted, it all looks like the place was just visited by the elevator from The Shining, but I can deal with that. And actually, it’s a really unusual and somewhat unique look for MMOs. Can’t think of too many other zones that feature a red swamp, although LOTRO did have one once before (Agamaur in the Lone-lands).
It all feels so much better to be questing here. The mob density, at least in the first half of the zone, is more typical LOTRO and not the crazy-packed insanity of some other parts of Mordor. And even better is the travel: The valley here is mostly wide-open, so there’s little in the way to keep you from picking a path and going. I don’t usually like it when MMOs hem me in overmuch in zone design.
I do have concerns about the big fortress that I see on the horizon and its difficulty, but then, it’s only one after I’ve already braved a half-dozen or so Mordor strongholds to date.