I have finally had some time to start playing LOTRO over the last few nights. The result is that I am now level 77, and have finally acquired my warsteed.
It all started where the epic story left off: Caras Galadhon. In many respects this is a perfect starting point – contra Syp I find it to be a delightful city, and not particularly difficult to navigate about. It is a great example of Turbine’s ability to capture the atmosphere of Tolkien’s settings. The initial stages of Book 7 were very full of story, including a sight-seeing tour of the elven city for our Dunlending companion and stories told around the campfire as we travelled southward. We ended up in the East Wall area, standing before the Argonarth.
As I just wrote, Turbine has a history of brilliantly visualising Tolkien’s creation, and standing before those two grand statues looking up … it was glorious. In what I thought was a rather nice touch there is even a quest in the area where a character specifically wishes to view them. Somehow I think Turbine wanted to make sure there was a chance the artwork was actually seen.
The majority of Book 7 tells the tale of the breaking of the fellowship, usually through session play after uncovering evidence of what went on. All in all it is skillfully done, playing the roles of several characters in the ensuing chaos. Along with the epic book there are also two primary quest hubs – a band of Rohirrim who have recently been ambushed by orcs and a band of adventurers/refugees trying to make their way north. The quests weave in with the Book 7 quests very effectively. There is one point, for example, where a Rohirrim reports over-hearing some orcs talking about the attack of a mighty warrior – and I thought “Boromir” – and sure enough in due course one uncovers the spot where he makes his final stand.
When you leave the Rohirrim behind one gets the sense of having assisted them in the immediate aftermath of a crisis – and that this little band of men are about to become forgotten in the war that is coming. Along with the band of adventurers it helps one thinks of all the stories of the “ordinary folk” of Tolkien’s world that Tolkien largely leaves untold (though we get glimpses of them, in the books – think Beregond, Bergil, and Ioreth). The adventurers come across as beleaguered folk, but each with a clear personality. Storytelling is one of the Turbine’s strong points after all.
One of the tasks associated with the adventurers involves climbing up Amon Hen. The view is just … another wow moment. I think it is right up there with standing atop Weathertop for the first time (which I remember). Perhaps not quite as iconic as that first look into Rivendell – but close.
In another nice touch there are various points where the Rohirrim make somewhat unflattering remarks about the mounts we have and how they are not proper warsteeds. At the end of Book 7 one is teleported from the East Wall to the northern Wold where one can begin the quest lines to get such horses, but that is for another post.
My impression leaving the East Wall was of a very well put together area. One can actually acquire warsteeds independent of the epic quest line and use them in this area, but the area is designed for one to still be on foot. It is visually stunning – Ravalation has some great pics of the area. I personally have a strong autumnal feel from the area. All in all though a great introduction to the new expansion.