Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My First Impressions of Moria

It might be “just” an area within a greater game, but to me so far, Moria has something special about it, full good details and a few key flaws, and all of them together are making my experience in this area very special so far.

It all starts with a Prologue to the Epic Moria quests, which you can start before finishing the Shadows of Angmar ones, like I did. Yeah, I admit, I was way too curious to peek into Moria, and I didn’t want to peek around google or youtube, I wanted to see it for myself. Descriptions of it from my guildmates included annoyances at the massive quantity of quests and awe for the huge maps. Lord of the Rings’ books and movies do tell of how expansive Moria can be, but it did not prepare me for what I’m seeing.

So, as I was saying, the quest that introduces you to the gates of Moria are also the one who will introduce you to a very unique system in LotRO: the Legendary weapons. I love how they made it, with a lot of story instead of just having some NPC saying “hey, things changed, you can use this special kind of weapon now”.

I might be outdated or stuck under a rock, but to me, this is the first time I see so much detail and experience points that go towards your weapon. And you can also name them! At a first glance, whenever I’d click on a weapon link in guild chat, I’d be clueless to what all those things and symbols on the description were. Part of me still is, which is why I even had to go after some guides to help me out on figuring out some details.

In short, your Legendary weapon is an age lost relic that has to be inspected by a Forge-master in order to reveal what special properties does it have. On its first inspection, the weapon will reveal 3 Legacies, which are special bonuses that can vary from a wide list depending on your class. As you kill mobs, there is a chance for other Legendary weapons to drop, and those, or your old unwanted ones, can be used at a Relic-master to break into Relics, which are like the many “socket” options in other games. Relics can then be combined to improve, or broken into shards to create other kinds of relics. It is a whole little system that makes you have to think a bit about your very own weapon. Also, some daily quests within Moria will give you scrolls that can apply a different kind of damage to your weapons, which is very useful to get a bit of advantage against the hordes of different kinds of creatures you’ll encounter.

But let me go back to talking about Moria itself.

The very first impression to me was the darkness. I hate dark environments in games. I’d even do my “inventory break” during LotRO’s night time to avoid it, going to sell, going to the bank to share some drops with my little alts and so on. There is no option in Moria though, but surprisingly, now I am used to it, and actually love the whole different atmosphere from the other games I’m playing.

The other great feel that Moria gives me, is the constant reminder that I am just a tiny hunter in a huge and dangerous dungeon. There are no hill tops to view what is in the distance, and the map doesn’t really detail the stone labyrinths you didn’t see forming around you. I get lost, a lot, and I love the feel of adventure it gives me, of how I need to remember in which bend is the way out, map on my head which way had less enemies, and even plan how to pull enemies so that I don’t get a whole group with a patrol.

There is a huge amount of quests, plus the Moria Epic quests, and this was another point where I had to go after help to organize myself. My plan is to clear out the whole of Moria, though I might skip fellowship quests and dungeons if I can’t find a group. So I went and searched for some progression tips to help me pick which way to go, since the dwarves are quite eager to use my hunter’s help, sending her to different corners at the same time. An overall rule is to follow the Epic Quest, go to the area, finish the epic there itself and then the side ones.

As I’ve mentioned, there are some negative points that are not too bad, and just help model my overall impression of Moria. One of them is the fact that everything seems to take time. Things are either far or with a truck load of mobs in between the points you’d like to reach. With my not very healthy store goat (you can’t use horses inside Moria) it is very difficult to skip mobs, specially when I don’t know the way and I might very well bump into a wall with 5 angry goblins on my toes. So again, that feeling of not being in a safe area, but into a massive dungeon creeps in, and while it is fun, it is also time consuming, making my Moria adventures something I have to plan during the day, rather then just logging in for some quick kills for quests. Another point is that, so far, Moria is the only massive quest area to go past level 50+, and I wonder if, some months from now, when I am done with Moria, I’ll still feel this happy about it and willing to take an alt through it.

So here I am posting about the first impressions, and curious of how I’ll be reading this when my hunter finally reaches the outside world again, and just reaching the borders to Lothlorien. By the way, I tried to go exploring that way already, which was funny and hurtful, and a recommended adventure to just do the “Fellowship speed run” through Moria.

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