Since October 2011 I've been playing LOTRO in Mirkwood. A lot has happened that took me away from the game, not to mention that the in game festivals also took my focus away from this dark forest.
Mirkwood continues the story started in Moria. While it did continue in Lothlorien, it is far from its end when you finally cross the river and have to get used again to being in the dark. And surrounded by enemies, too. I've died quite a couple of times in the first days just because I wasn't used to being in hostile areas anymore. The Golden Wood had few enemies that would be aggressive, but now it is like I am back into Moria, but with trees and sky.
|Looking to Lothlorien from Southern Mirkwood.|
The area is very linear, with your epic quest quests grouped with the other quests from the area. Most of the times I could make only one trip to a certain area, complete all quests, and back to the NPCs to deliver. While that is very practical, it became a bit mechanic at some points, in which I would just take a break from playing.
Stories and Quests
Most of the stories are about the mysteries of Mirkwood, with lots of "kill 10 rats" quests so that you can clear some of the nasty wildlife, ghosts and undead. Not need to mention that you gotta kill orcs all the time as usual.
But I did enjoy the ghost story quest at the Haunted Inn. It starts creepy, keeps being creepy, and ends in a creepy way. I wish I could describe more, but I don't want to spoil it. Just remember to complete that one, in case you like to skip some or the quests that are not related to the main epic quest.
The epic storyline was not as fun as the dwarven version, again, even though now dwarves and elves go together in certain parts. I personally thought the idea that took players to Mirkwood bad, which I don't want to spoil (again), but the execution was good, and more friendly about doing the quests surrounding the story areas.
Thing is, I like the humor the dwarves bring, and the elves don't bring any humor at all. Still, the elves are interesting in that they have the sorrow of immortality and the curiosity of those who have all the time in the world. They will ask you to explore ruins and other creepy mysteries within the forest and help you understand what happened there, which is something I enjoy much more then to be told to kill 10 wolves because they are poisoned.
Elements from the books were inserted in a very discreet and rewarding way, where I didn't expect to really see such moments, but kept thinking it would be nice to happen: and there they were. You will see moments that are only vaguely described in the books to be told with a bit more detail and right before your eyes.
Which makes me hope they will eventually add the other part of Mirkwood, the one with the elven kingdom from where Legolas came from, and where Bilbo visited with all his dwarf "buddies". I haven't searched on why they didn't add that part right as they launched Southern Mikwood, but I got the time and patience to wait and see what is the master plan.
Sights and Landscape
Mirkwood is a beautiful adventure, even though it IS a very dark and haunted-looking forest. I started it in October (yes, I took forever to finish it) right around Halloween, and it made me feel it was like being in a themed event that had the finesse of not being too cheesy.
The colors are mainly brown, and the light is always scarce, making you feel like you are indeed in a very deep and humid forest. Some areas will even have the "spotlight" feature that is seen in some areas of Moria, to show you that you are in complete darkness.
The way the orc encampments were spread and the ruins are occupied by enemies bring that "Moria feeling" of danger back, which was welcome after the peaceful trip that was Lothlorien.
Conclusion and moving on
At this point I am still doing the Epilogue quests of the Mirkwood epics. They are not required to be completed in order to move on, which I am glad since I haven't had the time to group up to finish some of the more challenging ones. The plan now is to start on the new Volume and then head out to finally experience the Rise of Isengard content.