Daily Archives: July 16, 2007

The Ruins of Far Chetwood

Per Brenden‘s comment on my post “The Shores of Nen Harn,” I ran back up there to take a look at the ruins he mentioned.

He was, of course, correct. A little bit southeast of Nen Harn you will run across a path that will lead you east to the site. There are some nice early third age ruins there on the edge of the Far Chetwood.

There is the remains of a citidel that once dominated one of the local hills.


And there is what was a keep nestled between two other hills in what I felt was a rather exaggerated Fort Necessity fashion. No wonder it fell to the Witch King.


But this little tourist trip also showed me one other aspect of Turbine’s Middle-earth.

As you close in on these ruins, your location changes from Far Chetwood and shows you in the Weather Hills. That implied, to me at least, a connection between areas that was like, you know, the real world.

Compare this to World of Warcraft’s Azeroth, where most zones are pretty well contained with a few choke point connections to other zones.

The only zones I can recall in WoW that have that same sort of broad, natural connection are the three zones outside of Stormwind, Elwynn Forest, Westfall, and Duskwood, which connect along their entire shared borders with a river being the only divider.

Every other zone I can recall in Azeroth has some sort of barrier that limits access to a few points. (The lakes around The Undercity form a similar permeable barrier, if I recall right, but that is a awfully long swim to find a new way into a zone, and I have not been to the Outlands yet, so no idea on that.)

It took me a bit to confirm that my vision of a seamless world with more natural connections was, in fact, the case. The hills near the ruined keep are too steep to scale, but if you veer south enough you will end up in the Lone Lands on the west side of the Midgewater Pass.

For no real good reason, it makes me happy that there are these out of the way locations and natural connections between zones. And it isn’t that Azeroth is necessarily “bad” in comparison. Blizzard’s world just feel more planned. As the quest lines of WoW were carefully designed to lead you through your game experience, the world was crafted to channel and frame that experience.

Turbine’s Middle-earth just feels more like a real place because of these touches, while Azeroth is more like an amusement park. A happy, colorful, fun amusement park that most people, including myself, enjoy, but an amusement park none the less.