The odd thing about Moria is that, as a region, it gets much better as you move along.
That seems like a way to drive people off… though if you seek to reward persistence, I suppose it has some merit.
The initial quests are dull, presented in the usual quest-hub style, and involve a lot of running back and forth. You end up getting sent back out of Moria at first and then, once inside, areas are dark and narrow and not very interesting. I can see why I gave up the last time around within the threshold of the area. It is something of a let down after all the build up in Hollin.
This time I persisted. First the environments got better. I found the Waterworks to be quite the place to just run around and sight see. The quests were about the same and involved running back and forth pretty much constantly. I wore out the paths around the Rotting Cellar.
From there I made my way to the Redhorn Lodes, where the quests moved from the strict hub dynamic to what I would call a much more organic approach.
You end up picking up quests along the way… though it took me a bit to notice the “you have a new quest” indicator on the right side of the window, as I associate that with the seasonal/holiday events… and some you can turn in on the fly, some send you back to a hub, while others move you forward to a new location. And, like the Waterworks, the environments were still a draw in and of themselves.
I then made my way into the Flaming Deeps which continued the more organic approach and sent me through more epic environments. At the end of that I was level 59 and moving into Nud-melek. There were a few of the “back and forth” quests at the top, but then it evolved into a “take your quest giver with you” set of objectives that brought me to the bridge of Kazad-dum, which was broken.
That was actually a pretty neat moment, and in my head I was all, “Wow, this is where Gandalf fought the balrog that was Durin’s Bane!”
And then the more logical part of my brain pipped in with, “You know, that didn’t really happen. It was a made up story you dolt.” Why can’t I let me enjoy my moment? But I was immersed for a moment there.
Anyway, I stood there looking across the abyss, wondering how Turbine was going to get me across that gap. There is a whole new zone to explore… an outdoors zone… on the other side.
I wondered if the orcs had built some sort of rickety contraption to get over the great gap that separates the first and second halls of Moria.
Or had the dwarves now swarming Moria built up some sort of crossing already?
And, as a secondary thought, where did all those dwarves come from? The soon-to-be-broken fellowship of the ring passed through here… what… fifteen minutes before I got here? Back in Hollin I was picking up their fresh trash, putting out their campfires, and generally acting as cover and janitorial service. Makes you wonder what kind of ranger Aragorn really is.
But now there are hundreds of dwarves swarming the place. They have set up encampments all over and created a regular goat subway system, with standard cross-town goats as well as a spoke-and-hub insta-goat transit service. They have a settlement in the twenty-first hall with a bank, a crafting hall, an auction house, and regular postal service. And I am pretty sure they were building a strip mall there with a Starbucks, a Noah’s Bagels, and a Chipotle.
Did I bump my head somewhere between Hollin and Moria and fall asleep for a year… or five… or twenty? Is the war over?
And speaking of the war, what are all these dwarves doing in Moria screwing around with public transit projects? Don’t they know Sauron needs to be defeated?
Yeah, sometimes it is a burden to have to live inside my head.
But after all of that, how I ended up getting to the other side of the chasm did not seem like a big deal. We just walked around.
Yes, Moria’s main line of defense, the chasm with the single bridge that no army could cross if even a dozen dwarves opposed them, has a big old gap about two football fields up the way. And it isn’t like this was something new, a landslide caused by a balrog hitting the bottom or anything. If you look at the map, they built a road that followed that path. There is a whole Durin’s Way bypass/business loop that lets you avoid the rush hour traffic over the bridge.
So Svanr, my personal dwarf quest giver, and I did some quests, then went ’round the bypass, then did a few more quests that involved killing some orcs and destroying a few mining carts.. I hit level 60 while that was under way.
I now only have five levels of experience boost left in my pocket.
Actually, that is an old screen shot. I think the stats now show the maximum level as 64, so once you hit 65, you have to find something else to put in your pocket. Turbine will sell me an upgraded, good to level 74 version for just 495 Turbine Points if I so desire.
Anyway, from there, Svanr and I headed to the first hall, where he then brought me on a little quest for my first peek outside of Moria.
The goal was to point me at the first quest hub on the path to Lothlorien. Though it was an odd quest, as it happened in a special instanced version of the zone where the quest hub wasn’t active yet. I just had to go there, click on somebody, come back to Svanr, then it was back into Moria again to finally finish up, get a new title, a new goal, and to ride back out on my own.
I was mildly disappointed to find that you cannot walk/ride through the gates of Moria. There is a zone teleport in the first hall that drops you outside of Moria. I get why they did it. It is the gateway between expansions, so they need to keep people who do not own the expansion out. Or they did at one time. I think now you can travel through them all, you just don’t get the quests or some such. Anyway, I have a new zone to explore.
I am standing on the edge of a new expansion. Or close to the edge of one. And who keeps putting down damp cups on all the maps? Could Turbine not come up with a different “this map is either old and weathered or was once a Denny’s place mat” graphic?
At this rate I might have to buy Riders of Rohan some day.