Back in November, I penned a missive relating to the new Mines of Moria expansion (herein referred to as Moria) to the popular MMORPG, The Lord of the Rings Online (herein referred to as LotRO). Now that a few months have passed, I'd like to revisit a few things and give you a bit more analysis.
Many people have lauded the release of Moria as a great addition to the LotRO world, and that couldn't be a truer statement. The developers at Turbine have really outdone themselves. That being said, there are a few bugs here and there that pop up from time to time. They mostly fall in the category of "annoying" more than anything (disappearing and reappearing grodbogs in the Redhorn Lodes for one), but there are a few things that can be taken care of with a few patches. Overall, it's been an exceptionally smooth release.
It's been stated over and over again, but Moria truly is a vast area of gaming space. There are 10 separate zones within Moria (nine inside Moria itself and one outside zone called Zirakzigil, which you can access by heading to the far northwestern edge of Durin's Way). On top of the zones themselves (none of which, outside of a few small rooms within the areas require any type of zoning), there are several instanced dungeons to play. With the expansion, the areas of Eregion and Lothlorien are introduced, but the area outside the First Hall known as Lothlorien is a fairly small (but quest-heavy) area. The Golden Wood has yet to be opened up. It's suspected that it will be the first "epic book" release, continuing the epic quest chain from Moria, although this is pure speculation. Eregion itself is a great place to quest, with the Tham Mirdain quests obtained at Mirobel which can keep you busy for a while as well as the many different quest hubs. The quests for the Library and School at Tham Mirdain are especially good, because they are small fellowship instances (requiring 3 person teams only) and they give you access to a myriad of legendary heritage runes which can level up your legendary weapon VERY quickly. There are other places you can grab quests within Eregion itself, all of them about level 50-52 or so, including Echad Eregion, Gwingris, and Echad Dunann.
The zones within Moria are set up for specific levels, and progress naturally as your character does. If you complete the quests around Eregion starting at level 50, you should end up somewhere around level 52 or 53 (depending on how much enhanced XP you have to use and how much XP hunting you like doing with your character in Eregion). As stated in my previous article, if and when you complete the first epic book in the new Moria quest chain (obtained by a dwarf at Echad Dunann in Eregion near the Walls of Moria), you can gain entrance into Moria itself. Consequently, completing this first epic book will also give you your first legendary weapon, but more on that in Part 2 of my article.
But the real fun begins inside Moria. Here's just a quick breakdown of the areas inside Moria:
The Great Delving - This is the first area inside Moria from Eregion, and has many easy quests you can complete between levels 51-53. There are a few quest hubs here, but the main one is the Dolven-view. Here, you can obtain a myriad of quests, and you can also find your class-specific NPC to exchange those "Rusted Dwarf Tools" and "Khuzdul Tablets" for additional legendary weapons. Incidentally, at the moment, Dolven-view is the only place in the game you can exchange these items. I suspect that will change with an update to the game as well. Another great thing at the Dolven-view are the two quest NPCs that give you three levels of solo legendary weapon advancement quests. They are located right across from the stable master. For the price of an infused garnet, sapphire or adamant (which are somewhat regular drops by the mobs within Moria, Eregion and Lothlorien), you can complete these solo quest instances for great legendary weapon experience and legendary weapon modifiers. These solo quests are repeatable on a timer, so you can do them at least once a day. The first ones are suitable for around level 53 or so, the second group is set up for level 56-57, and finally the last group is set up for level 59-60. Of course, if you want to try them before you get to those levels, you are more than welcome. Just remember that there are usually several requirements for success in these instances, and if you aren't at a high enough level, you might not be able to complete all the tasks to which you are assigned. As for the rewards for these quests, some of the modifiers give you additional damage bonuses against orcs, beasts or the Undead, or you can choose to give your weapon a race-specific damage type, thereby giving your weapon a nice green or red glow. The Great Delving is also where you can start to learn about grodbogs (and bed bugs!) as well as the large creatures that dwell inside Moria. If you're a crafter of any kind, here is where you can begin to mine Khazad metals and obtain extraordinary and magnificent hides for your levelling pleasure. And as with many of the quest hubs within Moria, a Forge-Master and Relic-Master await you to assist you with all of your legendary weapon needs.
Silvertine Lodes - From the Great Delving and the Dolven-view, the Silvertine Lodes is one area you could venture next. Here, you will find a quest hub called The Deep Descent. It's got a few goblin-related quests you can complete, but the big one here is an instance called The Forgotten Treasury. I would suggest remembering this and coming back when you are around level 58 or so to complete this effectively. It's a great instance and can be done relatively quickly with a good group. The Forgotten Treasury has several great rewards, including a nice Amber Ring, which is a great ring for hunters and captains. Now making your way around the Silvertine Lodes itself is a bit tricky, so I always recommend putting your "personal light" on by selecting ALT+F10. This will give you a bit more light around you to help you see your way around the Silvertine Lodes. In fact, there are several places within Moria that I recommend that you do this as a way to help you see your way through, but as you get into the other parts of Moria, you won't need it all the time.
Durin's Way - North of the Dolvin-view is Durin's Way. There's a decent little quest hub here called The Chamber of the Crossroads. Be careful here and try not to jump the well in the center of the room! It connects to the Waterworks (another zone in Moria) and if you fall into it, you will end up zoning out and zoning back in, still falling, and dying in another zone. Now if you want to just do the well for laughs, it's quite fun, but if you're trying to complete a quest and you end up in another zone, it can be frustrating. If you're interested in furthering the epic quest chain in Moria, you'll spend a good bit of time venturing back to the Chamber of the Crossroads for various steps in the quest chain. Just off the entrance to the Chamber, there's a passageway that can take you safely to the 21st Hall, the main social hub within Moria.
Durin's Way / 21st Hall - The 21st Hall is sort of its own zone, as it sits directly between Durin's Way and Zelem-Melek. In fact, as you run around the area that is the 21st Hall, you'll go back and forth between each of these two areas on the map. The 21st Hall is the main social hub of Moria, and as such, includes many of the features you find in the other major cities; an auction house, a banker, a crafting hall (including all superior level crafting hubs), a bard (for rearranging all those wonderful traits), and all the class trainers. Alas, no pub or brew-house in Moria...these dwarves are all about business! But as you enter the 21st Hall, you are immediately taken to the scene in the movie "The Fellowship of the Ring" where Gandalf, Frodo, Aragorn and the rest of the Fellowship are hunted by goblins and orcs only to be driven off by the Balrog. A tip of the hat to Peter Jackson and his crew who did the movie...much of the same tall columned architecture is used in Turbine's interpretation of the 21st Hall. Of course, in the movie, outside of the goblins and orcs, there were no dwarves alive there. So this is a much different social scene from the one depicted in the movies. But here in the 21st Hall, you will have access to several quests as well as the continuation of the epic quest chain.
A couple of tips to remember as you venture into Moria...first, always pick up the travel locations whenever you see one. These are indicated on the map as horse heads (although you don't use horses to travel in Moria, you use rams!). Each time you get to one you don't have, get it unlocked. Each one connects you with another part of Moria you might not have had before. Also, don't forget to use the ALT+F10 trick if you're ever unable to see exactly where you're going. Many of the animals and beasts inside Moria are on "threaten but don't attack" mode, but they will attack if you let them, so be on your guard! And make sure to complete as many quests as you can before moving onto another zone. They are mostly self-contained within each zone and being able to do super-fast travel between spots is dependent on your ability to get a certain amount of quests done in each zone...so get 'em done!
In Part 2 of my article, we'll talk more about the zones within Moria itself, and break down the rest of them by level so you can know what to expect when you venture into Khazad-dum! Also, I'll go into detail about how the epic dungeons are set up and how you can use each one to get a piece of really cool gear. See you next time!