A Journey through the new Lone-Lands
With the launch of Siege of Mirkwood, one of the first things that I wanted to do, after trying skirmishes of course, was to have a character run through the new Lone Lands content. This update to the Lone Lands had been one of the big talking points in the lead up to the SoM launch, and I had read Orion’s blog (you can find it here) with bated breath waiting for this revamped content. So, in preparation, I leveled a hunter to level 20, parked him in Bree, and waited for the launch.
So away I went! Off to see Saeradan at his cabin north of Bree (which is where Gandalf sends you now, instead of just to the Lone Lands). As I approached, I noticed that he now had the same symbol over his head that stables master do. What could this mean? Upon advancing the quest, I clicked on him again, and low and behold, he had a horse route to Candaith, in the Lone Lands! Not only that, but it was free. I was then treated to a nice ride through eastern Bree-Lands, going into areas that I had never been. What an experience. I arrived at Candaith several minutes later, ready to dive into questing.
The quests around Candaith were very familiar, and once I completed those, I went to the Forsaken Inn to continue my Lone-Lands experience. Once there, it started to become very clear to me that there was a definite move from west to east across the zone. This theme of eastern movement continued throughout my time in the Lone-Lands (with some exceptions) and changed my view of the zone . I was never a fan in the past. I always thought that there was too much running back and forth, and I would rather spend my time fighting or questing, not running.
There were a few outright changes to the zone:
1) The addition of the Eglain is included in the change to the Epic Book quests. Instead of having to go directly to Radagast the Brown, you must instead find out where he is, and the only people who know are the Eglain. The won’t tell you right awa,y though. First you have to gain their trust. This is the first time that reputation is required to advance the Epic Books, and I think that the way it is implemented here is a great way to introduce the concept to new players. In this case, you have to complete enough quests to gain Friend status.
The quests that you have to complete are fairly straightforward. Kill X of Y mob, Kill X named mob, etc. I did find that they flew by quickly, and that gaining enough reputation for the Eglain to tell me Radagast’s location did not feel like a grind. I liked the way that they had expanded the southern part of Lone-Lands. Mind you, I had not explored that area very much with my other characters, so there might already have been the framework there, but I still found that it was tied in nicely with the Eglain storyline and reputation requirements.
2) Making the Re-take Weathertop instance a solo OR group instance. I’ve heard lots of opinions of this one either way, but I think that it was a great idea. Although it is really great to see so many people in the low-level areas, I do think that it is harder to get a group now that it was at launch in those areas, especially on lower population servers. The fact that I play on Brandywine makes any observations that I make on how easy it is to find a group worthless.
The instance itself is the same, and now, having done it both as a group and by myself, I really don’t see the difference. Some would argue that making the rewards the same for both the group version and the solo version takes away any incentive to do the group version, but I would argue that the group version is more fun, but that’s just because I like running with a group. I would choose to do the group version so that I could do it with my friends.
3) The area at the south-east end of Lone-Lands (Harloeg) has also received a small change, as a couple of bounty quests for the area have been added. This was a nice little addition for those people who want to spend a little more time in the Lone-Lands.
Other than those changes, the majority of the zone is the same as it was before, except for Garth Agarwen, which I’ll cover in another post. For me, the changes made the zone a lot more fun. I found myself actually becoming a bit of a completionist, which I usually am not, as the quests were flowing so nicely from one to the other. I really enjoyed the connection from one area to the next.
I would highly recommend that anyone leveling a character go through the Lone-Lands before heading to any other zone, as the changes that were made changed the zone from one big grind to a fun experience.
See you in game!