Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Review of Moria: The upper levels




I've thought a long time about how to review Moria in a correct way. It's too large to do in one go yet the single zones aren't large enough to do on their own. That's why I've decided to split it up like the deeds did in lotro and separate it by upper and lower half. Then I'll take the average of both and make a single score for Moria. The instances will also get a single group review.

For clarification, the upper levels to me include:
-The Great Delving (lvl 50-52)
-Durin's Way (lvl 52-55)
-Zelem-Melek (lvl 55-58)
-Nud-Melek (lvl 57-60)
-Zirakzigil (lvl 56+)
-Dimrill Dale (lvl 58+)

Note: Moria is a difficult case. It really is a 'love it'- or 'hate it'-pack so people might not agree with my score.

Pro-tip: alt + f10 turns on your flashlight.

With  that all said, let's get started.

The Great Delving


Moria or Black Chasm
Entering Moria for the first time is always an anxious event. What great mysteries await? This first zone really starts the mood right. The atmosphere here is what can be expected of Moria. Caverns filled with grand dwarven structures but now overrun by goblins and critters.
Quests here are linear enough and as long as you talk to the guides when you get lost, you shouldn't have too much trouble.

Eventually quests will lead you south towards the Silvertine Lodes (next review) and north towards Durin's Way.

Durin's Way


This pretty large zone is home to more dwarven masonry and also features Moria's sole green spot in the form of a garden. While navigating the corridors can be a bit tough and the mob density can be annoying as well, it pays to take it easy and find the way. In the Chamber of Crossroads you'll find a very deeeeep well and a long-winding way (free of enemies) to the 21st Hall.

Quests here are still quite linear, having you press on bit by bit towards the east. Be warned as some of them can be quite tough so maybe bring a friend for those. East of the dwarf-base Jazärgund, you'll find another area for fellowship questing (though some of them aren't that hard).

Mobwise, you'll find goblins riding wargs, orcs, bats and merrevail (bat-people). You'll find Zirakzigil to the north, though levelwise, it's better to head to the 21st Hall and the heart of Moria.

Zelem-Melek


You could have accessed Zelem-Melek through the Great Delving, but the major quest hub is easier accessed through Durin's Way. The 21st Hall is the main settlement in Moria and has stable-routes to almost any zone.

Zelem-Melek is pretty large, featuring a main multi-layered hallway south of the 21st and a slope downward, to the south.

Quests here all leave from the 21st and involve striking against the orcs and goblins who have overrun the place. There're also a lot of instance quests to be found here.

Zirak-Zigil

On the highest peak of the Misty Mountains, you find yourself in Zirakzigil. This small snowy zone isn't home to much quests, but does have the corpse of Durin's Bane, smitten on its sides. Apart from that, it has the entrance to the mirror-halls of Lumul-Nar (which I'll review when I'm doing the instances).

Mobs here are mostly cold-drakes, wargs and merrevail.


Nud-Melek


The last stretch of Moria before you're going back into the light. This zone is shaped mostly by the Second Hall, whose grand pillars are shaped to make the elves visiting from Lothlorien feel at home.
To the south are some orc camps and stairs leading down. Another landmark is the bridge of Khazad-Dûm, now broken.

Quests here either take you to the Second Hall or to Balin's Tomb. Most involve fighting orcs or critters and start from the 21st. Once you find your way around the broken bridge of Khazad-Dûm, you'll find yourself in the First Hall, which eventually leads out into the light again.








Dimrill Dale


While technically not inside Moria anymore, this zone in Lothlorien is still part of the quest pack. The sunlight is a welcome change from the darkness of Moria, though be ready to return inside often, because there's plenty to do inside.
Too bad it was night
Outside, you'll find several quest chains involving the orcs and goblins who have made their camps in the hills. There's also plenty of repeatable quests to farm Lothlorien rep because it used to be that you could only enter the golden woods when being acquaintance.

Overall Upper levels:

Price/Value: 4.5/5 (There's no way around this part. The upper levels have a lot of quests.)
Storyline: 3/5 (Quite average on story. No real highlights. Note that the epic story is awesome though.)
Quest Progression: 3.5/5 (Nothing to complain really, though there are some chains that send you all over.)
Atmosphere: 4.5/5 (Grand, epic and majestic is what springs to mind. The music is awesome as well.)

Overall: 15.5/20

Moria feels grand and epic, though slightly too empty after the update. There're a lot of zone-crossing questlines which might get annoying sometimes, but in the end it ain't so bad. Learn the routes, both open and secret and you'll get around in no time.


Pictures


I couldn't help myself and got too much pictures for this article. Here I'm adding the others by zone. Enjoy.

Great Delving



Durin's Way

Zelem-Melek
Zirakzigil


Nud-Melek



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