Wildermore

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Wildermore was a region that felt consistently segregated from the rest of East Rohan. Not just because of the unusual snow and ice theme, but also because of the tale of how the great ice giant Núrzum devastated the human settlements. It made for a solid but also at times depressing story.

I actually made the wrong entry into the region at first, going in from the south. I was amazed at the amount of road-guard uruk’s here. Although I made it through their forces, a later chain quest made for a proper entry in the east side. Part of that chain required me to retry that bugged quest I parked earlier in Harwick. Now it worked, and it opened up for quite a few more (now green) quests.

After that was done I went back to Wildermore and into the settlement Scylfig. Here I met the mighty thane Thrymm. He had hair so red it looked conspicuously dyed. But make no mistake – Thrymm was strong as an ox. A surrogate quest later on put me in control of him to defend against waves of orcs as well as dual trolls, and he single-handedly took them all on in mounted combat with barely a drop of sweat.

If only I had him on my side when I tried Crúmgam in Snowbourn.

Sutcrofts

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Sutcrofts had another three of the typical human settlements with a mead hall, houses and a big wooden fence around it. These settlements and their war quests had now inevitably become a hackneyed theme repeating itself over and over. I was starting to feel like a rat in a wheel.

Go talk to the thane in this mead hall. Yes, it’s exactly the same big prefab building as in the previous dozen settlements. 95% of mobs in these Rohan regions are orcs, so guess what? You have to spy on their camps, burn their tents, and kill a bunch of them. And then kill some more over there.

Again. And again. And again.

Although there were attempts at mending this, for example by collecting resources and bringing food to soldiers, I couldn’t help but think that the developers could have done more to mix it up. Why only have boars together with orcs in Sutcrofts, of which I didn’t even get a quest to kill them? Why not sprinkle a few other kinds of mobs in there? I get that we’re getting closer to Mordor, but still.

Grumpy Owl: Nature Documentaries

I hereby declare that the following should be exempt from all future nature documentaries:

  • Penguins (especially emperor penguins)
  • Sea elephants
  • Sea lions
  • Polar bears
  • Salmons climbing rivers and bears slapping them
  • Cuckoo chicks pushing other chicks out of the nest
  • Lions or cheetahs failing to make a kill after a long setup
  • Elephants
  • Birds and whales working together in an epic scene to eat a shoal of fish
  • Sea turtles laying eggs on the beach and baby sea turtles trying to reach the ocean
  • Flamingos
  • This beautiful coral reef is dying because humans
  • Tigers

Why does it always have to be the usual suspects? There are so many interesting animals on the planet that we still haven’t seen.

Entwash Vale and The Eaves of Fangorn

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Entwash Vale was more hilly and with weeping willows.

The orcs were clearly strong in this region and had burned down a couple of human settlements. However, the first settlement in the middle, Eaworth, was so big that the orcs had only managed to burn the south part of it. Citizens had moved back to cry in the ashy remains of their houses.

Eaworth had an eerie yellow glow in the middle of the night, like city lights bouncing off rain clouds.

The northernmost settlement, Thornhope, was burned all the way down and now sported orcs and goblins. Even so, the thane and some of his citizens had fled to a small grove outside and still had quests for picking up stuff and killing mobs in there. There was even a repeatable quest for abortively attacking it.

Norcrofts

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I was right – lots of opportunities for mounted combat in Norcrofts. It was an enormous grassy region with most of the orcs on wargs or horses. Sometimes I got a pop-up quest for dealing with them.

But apart from one short test to verify that it was indeed execrable, I refused to do any of them.

In the quest chain for the last human settlement in the south, there was even a final part where I was supposed to ride around together with one mounted NPC after another, each hunting down mounted orcs. The orcs rode around with hot hoofs. Nevertheless, I set out to prove this quest could be done completely on foot. I had to rely a lot on my damage-over-time spells to make them suffer at a distance, but I did it.

The most ironic thing is – because mounted damage is so much weaker, I’m not even sure it took longer.

The Wold and The East Wall

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Following some of Dunland and most of The Great River, I finally embarked on the first two regions in the expansion pack Riders of Rohan which originally released in fall 2012. This brought along a few interesting new features I was quite curious about.

First, The Wold – the northern region of East Rohan just below The Great River.

The first thing I noticed right away as I rode into this region was the new music. It was wonderful. Just the right spirit and style of composition that brought me right back to when the game was launched in 2007. There was especially a repeating theme among the hills of The Wold that I was really fond of. I never grew tired of it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have quite the same praise for the music in The East Wall.

It just used a symphonic version of the Tom Bombadil theme.

The Great River

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The Great River, the region south of Lothlórien, was indeed more interesting to look at than Dunland.

I reached level 74½ here, never wishing to return to Dunland again. It was more of the Lothlórien look in the north, big human towns among tall hills, a camp next to two enormous human statues, one tall castle, an atmospheric marshland in the south, and The Brown Lands to the south.

Mobs in north were bears, badgers/wolverines and bucks/does, centrally it was hounds, goats and spiders, and in the marshlands there were lots of big turtles, avancs and grodbogs.

And orcs were almost everywhere to be found.

Dunland

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Dunland was the first region I entered with my level 65 rune-keeper. It was level 65-75, but it really wasn’t much more of a looker than Enedwaith was. A few forum visits revealed a consensus of Dunland being a slightly boring region and that it was better to leave for The Great River as soon as I reached level 70.

So I decided that was going to be the plan.

I did all the quests in Bonevales (lots of wights), Pren Gwydh around the central town Galtrev, then Trum Dreng and its small village Lhan Tarren, the secluded eastern lake Tâl Methedras and its snowy mountain town, and finally a few quests by a farm in the northern part of Starkmoor. This finally dinged me to level 70. I barely reached the town Avardin to check in and then left the region behind for The Great River.

Mobs in Dunland itself were wolves, boars, wargs, men/half-orcs, oxes and a few caban.

Return of the Lord of the Rings Online

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So I finally took the big plunge and dived right back into Lord of the Rings Online again.

I’ve been thinking about doing it for so many years. The last time I played it was with my then level 65 Rune-Keeper in Enedwaith in 2011. Since then a ton of expansions and content has been added. I’ve had a lot of fun with LOTRO and I’ve been wondering if I could catch that oldskool MMORPG feeling again.

I had my doubts. Chances were that I would try it and then run away screaming.

Knowing how picky I had become with video games in general, this concern kept me at a distance for years. Sometimes I let the launcher update for hours and then logged in, rode around for ten minutes, visited a few nostalgic locations, then left again. This repeated itself all these years.

But then a couple of interesting things happened. The first was that the new spin-off developer, Standing Stone Games, updated the game client with a 64-bit version making it run a whole lot smoother. The other thing was that the developer made most of the content free until April 30 due to the coronavirus. That was the final straw for me and I decided to give it a proper try again this Easter.