Saturday, June 23, 2012

Review of Moria: The depths below




This second part of my Moria review talks about the lower levels. It being the second part doesn't mean the level range is higher, as these areas share the same range.

For clarification, the lower levels to me include:
-Silvertine Lodes (lvl 52-55)
-The Waterworks (lvl 55-56)
-The Redhorn Lodes (lvl 55-56)
-The Flaming Deeps (lvl 56-58)
-The Foundations of Stone (lvl 60+)

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.

Time to explore the depths of Middle Earth!

The Silvertine Lodes


South from the Dolven-View, you'll find the Deep Descent in the Silvertine Lodes. (It's actually such a short stretch, no one should take a stable route.)
This old mineshaft may seem small, but due to it being very vertical, it's pretty big anyway. I don't like what Turbine did with this zone. It used to be dark and shadowy but now it's way too bright. It's not as bad as I make it out to be but I preferred the old version.

Quests here are still pretty straightforward (except the one where you have to find the missing dwarf) though the map is of not much help. This means you'll run around a lot, trying to find out how to get to a certain point. (One hint I can give you is to prefer the high route to the low route. You can always jump down.)

Mobs here are pretty generic, goblins, bats, worms and gredbyg, though the gredbyg reach a high stage of evolution by now.

The Waterworks



Down from the Silvertine Lodes, you'll enter the watery abyss of the Waterworks. Filled with giant wheels and canals, this zone breathes water. Another way here is down the well in the chamber of  crossroads.

The rotting cellar is where it's all at. The dwarfs here will send you all over so the tactic of picking up all the quests when you can stands strong. Other than that, they're pretty much the same as all other quests.

Mobs here include for the first time the globsnaga, orcs and goblins who have started mutating due to the fungi. Others are hypnotoads, big lizards, turtles and spiders. The more dangerous denizens of the deep are for the instances.

The Redhorn Lodes


South of Zelem-Melek, you'll find this big rusty mine. Filled with wooden buildings, I found this zone to not be all that interesting, though it doesn't look bad.
Quests here are concentrated in orc-watch, which is a guardpost against... orcs. Most mobs you find here are therefore orcs. Other mobs are spiders, gredbyg and deepclaws.

The Flaming Deeps

East of the waterworks, you'll find its exact opposite, the Flaming Deeps. Looking like a depiction of Hell, this region is filled with rivers of boiling hot lava, smoke filling your lungs at the slightest gasp.

Quests start from Anazarmekhem, and are pretty tough at moments, due to the many mobs around. Chains are pretty straightforward.

Mobs here are dragonets, lizards, elementals and orcs dressed like devils.


The Foundations of Stone


The last zone of Moria. Deep beneath the surface, the walls of the caves are so slimy they look fleshy. Quests here start in the Shadowed Refuge and they are tough. Mob density is high and there's big elite trolls walking around, some of which are unavoidable.

There are some nice locations here like the endless stairs or a remnant of the bridge of Khazad-dûm.

Mobs include Globsnaga of everything: orcs, trolls, goblins and spiders. Other mobs are categorized as Nameless. Things that have come crawling out of the depths and have never seen the light of day.


Overall Lower levels:

Price/Value: 4.5/5 (A lot of fellowship content but still no way around, though you might skip the Foundations if you find it too hard.)
Storyline: 3.5/5 (The Foundations have an interesting backstory, but the Silvertine and Redhorn Lodes aren't that interesting. Epic still rules.)
Quest Progression: 3.5/5 (Nothing to complain really, though there are some chains that send you all over. Some fellowship quests.)
Atmosphere: 4/5 (A lot of variation. The Foundations are kinda meh at times but the Flaming Deeps and Waterworks are awesome. The Silvertine Lodes don't look right in certain places.)

Overall: 15.5/20

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



Sunday, June 17, 2012

Halros: Should he stay or should he go?

WARNING: this post might contain SPOILERS

Just recently, I've done the epic book quest 3.1.4 (volume 3, book 1, chapter 4) in which you actually have to choose between 2 options that matter!


Background: Elrond has sent you to gather the rangers of Esteldin to form the Grey Company to come to Aragorn's aid. Halros, however, feels something's brewing in the Shire but can't decide whether to stay or go. That's where you come in.

Halros should stay

If Halros stays, the Grey Company has less people, which could turn out badly. We all know the shire is gonna be attacked though, so maybe some rangers to defend it would be helpful.
But those who have read the books know: Sharky will come anyway. Will this mean Halros will die?

Halros should go

If Halros goes, the shire stays unprotected from certain attack. More hobbits will probably die.
Halros will join the Grey Company, so Aragorn will have more men. (But some speculate that he will still die.)


In the end, either choice is fine as I don't think Turbine would let one choice be significantly better than the other.
So far, the only difference in the plot is Lotho's reaction, but I (and other people) expect it to have an effect in later books.

I'm glad Turbine tries to put some (probably) meaningful choices in the storyline and I hope it'll have a decent effect on it (and for more choices to follow).

For those interested, on my main cappy I chose for him to go and on my hobbit I'll choose to let him stay.



Friday, June 15, 2012

Mysteries of Pandimus



1. Cheese (unresolved)

This rat smells cheese. But where is it? Do you have it or smell of it? Or is the rat just wrong?


On another note, the gorilla in the strong woods asks for a banana? Do we have one or not?

2. Tower (unresolved)

So why are the goblins building a tower at the great tree? A vantage point? Are they planning to attack Imperia?

3. Mutation (unresolved)

What mutated the animals in the strong woods and what are the effects of the mutation? It could be some strange radiation from Nigra.

4. Lio Fals (unresolved)

 Who is Lio Fals' father? Who's his mother? What was the big ship that sailed away and to where? To one of the other islands/continents? (There seems to be a ship at the southeast island on the world map.)

 Why did he have to stay at the lighthouse and not in Imperia? A lot of questions and nearly no hints towards answers.

5. Akari Queen (resolved)

Who is the Akari Queen? As seen in her history text, she is Nigra’s sister, cursed by her because she took her own and Nigra's children into the cave to hide from her. She is now destined to stay within the cave with the other Akari.

6. Other Island (Unresolved)

What’s on the southern island? It looks to be a desert of some sort. The south-eastern island seems to be mountainous with several great fires lined up and a ship dock.

7. Red Skins (resolved)

Who are the redskins and where are they? They’re supposed to have disappeared deep within Morkha Woods but we haven’t encountered them so far. Mark tells you the story of the great war that was waged some time ago. The redskins are called Erders and are trained to be great warriors.

(Also note, that there are redskins in some of the game's artwork.)
(Personal opinion: I think we might see these as a playable race some day.)

8. Elemental Master (unresolved)

Who is the master of the elementals and why do they block the path?
The only thing the elementals care to explain is that they were posted there as watchmen.

9. Hut inhabitant (resolved)

What’ s known of the guy living in the hut in Morkha? Apparently Ben knew him as he mentions him. His name was Helmut and he was a former Imperian soldier. He's living in the cabin to look for redskins (Erders) and warn queen Rubra in case they reappear.

He went mad and wrote messages in the trees but what caused him to go mad? The walking trees?

10. Night (resolved)

What would happen when it ever became night in Pandimus. The sun was stopped by the lizards to stop the spreading evil, so I guess evil would overwhelm the already weakened Imperia. The akari would come out of the cave and other dark forces might rise.

Does this mean the other side of the planet (if it's even round) is in eternal night? I’d assume there’d be mass extinction of animals and a scorching heat on the zenith point and frozen wastes on the opposite.

11. Lizard Spirits (unresolved)

We see many human spirits in the Ruins of Ux’kal, but only 1 lizard spirit. Where’d all their spirits go? The spirit of the lizard king can be found in the Ux’kal Graveyard area.

12. Ale (unresolved)

Tim is always drunk, but where does he get the money to buy it and give to you? Can we get some beer from him?

13. Gas (unresolved)

What’s with the green gas, coming out of the ground in Deep Nigra? There doesn’t seem to be an obvious source. (Unless the Akari are gassy.) Is it the source of evilness?

14. Golden Medal (unresolved)

So you get a golden medal for being first in the tournament, but what’s its use to you? You can sell it for quite a bit of money so why is it so valuable?

15.Throwing Food (unresolved)

Why does Daddy Ogre need to throw food over the canyon? Are the ogres moving away because of something? Why’d they try and cross the bridge in the first place?

16. Good, Bad or Ugly? (unresolved)

Are we in fact good, bad or ugly? Is our effect on this world a positive or negative one. Do we affect the world at all?

17. All these old people (unresolved)

According to the old man, Marc fought in the battle against the redskins almost 300 years ago. How come he and other people got so old? Did they screw up counting with the sun standing still? Is there something in the ale?

18. Master of the Beholder (unresolved)

Who is the master of the beholder and why did he send his minion to some loony’s shack?

19. Mysterious Watcher (unresolved)

Who is this mysterious spirit, watching at us from the top of the pyramid at Ux'kal Temple? He just stands there doing nothing.


20. Images that hint at stuff

As a last one, here are some images that we haven't seen in the game yet, but can be found on the pandimus website. Who are they and will we ever meet them?
A lizardman

a dwarf
Some guy wearing a balance with rocks. Is it night there?
According to the image name, this is a klug





Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Pandimus world map collage

It took me a while but I finished up this collage of the Pandimus game  world. The only trouble I had was the Morkha Southeast connection to the Ux'kal Graveyard. WARNING: may contain SPOILERS.



(Click it to see the big version, though it may take a while to load.)

Edited to add a hidden area I missed. Thanks to Gaparzo to point it out.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The world of Pandimus

The story of Pandimus can be quite daunting for new players and there's some details that are left unmentioned in the quest. I'll try to give a small description of each area, as a prelude to a full history. I also added the minimum rank required to enter the areas within: (lowest rank - highest minimum rank to access the areas) The links lead to the wiki page for the first area of that zone


Strong wood and the Drill Camp (min. rank: 0) link


This training camp, under the watchful eye of Brotus is the place where young recruits are steamed ready to help in the defense of Imperia. The strong forest features many possessed animals, though the exact cause is a mystery.

Imperia (min. rank: 1) link


Imperia was once a thriving city. The capital of a great human kingdom, it is now but a fragment of its former glory after the many wars. The soldier-queen, Rubra, is among the last of those defending it from the enemies. Many of its citizens are either adventurers or soldiers.

Ruïns of Ux'kal (min. rank: 1-14) link


The ruïns of Ux'kal is what's left of the great city of lizards. After the 300-year war between humans and lizards a long time ago, these ruïns became plagued by the spirits of fallen warriors, man and lizard alike, living in spite of the living. There seems to have been bad choices on either side. The old temple looms over the ruïns.

Morkha Woods (min. rank 18) link


The forest of Morkha is big and this is only the first zone. Its local wildlife is dangerous and not all who enter make it out alive again. You'll hear tales of another war fought in Imperia's blood-ridden past and hear about the red-skins, who are now rumored to be hiding somewhere.

Nigra (min. rank 22) link


The battle-field where queen Rubra is fighting the evil powers emanating from a cave. These lands are scarred by the everlasting war to defend Imperia. Victory is far away and even some allies might not be trusted.

Deep Morkha Woods (min. rank ?? - 45) link


As you go deeper into the woods, wildlife takes more exotic forms and surreal creatures start popping up. Discover an ancient race and fight the strongest bosses in the game so far, in a hidden area after following clues of a missing man.

The cave (min. rank 45) link


Into the cave in Nigra, you'll find ancient horrors have awakened. What dark ancient forces could have taken the Akari from their slumber?