LOTRO Legendarium: What can we expect from Mordor?

    
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Welcome to LOTRO Legendarium, the continuation of my old Road to Mordor column from Massively. Why the name change? First, I never got to name RTM (it was chosen by another author before I came on board as a writer). Second, I wanted to work in Lord of the Rings Online’s name into the title. And third, I liked how Tolkien used the term Legendarium to refer to his writings on Arda. And here we are!

As I make my way through Central Gondor on my Captain, my attention and thoughts have increasingly turned to our assumed great destination: Mordor. While 2015 holds large updates for us in Gondor, including Osgiliath and Minas Tirith, it’s a reasonable assumption that our next steps will take us through the Black Gate and into the foul lands of the Enemy.

So if and when that happens, what can we expect from a nation that personifies evil with its very essence?

mor2“One does not simply walk into Mordor…”

I’ll admit that I have some apprehension about going into Mordor overall. It’s not that I’m terrified of the Eye of Sauron pestering me; after all, he’s been doing that since the tutorial. And I think I’ll be able to handle fighting more orcs, goblins, and uruk-hai.

My fear is that we’re about to leave the gorgeous lands of Rohan and Gondor for a realm that inspired every horrid endgame MMO zone ever. Boromir put it best in his famous description of Mordor from the Council of Elrond when he said, “One does not simply walk into Mordor. Its black gates are guarded by more than just Orcs. There is evil there that does not sleep. The great Eye is ever watchful. It is a barren wasteland, riddled with fire, ash, and dust. The very air you breathe is a poisonous fume.”

While a giant volcano and blasted lands might be appropriate for the land of the Enemy, I can’t but help but think how depressing and possibly monotonous it will be to spend weeks and months in such a place. You know how we love to whine about how oppressive Moria feels after we spent so long roaming it? Mordor could easily top that by being thematically appropriate and still a turn-off to the playerbase.

I also worry about the possible lack of friendly NPCs and settlements. I know you’re thinking, “No duh, it’s Mordor!” but consider how pretty much every zone in the game is populated by the civilization of Free People. Even Angmar has an outpost or two because we need some beacon of hope in the midst of shadow and death. Our characters’ stories have always been tied in closely with those of the peoples of Middle-earth, and that is not something I’m prepared to leave behind.

So it it just going to be one vast post-apocalyptic wasteland with nary a friendly face or green tree to be found? And more importantly, what could Turbine do to make an extended trip into Mordor exciting for us? Quite a bit, I should think.

mor3Frodo’s guide to Mordor

Mordor may not be brimming with Hobbit holes and cozy taverns, but that’s not to say that it isn’t brimming with interesting locales with lots of storytelling and vista potential.

I think that our first steps into Mordor will be through Minas Morgul, which used to be the former Gondor city of Minas Ithil. The fallen Gondorian city just oozes sinister fun, what with its eerie glow and the fact that it’s the headquarters to the Witch-king of Angmar. I also fully anticipate our taking a detour, as Frodo did, to square off against the most famous oversized spider of all time (since Shelob is not a confirmed kill in the book, there is about no way that Turbine will miss the opportunity to have us fight her).

Once inside Mordor, there are several other well-known destinations. We could party down with Sauron at his fortress of Barad-dûr, which I found out today is nearly twice as tall as our world’s tallest skyscraper. There are the volcanic plains of the Plateau of Gorgoroth, the somewhat fertile region of Núrn, the Eastern Desolation, several forts, and of course, Mt. Doom itself. Mordor may not be the most hospitable place in Middle-earth, but empty it is not. Just kind of ugly.

No matter what, Turbine will be forced to take a tonal and narrative shift for Mordor. No longer will it be about getting to know and sympathize with the inhabitants of a certain region; instead, our journey into Mordor will most likely be about sneaking into the belly of the beast and waging small-scale assaults in an effort to help Frodo’s quest and tip the odds in the favor of the Free Peoples.

Of course, the team could also devise other reasons we’ll be going into Mordor — after all, we don’t have a Ring that needs tossing into a volcanic vent. If our journey coincides with other stealthy efforts, we might be able to meet up with hidden camps of friendly NPCs even in the midst of angry orcs and troublesome trolls.

If Turbine decides that it doesn’t want to use LOTRO’s traditional zone questing model for Mordor, I can think of a couple of other options. We may be treated to instances, since we do know that the current team is open to working on them once more. Skirmishes and epic battles are other options as well, and if all of these are bundled up, then we might get the Mordor “experience” without exploring it as a traditional zone.

Mordor does seem like a great place for a new PvMP map, but if the team is already working on one for Osgiliath (possibly), then I sincerely doubt the devs will see a need for more. One more possibility that comes to mind is some sort of dynamic map in which players can fight against the PvE forces of Mordor and help take over portions of the country (although it would have to avoid breaking lore outright).

Personally, I would like to visit Mordor in one good, meaty update that hits all of the region’s points of interest and then gets us out after a final confrontation (with… what?). Lingering too long in Mordor would be a mistake, I feel, because it would send the signal that this is it for the game. Instead, I’d rather see the devs be quick to announce other regions and adventures that we’ll be seeing past the Black Land.

What do you think we’ll see and do in Mordor?

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Koshelkin
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Koshelkin

TerilynnS Koshelkin I don’t know, I can recall the oppressive landscapes and the hushed walks from quest to quest but regarding the music my mind is blank so it neither really bothered me nor impressed me in any extent. I usually play with ingame music enabled when I’m solo or in PvP so I didn’t turn it of either.

TerilynnS
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TerilynnS

Koshelkin TerilynnS How do you deal with the music? Doesn’t it drive you nuts?

TerilynnS
Guest
TerilynnS

Enstyle TerilynnS :) I want it to be scary too – like I said above, if the music can be amazing – then I’m likely to enjoy what ever they’ve got in store for us.

TerilynnS
Guest
TerilynnS

Bango TerilynnS That’s not what I mean. Scary is ok. But dear me – PLEASE get music to a point where it can be listened to for hours. Angmar doesn’t have music – it has screeches. I don’t listen to “modern” music when I play LotRO because I like the music that comes with the game, it helps me “be in the game.”  – all with the exception of Angmar.

Enstyle
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Enstyle

TerilynnS Mordor should be terrifying. Angmar is ugly and sound is creepy. Turbine has to go big because it is likely the end of the road. I’d like to feel fear and dread about entering Mordor…stuff of nightmares, so they need to make the reason for going in, a powerful one. Maybe something surrounding the rings of power (Sauron had some of them right?),  the forges of Sammath Naur, and 2nd age secret crafting tools and techniques. Maybe staying too long and under extreme conditions, you turn and become a servant of Sauron (call it madness) and Mordor becomes an epic pvp area. Nothing more terrifying than hard core players trying to keep you out of a zone.

Chingloves
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Chingloves

Reminds me of this T-shirt, which I own.

Visit Mordor T Shirt

Bango
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Bango

TerilynnS What would you prefer – Angmar to be a sunny little place full of happy hobbits dancing around maypoles. Not all of Middle Earth can be represented as a LOTRO festival or a LMB-inspired “concert” – some of the areas are dangerous and terrifying. Let’s hope Turbine stays true to the lore and gets that right as they did with Angmar which will always be one of my favourite lotro locations.

PakeIf
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PakeIf

From what I remember after the Battle of the Fields of Pelennor, Aragorn marched to the Black Gate. Check here: http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Battle_of_the_Black_Gate. So after Minas Tirith there is a number of options but I think that it can be like this: 
2016:
1. Update 17: We are going to move with (or ahead as scouts) Aragorn Army. The Battle itself can be a BB (I know, I know, you hate this). As  raid content we can have the liberation of http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Cair_Andros,  and a session play with the ring falling in Mount Doom  The opened regions can be Dagorlad (and maybe Emyn Nuil).
2. Update 18: We need to rescue the Hobbits, that are still inside Mordor, and there are still lots of Orcs there… …so we are going in a clean up mission. The region is going to be Mordor.
2017: 
If the game still lives on… …we can see North Mirkwood (as there is some clean up to do) and a proper Brown Lands (even if it was a little bit in Great River area).
But I doubt that we see any new region in 2017 (license is going to expire). Probably some small instance cluster or BB or sometthing the like, that does not involve new landscape… …and gives us the clean up in Barad Guldur, Erebor and the final defeat of Saruman…

teppic
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teppic

This is one of the most underrated MMOs out there. It’s a wonderful game. It’s such a shame the dev team and budget have been cut so much, as it deserves a lot more going into it. What they do with Mordor will be very interesting, I’m sure they’re aware that it could easily be a bit suffocating if not done well.

ThompsonClaytonRadcliff
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ThompsonClaytonRadcliff

Expect to be underwhelmed.