LOTRO Legendarium: My 11 favorite zones in LOTRO


This week I put my chin on my fists and thought super-hard about the following question: What column could I write that would be both fluffy and controversial? The answer came to me in a fit of extremely mild inspiration: I was going to give a definitive list of my personal favorite zones in Lord of the Rings Online.

Considering how large this virtual world has become over the past two decades, I know it’s no easy task. Still, I rolled up my sleeves, took a short nap, make some scones, perused Reddit for a solid hour, rescheduled my dentist appointment, and finally hacked out something that will meet my required column space for the week. I am the hero that you deserve.


I’m going to start this list by saying that I’m solely picking the zones that sing to me — the ones that stand out visually, thematically, and content…ly. And what better place to begin than Bree-land?

The literal crossroads of Eriador is one of the most diverse and interesting zones in the entire game. It’s got a major city hub, marshland, a spooky forest, even spookier Barrow-downs, rolling hills, a couple Hobbit villages, a couple Men villages, the festival grounds, a housing neighborhood, and the newish Wildwood section. There’s so much to appreciate and enjoy, even if Bree-land does get dismissed as a generic medieval fantasy land by some quarters.

The Shire

This is a gimme for me, although not for everyone. But I’ve always loved the pastoral serenity of the Shire and its quirky inhabitants. The sheer quest density may be daunting, but I like the low-stakes adventures and the humor. It also serves as a racial hub, a celebration locale, and the starting point for the always-amazing Bingo Boffin.


I’ve noticed that Forochel is a divisive zone — you tend to either really love it or outright avoid it. I think it’s amazing. It’s the furthest north you can go in the game and gives you this tundra landscape with a unique civilization, screenshot-worthy auroras, igloos, and a very lethal icy bay. This is where I always felt the most adventurous in the first few years of the game when all the action was limited to Eriador.

Southern Mirkwood

While Northern Mirkwood may show up on the polar opposite of this list, I’ve long held a torch for its southern counterpart. This moody zone has so many interesting subzones, and I liked seeing how the Necromancer’s influence corrupted this once-beautiful region.


Enedwaith is a lot like Southern Mirkwood in that it was released in the period of time when then-Turbine was experimenting with diverse sub-regions in zones. I think the studio pulled it off best here, as this introduction to Dunland is flat-out gorgeous and runs the gamut from the snowy foothills of mountains to a lush valley to a slightly forbidding forest.

The Great River

I don’t think the Great River gets enough props, but it really should. It might be (mostly) a thin strip of land, but it boasts some gorgeous riverbed visuals, a fun surprise or two, and this “outer frontier of Rohan” colony where the disgraced are sent to serve.


I’m generally fine with most of Rohan, but the endless plains are not that stimulating to me. What does get me going is the smaller area of Wildermore, tucked up in the mountains. It’s a great respite from the plains of Rohan and a very beautiful winter zone — especially its western forest. I also like the overarching questline involving this unstoppable ice giant who keeps killing with icicle powers.

North Ithilien

Like Rohan, I’m cool with Gondor. It’s a whole lot of “this is quite fine” without really striking a chord in me. For that feeling, I have to wait until I’m almost through with the region and get to North Ithilien. This lush mountainside garden region is stocked with some of the best flora of the game, and it’s so nice to soak up that beauty before heading into Mordor proper.

The Dale-lands

I feel that the Dale-lands is the most underrated area in the game. It’s gorgeous from start to finish, with an Elf fishing village, the uniqueness of Lake-town, the warm hominess of Dale, and the grand finish at the steps of Erebor. Plus, the sunrises and sunsets over the lake are jaw-dropping.

Vales of Anduin

Hey, what can I say — I’m a sucker for eye candy. And Grimbeorn’s stomping grounds are full of this, from bee-pollinated meadows to the best rendition of the Misty Mountains in the game to date. It’s a very full zone with a lot of mystery and interesting questlines. SSG did a great job filling in the map with a purposeful place.

The Shield Isles

I know I haven’t talked much about the latest expansion yet (I’m still working my way through Umbar), but I have already added the Shield Isles to my favorite Middle-earth destinations. These islands offer lush tropical sights that we hadn’t seen anywhere else in the game up to this point, and I loved hopping between them.

Those are my 11 favorite regions, but I’m breathless in anticipation to hear about yours in the comments!

Every two weeks, the LOTRO Legendarium goes on an adventure (horrid things, those) through the wondrous, terrifying, inspiring, and, well, legendary online world of Middle-earth. Justin has been playing LOTRO since its launch in 2007! If you have a topic for the column, send it to him at justin@massivelyop.com.
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