Every MMO has that one zone where characters just absolutely stall. For me in Lord of the Rings Online, it’s Angmar. It’s funny, I just passed the exact spot where my Beorning is parked. In a way, it’s discouraging, because he’s still several levels higher than my Rune-Keeper, but in another, it’s a reminder that this new character could easily share his fate if I don’t push through. There are a lot of reasons to hate Angmar, but here are my top three.
The Lore Is Boring
I’m no Tolkien expert, but as far as I remember from the books, Angmar was basically just “that place where the Witch-King is from.” I’m not sure if all of these tribes of hillmen are a real thing in some obscure scrap of Tolkien lore, but if they are, The Professor didn’t feel the need to burden us with the details the way LotRO does. Don’t get me wrong, expansions upon existing lore are one of the reasons why I love well done licensed IP games like LotRO, but if I thought of Angmar at all, I’ve always pictured it as a mini Mordor, ruled by a Nazgul and crawling with orcs, not a land devoted to a couple of warring tribes that feel completely disconnected with the rest of Middle-Earth. I read most of the quest text in LotRO–a lot of it is really well written–but once I hit Angmar I skim at best.
The Quest Structure Is Awkward
My biggest complaint about LotRO is not the awkwardly lumpy player character heads (although, for goodness sake, could we get an update to those? NPCs look better than player characters in the newer expansions!), it’s that the quest tracker only holds five quests at a time. I’m sure there’s some legitimate technical reason that they haven’t fixed this, and I guess it’s better than nothing, but it’s really annoying in a zone like Angmar where most of the questgivers are packed into one corner of the map and not really arranged by area at all. What I end up doing is picking up everything I can while I’m in town, finishing the five quests that fit in my tracker, then taking them off and adding five new ones back on, and hoping I don’t end up doing too much backtracking because I didn’t know I had to pick some flowers in the middle of a field overrun with Duvardain half way across the zone that I just ran through to do the last quest I finished (no seriously, there’s literally a quest to pick flowers in the middle of this barren wasteland). Add to that the fact that 40 is when you really start to feel the level curve ramp up, and the whole zone really drags on.
The Setting Is Just Plain Oppressive
The zone is mostly desert with a little bit of swamp mixed in. Just look at the screenshot above; dead trees, scrub brush, and ruins. That pretty much sums up the scenery. And what’s up with the sky? It’s red all day long, with some kind of weird magical glow that I haven’t ever found an explanation for. Even the music is almost nonexistent here, replaced by some creepy ambient noises.