Going through Forochel a second time, it shares some of the merits of Eregion, combining them with other merits and flaws. The epic quest chain takes you through Forochel in a way that tours the zone well, but it remains an optional area that is out of sync with the leveling path. It makes a better use of the reputation system than any other zone, providing a model for how reputation would work in Moria (less so in Lorien). Having roamed on my first character, I found it a surprisingly tightly built zone on my second pass. Sadly, it is now almost entirely irrelevant to the game.
It is irrelevant because it is more level 45 to 50 content. Unless you go out of your way, you will not arrive there before 50. You will be busy following the epic books, getting your legendary pages, unlocking legendary items, etc. I first entered Forochel at 54 this time, which trivializes much of the content. I hit it at 50 last time, and I have no idea for how long I had been at the level cap.
The epic quests for the zone give you a proper tour. You bounce off the first two quest hubs before heading north to the capital city. You kill a few things, then get bounced off the other two quest hubs. You get a little dungeon delve, kill the requisite trolls, and then end with the big instance. If you were not running it mostly with level 60s, you would want a Loremaster or two for that instance, just for that one fight where the NPC suicides into AE attacks.
The first quest hub is like starting over again, at a higher level. Your faction is “outsider,” not just “neutral.” You get to kill the local wildlife, which is a bit tougher than the old wolves and badgers. Finding things is now much easier with the quest guide.
You pass through some surprisingly large enemies on your way to the second hub, where quests are more scattered. They cover the entire center of the map, brushing against the hotspots you can reclaim to get the daily quests. You will help a courtship ritual, slay more wildlife, and start fighting real enemies.
The capital quests have an unfortunate geographic spread. They cover literally the entire map, sending you around the central bay (don’t swim!) and across the entire north and northeast. This would be more enjoyable without the need to return to the city on the edge of the bay to turn in each quest and sell the loot from the menagerie of monsters. Before you advance the epic book, make sure to pick up The Frozen War (quest).
I pause to note travel at this point. You bought your mount, didn’t you? I remember teaming with a Hunter who decided to skip it until the Moria goat. Waiting on him to run, even with the run buff, was painful. Jerk. Anyway, you will have some mounted time here, unlocking the horse routes and then riding them a ways, or ranging across a quarter-zone for the quests from those two hubs. More painfully, the swift routes into and out of Forochel are gated by faction reputation. Get to ally to unlock the route. If you were already doing that on all your characters, hey, free bonus. If not, you may not visit Forochel much. Or ever again. That Frozen War quest unlocks the swift travel route around the bay, which you will want for the epic chain.
The third hub is small, not much to do but with a bit of glacier wandering. The fourth hub is small and dense: the dwarf camp. There is lots of wildlife to slay there, along with the evil dwarf mine. There is a deed for those evil dwarves, and farming them is considered one of the most boring deeds in the game; no variety, very little progress from quests, just sitting in that mine and killing the same dwarves. I have yet to do it on any character.
A freeing thing about doing this at level 54 is that I can skip anything. It is lousy xp, and I do not need the faction unless I plan to visit for … helping friends with their quests here? You visit for Book 14, but you will be even higher level by then, so you can probably ride blindly through the grays. The target location is off the horse route anyway. If you are a Hunter, please grind that rep so that you can deliver people to the Reflecting Pool for epic quest assistance (I have Guide to Suri-Kyla), but it is very unlikely that Forochel reputation equipment will be useful to you by the time you can get it. It looks pretty, if you want to grind faction for cosmetics.
On the faction front, the zone is tied to it closely. Every quest gives you reputation bonuses, and there are daily quests so you can get even more. Every enemy has a chance to drop reputation items. Anything you do has a good chance of improving your Forochel reputation, unless you play with the dwarves to improve your Dwarf reputation. You can fish to gain faction. On my main, completist that I am, I combined errands: do the daily quests to grind deed monsters, preferably ones that dropped crafting items I needed, while gaining faction and getting faction items for my alts. I had about a tier of reputation waiting when my Minstrel arrived in the zone.
If you do every quest as soon as you get it, there will be a lot of wandering. If you stack quests, you will find great efficiencies. My alt was fighting saber-toothed tigers for three quests at once. You will be able to combine errands, explore an area sufficiently, then move on. The last quests in a chain might have you wandering a bit much, but those freeing levels let you skip anything too inconvenient and move on.
Yes, I am using the quest
tracker guide to skip quests that look inconvenient, and I love it. I have been lazing about the zone, doing unnecessary quests, and it is still going very quickly. That huge number of quests at the capital city? I can skip all of them and still finish all three deed tiers for completing quests in the zone. Do what is convenient and interesting, then move along.
The one bit I am going out of my way for is The Lost Fellowship. Before The Lord of the Rings Online™ Volume Two: Mines of Moria™, there were seven classes, and a member of each is somewhere in Forochel, looking for help. The Loremaster lost his raven and needs food for his bear. The Hunter’s lucky arrow is stuck in a monster. The Guardian needs a new shield and the Champion needs a new sword. It is a cute little series, a deed to boot, and an excuse for me to do other quests in the area while I help the poor fellows out. As a bonus, you get little consumable toys for helping, and I want some horns so I can summon people at convenient times.
I have been speaking of the zone as a resource rather than an experience. I must admit, I am skipping quest text this time. As many bloggers have noted lately, I no longer care why this guy wants me to kill 10 moose. The quest title says they are hungry, he wants 10 moose haunches, off I go. Or maybe not, since there is no moose deed, but one of my characters can surely use the hides.
Again with the “starting over,” many of the quests here are about the basics of survival. You fight off wolves because they are attacking people. You kill wargs because they are using the fat for fires. You kill moose because people are hungry, or they need to repair their sleds and sledges. There are quests about fighting invaders, be they dwarves or savages or Angmarim, but that is the lesser portion. Instead, we need hides for warmth and scales to make shields. The harsh environment itself is the flavor of the zone. To live (on the great glacier) would be an awfully big adventure.
Okay, so I did read some quest text. Sue me.