Going through Eregion a second time, without the full weight of Mines of Moria™ expectations, I found it to be a rather straightforward, enjoyable zone. It is placed horribly in the zone progression, but it features a clear structure, a small story, a coherent layout, a few new mechanics, two new monster types, and strong solo content. It does not feature much group content, and adventuring there is entirely optional except as a pass-through to Moria. Eregion notably ends with the two three-man instances, the School and Library.
There are four quest hubs. Each quest hub will give you about eight quests, and those eight quests will take you to three or four enemy areas. You will be sent back to each enemy area two or three times, including a boss fight. That is about as straightforward as it can be. After you complete the two- or three-deep quest chains, you are sent to the next quest hub. Because there are several of those little chains, you get the pointer to the next hub whether or not you complete everything at a hub.
There are a few small stories passing through. Slaying the local wildlife is a recurring theme, not so much a story, and you will be sent after everything in the zone except boars, fireflies, goats, and saber-toothed cats. The Fellowship of the Ring is moving towards Moria, and you are just behind them, concealing their passage. There are half-orcs in the service of the White Hand and Dundeling mercenaries. You also get vignettes in the small quest chains, like the corrupted woods or the dwarf lost in an avalanche.
I pause to repeat: you do not need to kill the boars. If you are a Warden, you will have a class quest to kill one of them. That’s it. These are entirely optional, recreational boars, with no quests to kill them.
The zone layout makes sense. It is a coherent place, such that you do not think about it while you are there. There are the usual oddities of enemies that should eat each other being too close, but other than that, it works. Half-orcs are exploring ruins, raising worms, and setting up their own camp in the east. The mercenaries have a labor camp in the north and a small fort in the south; these are obviously not big players, but they have their own little place. Different animals live in different parts of the zone, and each has its own central den. The wildlife changes as the environment changes, from woods in the north to scrub plains in the south to the snows in the east.
Eregion is host to a few hidden deeds, notably two sets and a real explorer deed (“Ridge-Racer”). One deed is to defeat the assorted uruk leaders. Most said leaders are summoned via horns in the assorted enemy camps, and you activate those horns as the end of a quest chain. Summoning your own boss fight, rather than competing with campers, is a nice touch. Eregion is where you start Volume Two, and it has its own forge and relic masters. The large instance from 1.14.15 is an open instance here.
Eregion also has the two small fellowship instances. These are fun little events, although giving the bosses a long mez or an AE stun is rough with three people. Classes have different chances to shine. The Library has bits that reward AE attacks, single-target damage, Hunters’ poison cures, and Loremasters’ crowd control protection. The School has bits that reward good pulling, melee damage, tactical damage, and being able to fight without a lot of movement.
The quest direction to the instances is also usefully double-stacked. If you complete the third quest hub, two quest chains there send you to Mirobel as a last hub. Mirobel has three quests for each instance, with a lead-in quest to open those three. The two contacts with those lead-in quests are the ones the third hub sends you to. If you skipped that part, enemies in the area drop items that start a quest to go talk to those two. It is hard to make the pointers more idiot-proof without a sign.
Your new monsters are goats and lizards. The lizards are neat, but I already discussed them in that link at the top. There are a few shard-droppers, some of whom even look neat (like Big Blue, the giant frog).
Eregion is a solo zone. There is one group quest early on, and you start in an area full of signature enemies, but everything else is solo content. Even signature enemies are solo targets as you approach 50, so all the small group content is just slightly harder solo content. You will need that one short group instance to complete the uruk commanders deed, but the rest is solo until the School and Library. Even Volume Two, Book One, is entirely solo.
Your own tastes determine whether or not that is a good thing. You can still rampage through with a group, but it will be very easy. The original Shadows of Angmar content approaching 50 was mostly group content, and there are fewer people in that level range, so this might be a good thing if you are stuck around 45. There is a lot of contant around 45, however, so a stack of solo quest hubs might not have been necessary.
Eregion itself is entirely unnecessary. It fills some space between Eriador and Moria. No epic book demands you visit, except to pass into Moria. You are technically there for the end of Book 14, but that is instanced. The zone’s little story bits are entirely disassociated from the main line. Even the Fellowship is just passing through Eregion: you find their campsites and some scraps from their passage.
Because there is so much content available as you approach level 50, and the epic line takes you through other zones, you would need to actively seek Eregion to hit it at a level-appropriate time. If you do not take the first pointer there, it will be even easier solo content. Its best use seems to be as something to do when you need to level your first legendary item to get back into Moria. Other than that, Eregion is somewhere you pass on your way to Volume Two, and you can backtrack if you feel like it.
The little problems with the zone are failures to keep to its central virtues. If you do not complete that first group quest, nothing tells you that is where the last uruk boss is hiding. You have an explorer deed to visit all the animal dens, and quests take you by all but two (call that flaw which you will: failure to visit all, or that an explorer deed has such signposts). Two quest hubs send you to Pembar, which gets repetitious. Finally, the “follow the Fellowship” chain breaks the normal pathing of the zone, with one quest taking you far away from your quest hub (and back), with a timer, rather than following the otherwise natural progression.
The quests benefit from the new quest guide. You can decide for yourself whether that trivializes the deeds to find things, but then you get quest directions like, “The Fellowship camped by a big rock to the southeast. Could you look into that?” Mmhmm. The ring on your map gets you within a hundred-meter radius of your target, rather than wandering or Googling.
If you are a crafter, Eregion is great. There are tier 5 nodes everywhere, and almost no competition for them. The ruins each have at least two scholar nodes, and indigo plants grow wild. The goats can drop two hides each, and you can work on a deed while farming wolves and wargs for hides. At the south end, you get tier 6 resources, including level 51 enemies that drop Magnificent Hides. Cooks will not benefit much from the omnipresent vegetable growth.
If you have the levels and have not tried Eregion, I recommend it. Solo content, available in small chunks, is great for when you are between groups or otherwise have nothing you need to be doing. And completing the quests will make it easier to get to Moria, since they give you fast travel routes.