What Zones?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Again it's back to the future world speculation post, this time inspired from a post at Kill Ten Rats. In this post Suzina speculates that we'll see 12 new zones by Christmas 2009 based off of what we see on the Rhovanion map. Before I get into what I think of the prediction I have to bring up something that has disturbed me from the first time I saw this map: It's oriented too far south. Take a look at this map of Middle-Earth. Rhovanion, based on the position and orientation of the name, implies that area extends all the way to the Lonely Mountain but not as far south as Mordor. Rohan might or might not be included. It's on the border.

Now, I understand why they chose to picture this farther south - in preparation for moving further with the fellowship, who doesn't go north. However, I'm bothered by the fact we're missing some of the far north areas of this region, which is mentioned in the Lord of the Rings in reference to Bilbo's previous journey. As such, I've always felt this map would be redone at some point to better reflect the region - to be more in line with the books. It certainly wouldn't be the first map that has been redone. Interestingly enough, the Shire map was re-done with the release of Moria and nearly all the other maps save Evendim and Forochel were reprocessed as well.

I don't agree with the argument that new zones can be inferred based on a map not being redone. However, based on the good chance that the new expansion will be Rohan, we can infer from that what we'll see - and it does line up fairly well with what we see on the map. Here's my take on the new zones to be seen in Rohan:
  • Fangorn
  • The Wold
  • West Emnet (West Rohan)
  • East Emnet (East Rohan)
  • Emyn Muil
  • Isengard
You'll notice I differ fairly strongly on a couple - notably the loss of Wilderland and the inclusion of Isengard. Why? Well, I discounted Wilderland because it's too far east. There's no reason to go way out there in the initial expansion. We might see an excursion similar to the one north into Evendim and Forochel back in Eriador but even then I'm wary. I also include Isengard because I'm not buying the argument about map redos. Evendim and Forochel weren't listed on Eriador's map before they became zones. Isengard can just as easily be listed and it would be a major oversight excluding the primary antagonist zone from a Rohan expansion. The only reason they might not include it is they didn't have enough time - like what happened to Lothlorien, and it'll be added to the following book update.

Dagorlad is missing because it figures more importantly in Return of the King material and Frodo and Sam head south after the Emyn Muil, not east. I also combine some of the zones mentioned in the Kill Ten Rats post because I think that my divisions are more in-line with the previous overland zone sizes. Moria zones are actually almost mini-zones within the overlarge zone of Moria. Basically, they're smaller than a normal overland zone and as such the 12 count doesn't need to be replicated in a Rohan expansion. The only advantage is one of marketing - keeping up the zone count is in a sense inflating the numbers to make them look good. I don't think it's necessary though. Not with the great publicity from Moria and Turbine's content record with this game so far.

So, Fangorn will include all the forest - at least the important parts. The Wold will be the link between Lothlorien and the rest of the expansion - like Eregion was for Moria. (I would like Fangorn to be accessible from Lothlorien, but I doubt it because the developers like to have greater control on content progression than I feel is necessary.) East and West Rohan is pretty self explanatory. The east will include the transition to Isengard as well as Helm's Deep and Edoras will be on the border between east and west. West will be the transition back to the Anduin, which is a nice eastern border. Emyn Muil will be a zone to shadow Frodo and Sam's journey. Back to Isengard - this could even be a smaller zone within East Rohan but I think it deserves its own treatment seperate from Rohan.

Even with 6 zones, this is probably more space than the Mines of Moria expansion gave us. I'm a little wary of speculating this much into the expansion but it makes sense from a world continuity and thematic perspective: all the zones are needed to inclued all the material Rohan would concern. And the beauty of all this is that either one of us may be right, or either one of us may be wrong. Time will tell.

1 Responses:

unwize Says:

I think it would be foolish for Turbine to ship Rohan without Helm's Deep or Isengard, as they are key locations within the next stage of the story. At least one of them should be available within the core expansion, with the other, probably Isengard, following shortly after.