Updated Wed, Oct 05, 2011 by gunky
The epic trek to Dunland can take one of two paths - either to the Bonevales or to Trum Dreng, depending on which Ranger you elect to help. I chose the path through Trum Dreng, which is the western edge just south of the Mournshaws in Enedwaith - the paths are more straightforward there, and there are no annoying wights. In Trum Dreng, the members of the Stag Clan are at odds with members of the Dragon Clan, who have shady dealings with the White Hand. This is where you will first see Turbine's much-touted phasing technology - as you follow the story in the region, events unfold that change the town and its inhabitants. The White Hand's treachery becomes plain as the town of Lhan Tarren burns and its elder is slain... but someone new to the area will be able to interact with the elder, and none of the buildings will be on fire.
The epic quests for Book 4 are more "MMO" than "RPG." Typically, you will be sent to an area by the quest giver and instructed to help the inhabitants as much as you are able. When you're done, you move to the next hub and do the same thing there. "As much as you are able" is a fairly broad and open-ended guideline - you can skip through and thumb your nose at the Dunlendings if you want, or you can attempt to do every quest in each hub before moving on. I took a fairly thorough approach, attempting to do as much as possible at each quest hub before moving to the next to advance the story.
I hammered through Trum Dreng fairly quickly and moved on to Pren Gwydh, the central zone of Dunland. The big town there, Galtrev, is the region's core hub, and because it was incredibly busy that day, Galtrev was quite laggy. It's a good, big town with all the town services - maybe a little confusing to navigate, and definitely laggy, but you can find everything you need there. Some players reported client crashes when attempting to enter the trainers' hall, but I was able to enter and exit at will.
Opening day hurly-burly made some tasks an exercise in patience. A great many players were competing for the same resources - 10 people trying to kill the same 4 quest mobs, for example, or ninja-looting crafting resource nodes. I would like to appeal to anyone reading this: please don't be a jerk. Everyone's there for the same reason you are, mobs and nodes respawn, and it's not a board game where you win by getting to the last square first. Please be patient, try not to be a ninja and be respectful of other players. If someone is obviously working on the same quests as you are in the same area, try inviting him to a group or asking to join his group and work together. Everyone benefits.
That being said, Gunkydoc managed a fairly respectable haul of crafting resources his first day out without really trying. Skarn and Birch nodes are plentiful, and treasure items like chests, backpacks and corpses were pretty much everywhere and respawned really fast. Treasure nodes rewarded around 120 silver each, plus crafting items and vendor trash/task items (specifically Bent Maces - those were everywhere).
After Galtrev, the epic quest takes you to the northeast corner of the map to Tal Methedras. I found this area particularly amusing - the Dunlendings, unsure about whether or not they should trust the Grey Company, put the rangers to work picking apples, hauling bundles and performing other menial tasks that would have likely been assigned to players otherwise. Sweet, sweet justice. Some of the quest rewards here are outstanding, and Gunkydoc actually found a suitable replacement for the Leggings of the Great Bow that he has been wearing for over two years.