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LOTRO past, present, and future: Part 3, Rohan and Beyond!

Welcome back to the final instalment dear reader, you did well, its almost over now!

I have gone over the Store, which I believe will grow and grow, make no bones about it there will be things to come which will frustrate and annoy players. With the level cap on the rise again, watch this process as a point of development. On the flip side, 2011 brought some good things with regard to frequency and quality of content, and some major changes to mechanics, itemisation, and rewards which should facilitate clearer itemisation and instance design moving forward. The system is now a durable one which holds the basics for long term adaptation and development. Yes that is easy to loose sight of admidst the communications mess, store rage, and bugs, but on the whole the actual game content I enjoyed a lot, but the delivery and polish needs some work.

Content going into 2012

I am now rewriting this section. I made some bold statements about actually believeing Turbines spin about 2012s content releases, but with Wednesdays announcements of a new region in Spring and the Riders of Rohan expansion in the Autumn, its blatantly obvious there is a good deal of truth to it. Shame really, would have looked great if Id have published this a few days earlier. Anyway, now we know that there will be a decent amount of content this year it makes it much easier to scan the horizon.

I think they have had a good couple of years working through this model, and I was reasonably confident that they were due to hit their stride this year with where they were going and how they would proceed, and we; the players, would finally start seeing some returns. It wouldn’t surprise me if we see some combination of skirmishes, re-scaling old instances, and/or new instances also come along with, or in between these updates, and probably further system tweaks, work on the instance finder, the festivals, and yes: a lot more in the store.

With the new currency system in place, scaling an instance is a very viable thing to do, without having to recreate a whole new rewards system and tokens, and incentives for players at level cap to still jump in. Hopefully we may see Fornost, CD or Uru, or perhaps even the Moria instances at some point in the next 12-18 months. In short, 2011 felt to me like a bit of a dry run and preperation for the next year or two, time will tell if that is true or not.

Whilst communication is clearly still a weak point and a source of worry, I hope some lessons have been learned. Wednesdays release on the armour from Sapience was a somewhat belated attempt to redress that, but this needs to be sustained, not a one-off. I believe the intentions of Turbine are good, we just need to have that trust reassured with more open communication. There is little point working yourself into a frenzy over one negative change, but there is also no point falling back in love with them for one well written post from a community team member. By all means we should keep complaints up when there are things we see we do not like. That feedback lets them gauge where they went too far, but beware of becoming white noise. The sum total of the armour explanation post and the new announcements of the 2012 content, redressed the balance somewhat, but whether this sustains over the next 12 months is the key. I am prepared for more poor communication, bugs, delays, and more annoying things in the store, keeping a weather eye on the horizon is usually a good idea.

I am pleased they are continuing out of Lorien and down the Anduin, as this presents us with some more opportunities to explore areas of Middle Earth, and experience part of the story of the fellowship in some fashion, without which, those less familiar with the work would be missing a fairly major event. Certainly we cannot see all of the story of the fellowship, but we last see the fellowship in Lorien, if we suddenly met Aragorn in Edoras and had to be told the back story via text or session play, it would be missing an opportunity from the point of view of story telling, and additions of more landmass and quests.

Clearly now we have dealt with Theodred, probably the next aid we lend Rohan will be via Eomer (cue Riders of Eomer reputation grind!). This makes a lot of sense story wise, as Eomer came across Aragorn ,Gimli, and Legolas as they ran across the East Emnet (part of which was in Eomers jurisdiction as Third Marshal of the Mark). We have received a snippet already that we would ‘see’ the breaking of the company, and Boromirs fall. I suspect this may be via session play, but who knows what may happen from there? We may not be able to follow Frodo and Sam, or travel with Aragorn, but we could be working for Eomer tracking a band of Orcs, and shadowing the trio in the process? Who knows, but certainly this way, we get to understand the breaking of the fellowship and some part of their disparate paths afterwards, even if only following in their wake (which is what, after all, we did in Eregion and Moria), and undoubtedly meeting Gandalf and the Ents towards the end. Proceeding in this order, gives Turbine a reason to build a bigger world, Story, and thus sell more quest packs and expansions, so from that point every body wins.

It is also sensible from the point of view of what will follow-up these releases next year. When we head to the Westfold, and we get to see Helmsdeep and Isengard fall, events run pretty fast after that, it would be doubly frustrating to be piddling off in East Emnet and the Brown Lands, when we knew Aragorn was in the Paths of the Dead, and Gandalf was riding with all speed to Gondor. When this happens, we need to be following one, or both of them, and though game time is stretched or suspended greatly, we really need the follow-up content to be sticking fairly close to the main story.

In terms of the areas and landmasses, I suspect we may see Rivers used a lot for the division of the new region, and expansions because they naturally carve up the terrain into neat portions which equate to what we have heard will be released, and they make much nicer region boundaries than cliffs and hills. We have a rough idea of the ‘Great River‘ region added this spring from the preview articles, as it will be between Lorien and Mirkwood (see map), and will presumably not include Fangorn as that has been stated as part of the expansion. Looking at the map of the region, and based on seeing; Amon Hen, Fangorn, and exploring eastern Rohan in the expansion, then the River Entwash, and Anduin, and Limlight to the North make boundaries encompassing East Emnet and the area we will probably received in the Riders of Rohan Expansion.

All in all, it looks very interesting, and contains a lot of potential for some great stories and gaming, and we’ll be beating the enemy on horse back for some of it too! I am also hoping that the release of the Hobbit film in December of this year, shortly after this X-pac, will bring some more fans of the IP in Turbines direction, particularly if Turbine and WB can finally get their marketing sorted and roll out some info and turbine points cards and promotions with the cinema releases. Come on guys, lets see this game promoted some more then!

Expanding LOTRO abroad?

In another article over on Contains Moderate Peril (If you haven’t checked them out go do so right after this, its a great site with a lot of content and variety) It was reported that Warner Brothers had signed a deal with Inplay over in Korea. So I thought I’d throw this in as a flight of fancy to finish, whilst wild speculation was on the cards. It occurred to me, that WB have yet to release LOTRO to the far eastern market, and this little snippet made me wonder If they were looking for a company to localise LOTRO for the asian market. Could 2012 be the year LOTRO expands again? It would be intriguing to watch and see.

All in all there was a lot of good things in 2011, and a lot to be excited about in 2012 and beyond. Enjoy your LOTRO game time however you choose to spend it. Keep those weather eyes open, but there is no need for the tin foil hats just yet. If you got this far, you did well.

I remain, strangely, optimistic.

Thanks once again for reading,

Adam

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New Class Trait Guides

With the Rise of Isengard update, we have both been working our way through our different characters and different classes, levelling them, playing in groups earning new gear, and working out new trait sets ups, legacies and layouts. As a result we have made some notes, and in places, changes to the way we play and the gear we use. We are now in the position to go back through our guides sections and start to make some changes to our current guides as a when necessary, to keep them up to date.

In addition to this we have also made ourselves a few notes about class traits, as on our champ, minstrel, and RK we have found ourselves retraiting more than every to help balance out the groups we have found ourselves in. This has led to us creating a short hand reference to some generic builds, with some top priority traits, and nice complementary, but not essential, ones to enable us to retrait quickly without too much messing around.

We will (slowly as always) be adding them to the site, and the first, the Champion builds, we are making live today. You can access it via this link, or via the guides menu in the top right, under class trait guides.

thanks for reading!

Adam

 

Last week for Steed of Minas Ithil

This week is the last chance (probably for some time, not permanently I’d guess) to buy the Steed of Minas Ithil, a store only horse, which personally I think looks pretty sweet. This silver-grey dappled horse, draped in a flowing bright blue and white covering with matching banner, is meant to display and carry the fearsome Guard of Isildur into battle. It looks like its following the pattern for the newer breed of in game mounts, flowing saddle cloths and a little flag (like the new anniversary steed) and I really like it. It has a very respectable 250 morale and is 68% faster than walking. However it does weigh in at 1995 TP’s, which is a pretty hefty price tag, one I’m not willing to pay just yet, but then again, you will have something pretty unique, which looks good. I haven’t seen one of these in game yet which shows just how rare they are. If you have TP’s burning a hole in your pocket go on and treat yourself (remember this is per character not per account and is not transferable, so make sure you plum for it on the toon you want it on)

Those of you on the US Turbine servers have had the chance to win this horse in the lottery, those of us on the Codemasters servers don’t have this oprion, but come June we will be in the Turbine fold too and be able to join in all the fun!

Level Usable: 5+
Classes Usable: ALL
Store Location: TRAVEL & HOUSING > MOUNTS > STORE EXCLUSIVE

A piccie I found on the forums of Bhorgrim the Dwarf on the Minas Ithil Steed

Tuesday Treats!

Todays Tuesday Treat is awesome for all you Hunters out there – 50% off Tomes of Agility! For 148 TP’s you can increase your characters agility by 10 permanently, and this can be added 5 times on any character.

Agility increases ranged damage, your chance to hit and critically hit, and your ability to evade and parry incoming blows, so is pretty useful for a whole bunch of characters but especially hunters.

Tuesday Treats!

Yep its Tuesday again, and that means sale day! Today you can get 50% of Virtue Slots, now at 48 TP’s each, which can enhance your characters specific stats and resistances. You earn Virtues in game by doing deeds, and each virtue ranks up to 10. (It is possible to have more than 10 on a Virtue, but at the moment you only get the benefit of 10 – but as the game progresses and the level cap goes up again, it is more than likely that the virtue ranks will increase also- we hope).

The maximum number of Virtue slots available is 5 – so this sale is really for F2P players, VIPs and subscribers will already have the max slots open. Please also bear in mind that the Virtue slots are per character not per account, so if you are going to buy them, choose wisely!

Tuesday Treats

Todays Tuesday Treat is 50% off Tomes of Might, the first one coming in at 148 TP’s . Personally, I don’t think this is a bad buy, and will probably be investing some in my Champion. It will permanently increase the might on the character by 10 for each tome used. If you want them, make sure you purchase them via the character you want to use them on – they are automatically consumed on purchase!

Offer ends 23.59 GMT 08/03/2011, so get them on sale while you can!

Tuesday Treats!

Just a quick post to let you all know whats on sale in the LoTRO Store today- 50% off Character slots! Yey! All you altoholics out there can indulge yourselves for the bargain price of 298 TP’s. Great value!

Steed of the Night Leaving Stores

Today it has been announced that the Steed of the Night is leaving stores this Sunday. It has been reduced by 20% to 1596 TPs, so if you want it get it now!

There has been alot of discussions on the forums over this with speculation that it is only a temporary removal, or that it may return as a possible faction reward in further expansions.

Personally, while I like the look of it, I can’t justify spending that many points on it.

 

Just What I Always Wanted!

Emsibelle tries on Azbaraks clothes

Just a quick post to say I love the wardrobe! I love it! Since they introduced the Radience gear and I saw a little Hobbit lady in the full Durin’s Guard set I wanted one. And now I can have one! Azbarak, my level 65 fully togged Dwarf Tank kindly donated the Durin’s Guard and Shield-Bearer’s set, and the Cloak of the West-Tower, to the wardrobe so that Emsi, my little Hobbit lady Tank at the huge level of 20 can play dressy-ups. She looks so cute! It means that I can concentrate on levelling up another alt (maybe a Dwarf Hunter this time)without having to grind and have 2 level 65 Tanks, however awesome they might be. I went and got her riding skill and now she can roam around the Shire on her free Dusky Nimblefoot Goat, playing at being Azbarak.

Free to Play EU Release Date Announced

Yes you heard it right folks, the european servers will finally go live with the Free to play model on Tuesday 2nd of November.

We had an update today from Eurogamer early today, then over on the Codies forums this afternoon. So get ready and if I don’t see you in Enedwaith, I’ll see you in the Haunted Cellar!

Adam