The Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) has been going strong for over two years, and a lot has changed with the game. Turbine has been releasing free content updates pretty regularly, and the first expansion went live last November with The Mines of Moria. To a returning gamer this new content can throw you off and make you feel like a newbie all over again, so this week we are going to take a look at some of the changes that have happened since launch. There are a lot of things to cover, and this will only be the first article to cover those changes. Lets get started!
Evendim was the first free content update and later acted as the gateway to Annuminas.
Book 9: The Shores of Evendim
The first free content update for LOTRO was Book 9: The Shores of Evendim. You would think by the name alone that the entirety of this patch was focused solely on the new landmass of Evendim; however, that was not the case. Along with the introduction of Evendim, players were treated to LOTROs first raid instance located in the Misty Mountains known as Helegrod. This 24 man raid instance had several phases, including a showdown with a rather nasty dragon. To quote a passage from the lore:
The ancient keep of Helegrod was home to mighty dwarves during the times of Moria. The dragon Thorog coveted the riches that lay within and assaulted the city, slaying dwarves beyond measure. Durin the Fifth strapped to his back Mírdanant, a gift of Eregion to his grandsire which passed from father to son through the long years. He strode with a small company of dwarves to the gates of Helegrod. Durin bellowed a challenge, and Thorog responded in kind! The battle was joined! So fierce was the fighting between dragon and dwarf that the very gates of Helegrod were split asunder.
While the new raid area was a great addition, many players were itching for the new content located in Evendim. The late 20s to mid 30s level range seemed to be a spot when many struggled to find quests or content for advancement, forcing them to resort to the old trade of grinding mobs for experience. Evendim provided a fresh infusion of content for levels 25+ and alleviated some of the congestion for that level range. Not only that, Evendim is a huge place, and often times you would need to swim to get to where you needed to go. This became one of the least favorite things about Evendim for many players. Wheres a hobbit paddle boat when you need one?
Annuminas is an area of constant conflict as the Rangers of the Dúnedain fight to defend it.
Despite the slow travel times associated with swimming, Evendim was a strong addition to a new game and remains a popular spot for that level range. Along with a large assortment of quests, the new dungeon known as The Tomb of Elendil was opened for play. Some other notable features included the addition of seven sets of class specific epic armor, more instances, loads of new deeds and ton of class changes.
Book 10: The City of Kings
Book 10 introduced some new mechanics to the game that gave players a lot of additional things to grind. Im looking at you reputation dungeons. Thats right; our old friend the faction-based grind is back. With the addition of a reputation dungeon in various parts of the world, players are able to start grinding reputation with the Elves of Rivendell, The Council of the North (Angmar), Rangers of Esteldin, The Longbeards of Thorin's Hall, The Men of Bree, and the Mathom Society (Hobbits). As you earn reputation with each faction you also gain access to faction specific items.
The main focus of content for this update brought a new high level area into play with the opening of Annúminas, the ancient city of kings. Located in Evendim, this area offers higher level players the chance to take on troops from Angmar and fight their way to and through three event driven instances.
The developers at Turbine got a little creative with this update as they gave players the option to play as a chicken in what they called Session Play. You heard me right, I said a chicken. Just avoid getting choked by the enemies and I promise not to use that joke again. With the addition of the chicken, players could also use their destiny points to purchase play time as a Ranger or Troll in the Ettenmoors. These are elite PvP classes and capable of wrecking havoc on the battlefield. Hunters and Captains got a big revamp during this patch as well, giving both classes new skills and abilities.
The Dúnedain Rangers watch over the ancient city of Annuminas as they search for relics of the past.
As the epic story continued, you were able to aid Aragorn in reforging the shattered blade of Narsil into Andúril, the Flame of the West. Considering what you have to go through to acquire the needed stone for Aragorn, its a pretty decent cutscene.
Book 11: Defenders of Eriador
Book 11 was a long awaited update and rather large in the patch notes department. Several class and crafting changes were added and this was also considered the revamp patch for the Minstrel and Lore-master classes. However, the biggest part of this update was the introduction of player housing. Each race was given their own instanced neighborhoods, each with its own unique theme.
- Hobbits: The hobbits live in their tiny homes that normal sized races could almost bump their heads in. The neighborhoods are modeled after the Shire and you will see hobbit homes on are sticking out of hills.
- Elves: The elven neighborhood is a majestic looking area that is bright of color and provides a peaceful looking setting in the tradition of the elves.
- Dwarves: The dwarves live beneath the mountain near Thorins Hall. Their neighborhood has huge statues, crystals, and a dark setting,
- Men: Last but not least we have the race of man. Their homes are located near Bree and they have homes much like the buildings in Bree. Theres nothing spectacular about them. They are plain and simple.
Elven homes have a majestic theme in the tradition of the elven race.
Each neighborhood comes with three types of homes.
- Single: The cheapest of the homes. This is the smallest and most affordable home. It has one chest slot for extra storage.
- Deluxe: This is the best house a player can buy for individual use. It comes with a two chest option, but it is also much more expensive than the cheaper single house.
- Kinship: Lastly, the Kinship House is the most expensive of all and will likely require your Kinship to work together to maintain the rent and add any theme appropriate decorations. Kinship homes come with three chest options for storage and adjustable permission settings.
Between Books 9 through 11, Turbine offered up enough free content for a small expansion. However, Turbine didnt stop there and more free content was given on a pretty regular basis. Books 12-15 offered additional content that well talk about in the next article, with Book 15 being released with the Mines of Moria expansion to give those who chose not to buy it a little something extra.
Overall, Turbine in the first three books alone provided one raid instance, an entire new housing system, a revamp of several classes, several new group instances, and advancement of the epic storyline. If you are just trying the game for the first time or returning after a long hiatus, I hope this and the future articles on this subject aid you in the learning process.
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