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alt="Rise of Isengard: An Interview with Adam and Aaron"

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soon as Ten Ton Hammer heard about the newly
announced third expansion for href="">the Lord
of the Rings Online
, Rise of Isengard, and
how it will pit players against the machinations of the traitorous
White Wizard
Saruman., we phoned LotRO Producer Aaron Campbell and PR Director Adam
for a brief Q&A on the subject. While all things Entish were
off the table
for now (who doesn’t want to know how Tolkien’s mechwarrior will be
into the game, honestly?), Aaron and Adam offered us a little more
insight into
the expansion due out late next year.

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“Once he was as great as his fame made him.” –
Aragorn, on the steps of Orthanc

Along with a level cap raise to 70, Rise of Isengard will
encompass three huge new areas. Since it’s been a short
while since most of us submerged ourselves in all things Tolkien,
here’s an
impromptu geography / history lesson on the lands and current goings-on
in Rise
of Isengard:

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alt="Orthanc" src="">

tower at Isengard, Orthanc. Who needs windows when you have this much

  • Dunland – With Enedwaith and
    the Old South Road
    to the West and the Misty Mountains to the east, Dunland is a hilly,
    brown land populated by a degenerate,
    xenophobic tribe of men. The Dunlendings’ historically poor treatment
    at the hands of Gondor made them an easy mark for Saruman, himself
    desperately in need of allies in his mad quest to make the Ring his
    own. Players will probably have a front row seat for the negotiations.
  • The Gap of Rohan - Aaron was
    careful to point out that this is
    not Rohan proper, but rather the Gap of Rohan, which covers the strip
    of territory between the Misty Mountains (to the north), the Kingdom of
    Rohan (to the east), and the White Mountains to the southeast.
    Mountains make rivers, and the lush valley farmland formed by the Isen
    (flowing from the Mistys) and the Adorn (originating in the White Mts.)
    is a historical point of contention between the Dunlendings and the
    Kingdom of Rohan.
  • Isengard – A tower fortress meant to
    protect Rohan from
    invasion via the Fords of Isen, Isengard (along with Helm’s Deep to the
    south) and its tower, Orthanc, commands a vast swath of the
    Gap of Rohan. Historically a territorial holding of the stretched and
    depopulated Kingdom of Gondor, Isengard became a flashpoint in the
    battle between the Rohirrim and the Dunlendings. When the White Wizard
    Saruman offered to guard the tower on Gondor’s behalf, the Steward of
    Gondor was only too happy to hand over the keys. Now the once green and
    lovely lands of Isengard have become a mill of murderous orcs. What
    could come next? Ents, orcs, and a wizard vs. wizard breakdancing
    battle… oh my.

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now it is clear that he is a black traitor.” – Treebeard to
Merry and

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alt="Saruman the White"

man, Saruman looks PISSED! I would not want to be a hobbit trampling
the geraniums on the front lawn of Orthanc right now...

With LotRO’s previous two expansions, Mines of Moria and Siege
of Mirkwood, we arrived on the scene after the
members of the original Fellowship had already passed through. So our
first question to
Aaron and Adam was: are we still a part of the Middle Earth mop-up
team, or
would we play (or at least feel like we play) a role in how the
Isengard story
progresses. Happily, Turbine is taking the “Rise of” in Rise
of Isengard
literally. “Clearly, in terms of story and
progress, we’re at the beginning of The Two Towers. We’re continuing
down the
epic storyline, so for much of Dunland you’re going to be seen as
with the Grey Company south.”

Since all of our RoI questions were now being met with a
polite “wait and see,” we went with a purely technical question - what
happened to
the old Volume and Book way of describing new chunks of LotRO content?
We'd heard a great deal about expansions and updates, but no handy
and book versioning to go along with it. "The epic story continues,"
Aaron explained. "We're going to be doing both updates that have
feature sets in them, and we're still going to be releasing epic books
as well."

Adam explained further: "You may get updates with Books in
them. We will be doing updates associated with
Books, but just not every update. That way we're not holding back
changes and
fixes and player requests and waiting for the story to progress."

Out-and-out battles as well as nuanced quests and intrigues
are on the menu, but with nearly a year to
release, Aaron and Adam were content to tease us with concept videos
like this one:


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Freeps vs. Creeps, Reloaded

Big changes are also coming to LotRO’s unique take on PvP
gameplay. LotRO’s home of its distinctive "Freeps
vs. Creeps" subculture, the Ettenmoors had been the last bastion of
domain in Lord of the Rings Online. Next year, however, non-subscribers
will be
able to experience PvMP as Turbine expands LotRO’s PvMP presentation.

Aaron hinted that new Monster Play areas are coming with Rise
of Isengard, along with some key PvMP changes.
“We’re taking a harder look at monster advancement and player
advancement for PvMP,
and expanding out those advancement paths – making sure those skills
are meaningful and integral.”

Rise of Isengard is still close to a year
away, so what's coming to LotRO in the meantime? Next week, Ten Ton
Gunky will reveal what Aaron and Adam had to say about LotRO in the
coming months,
things like tasks, more raids and instances, First Age
and much more. Tune in to LotRO – Ten Ton Hammer for all the details
next week!

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Lord of the Rings Online Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016