The war against Sauron continues to build, and the Rohirrim face troubles
on many sides. Orcs from Mordor and Isengard ravage their lands from two
fronts, and some of their thanes have fallen under the dire influences of
villainous masters. It's a dark time indeed in Rohan, and the
Lord of the Rings Online's newest major content update, Update
11: Treachery of the White Hand, explores this darkness.
We got a guided tour of the new update with Turbine's Leo Tan,
Digital Communications Manager, and Hannah Foell,
Associate Producer of LotRo. The focus of the tour was on the new
"mini-region" of Wildermore, located in East Rohan.
Wildermore is new to LotRO, and to Middle-Earth lore in general. The
Wildermore region was entirely created by Turbine, and does not appear on
any maps or in any of the books. It's in a small, overlooked northwest
corner of East Rohan, ringed by mountains and bordering on Fangorn. Place
and people names generally stick with the Anglo-Saxon, Old English and
Scandinavian-style themes of the rest of Rohan, and much of the
architecture will be familiar. But despite that familiarity, it feels new...
and somehow wrong.
Wildermore is in a northern part of Rohan, but it's not normally the
frozen winter wasteland that players will encounter when they first arrive
- under normal circumstances, Wildermore is usually green and beautiful.
This current winter has far outlasted its normal duration.
According to Hanna Foell, "One of the things that you discover when you
come to Wildermore is, nobody understands what this winter is all about.
In the northern parts, like the High Knolls, they're accustomed to having
winter, but nothing this long and harsh. This is new and unnatural. That's
one of the mysteries that we're going to get into in this update."
Fairly early on, an explanation of sorts is given. A solo instance in the
town of Scylfig (pronounced "shull-fig" by the LotRO dev team) introduces
us to a snarly, ice-spiked stone giant named Núrzum. The
story of Wildermore follows the Rohirrim's struggle against Nurzum and his
horde. When you first arrive in Scylfig, it seems normal enough - there's
a war going on and there are orcs around, but the soldiers and everyone
else are confident that they can weather the storm by battening down the
hatches and facing the enemy with firm resolve. They're not expecting
Nurzum carries a winter environment effect with him - whenever he is
near, the edges of your screen "frost up," and he leaves a trail of giant
ice spikes in his wake. The same is true of his ice spires that he leaves
littered across the landscape - approaching one causes severe local
weather, much like the named mobs in the Misty Mountains. You know you're
getting near one when the blizzard starts up and you can no longer see.
Nurzum is a new kind of stone giant - not a big, dumb rock-chucker like
his brethren, but corrupted and cunning and vicious. He shows up in the
middle of the siege of Scylfig, uses the opportunity to kill one specific
dude, and then marches off back into the wilderness.
The town of Scylfig uses phasing technology - after Nurzum leaves, his
giant ice spikes remain behind, as well as the frozen bodies of Rohirrim
soldiers, encased in ice and contorted in terror and agony. After that
first battle, you are part of the clean-up crew - clearing away the ice,
searching for bodies, aiding the victims. Nurzum stays a few giant steps
ahead of you for a while.
The story of Wildermore is important to the dev team, but unfortunately
the guided tour was focused on other things. We skipped off to Balewood,
which is on the northern edge of Fangorn Forest. Nurzum has passed through
this region of the forest, leaving his telltale ice spires and frozen
"This is the really corrupt part of Fangorn," Hannah explained. "This is
where Nurzum has set up camp and created what we call and orc highway from
Isengard right into Wildermore. A lot of the ents have left, it's really
really wintery here, and huorns are all over the place."
The orcs seem to be coping well with the cold, fashioning campfires out
of heaps of wood-troll bodies.
This kind of dark imagery carries in on other areas and stories as well.
It's a grim part of the War of the Ring story, and this is reflected in
many aspects. A good example is the group of Rohirrim women bullying the
pregnant widow - they are jealous of her because they all wanted the same
man, and he went off and married some foreign woman instead. That's pretty
Not everything is doom and gloom, though. The endgame content is built
around the Hytbold idea - a group of random repeatable quests which reward
reputation and barter coins. Hannah and Leo wanted to show off the fishing
mission. For this mission, the goal is to catch a number of fish within a
certain time limit... but this is no summer day at Bywater at the fishing
hole. This is mounted fishing. You ride around a track of sorts throwing a
net. You get three sizes of nets - the smallest one has the shortest
cooldown but requires the greatest accuracy, while the largest size net
has a longer cooldown but can snare several fish at once (I managed to
snag three at one throw, Leo was determined to try for four but ran out of
time). Since you also have to control your mount, this is a little
trickier than it sounds.
There are also 13 new warbands in the Wildermore region, and new warband
rewards intended to complement the warband rewards from East Rohan.
As cool as the new region is, Update 11 is more than just Wildermore and
the continuation of the epic story. Mounted combat is getting its first
major revision. Player feedback told the dev team that pretty much
everyone was maxing out one particular trait tree - the yellow tree,
focused on speed and mobility. It was proving not to be fun or engaging,
so it was removed. Those traits are now bundled with the base steed and
are granted automatically, and the yellow tree has been repurposed for
awesome new class-specific traits. Hunters, for example, can trait for a
new skill that lays a bundle of traps, Lore-masters get a war-wolf pet,
Captains get an area-effect attack, etc. Of course, this means that
players will still be maxing out the yellow trait tree, but doing so will
feel more rewarding now.
Lower-level players are not forgotten, either. A new "Daily Hobbit
Present" system rewards players every day they log in to LotRO. Typical
rewards are basic vendor trash, but there are some powerful Rare and
Unique items for the lucky few. The Silver Hobbit Present is for
everybody, and the weekly Gold Hobbit Present is for VIPs. Additional
presents can be unlocked by spending Mithril Coins, which are also getting
a bit of an upgrade.
This newly-introduced catch-all currency is becoming even more valuable,
able to be used to pay upkeep fees on personal and kinship houses, spent
on field repairs, daily task limit increases and task resets, and
reputation and deed acceleration.
Mithril Coins are also the sole currency of Lalia's Market,
a fashion super-store selling tons of cosmetic armor and outfit pieces,
dyes and warsteed cosmetics, located in central Bree-town. Players can now
buy some cosmetic items that used to take hours of grinding and/or loads
of luck to earn. The "classic" Dunedain ranger outfit, for instance, was
formerly available to players only by completing Volume III Book V and at
the exclusion of the charcoal-grey newer-style outfit; it can now be
purchased at Lalia's Market for 50 Mithril Coins. New players running
through Volume I for the first time can now dress for the part, and
players who chose the dark grey outfit instead can now own both complete
Update 11: Treachery of the White Hand goes live on Monday, May 13.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Lord of the Rings Online Game Page.