The Lord of the Rings Online Update 6: "Shores of the Anduin" comes out today, and with it comes LOTRO's newest zone, "The Great River," wedged between Lothlorien to the north and Rohan to the south. Five hundred years ago, Sauron surged through these passes to invade Gondor, and as the men of Rohan turned his evil forces back, they were rewarded with lands that became the kingdom of Rohan.
Though the LOTRO community is anxiously awaiting the "Riders of Rohan" expansion due out in fall 2012, "Shores of the Anduin" offers a glimpse into the expansion that will finally bring mounted combat to LOTRO. Players will be able to explore the edges of Fangorn Forest with thehaunting Limlight Gorge and saddeningly beautiful Garden of the Entwives, plus an all new solo and group areas such as Kelebrand. Also, players are again hot on the trail of the Fellowship of the Ring as it moves downstream toward the giant statues at Argonath.
One focal point of the Update, Aaron explained, is Stangard, a Rohirrim outpost near the wastes of the Brownlands. Stangard offers players their first look at Rohirrim architecture: full-featured homes with beautiful woodwork. Aaron likened Stangard to "The Wall" of Game of Thrones extraction; soldiers who committed some form of outrage against their king were sentenced to live out their days here, protecting the river crossing from the gathering Easterling threat across the Anduin. "At the same time, it's undermanned, underfunded, and there's political conflict at the top," Aaron noted. So, just in time for Game of Thrones Season 2, it sounds as if players will be able to live out their own Jon Snow experience in LOTRO.
Other must-see areas from Update 6 include the Gardens of the Entwives, the "barren and actually very sad" area in tribute to the female ents who disappeared long ago.Bordering the Misty Mountains to the west of Stangard are the Wailing Hills, where players will encounter two of the surviving Great Eagles. These eagles must survive to later save Frodo and Sam in the last days of Mount Doom, so players will have a role in this ultimate outcome even at this early stage of the fight against Sauron. Players will also see Sauron's vision for the world in the Brownlands, where Aaron noted that"Sauron dropped what amounted to a nuclear bomb... nothing will grow there for hundreds and hundreds of years, not a single flower."
Update 6 also brings a number of enhancements to several of LOTRO's major systems. First, the instance finder, LOTRO's LFG system, simultaneously allowing players to select only the skirmishes and level range they want to play and rewarding players with extra bonuses for being less picky and more elite in terms of the skimishes they're willing to play. With Update 6, players will be able to take their Soldiers - LOTRO's previously skirmish-only version of a groupable NPC minion or hireling system - out into the "landscape" for the first time.
Monster Play, the standalone PvP "freeps vs. creeps" side of LOTRO, is getting a new currency system called Commendations, which replaces the split Destiny system as something that will earn by PvMP, for PvMP. For monster players, the Warg and Reaver classes, are getting a revamp, as are the Warden and the Runekeeper classes for the free peoples. The aim of these changes, according to Sr. Producer Aaron Campbell, is to make each class more specialized or more survivable, and make their trait lines more distinctive.
LOTRO Update 6: "Shores of Anduin" Teaser Trailer:
"The Shores of Anduin" is an important step towards the lands of Amon Hen, Argonath, and the open plains of Rohan and an expansion that, according to Aaron, is as big as everything the've built for LOTRO thus far. Our thanks to Aaron Campbell and the Turbine team, and we look forward to learning more about Turbine's future plans for LOTRO early next month at PAX East.
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