Lord of the Rings Online Heads South at E3

We know many of our readers were anxious to hear what Turbine had planned for E3 2010.

We know many of our readers were anxious to hear what Turbine had planned for E3 2010. Many people speculated that the announcement would be a new Harry Potter MMOG or a possible expansion leading into Rohan for The Lord of the Rings Online (LotRO). Neither of those two speculations panned out. What we did get a look at though is the next content update for LotRO.

Our trip to the Turbine booth here at E3 2010 yielded us a look at the next content update that currently has no title, so it is simply referred to as Volume III: Book II. The next part of the epic story will take players further south and closer to Dunland by way of the lands of Enedwaith, where they will march with the rangers on the road to Isengard. Slow down, I said the road to Isengard, not to Isengard. You’ll have to wait for that in the upcoming Rohan expansion for that.

Lord of the Rings Online store
A look at the LotRO store.
The next part of the epic story picks up where Volume III: Book I – The Oath of the Rangers left off. With the rangers assembled, players will be tasked with carrying a banner crafted by Arwen to Aragorn in the south and that is the focus of the next part of the storyline.  The new lands in the south will be home to many tribes that Saruman has yet to turn to his will. So players will have the chance to see the area before it has been heavily corrupted by Saruman. This also leads to some possible changes in the future as Saruman tightens his grip on the area and extends his influence.

There are also some new features that will be introduced with the Volume III: Book II update. Turbine Executive Producer Kate Paiz explained one of the most notable ones to us with a new system that will allow the dungeons of LotRO to scale by level. This will allow players to return to older dungeons such as The Great Barrows and experience it all over again at an appropriate level. Loot will also scale, so there should be plenty of shiny items to go around.

Another feature will involve new Session Play content that will allow players to experience the game as a Ranger and learn about Aragorn’s forefathers. Previously, Rangers could only be used in PvMP, so the new Session Play missions will offer a chance to experience one of the Rangers in PvE and learn more about the lineage of one of LotRO’s most notable characters.

Enedwaith will introduce four new dungeons to the game that will be associated with the new epic storyline. Three of those dungeons will be solo instances and the fourth will be an open world dungeon, much like the Bree reputation dungeon of Haudh Iarchith. While there won’t be a focus on the group instance game with this update, Turbine representatives ensured us that new instances are on the books for the following update.

Lord of the Rings Online store
A look at the LotRO store.

With LotRO’s free-to-play switch coming up we also had to touch on the change and Turbine was happy to talk about it. The pricing for the quest hub content will range from $5 to $10 depending on the size of the content. One of the shop items we learned about is a potion that will help with grinding out all those deeds. Free-to-play beta begins tomorrow (Wednesday, June 16th, 2010). So if you’re interested head over to the website and sign up. LotRO’s free-to-play and Volume III: Book II update is scheduled to release this fall.

Free players will also have access to lower tiered housing as they can’t hold enough gold for the Deluxe. However, if you’re hoping for Monster Play you’ll have to pony up the cash to gain access as free accounts don’t have initial access to the Ettenmoors (LotRO’s PvP zone).

We did manage to squeeze a few more details out of Turbine about some future content. Legendary Items will be getting a few changes with the next update Volume III: Book III. For fans that have been concerned about mounted combat possibly being cut, Kate Paiz confirmed that it is still on the table for the Rohan expansion.  Along with that will be more we were also told that Rohan will be set post-orc work camps, so much of the Ent forest around Isengard will already have been destroyed, but players will have the chance to experience the forest in its full past glory through Session Play.

The new content certainly looks interesting and the new land mass will provide between 80 and 200 new quests. And while it was a bit disappointing that the reveal was not the anticipated expansion into Rohan, this update will certainly set us on the path to get there sometime next year.

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