As E3 2011 kicked off earlier this week, Turbine unveiled the first
details on the next expansion for The Lord of the Rings
, Rise of Isengard
While the build being shown at the event was still in pre-alpha, it
still gave us a good feel for how players will progress through the new
content, some insights into the continuation of the epic storyline
quests, and of course all the bells and whistles that come with the
increased level cap to 75.
When players first arrive in Dunland, you’re introduced to
the various tribal clans from the region, each of which has fallen
under the influence of Isengard in different ways and in varying
degrees. As you progress through the early parts of the expansion
you’ll learn more about each of the clans, and exactly how
far reaching the influence of Isengard has truly gotten.
We also learned that phasing will play a larger role in the new
expansion as a means of showing players the impact of their actions,
and give a greater sense of advancement as you navigate through what
Design Director Linda Currie explained will be more than 300 new
quests. The use of phasing in Rise of Isengard
is intended to help show a permanent impact your characters
and they storyline they’re experiencing makes on the world
around them, ranging from larger environmental changes down to the
state of health of some of the NPCs you’ll meet, and lots of
other interesting things in between.
Speaking of the new environments, the ones we were shown were
nothing less than stunning, such as the Gap of Rohan, but certainly
none more so than the initial approach leading up to Isengard itself.
You can immediately begin to see signs of the devastation in the
surrounding areas which have been all but completely deforested to help
fuel Saruman’s war machine. Unfortunately we
weren’t shown a more detailed view of the tower itself or the
gameplay specifics players can expect to find there, but given the
major impact of the lore surrounding the tower I expect nothing less
than something truly epic.
Along with the increased level cap to 75, many of the classic dungeons
that currently capped at level 65 will also scale up to 75, complete
will all new loot for the additional levels to help keep them viable
content for players moving forward. There will also be some class
revisions to consolidate certain skills, and tweak others. According to
Linda, the goal is to give players more nuanced approaches to how they
choose to play their class.
To go along with that, many of the stat and itemization changes are
intended to give players the ability to make meaningful decisions
between items that support the different nuances. For example
you’ll have more flexibility to choose between supporting
different roles your class is able to fulfill such as the choice
between healing and DPS.
The Reaver class will also become a free creep class for players in the
new expansion to give them a taste of LotRO’s
PvP system, with the other creeps being made available to purchase in
the store. The store itself will become available to players in the
‘Moors, so certain items that you hadn’t been able
to use there before will all become fair game for both sides.
Of course no journey to Isengard would be complete with an all-new
raid. As with the bulk of our preview of the expansion, we
weren’t able to see specifics from the new raid content, but
more details are no doubt just around the corner as beta is expected to
kick off sometime around the beginning of July.
Before our preview of the new expansion wrapped up, I
couldn’t help but ask if we’ll soon be moving into
a point where we’ll begin seeing giant siege weapons that
players can interact with, or even much larger scale battles. While I
didn’t get a flat yes or no answer, Linda did give her
Turbine compatriots a telling glance before responding with an
enthusiastic, “stay tuned!”
And stay tuned we shall over the coming months as Rise of Isengard
heads into beta later this summer leading up to the September release