During our April 20th interview with Aaron Campbell and Adam Mersky, the fellas had a lot to discuss. As the Producer for the Lord of the Rings Online and the Executive Director of Communications for Turbine, Inc. (respectively), their first order of business was to discuss the 4th anniversary of the game. That discussion is detailed Here.
But they also wanted everyone to know that they don't intend to rest on their laurels and coast on the success of Update 2: Echoes of the Dead, released on March 21st. They're keeping the ball rolling with another batch of content, Update 3, which is scheduled to land at the end of May. So what can we expect from this as-yet-unnamed update? Lots, apparently.
The main focus of Update 3 will be on 4 new spaces - 2 instances and 2 skirmishes that become available at mid-levels and scale to level 65. These new spaces will not have a common, unifying theme like the instance and raid cluster of Echoes of the Dead, but, instead, each space will have its own unique feel and flavour. For example:
think I'm in the wrong IP, mate..." Inn of the Forsaken instance -
"We're taking you to a new place called the Inn of the Forsaken," said Aaron. "Its really a different space for LotRO, a lot of puzzles and traps to solve, little bit of a pirate theme. It's got a very fun look to it, it's very distinct." This 3-man instance will start at level 20 and scale to level 65, and offers new armor, weapons and pocket items as rewards.
The next instance is called the Halls of Night. "It's very much a Barrow-Downs feel," said Aaron. "You're venturing into a space created by disturbing a Barrow-spirit. The challenges that await you within are things that that spirit is dragging up for you, forcing you to confront." The Halls of Night is also a 3-man instance, starting at level 40, and offers new armor, jewelry and cosmetic item rewards.
As for the skirmishes, these are set in locations that will be more familiar to players. "One of them is set in a place that always seemed that it would be the scene of a great battle: Dol Dinen," Aaron explained. "The skirmish there is called Attack at Dawn.The other one is taking you to Forochel, to a place with really blistering cold winds and an Angmarim sorcerer in the Icy Crevasse." Attack at Dawn begins at level 30, and the Icy Crevasse at level 40. Both of these are offense-type skirmishes and will have standard skirmish rewards.
"We know it's a long way to Isengard for some players," Aaron went on. "We wanted to make sure we could keep the fresh, new things flowing, keep the content in the game, and let you know that there are brand new things to be excited about coming very soon."
When asked if there would be big changes to some of the classes with this update - on par with the Minstrel, Hunter and Burglar class changes - Aaron said, "The timeframe is a little short for Update 3, but you'll see a good bit of that in Isengard itself. We definitely want to continue that trend, we definitely want to continue to share the love,especially for the tanking classes coming up."
The same goes for major area revamps like the one for Evendim. "We may have some new festival-style events up our sleeves, but we'll be talking about those a bit closer to the summer," Aaron said.
RISE OF ISENGARD
From there, the conversation moved a little further down the timeline to the Rise of Isengard expansion, slated for a Fall 2011 release.
"There's a couple of updates I wanted to give you," said Adam. "The good news is, Aaron seems to be really hard at work building Isengard, and it's actually going to be bigger than we initially alerted you guys to."
more levels, and a new tier of crafting is something that players can
"The big thing that players are going to be excited about is we're going to a 10-level boost to the level cap," Aaron said. "So we're going to be going from a 65 cap to 75. The content is shaping up beautifully, the landscape is really robust and open and it's taking us not just up to the gates of Isengard, but right up to the Tower of Orthanc. There's a lot to see and many different kinds of places and environments on the path. Three new regions and drama with the Dunlendings there as Saruman's influence falls over them."
And there's a lot of drama there. "The epic book for Isengard is quite extensive," Aaron said "I think it comes out to 3 books' worth, 30-plus chapters. It's a long path to follow, a lot of story." When asked if there will be a new tier of crafting recipes to cover ten new character levels, he said "I think you can expect that. We're not ready to quite comment on that yet. There will be a natural set of things that follow with a 10-level increase, and certainly crafting will be on that list."
"The other thing we're excited about is the new raid that (Executive Producer) Kate Paiz mentioned in her Producer's Letter," he went on. "This is a dragon raid, something else that we're working very extensively on right now. It's actually a 24-person raid. It sets the right scale - this is probably one of the largest creatures we've ever made in LotRO. He's huge... Most of the time you're just going to be looking at his head, because the body is too large to effectively have 24 people push it around."
goes F2P with RoI -
Adam talked a bit about the future of Monster Play. "We've got a lot of stuff coming for Monster Play," he said. "Isengard is only the beginning of our plans for Monster Play, and Isengard will open it up for all players. And that's only the beginning; we've got a lot of plans for even just following Isengard, and we're going to be doing a lot of work with that system."
"We're certainly making some systemic changes," Aaron said. "We're really opening up the gameplay for free players who want to come in and experience Monster Play for the first time. We're opening up a lot of new consumable types and traits and options for players so they can mix and match and choose and find a monster that's right for them, and get out there."
"As far as a new region," Adam said, "That's probably not going to happen at Isengard, but it could happen sometime in the near future."
The bulk of the expansion is geared towards the endgame crowd who already have their characters level-capped and geared up, but simply opening up Monster Play to the F2P crowd is expected to be enough of a draw to interest new players when Rise of Isengard launches. In its current iteration, it is available only to VIPs.
"We're going to have a lot more news come June timeframe," he went on. "Hopefully we will be able to give you guys a first look at it, and an idea of dates."