Updated Fri, Nov 19, 2010 by gunky
As soon as Ten Ton Hammer heard about the newly announced third expansion for the Lord of the Rings Online, Rise of Isengard, and how it will pit players against the machinations of the traitorous White Wizard Saruman., we phoned LotRO Producer Aaron Campbell and PR Director Adam Mersky for a brief Q&A on the subject. While all things Entish were off the table for now (who doesn’t want to know how Tolkien’s mechwarrior will be adopted into the game, honestly?), Aaron and Adam offered us a little more insight into the expansion due out late next year.
“Once he was as great as his fame made him.” – Aragorn, on the steps of Orthanc
Along with a level cap raise to 70, Rise of Isengard will encompass three huge new areas. Since it’s been a short while since most of us submerged ourselves in all things Tolkien, here’s an impromptu geography / history lesson on the lands and current goings-on in Rise of Isengard:
tower at Isengard, Orthanc. Who needs windows when you have this much
“And now it is clear that he is a black traitor.” – Treebeard to Merry and Pippin
Oh man, Saruman looks PISSED! I would not want to be a hobbit trampling the geraniums on the front lawn of Orthanc right now...
With LotRO’s previous two expansions, Mines of Moria and Siege of Mirkwood, we arrived on the scene after the members of the original Fellowship had already passed through. So our first question to Aaron and Adam was: are we still a part of the Middle Earth mop-up team, or would we play (or at least feel like we play) a role in how the Isengard story progresses. Happily, Turbine is taking the “Rise of” in Rise of Isengard literally. “Clearly, in terms of story and progress, we’re at the beginning of The Two Towers. We’re continuing down the epic storyline, so for much of Dunland you’re going to be seen as journeying with the Grey Company south.”
Since all of our RoI questions were now being met with a polite “wait and see,” we went with a purely technical question - what happened to the old Volume and Book way of describing new chunks of LotRO content? We'd heard a great deal about expansions and updates, but no handy volume and book versioning to go along with it. "The epic story continues," Aaron explained. "We're going to be doing both updates that have specific feature sets in them, and we're still going to be releasing epic books as well."
Adam explained further: "You may get updates with Books in them. We will be doing updates associated with Books, but just not every update. That way we're not holding back changes and fixes and player requests and waiting for the story to progress."
Out-and-out battles as well as nuanced quests and intrigues are on the menu, but with nearly a year to release, Aaron and Adam were content to tease us with concept videos like this one:
Freeps vs. Creeps, Reloaded
Big changes are also coming to LotRO’s unique take on PvP gameplay. LotRO’s home of its distinctive "Freeps vs. Creeps" subculture, the Ettenmoors had been the last bastion of subscriber-only domain in Lord of the Rings Online. Next year, however, non-subscribers will be able to experience PvMP as Turbine expands LotRO’s PvMP presentation.
Aaron hinted that new Monster Play areas are coming with Rise of Isengard, along with some key PvMP changes. “We’re taking a harder look at monster advancement and player advancement for PvMP, and expanding out those advancement paths – making sure those skills are meaningful and integral.”
Rise of Isengard is still close to a year away, so what's coming to LotRO in the meantime? Next week, Ten Ton Hammer's Gunky will reveal what Aaron and Adam had to say about LotRO in the coming months, things like tasks, more raids and instances, First Age weapons and much more. Tune in to LotRO – Ten Ton Hammer for all the details next week!