The newest content-update for the Lord of the Rings Online's Rise of Isengard expansion - titled Update 5: Armies of Isengard - launched today, December 12. Featured highlights of the update are the new 5-instance cluster in Isengard, the continuation of the epic storyline, and the addition of the Instance Finder. A new Instance Cluster Dev Diary discusses the behind-the-scenes work that went into the new instance content, and the Release Notes detail the other many tweaks, minor and major, that have gone into Update 5.
Also launched today was a 2-hour sneak preview of the long-awaited Treasure Hunt event. This is a holiday-type event that occurs in Ered Luin, at a special camp just northwest of Gondamon. Players are given picks and detection tools, and run around a dig site looking for buried treasure, which can be exchanged for a variety of cosmetic and other rewards. The prices of the rewards are rather steep - some masks cost 200 tokens. With the 2 picks given to players from the repeatable quests (which have a 15-minute cooldown), a player can find from 2 - 20 or so tokens, so a lot of digging is required to earn the top rewards. It ran from 6pm - 8pm EST, and will possibly return for the Yule festival in January.. though this has not been confirmed officially.
Also not announced in the release notes is the addition of a new musical instrument, the pibgorn. The pibgorn is a traditional Welsh reed instrument, shaped like a long pipe with an upturned horn at the end. There are 2 types of pibgorn available from bards everywhere - a level 20 minstrel-only version and a level 65 version playable by anyone trained in its use - and a variety of crafted versions with outstanding stats which can be made by Westfold woodworkers. When playing ABC music with pibgorns, the sound is akin to two bagpipes fighting one another with truncheons and blades and losing badly. Some players will enjoy this ear-bleeding sonic assault, but when my Minstrel played his pibgorn for the first time in the middle of Galtrev, he got slapped repeatedly by a number of players.
To showcase the new instance content, Turbine released a batch of new screenshots, showing the Tower of Orthanc raid, where players pit themselves against Saruman of Many Colours, who now fancies himself a ring-maker.