Preorders have gone live and players of The Lord of the Rings Online will be happy they made their preorders come this fall, when Turbine’s latest LotRO expansion, Riders of Rohan launches.
RoR (which, by the way, is an exceedingly cool acronym, especially if you do it in your best lion voice) is packed to the gills with a shocking amount of new content and, just as cool, a full new game mechanic for players to dive into. That new element is, of course, mounted combat, something no MMO has adequately pulled off due to the realities of network latency and difficulties of paired animation. No longer is this the case.
Story and Mounted Combat in The Lord of the Rings Online
The story of The Lord of the Rings will further progress right up to the point where the Fellowship separates. During this time the players will find their way into Rohan, meet the villagers, and progress through a quest line which will offer them an all-new mount in the form of a war steed which will be able to be used for mounted combat.
Since mounted combat takes a lot of space, so it's only available in certain areas (the steed itself can be used as a travel mount in other areas as well). When engaging in one of the game’s many areas that allows for this style of combat, mounts have their own set of combat skills which replace the standard combat hotbar. These skills vary depending on what the trait tree the player used to spec their steed, but they generally include things like kicks and bites. Best of all the character riding the horse will also retain his or her iconic abilities (or spells) so not all combat from the seat of a steed will play the same.
Trait trees will have three main categories split as offensive traits, defensive traits, and support traits. The final version of these traits was not available during our play session, but needless to say it will allow for some very specific customization of the mount, which levels alongside the player.
Keeping a mount in motion while trying to string together combat abilities may sound a little too challenging, and it would be had not Turbine realized the difficulty ahead of time. Instead of relying on players to be able to grow a third hand, the mounts come pre-equipped with abilities that will charge the steed directly toward the targeted enemy. This will free up the player to prepare their attack and strike hard and true at the precise moment that will inflict the most damage. The damage is not only calculated from the type of ability that was used but also by the speed of the horse; so the faster you ride into your opponent, the more damage you’ll do.
The depth and awesome factor of working mounted combat alone would be enough to put The Lord of the Rings Online: Riders of Rohan on our nominee list for Best Expansion of E3, but Turbine went and threw in a ton of other goodies to look forward to, making the expansion a very serious contender.
Keeping MMOGs current is a challenge all developers face when a game continues to pull in players year after year. With RoR, Turbine is combating their MMO wrinkles by adding things like volumetric lighting, flora displacement (that’s when grass goes all “whoosh” as you run through it), and new technology for trees which allows lightning-quick rendering of trees which appear life-like. These are components that add that little bit extra to a game to pull gamers in to a more immersive world.
LOTRO Does Dailies
Turbine also showed us their version of daily quests, which will come down the pike after RoR launch. During their travels, players will come across the town of Snowborn, which has been burned to the ground. The daily quest will have players rebuilding the city.
At first glance the premise may sound a little old-hat, but the implementation is anything but. Every day as players perform these quests they will see a little bit of the town rebuilt which will happen dynamically right in front of them in a phasing-sort of concept. That is to say that while the space will still be shared between all players, what each player actually sees on screen may differ greatly. The downside to this sort of daily quest system is that eventually the town will be fully rebuilt and the player will no longer have the daily quest to do. But that will take some time, and appropriately reward participants.
Riders of Rohan is approximately twice the size of the Moria expansion, in terms of new geography, and will be available September 5th to all players who purchase it. Preorders have been available since June 5, and preordering will instantly grant some of the goodies mentioned here.