The past few months have been a whirlwind of activity when it comes to expansions. In fact, 2012 saw more major expansions launch than triple-A MMOs, including such notable entries as World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, RIFT: Storm Legion, and EVE Online: Retribution to name a few.
While expanded content is always a good thing, a truly great expansion needs to build upon the core game's strengths in meaningful ways. Not only does it need to provide more interesting things to do, but also add something entirely new into the mix beyond additional landmass, generic quest hubs, or an increased level cap.
This year's winner for Best Expansion not only hits each of these marks squarely on the nose, but adds one of the coolest new gameplay features we've had the opportunity to experience this year.
The competition for best expansion was pretty fierce this year; perhaps more so than it has been for quite a while now. But once again Turbine rose to the occasion and delivered another kickass installment for the ongoing Lord of the Rings Online saga. Riders of Rohan not only continues the storyline progression, bringing players into a much beloved locale in Middle Earth for the first time, but it packs in a lot of excellent gameplay to boot.
From the very outset we were highly impressed with how mounted combat has been implemented. While Turbine isn't the first developer to take a crack at such a system, Riders of Rohan takes what could have simply been a cool diversion and made it central to the expansion. Not only does this help further immerse players into Tolkien's world, but does so by capturing the spirit of the region in meaningful ways.
As noted in our official review for Riders of Rohan earlier this year, the score really helps to create the setting as much as the graphical improvements that were bundled into the expansion. All this and much more contributed to Turbine being the recipient of our Best Expansion for 2012. In fact, this is the second year in a row that the developer has locked in the best expansion category, neatly following up last year's victory for Rise of Isengard.