To keep your current customers happy, you've got to provide new content
to them on a regular basis and few companies manage that task as well
as Turbine, the company behind The Lord of the Rings Online. It seems
like just a few months ago we were bringing you preview screens for
Volume II: Book 7: Leaves of Lórien. Oh wait, that's because
it *was* only a few months ago. Not content to sit around and make
their players wait another six months for anything new, the team has
been hard at work on Volume II: Book 8: Scourge of Khazad-Dûm.
Last week, Aaron Campbell, the Live Producer of LotRO was kind enough
to give me a sneak peek at some of the things they've been cooking up:
Two 3-man instances, one 6-man instance, and one 12-man instance. For
most companies, that would be more than enough to justify a "release"
but as I mentioned earlier, the folks at Turbine don't take on anything
lightly. Not only did I see some of the new instances, but Aaron also
told me how they'll be releasing a completely upgraded crafting system
and giving some older areas in the game a bit of love as well.
With the release of Volume II: Book 8: Scourge of Khazad-Dûm,
players will be introduced to a new mechanic in the instances I got to
see. Every mob (not just bosses) has its own set of corruptions (or
buffs). Some of these make them highly resistant to melee, ranged, or
damage by magical means. While providing an added challenge, this new
system should also make combat more interesting for players as well.
Those "trash" mobs you were used to beating the snot out of with little
thought on your way to a boss will now require a little more attention
in terms of tactics.
The first instance Aaron brought us to was, a 3-man instance called The
Mirror-halls of Lumul-nar. This isn't the first time the LotRO team has
created an instance designed for a smaller number of players than most
MMO veterans are used to. Since they've proven to be quite popular with
their player base, the team decided to create a few more. It's another
example of how a company can cater to the wants of its customers
without losing that intense sense of adventure found in areas requiring
larger groups. Not only does it take less time to gather a group of
three players, but it also ensures that the entire group will be
engaged with what's going on.
Harkening back to the dungeon crawls of old for Pen-and-Paper RPG
players around the world, your party is going to have more than just
the monsters of the Mirror-halls to worry about as you attempt to make
your way through. Scattered throughout the dungeon are massive mirrors
on rotating stands. You may not have to use *every* mirror in the
halls, but you will be required to have that first beam of light you
discover in the beginning travel the full extent of the Mirror-halls.
Just as there should be with any puzzle of this nature, there are
multiple ways to accomplish this goal. It should provide a good
challenge for any group daring to risk its dusty hallways.
The next place we went was another 3-man instance, called The Water
Wheels: Nalâ-dûm. Similar to The Mirror-halls of
Lumul-nar, this is an area where players will have more to worry about
than just keeping their hide in one piece. Along with the need to have
the water flow through the entire instance (by the use of *huge* water
wheels), players will also have to do a bit of jumping.