Lord of the Rings Online Book 10 Preview
or Which Comes First, the Chicken or the Game?
"Ralphedelominius" Comeau and I ducked into the Midway Games area at E3
for a chance to talk about Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar
and to preview the game's next free update, Book 10, which will be
coming some time in August. Developed by Turbine and published in North
America by Midway, LotRO launched in late April of 2007.
First we chatted with Adam Mersky, Director of Public Relations for
Turbine. Mersky was affable and eager to talk about LotRO, despite the
fact that we were just chatting to pass the time until the demo station
was available. We talked a bit about what Mersky called Chicken Play
(more on that in a moment), and some of the other goodies that would be
coming to LotRO soon.
"In the fall we're going to be looking at housing again," Mersky said.
"I don't have many details to give you, though." He mentioned that the
team was still finalizing housing details, but that Turbine would
possibly hold an event in the fall to "give people a preview."
Will housing be
instanced? Mersky couldn't say. He did say, "We can't have tract
housing in the Shire!" Then he laughed and added, "We're thinking that
in the way a character has slots, housing will also have a vault with
slots. You can earn stuff, say a carpet, and then you'd put it in your
carpet slot and it would show up in the room."
Mersky seemed excited about the upcoming content in Book 10. "I think
Book 10 is going to be a real big deal," he said. "Whereas Book 9 was
all about big open spaces and adding 10% more to the game, Book 10 will
be smaller scale but will add new features and lots of new quests."
Phil Comeau commented that Lord of the Rings Online is one of just two
games that he's still actively playing. "You know, that's the ultimate
compliment, right? When I talk to gaming journalists who usually review
a game and move on, and they're still playing, that's huge."
"Well, I've hit a plateau around level 20 that I'm not too happy
about..." Phil mused.
"Maybe you're like me, though," Mersky said, "and you're just taking
your time and running around doing all the quests and such. You know,
there's grind in every game if you play it that way. Sometimes you've
got to stop and smell the roses...enjoy the ride."
Without a segue, Mersky added, "I think LotRO has really raised the bar
for quality. You can't come out and not be polished. You have to
remember it's not just the game, it's the service." He went on to make
an example of Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, referring to the way the game's
bugs and sluggish performance at launch caused subscriber numbers to
"This is our Vanguard person," Comeau laughed, pointing at me. (I
"Ah, well but it's not that way...we learn from each other; we're not
at war with each other," Mersky said.
At about this time the demo station
opened up and we were
introduced to Allan Maki, Content Designer for Turbine. It was clear
get-go that Maki is excited about LotRO, because his enthusiasm for the
palpable. He started off by showing us the entrance to the city of
which will be entirely opened to players in Book 10. Players entering
will arrive in a war zone, complete with scripted battles to engage
them in the
Maki also showed off session play (SP). Coming with Book 10, players
will have the ability to spend Destiny Points for the opportunity to
play a ranger, a troll, or a chicken for a period of time. First we saw
the ranger. Picture one of Aragorn's bretheren clad in fancy,
ranger-esque armor. Then we saw the trolls, who have massive AoE
capabilities. "AoE is how they fight, and they do it well," said Maki,
demonstrating the troll's ability to throw boulders and damage multiple
enemies at once.
And finally, we saw the chicken. We asked if chicken play was
instanced, and Maki told us that it was not. In fact, chickens run in
the world at large. "You're a free range chicken!" Maki joked. "And one
of the benefits of being a chicken is you run faster. Just imagine a
couple groups of players all turning chicken. You'd have a herd of
speedy chickens coming at you over the hill."
Maki explained how players start in The Shire and complete
deeds to earn the destiny points necessary for
chicken play. He
showed us a chicken engaged in battle. The chicken was able to play
possum. She also used an attack called Biting Shrew and another skill
called Threatening Cluck. "This is really for a touch of humor and
fun," Maki said, "But there is a whole big quest line here with chicken
Maki talked briefly about bartering and showed us the bartering window.
Essentially, players will be able to trade certain goods (instead of
coins) with special vendor NPCs.
Another feature coming to Book 10 is the Reputation System. Reputation
is a means of gaining faction with certain NPC groups within the game
either, apparently by killing their enemies and completing quests.
Earning their favor grants special rewards. "It's basically another way
to advance your character," Maki said. New public (non-instanced)
dungeons will be opened up for questing related to the reputation
Maki also hinted at some raid content coming with Book 11, and said the
community could expect an announcement very soon.
Attractive graphics, reasonable system requirements, solid gameplay
dynamics and an unbeatable brand combine to make LotRO one of the
hottest MMO titles available. And with free updates coming at a rapid
pace it's clear that Turbine is committed to keeping Lord of the Rings
Online: Shadows of Angmar a fresh and ever-evolving game.
For more information
on Lord of the Rings Online check out these resources: