Last Round of Dev Diaries and Screenshots for Update 2: Echoes of the Dead
In order to prepare players for the grand, shiny new coming on Monday, March 21, Turbine has released a matched pair of developer diaries - one detailing the changes coming to Evendim and the other discussing what's going on with Volume III Book 3.
In the Evendim Revamp Developer Diary, Joe "jwbarry" Barry talks about smoothing out the leveling hump that Evendim represented by releveling the entire area and adding over 100 new quests. In answer to the question, "Why Evendim and not somewhere else?" Joe had this to say:
After we completed our revamp of the Lone-lands, we wanted to know where our game was thin and in need of attention. We data mined our quests, focusing on their level ranges, distribution, quest type and experience offered to find any gaps in our content. The 30s stood out pretty dramatically to us as being a place where some time and attention would benefit the game. Evendim was selected because it already covered this level band and was in pretty solid shape. It needed a boatload more quests (see what I did there?) but not a ton of world-building work or extra resources.
And it's not just almost twice as many quests, fancy re-leveling and facelifts to Tinnudir. There are new quest delivery mechanics involving self-updating inventory items, barter tokens similar in concept to those used by the Malledhrim and Galladhrim, and more boat travel destinations (no pre-visiting the destinations necessary). All in all, this is a great update for players who feel like they have hit a wall after the long walk of the North Downs.
The Update 2: Volume III, Book 3 Quest Notes Developer Diary, by Jeff "MadeOfLions" Libby, discusses what's in store for the continuation of the Volume III epic storyline, plus the story behind the new instance cluster. That's right, there's an actual quest chain involved with the new instances.
The new instance-cluster story arc is called "In Their Absence," and starts with Barliman Butterbur after the player has completed the deed for finding all of the mysterious relics that foreshadow the delivery of this new stuff. To explain why these things are popping up now:
The lands of Eriador were long kept safe through the efforts of the Rangers, but now the DÃºnedain have another charge: to ride to the aid of their chieftain, Aragorn, in the wide lands to the south. Indeed, they have already departed and you played a key role on the first leg of their journey. But now, in their absence, a new threat has risenÂ
That threat, of course, is the Gaunt-lords, each of which is tied to one of the new instances.
As for the epic saga, the story picks up in Thror's Coomb where Book 2 left off, with an addled dwarf Nar and the ranger Corunir. The theme of this book is one of ancient history - the story of Isildur and the creation of the Oathbreakers. This book contains a few instances which can be played solo (with the same Inspired Greatness buff players get for Volume I instances) or with a group. And there's a session-play chapter where you get to meet Isildur himself and witness the actual breaking of the oath during the end of the Second Age, that made the Oathbreakers what they are today.
And to keep your appetites whetted for Monday, here are some official screens of the new instance cluster.