The Lord of the Rings Online: Rise of Isengard Preview

In an early first look at the next expansion for LotRO, Rise of Isengard, we take a closer look at the increased level cap, new environments for players to explore, and much more.
As E3 2011 kicked off earlier this week, Turbine unveiled the first details on the next expansion for The Lord of the Rings Online, Rise of Isengard. While the build being shown at the event was still in pre-alpha, it still gave us a good feel for how players will progress through the new content, some insights into the continuation of the epic storyline quests, and of course all the bells and whistles that come with the increased level cap to 75.

lord of the rings online - rise of isengard

When players first arrive in Dunland, you’re introduced to the various tribal clans from the region, each of which has fallen under the influence of Isengard in different ways and in varying degrees. As you progress through the early parts of the expansion you’ll learn more about each of the clans, and exactly how far reaching the influence of Isengard has truly gotten.

We also learned that phasing will play a larger role in the new expansion as a means of showing players the impact of their actions, and give a greater sense of advancement as you navigate through what Design Director Linda Currie explained will be more than 300 new quests.  The use of phasing in Rise of Isengard is intended to  help show a permanent impact your characters and they storyline they’re experiencing makes on the world around them, ranging from larger environmental changes down to the state of health of some of the NPCs you’ll meet, and lots of other interesting things in between.

Speaking of the new environments, the ones  we were shown were nothing less than stunning, such as the Gap of Rohan, but certainly none more so than the initial approach leading up to Isengard itself. You can immediately begin to see signs of the devastation in the surrounding areas which have been all but completely deforested to help fuel Saruman’s war machine. Unfortunately we weren’t shown a more detailed view of the tower itself or the gameplay specifics players can expect to find there, but given the major impact of the lore surrounding the tower I expect nothing less than something truly epic.

lord of the rings online - rise of isengard

lord of the rings online - rise of isengard

Along with the increased level cap to 75, many of the classic dungeons that currently capped at level 65 will also scale up to 75, complete will all new loot for the additional levels to help keep them viable content for players moving forward. There will also be some class revisions to consolidate certain skills, and tweak others. According to Linda, the goal is to give players more nuanced approaches to how they choose to play their class.

To go along with that, many of the stat and itemization changes are intended to give players the ability to make meaningful decisions between items that support the different nuances. For example you’ll have more flexibility to choose between supporting different roles your class is able to fulfill such as the choice between healing and DPS.

The Reaver class will also become a free creep class for players in the new expansion to give them a taste of LotRO’s PvP system, with the other creeps being made available to purchase in the store. The store itself will become available to players in the ‘Moors, so certain items that you hadn’t been able to use there before will all become fair game for both sides.

lord of the rings online - rise of isengard

Of course no journey to Isengard would be complete with an all-new raid. As with the bulk of our preview of the expansion, we weren’t able to see specifics from the new raid content, but more details are no doubt just around the corner as beta is expected to kick off sometime around the beginning of July.

Before our preview of the new expansion wrapped up, I couldn’t help but ask if we’ll soon be moving into a point where we’ll begin seeing giant siege weapons that players can interact with, or even much larger scale battles. While I didn’t get a flat yes or no answer, Linda did give her Turbine compatriots a telling glance before responding with an enthusiastic, “stay tuned!”

And stay tuned we shall over the coming months as Rise of Isengard heads into beta later this summer leading up to the September release date.

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our The Lord of the Rings Online Game Page.

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