Turbine has been going strong recently with the success of Lord of the Rings Online
and Dragons Online
going to a
hybrid subscription/free-to-play model. At PAX East 2011, Ten Ton
Hammer got to speak with LotRO’s
Executive Producer Kate Paiz about upcoming events in 2011 for Lord of
the Rings Online and the newest content update, Echoes of the Dead.
Watch the video for some jaw-dropping graphics, new gameplay, and
information on slapping hobbits!
Video summary: After talking about the success of LotRO going free-to-play and revealing that 2 million new accounts were created, Kate talked briefly how the influx of new players have helped to drive the creative development of LotRO, as well as listening to long time players. She proudly pointed out that the upcoming March update will be the second update this year, while there was only one for the entirety of 2010.
Talk quickly turned to the new instance cluster, which free-to-play players can purchase. The instance cluster will contain 5 new instances: 2 of which are for 3 players, 2 are for 6 players, and a raid for 12 players. Players will take on the role vacated by the Rangers as they travel south to aid Aragon. There will be a variety of monsters for players to fight and the joy of slapping hobbits! Will the players prevail against a dreaded Gaunt-lord?
Also coming out in the update on March 21st is the epic book - Echoes of the Dead, which is free to all players. Players will be able to go back in time and stand with Isildur as he takes the oath from those who will eventually become the Oath-breakers!
Moria is getting a revision as well. Players have told Turbine that they loved the solofication of the Volume 1 epic, but get bogged down in Volume 2 when forced to group in Moria. Players will now be able to solo through Volume 2 and to do so, Turbine updated quite a few of the mechanics in Moria. Battles have been retooled as skirmishes. Kate then speaks of Turbine’s commitment to keeping the game fresh for both new and experienced players and how they don’t want you to feel that you’re playing a four year old game. One of the things they’ve done to facilitate this is updating the look of the character journal.
Other changes include a more streamlined interface with the cash shop, including a try it on feature for clothes and dyes so players can actually see how an item will look on them before buying. The mechanics for Legendary Items are getting a makeover too, with greater customization and flexibility.
Next, we were treated to some of the gorgeous graphics of LotRO, which is probably the most visually beautiful MMOG out currently. Seeing the shadowed pattern of tree leaves on the back of our character as he stood in a swiftly flowing stream with the wake streaming around him was nothing short of breathtaking. Be prepared to spend a lot of time just gazing at your surroundings in your travels.
Talk then turned for what’s upcoming in 2011. There was brief mention of the Rise of Isengard expansion pack coming out in the fall. That particular expansion will feature a level cap increase and new regions to explore. Players will be able to see the corrupting influence of Saruman, but don’t expect to see the fall of Saruman soon. The entire saga of Saruman is a long one and Turbine expects it to take multiple expansions to tell.
Finally, we get to see some of the locations of the new instance cluster. Warning: There is a gap in the video from 11:19 to 13:58. After the gap, the video continues with various locations, but there is no sound.
For more information on Update 2: Echoes of the Dead, read Gunky’s excellent play session article on the new content.