E3 '07: Lord of the Rings Online patch impressions

We get a first-hand look at what's new in Middle Earth's only MMORPG.

Even though Lord of the Rings Online: The Shadows of Angmar shipped to stores earlier this year, Turbine and Midway have some interesting plans for their upcoming patches that they were eager to share with us. If you remember, a major patch (referred to as Book 9) was launched only six weeks after the game hit retail shelves. This added the Evendim zone, increasing the size of the world by 10 percent!

At the same time, the developers included the Annuminas zone, but made it inaccessible. Sure, you could see it in the distance, but you could never go there. But when the Book 10 patch goes live in August, you'll finally be able to visit. When you arrive, you'll encounter a war zone where evil NPCs are constantly trying to overrun three distinct regions. If you manage to push them back and take control of an area, you'll gain access to an instance. Within that instance, special items will drop that you can take to a vendor and trade for pieces of a slick-looking and powerful set of armor.

Click to enlarge!

For those of you who like a little backstory with your gauntlets, Annuminas was the original settlement of Elendil and the Dunedain after the calamitous downfall of their Island Kingdom. Then, for reasons never gone into, they abandoned Annuminas and moved on, leaving it uninhabited for 1,500 years. Now you're trying to keep it out of the hands of the enemy, for who knows what wondrous weapons and treasures may have been left behind by the Men of the West...

We aren't sure, but we do know that players will find a new reputation system in the 10th book, as well as new public dungeons they can quest in to build a relationship with the faction of their choice. This will serve two purposes: An opportunity for players to earn powerful weapons beyond their level, and a chance for Turbine to show off the kind of deep caves that players will be able to expect in future patches, when the developer digs into the deeps of Moria.

Or, if you aren't in the mood for questing, Book 10 will allow you to log directly into Monster Play, so you can slay the forces of goodness violently, and conveniently. And nothing is more violent or less convenient for your foes than a giant troll, which you will be able to play as in the new patch. But trolls (and rangers, on the free side) won't be units you can keep and develop, rather they're part of a new system called Session play. Basically, you can spend five thousand destiny points and spend an hour as a giant troll. It sounds expensive, until you realize that every ability in a troll's lethal arsenal affects multiple targets.

There's a catch, though. To keep trolls and rangers in check, Turbine plans to limit the available number of sessions at any given time. If your faction controls most of the Ettenmoors, there may only be one or two session slots available. On the other hand, if your side is getting killed, seven slots may open, giving your forces a chance to get back into the battle.

If all the slots are taken and you're tired of questing, you still have one new option: Critter-based Session Play. If you go to the Shire, you can assume the form of a free-range chicken for 500 destiny points. As a chicken, you have a huge list of deeds to complete, and some that will take you as far as Angmar! There can only be fifty chickens online at a time, and we have a feeling the spots will fill up frequently. Just check out this list of abilities: Threatening Cluck (You cluck threateningly!); Bob and Weave (You concentrate on not getting your head cut off); Possom Impersonation (You play dead, because who would eat a dead chicken?), and Foul Fleetness (A 50% movement increase for thirty seconds).

We know, that's a lot of information, but clearly Turbine has been hard at work giving players a clutch of reasons to be excited about the coming months in Middle Earth. And on top of all this, they told us they will definitely be introducing player housing in Book 11, which should be available sometime this fall. In the meantime, you should definitely take a look at what's new in Lord of the Rings Online. That is, unless you're chicken.

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17 comments
Josh_Elric
Josh_Elric

one of the best mmo's of all time!

voriigkye
voriigkye

Just one footnote about the patch review above : the reason why Annuminas was abandoned is because the Dunadan capital city was sacked by angmaran raiders during the second Northern War, and the king and court moved to Fornost Erain, which became de facto capital. Annuminas was never resettled, presumably because it was too vulnerable in times of war (it was not a fortress like Fornost) and the Dunedain were already stretched too thin and their strength was waning. This said, I guess the hack'n'loot part of the game community out there couldn't care less, but I somehow expected better from the GameSpot critics.

mycatdied
mycatdied

Wow I still cannot believe that some people make the statement of I do not want to pay monthly fees for games. The only people who make these statements are the uneducated and jobless. A normal console game might run you $60 for an upwards of 10 to even 60 hours play time. A mmo on the other hand can easily have 50 times the amount of content that a normal game provides. Besides that look at the xbox 360's new gamer points format, a lot of the games now charge money for add-ons, extra levels, extra content etc. On the logistics side of things how many non pay to play games can boast the achievement of keeping 2000 + people on the same persistent world at once. I digress though and just wanted to say Lotro so far is an awesome game and my hats off to Turbine for placing so much content and patches in an expedient manner. So for everyone who thinks it is stupid to pay to play certain games, keep your comments to yourself. Making these comments just reminds everyone else of how you were always the kid in pre-school who was trying to put the triangle block in the square hole.

Thraxmonger
Thraxmonger

This game is really amazing. Developer interest/attention is a huge plus here. They really do read the boards and do pay attention to user comments. Most bugs are addressed quickly, and imbalances are always at least acknowledged. I for one am just in love with this game.

SpazH3d
SpazH3d

Monthly fees are pure evil! Im not sure i ever want to pay more than once for my games. :(

icytower
icytower

Played the beta, not really a fan of the game.

punksta99
punksta99

Housing! I really liked that in star wars. It just seems the land might be a little too crowded for it though...

wheelercub
wheelercub

I'm continually impressed by this game and their developers at Turbine. Not only are the character classes fun and a little more interesting than other MMOs, but the quests are all tied to the original books, and the visual effects and environments are absolutely stunning looking. Another thing that I like about LOTRO is that you actually feel like an Epic Hero fairly early on in the game. Getting to know your character class moderately well, you'll find that they all can usually take on 2-3 opponents of the same character level at once thanks to a very diverse set of special abilities and the use of smart tactics. Hunters can use multiple traps, Burglars can stun or mez opponents multiple times, Loremasters and Captains have the use of pets and heals, Minstrels can cause fear, etc. And so creative soloing is super fun! Overall they have been providing a high quality experience since before the game launched. I've played my share of other MMOs before this including WOW, DAoC, Anarchy Online, and a few others, but this is the only one that has unquestionably kept peeking my interest every time I log on. And because we're all fighting for the same cause, the player community seems to be much friendlier and more mature as a whole. On the other hand, WOW is becoming more and more known as a growing community of whiny 13 year olds and turning computers into virtual baby-sitters for long periods of time. And don't get me wrong, because I really think this is great; because it gives millions of parents some time off from their 7th and 8th graders who can certainly be a handful in real life. But because many of us don't want to be baby-sitters, we choose this game...

lobby13
lobby13

The frequency of these updates are amazing! I'm glad I made the switch from WoW.

duderdave
duderdave

Videos, get us gameplay videos of the trolls and rangers in action please Gamespot, now - lol!

DouglasBuffone
DouglasBuffone

I really love this game, the story is great, and wow doesn't have a story

wsammut
wsammut

makes me feel more happy for the decision of buying lotro over wow

jakeboudville
jakeboudville

I should get this game soon since i heard good stuff on it

comthitnuong
comthitnuong

10% increase of the world for a patch is huge. That is some devotion to your game.

Pete5506
Pete5506

I would care if I played this game