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.
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.