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How LotRO Is Changing With Riders of Rohan

21. September, 2012Tags: Lord of the Rings Online, MMO Blog

Rohan changes LOTROThe developers on Lord of the Rings Online have been steadily releasing developer’s diaries over the past few weeks, all of them dedicated to the upcoming expansion Riders of Rohan. There are going to be a lot of changes when the expansion hits, whether you buy it or not, and fans are probably going to notice a lot of differences in the way things are balanced, the abilities available to their character and, most of all, the way that horses are used. Yes, for diehard fans, there will be a lot to take in over the coming months. My question though, and the topic of our blog post today, is whether or not it’s enough. Could they be doing more to freshen up a game that is arguably in need of a major refresher?

 

 

At only five year olds, have the developers run the risk of releasing additional content that will only benefit long-term players? Are new and returning MMO gamers likely to be underwhelmed? Read on…

Horse Attack

It’s about time that MMO developers started realizing mounted combat should come as standard. Actually, let’s just amend that sentence a little bit: it’s about time developers everywhere started realizing mounted combat should come as standard. If a wolf is biting at your feet, the natural reaction isn’t to climb down to his level, draw your sword very slowly and then enter into a turn-based, number-driven battle. Quite the opposite in fact, the reaction is to either ride hide or strike hard.

Riders of Rohan

In the Riders of Rohan update - as you’d expect given the Riders’ place in Middle Earth mythos – mounted combat is at the forefront of the new features. It’s an important one as well, as it’ll completely change the way that new players enjoy much of the combat in the game. As you ride around, you’ll be able to queue attacks which will automatically deploy when you’re in range of the target. It won’t make a huge difference in most cases – you’ll probably still end up being damaged by something that should have no way of actually connecting with you – but the addition of movement and speed will shake things up enough to make the new battle system worth looking into.

Balancing Act

You characters, almost certainly, will be changing slightly over the next few weeks as well. From Burglars to Minstrels, Guardians and Champions, all will be getting new abilities, improved abilities and trait lines and different stances. The game is being massively rebalanced, and while many (relative) newbie players may not feel the change straight away, veteran players will definitely see a difference. Guardians can do more damage, Burglars are more sneaky and Champions can devastate even more than before.

It’ll certainly make choosing a race at the beginning of the game even more difficult than it was before, knowing full well that a fully levelled character can change the course of a battle with a single swipe, a secret attempt at poisoning or a short, sharp bash with a shield. 

Questing Question

Of course, additional features and balancing are all good and well, but it seems unlikely that anybody would pay for those alone. There are a load of new quests being added into the game, and if you’ve ever visited Turbine’s take on Tolkien you’ll know that there are already a load of quests at your disposal. This time round you’ll be directly interacting with the Fellowship during their darkest hour at Amon Hen, be given a chance to meet Ents and to battle alongside a few famous faces from the books and films. In short: the developers are moving the story along, and you can expect a few fairly big questing opportunities along the way. I’m not sure we’re quite ready to drop the ring into the Crack of Doom, but we’re certainly getting there, and we already have a promise that the next update will include Helm’s Deep.

End Game

In addition to the new section of the battle system, the new balancing changes and the new sections of story to be made available to the player alongside the Riders of Rohan update, there’s also a pretty meaty addition to the end game as well. If you’ve played all the quests you can muster, levelled yourself to the very best you can be and continued playing anyway, this bit is for you. Completing it comes with a bevy of rewards. Powerful armour and the title of Thane can be yours, if you can brave it through this final section of Rohan that is.

The village of Hytbold has been destroyed by rampaging Orks and Uruk-Hai and it is your job to help in fixing it. This solo-able addition to the Riders of Rohan expansion will have you rebuilding the village of Hybold and with over 150 repairs and changes  to make, you can bet you it’s going to take you a good amount of time to finish. By completing randomized quests given to you by the locals, you’ll receive supplies with which to fix up a variety of buildings and, as you return the village to its former glory, it’ll change and improve in front of your eyes.


Ready to play now? Click the image!

Is This Enough?

I think it’s fair to say that only the most core members of the Lord of the Rings Online community will be buying Riders of Rohan. Like me, I’m sure there are countless people that love the sound of rebuilding Hytbold and visiting Theoden and kin, but don’t fancy having to (or just don’t have the time to) complete the thousands of quests already available in Hobbiton and beyond.  Ultimately, there’s very little here to entice newer players to actually out and out buy the expansion and given that few of them are likely to buy it anyway, the question, I suppose, is should the developers even try to entice? It’s a vicious circle and I can’t see any logical way of fixing it without changing the core mechanics of the game.

Generally though, there are some awesome updates – some of which will be delivered to players for nothing – and a developer so heavily supporting their free-to-play game five years after its initial release really should be celebrated.

Conclusion

For many people, the contents of this article (and more importantly, of the expansion) are going to be little more than neat ideas in some far off portion of a game they’ve hardly played. The rebuilding of Hytbold is a great chance to expand your game, but when the expanse is already overwhelmingly large, Hytbold seems like a very distant goal. Still, you can bet your bottom dollar that this will reinvigorate the LotRO community like no previous expansion and that’s all because the developers are putting so much effort into making new and exciting experiences in-game.

 

What do you think?


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