Recently we asked players to ask questions about Helm’s Deep, Epic Battles, and Class Changes for our 20 Questions feature. We had so many great questions we couldn’t limit it to just 20 so we doubled the number of questions to 40.
There were many duplicates, or questions asking the same things in different ways so while we may not have taken your personal question the odds are good we took one that was either the same or pretty close to it.
To make things a little easier to read, we’ve tried to group questions together by subject as much as possible.
Q1: DanteIL: How will loot/rewards be handled in the context of the Epic Battles? Will there be token drops with a barter system, or specific gear drops for the different-sized Battles?
A1: jwbarry: The overall system keeps track, separately for each quality of medal (bronze, silver, gold, platinum), how many medals you’ve earned, with bonuses being added for earning them in group spaces, earning them on the main objective, and earning them for the first time. Each of those is represented by a bar within the Battle for Helm’s Deep UI. When a bar fills, based on your selection, you will either get a class specific piece of set piece jewelry (of quality relating to the medal quality), or you will get some points towards filling the next quality bar (we refer to that option internally as turning pennies into dollars). The exception to this is Gold to Platinum, where upconverting is not allowed. Platinum rewards must be earned from completing objectives at platinum.
Q2: Beltharas: Will Big Battles have difficulty tiers? How will the difficulty level compare with that of current and past T2C raids?
A2: jwbarry: No. They have opt in difficulty as you play, allowing you to attempt to try to do more things and spread your resources further apart, with greater reward but greater risk of failure. The intent is that getting platinum on raid objectives is roughly the equivalent of tier 2 challenge from the mid to higher difficulty OD or ToO boss fights.
Q3: Eldarian_Grace: With HD we get class trait re-do's and big battles, but the big battles have us playing as three new roles, separate from our classes. What’s the thinking behind this?
A3: jwbarry: Roles do not replace, obviate, subvert, or change your class, full stop. Big Battles introduces a lot of new mechanics and sub-systems. You do not select a role. Roles are loose collections of related actions that layer on over your class role. You’re still a hunter, you just have gained the ability to interact with the engineer, vanguard, or officer, (or some combination, the system is more of a buffet style approach) mechanics within the spaces to better and deeper degrees.
Q4: Bedalin: Will future expansions and updates have more Big Battles or will we see more traditional Raids?
A4: jwbarry: Likely both. The type of story we’re telling and the location we’re telling it will greatly inform whether instances, raids, skirmishes, big battles, or some combination is the best gameplay mechanism to utilize.
Q5: Thodorin: How many Big Battle instances will there be at Helm’s Deep launch? How many of each group size?
A5: jwbarry: 8 total instances. Helm’s Dike, The Deeping Wall, The Deeping-Coomb, The Glittering Caves, and the Hornburg all available on solo/duo (tuned for one player but allowing two in). The Glittering Caves will feature a three player size, Helm’s Dike a six player, and The Deeping Wall a twelve player.
Q6: Bulldozar: Can you explain exactly how the scaled up lower level players will interact in HD?
A6: jwbarry: They’ll be brought up to level 95 in stats. Their gear will also be brought up, with level differential maintained. From there, they are free to engage in combat or utilize any of the mechanics within. They will likely be better at support style roles, but nothing prevents them from stepping out onto the front line. The Promotions advancement system is level agnostic, so they’re free to rank up and get better at the various roles as they improve and level.
Q7: Cloudfan174: with the class traits becoming skill trees, what will be happening to racial traits and virtues, and will legendary class traits also become part of the skill trees?
A7: HoarseDev: Racial traits and virtues will not be fundamentally changed. Legendary class traits are part of the tree system now.
Q8: Cheery: How does the new Trait Tree methodology affect lower level characters class quests and deeds (for example finding pages and reaching kin with Moria Guards)?
A8: HoarseDev: Existing quest lines that granted traits will now grant trait points to spend as you wish. If you completed these previously, in u12 you will automatically get credit under the new system.
Q9: Mirlaen: What was the primary motivation behind the move to the tree system for traits?
A9: HoarseDev: Oh boy! Primary? A lot of things fed into the decision. Reduction of skill bloat, issues with potency of skills, clarity of UI and choices, homogenous class roles… all these things played a role in the decision.
Q10: Calta: Are all skills being reviewed in light of other classes? Some classes have skills that affect other class’s skills.
A10: HoarseDev: Our approach is pretty comprehensive, which is why we are making these changes across the board rather than one class at a time. Month of class x or y eventually is like trying to straighten a tablecloth with one hand. Group play is crucial and we are looking to have great dynamics between classes.
Q11: Ithrien: What is going to happen to armor sets that currently give bonuses to our skills? Scrapped? Revamped?
A11: HoarseDev: Revamped… loooots of work there.
Q12: LethalLethality: Will landscape mob behavior change to better suit the class changes or will they remain as they are?
A12: Hoarsedev: Nope. Landscape mobs remain the same as they’ve been.
Q13: Blkplg13: Are the basic stats (might, agil, vit, will, fate) going to affect the same advanced stats (icmr, icpr, crit etc) as in live?
A13: HoarseDev: We are not fundamentally changing the relationship between basic and advanced stats.
Q14: Scruffynerf: Will existing group content (eg: Fil Gashan) be tweaked to accommodate the new player abilities?
A14: HoarseDev: Many of these changes have been done to accommodate existing content. Some group content will play differently for sure but we are reaching from our (systems) side first. Specific changes to existing content may come later. The thing is, until these changes have steeped a while on live, their full ramifications are just speculation. Players ALWAYS find things we could not foresee on paper.
Q15: Mirnir: What was the rationale behind the changes to the threat system / in what ways will it improve the game?
A15: HoarseDev: Our threat system as it exists on live pre u12 is largely invisible to players and if you saw under the hood you would likely not be pleased. Rather than expose it, and seeing as we were making fundamental changes to how character builds function, we decided to simplify it. Choosing a tank specialization will give you a tangible amount of threat. We will still have forced taunts, but whether or not something multiplies your damage (which differs from character to character) times a strange number modified by another strange number will be irrelevant.
Q16: Razorlan: We have heard rumors that there may be a mounted combat revamp coming out with Helm's Deep. What, if any, changes can we expect to mounted combat?
A16: We have actually been doing some significant work to improve the way that Mounted Combat tolerates uneven client performance and internet latency; previously this would create an extremely poor experience which users identified as “lag”. However, most of these changes are already live (they went out with 11.3).
Q17: Hecki: Will there be mounted combat instances with Helm’s Deep or in the future?
A17: This is something we’ve discussed, but currently there are no plans for any mounted combat instances.
Q18: ISS_21: Are there new Warbands or group focused region content coming with Helm's Deep?
A18: Warbands? Yep. Several of the Big Battles are designed specifically with groups in mind.
Q19: Yulin-Gladden: Are there plans to scale older raids as part of HD? Specifically Moria and Isengard.
A19:jwbarry: No. The instance designers have been completely focused on delivering Helm’s Deep and Big Battles to the fullest scope and highest quality possible.
Q20: Bond007: How many (if any) multi-boss, not single boss, raids are planned to be released in Helm's Deep?
A20:jwbarry: None. However, the Deeping Wall does support a 12-man option, of which several of the objectives and challenges presented are being constructed in the style of a more classic full fledged raid boss fight.
Q21: Fromgaltheminstrel: Are you planning to retrofit Epic Battles into content previous to Helm's Deep?
A21: jwbarry: No. This will be a technology we utilize going forward but we will not be retconning any previous instances or skirmishes into Big Battles.
Q22: Revannos: Is a big reshuffle of the monster classes expected?
A22: HoarseDev: We have added in a second row of corruption slots. Furthermore, some corruptions will have set bonuses when slotted with other related corruptions. Slot three for a small bonus. Slot six to really specialize your build.
Q23: Tomcat211: What Legendary item updates are planned to coincide with the new trait trees?
A23: HoarseDev: Existing legacies will be converted into new ones that jive with the new trees.
Q24: Scruffynerf: For crafting, as I'm assuming that there will be a new tier of crafting, will there also be a new tier for reputation in the crafting guilds?
A24:Ayvan: There will be both a new tier of crafting and a new guild reputation tier.
Q25: Minimur: Will there be any crafting resource instances in HD like there are in Hytbolt?
A25:Ayvan: Not for the expansion release, but we do have 3 resource instances planned for a following update.
Q26: Grhysil: The Hunter Dev Diary mentions changes to traps in the Trapper of Foes line......does this mean crafted Traps are going away?
A26: Ayvan: Crafted traps will be going away, but there will be a new item called Trap Parts that will enhance trap skills. This item will not be in for the release but will be added in a following update.
Q27: AmicitiaNight: How can we get the helm's deep expansion for someone else without knowing their account and password?
A27: For those who wish to gift Helm’s Deep™ for others they can purchase keys on store.turbine.com
Q28: Cheekster: How many Turbine points will you be charging for the full Expansion and, will there be multiple zones within HD that will be purchased seperately i.e broken down into smaller quest pack areas?
A28: Helm’s Deep™ expansion will cost 4295 Turbine Points in-game. Multiple zones will not be broken down into smaller quest packs.
Q29: Lethallethality: Will Big Battles be considered a part of the quest pack or will they be treated as instances and raids have been treated in the past, and be required to be purchased separately or via the full expansion?
A29: Since there will not be separate quest packs for Helm’s Deep™, Big Battles will only be accessible to those who purchase the full expansion.
Q30: SpongedarkSquarepants: Will we hear any new info on the housing update before the release of Helms Deep?
A30:HoarseDev: We have some of the early bits in (changes to house inventory). We are prototyping more features and will continue to develop and add to live. Housing work is going to come in phases.
Q31: Cheery: Will there be expanded use of Mithril Coins?
A31: Amlug: Mithril coins will be expanded to include: new Housing Storage slots, trait tree configurations, and new barter vendors in the newbie areas.
Q32: RJFerret: With the introduction of up-scaling, are there any plans for down-scaling to fixed instance levels in the future?
A32: jwbarry: Not currently. Once upscaling has been out and pounded on for a while and we feel it’s gotten a chance to get really dialed in we’ll start to evaluate the opportunities to extend and expand it. However, in general, consistency is an important and powerful thing, and it would be odd to have some instances scale themselves and others scale you when both are the same style of instance and content
Q33: Roxxy: Do we need to have Riders of Rohan to be able to participate in the Helm's Deep content?
A33: No. As long as you have purchased the Helm’s Deep™ expansion you will be able to enjoy all the content in Helm’s Deep™. No previous expansion packs are required.
Q34: Frickinmuck: Will this expansion include any revamps of earlier content or regions?
A34: No revamps this time around, but this is something we’re hoping to continue as soon as we wrap up development on the expansion pack.
Q35: Witch0King: Will the epics in this expansion finally end Volume III?
A35: MadeOfLions: Not just yet. After the three Books of this expansion, I think Volume III will have one more Epic Book before Allies of the King concludes.
Q:36 Grimdi: Will there be a seals reset at HD launch?
A36:jwbarry: Yes. We’ll also be evaluating the sources of seals and the quantities and frequencies with which they’re delivered through those means.
Q:37 Brya: Will skirmish raid loot be made BoE instead of BoA, to bring it in line with other endgame loot?
A37: Verizal: Yes, as it stands, all incomparable (and lesser gear quality) loot drops are intended to be BoE .
Q38: Honvikuk: Will 1st ages be available for level 95's on release and how will we be able to get them?
A38: Verizal: No, 1st Ages will not be available until later updates
Q39: Eyeslayer600: I heard you guys would possibly update the System Requirements of LotRO. If you are, what are the new requirements?
A39: You heard right! This is an ongoing discussion and has been for some time. I will say that we have a proposal on the table for new computer min specs, but until we make a decision on whether or not to pursue this proposal it would be premature to publish any specifics.
Q40: Palantorio: According to rumors, the Epic quest line will no longer be playable for free to play players and will only be available if you purchase the expansion. In the past we were told the Epic story would be free. Why the change?
A40: MadeOfLions: The Epic Storyline began life as paid content, and when LOTRO became Free To Play we converted many of the Epic Books in order to make them playable by anyone. Every Book of ‘Volume I: Shadows of Angmar,’ every Book of ‘Volume II: Mines of Moria,’ and every Book we’ve released so far of ‘Volume III: Allies of the King’ is free. That’s thirty-four Epic Books, and those will remain free. Since we wanted the Epic Story for this expansion to tell the story of the Battle of the Hornburg, we needed to tie it into the Epic Battles system, which is a paid part of the expansion. Sometimes the Epic Story needs to tie into the region content or into a new system in order to properly represent the tales of Middle-earth we’re telling. It provides a more compelling experience to those who purchase the expansion, and I think that’s worthwhile.