Update 13 launched today, and LOTRO’s 7th Anniversary celebration will soon follow. U13 marks the finale of the Volume 3 Epic Story – this opens us to Volume 4 (and Gondor) later in the year. With that in mind, I wanted to provide you with an outline of our committed plans over the coming months.
Paths of the Dead and Dol Amroth: Our second update of the year will kick off a new volume of the Epic Story, featuring the aftermath of the Army of the Dead as they pass through Blackroot Vale. Journey to Dol Amroth, our first Gondorian city and seaside port! You’ll also have five new levels to advance your character.
Dead Marshes: Between updates, we’ll take a small detour to check on wayward Hobbits…
Pelargir: Our third update of the year will take you to the great port of Pelargir on the delta of Anduin. Join the Army of the Dead to defeat the Corsairs of Umbar! This update will also include five new levels.
These new quests and the level caps will all be free to VIPs.
Of Bears and Bees
Recently we confirmed that LOTRO will be releasing a new class this year. I’m pleased to announce that this class is the Beorning! This will be LOTRO’s first class since the Mines of Moria expansion introduced the Warden and Rune-keeper.
Beornings are noted in The Lord of the Rings trilogy as a race of Man, with close origins to the Rohirrim and the Men of Dale. Most Men are not shape-changers, so we envision the Beorning as a light armor casting class with a focus on control of the battlefield. When a Beorning gathers sufficient rage, they may transform into a mighty bear.
We’ll be sharing early class designs with the new Players Council. Expect more details later this year, as the class progresses through alpha and beta.
This deserves a special mention. After reviewing all our goals for the year, major Housing changes will not be among them. We reviewed multiple options to update the system – none of them met our standards of quality, and ultimately the system you would want us to build.
LOTRO is about the journey, and first and foremost we want to be expanding and growing the world of Middle-earth. This does not mean there will be no changes to Housing, but don’t expect broad, systemic updates. I’m sorry that we set any other expectations in the past, as we know this is a feature that many of you greatly value.
As always, there are also features that we’re working on but haven’t committed a timeline to. Basically, we’ll ship them when they’re ready. Many of these ideas are based on your feedback, so please keep it coming!
Kinships: The next addition to loot options is a system of crafting tied to your Kinship house, which will encourage more social play. Our goal is to create Kinship deeds that you can complete together.
Combat Rebalancing: You’ve said that high-level combat has gotten too easy, and we agree! With new regions we’ll be taking a hard look at balance and adjusting existing opponents or adding new ones.
PvMP: Why add catapults to the Ettenmoors? Why not? Siege weapons!
Epic Battles: We’ll continue to update and improve this system, along with a new battle in 2014. There are some epic conflicts ahead in the story.
Festivals: Hobnanigans (better known as Chicken Hockey) is a special event for the Bree-fields. You can expect new weekend boosts and events as we go forward.
Looking out to the future, our Palantir reveals multiple updates in 2015. Here are two of them!
Osgiliath: The middle of 2015 brings us deeper in Gondor, and to lands directly contested by Sauron’s armies.
Pelennor Fields and Minas Tirith: The end of 2015 takes us to one of the defining moments of the War of the Ring, the battle before the walls of Minas Tirith.
As you can tell, we’re in the heart of the story now. It is a tremendous challenge for the team to do justice to these well-known events, but also one we’re thrilled to be undertaking.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into LOTRO’s future plans, and I look forward to your questions and suggestions.