Hello all! I’m Aaron “Rowan” Campbell, Executive Producer of The Lord of the Rings Online.
Update 14 launched today, and with it our story enters the kingdom of Gondor. You can get much more detail in the U14 patch notes. With this letter, I’ll give you an update on our commitments for 2014 and how LOTRO is meeting those goals.
To start, the checklist for U14:
Paths of the Dead and Dol Amroth: Three new questing areas, a five level cap increase and the city of Dol Amroth. Volume 4 of the Epic Story begins. Both Dol Amroth and the Epic Story include opportunities for small fellowship (group) challenges. Check!
Dead Marshes: An interlude (session play) experience will launch between U14 and U15. Check!
And some new features for U14:
Epic Battles: Strong abilities now come earlier in the trait tree, so you can be effective much more quickly. We’ve rebalanced some secondary objectives for solo players. Watch out, monsters will now focus their attacks on you if you pull their aggression!
Essence System: This update introduces new customizable equipment. Armor with open sockets will be available through random drops and some quests. Fill these sockets with appropriate essences to match the attributes you desire.
Still to come this year:
Central Gondor and Pelargir: Our third update of the year will take you through lands occupied by the Haradrim*, to the great port of Pelargir on the delta of Anduin. Join the Army of the Dead to defeat the Corsairs of Umbar!
Beorning: The Beorning class is well into alpha playtesting, and is shaping up for later this year. Expect the new class to be available for test and feedback after the Dead Marshes update has gone live.
Changes from the plan:
We’ve been making changes based on your feedback. First, we no longer plan to raise the level cap a second time this year. You clearly said that you want the time to invest in your characters and your gear, and we’re listening.
Second, we’re adding a new system of advancement to your legendary item. At level 100, you’ll be able to take a legendary item and specify it as “imbued”, locking in its current legacies and abilities. From this moment forward the item will earn experience (even through future level caps) but not require you to deconstruct it to attain a new item. Our goal is to take the early promise of an item that “grows with you” and fulfill that.
Third, the Beorning class will start at Level 1 (rather than Level 50). The class will be able to level fully through the early areas of Eriador, and will include its own starting experience.
There are many other areas that we continue to maintain and develop, such as combat balance and PvMP. As always, your feedback is essential to getting it right.
*No Oliphaunts available. They were too large to put on the ships.