Turbine’s Aaron Campbell has dished a few extra details on what players can expect in Lord of the Rings Online next year, particularly where it concerns Isengard and the wacked-out wizard Saruman.
Speaking with Eurogamer, the game’s producer said the added content will not be released in the traditional way players are accustomed to with an MMO, as since going free-to-play in the US back in September, the firm has learned a few things when it comes to releasing new adventures for players.
“Expansions classically have a few things tied to them,” Campbell said. “They have something along the lines of a new system; they typically have a level cap tied to them; and they have some epic piece of content or arc to hang their hat on – an important place in the world that people want to go to. What we’re learning as we build free-to-play is that we can release parts of the world at a time. So our next major update – and we’ll be talking more about this soon – starts to extend the world out for free-to-play players. They’ll be able to get up to level 65 and see all the world that’s available to them.
“Going into Isengard next year, that’s going to be on the scale of an expansion. We’re going to be giving players the option to buy that in the Store.”
As far as fighting Saruman goes, Campbell said we can “expect that”, but mind you it doesn’t mean folks will be able to avenge the treatment Gandalf suffered at the hands of the power-hungry wizard. If one is familiar with the lore, they’ll know he still has a part to play in Tolkien’s trilogy after his tower was toppled and he and his minion Wormtongue went on the lamb.
“There are a lot of story elements and lore elements we have to be sensitive to, we’re looking at the right time-line and as you know there are many steps to Saruman’s corruption and his fall,” said Campbell. “I’m not actually quite sure yet, but I know we’re going to look at some really substantial encounters around the Tower of Orthanc; around The Gap of Rohan and to Isengard itself.
“I’m not sure precisely what form that will take yet.”
Campbell told Eurogamer the next step in content takes us into Two Towers territory, which Turbine confirmed to us when the game was given a free-to-play date in Europe, and players should expect to see “the fall of the tower, the fall of Saruman” and other story elements play out, along with more Misty Mountain quests and the dreaded Paths of the Dead.
“We’re certainly going to see Book 3 in the early part of next year,” said Campbell. “We’re going to continue that epic line but things are going to be a little big different.”
Turbine also told VG247 last month the designers are currently “looking at” mounted combat for the game, and that it would be a “natural thing to so with Rohan”.
“We’re doing some very preliminary prototyping, as there’s a host of engineering and design challenges there but we certainly don’t have anything to announce or any guarantees to give you,” executive producer Kate Paiz told us. “We are trying to find a way to make it acceptable to everybody, or to at least everybody who is in that part of the world.
“I don’t think something like this would be out of scope. We have some of the same visions as players for battles like Helm’s Deep or something else, and we need to wait and see but we all come from the same inspiration on that”.
Rohan bound soon enough then. we reckon. Until then, bring it on Saurman. We’re ready.