Last week I got to have a little tour of what was to come in the new Book 7. I always love the chance for the developers to show off what they obviously love. I must say the love is obviously shining through all the way through my little tour too.
When you enter into Lothlorien, the first thing that strikes you are the trees. That makes sense of course since it's a forest, but how often does a forest look this lovely? As odd as it may sound to hear, the forest really looks like a forest. Best yet it looks like Tolkien's forest. The white trunks and golden leaves shining in the bright sunlight of the afternoon. It's like they plucked the images from my head.
After the forest, we had a look at the capital city and I was awe struck. Where Rivendell was built like the cities of Man and Hobbits and is horizontal, the capital is vertical. The city climbs the trees with platforms and ladders and is connected by bridges. It is exactly as you might imagine wood elves to live, up in the trees. I was very struck by the construction of the city; it really is unique. The whole city is magical. Access to this area will also be restricted. As it was in the books, the occupants aren't very trusting, so you must gain their trust. Doing the Epic quests will garner your access to the city though, so you needn't worry about having to do reputation missions just so you can enter. There are reputation missions in the city though so you can gain further trust as you have been able to get with other peoples.
With this book also comes a new instance. This is another 12 man raid, but with a bit of a twist. Besides your team you will have some NPC characters to command to help you with your mission. What these NPCs can do is random, so some strategy will be needed in deciding just how to use them. As a further twist, the instance is timed. So fast thinking and good teamwork will be needed to be victorious. I'm really excited for this new type of instance as it will take some of the formula out of the raid. I'm certainly looking forward to having a go at it.
Speaking of instances there's something special for the crafters now. These are daily repeatable solo crafting quest instances. To start, they will only be available for Prospecting, Scholar and Forestry, but when asked, the Devs said that the other crafts should get their own quest instances too. It wasn't said when, but here's hoping it's soon. This could make crafting and finding materials just a little bit more fun and involved.
There's a new reason to create a new character too. Despite the name, the New Player Experience isn't something bad. For that fact it's something very good. If you're like me, when you've made a new character you've probably just ploughed through what you needed to do so you could get into the real world and get to some serious playing. Turbine has given us a new reason to linger a little longer and see the world as a new player again with some new missions to discover and enjoy. These new additions will entice old players back to the beginning and enhance the beginning for new players.
Something else that will be more noticeable to new players is the revamp of the XP curve. What this means is that the amount of XP needed for a level has been adjusted. New characters will level just a little bit faster and higher level characters may gain a level or just notice that that they're a bit closer now to their next level. It's not a big change, but more of a balancing feature.
With all of this we get another new thing too; a creature. It's a signature character called Grawulun the Caerog. It looks like lava running through rock, only alive. Currently it's just a single signature NPC, but the Devs say that he just might gain some family in the future, so keep your eyes out.
I must say that I am most impressed with the visuals of Book 7. Lothlorien looks like I've always imagined it. I can't explain just how impressive it is to see. With every new book and Moria Turbine have continued to advance and improve. Just makes me excited to see what else they've got up their sleeves.
Follow the link to see more Lord of the Rings Online: Book 7 screenshots