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Lord of the Rings Online Interviews: Rise of Isengard Launch Interview

By Michael Bitton on September 30, 2011

MMORPG.com:

For those out there who may not be following, please give us an overview of what's been introduced to The Lord of the Rings Online with the Rise of Isengard expansion.

Aaron Campbell:

Absolutely! We have three brand new regions in the world. We're expanding into Dunland, we're going into the Gap of Rohan, and we're going to Isengard itself. We've raised the level cap to 75. We've updated a lot of the classes; we've given them some brand new skills. We've changed out how (unintelligible) items are built, so we've got brand new sets of loot that are coming in. So, within the content that's already in the game as well as new space, such as a new 24-person raid with Draigoch, who is a dragon, and he is massive, he's absolutely huge.

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MMORPG.com:

Why Isengard? What went into the decision to create an expansion centered on the tales of Isengard?

Aaron Campbell:

Sure. I think that's pretty straightforward, Tolkien kind of set that out for us. We have a really good path to follow, in terms of the path of the Fellowship. The Fellowship is traveling across Middle Earth, and Isengard is one of those great iconic locations that is really well known, absolutely essential to the story, and a fantastic place to be able to build story around so we can build additional layers of story for your heroic journey.

MMORPG.com:

The expansion comes in three different editions. Can you give us a rundown of what the editions consist of? If I'm looking to pick up Isengard, why should I purchase the Legendary edition over the Base edition?

Adam Mersky:

What we try to do with everything in the game is we try to provide players with choices, right. So, whether it's choosing to purchase stuff with points in the game, whether you choose to (unintelligible) to purchase stuff in the store, whether you choose to subscribe, whether you choose to buy a bundle with cash before we launch that comes with a bunch of extra items and things that you can use all summer long, or you choose to save your points up and purchase things piecemeal in the store. And while certainly everyone has an opinion about price and all that, we got a lot of positive response, in fact, there are a lot of people who don't like to raid, so now they know they can buy the raid separate, or they don't have to buy the raid, they can just buy the quests because (unintelligible), and personally we've got a few people who were excited to buy the raid and not buy the quests, and I thought that was interesting.

Essentially, we have three editions. In the base edition, all of them come with full access to the regions and epic story, because the epic story is always free. The different editions just offer you some different things. The base edition gives you a Rohirrim style mount, I think it's red. And then with the heroic edition, you get a mount, you get to choose what color it is, you get a matching set of armor, you get an in-game title, and you get 1,000 Turbine points. That's put you in the $40 range. And the Legendary, you get all the horses, all the cosmetic armor in all colors, the title, we throw in a bunch of regional quest packs, including Trollshaws, Eregion, Lothlórien, Moria and Mirkwood, in addition to the 1,000 Turbine points you get, and that's in the Legendary edition.

Aaron Campbell:

And the Legendary edition there, with that quest content, really pushes over the top in terms of value, in terms of quest content you'll have in the game forever that you can go in and play. In addition, the folks who buy the Digital Update are going to be able to also get the five new instances later this year as part of that package.

MMORPG.com:

Tell us about the new Tier 1 and Tier 2 raids in Rise of Isengard. What sort of challenges can players expect to tackle in the new raid content? What rewards are waiting for them should they succeed?

Aaron Campbell:

Absolutely. So, Draigoch is a dragon, he's inspired by (unintelligible), and he is massive. He is 80 meters head-to-tail and he is 108 meters wingspan. So when you challenge him you really feel that size difference, to the point where you're going to be splitting your raid into multiple groups to sort of surround him and tackle different parts of his body, because his claws, and his tail, and his head are all going to be doing different things. He's a reasonably complex fight, but what I appreciate most about him is that his animation is just so beautiful. I mean, the team has done a fantastic job putting him together, so he gives you that really impressive feeling. And some shades of the Hobbit as well, we have some homages to Bilbo's journey there.

The 24-person raid which is Tier 1, you're going to have we think a fairly well-tuned, a challenging experience, not one that's going to push you to your limits, and you're going to have brand new pieces of raid gear, armor sets, and tokens for our second age Legendary items, in addition to crafting materials for some very special cloaks.

When you take that to Tier 2, when you go into 12 player, you're going to be facing that challenge but it's going to be much more tightly tuned. Clearly, you're going to be doing it with a much smaller group of people, so you're going to have to be really on your game, very focused, and you're going to have commensurate rewards. You're going to have all the loot and half the people. And we make sure to up some of the drop rates as well. You can be sure you're getting armor tokens. You can be sure you're getting the brand new crafting items.

MMORPG.com:

Monster Play is now free to all players with the launch of the Rise of Isengard update. What was behind this decision?

Aaron Campbell:

It's really the last system that we haven't brought over to our hybrid model, right, to our free-to-play model. So, it was important to us to get there. We wanted to do it well. It was a good opportunity for us to take a look, put some love into the creep skills, especially, add some brand new items for Free Peoples, and then open it up to a whole new raft of people by allowing free players to come in and play as monsters.

MMORPG.com:

Finally, with Rise of Isengard now live. Where do you go from here? What can players expect over the coming months?

Adam Mersky:

Well, we've got our next update coming in December. We'll talk a bit more on it as we get closer to it, but that will be a free content update for our subscribers and we'll add some content in there, and alongside that we'll be shipping five new instances that are part of the Isengard expansion. So, that's what's happening this year, and sometime around that time we'll start going into our 2012 plans. We're deep in work on that right now, and we think players will be excited. Hopefully by the end of the year we'll start to show those.

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