The Lord of the Rings Online is shoring up its early experience with a new mini-expansion, Before the Shadow, which will go up for pre-purchase next month.
The mini expansion will focus on levels 1 to 32 and have four new Books for new characters. That doesn't mean that higher-level characters are left out because there will be a new six-person instance added, a new Skirmish, and a Delving difficulty system with rewards and other challenges.
The new mini expansion was announced at Devcom with a teaser trailer. The teaser is brief, so there isn’t too much detail to glean about what to expect, but the Standing Stone Games team does also have a new blog about the mini-expansion and some of how it will be structured:
“Before the Shadow will send players into two new regions, Swanfleet and Cardolan, as Boromir makes his way north to Rivendell ahead of the meeting of what will eventually become the Fellowship of the Ring while the Nazgûl search for “Baggins” in the peaceful land of the Shire. Players will discover the threat rising from Mordor and Saruman's Uruks as they explore the far history of Middle-earth!”
This gives a good idea of just when this new content will take place and it is a memorable time indeed. With work to improve LOTRO and promised updates, including the sunsetting of older clients and native Mac support, the announcement of Before the Shadow fits in. This will offer some fresh content earlier in the experience, and could help the game to grow some with an offering like this.
With a Skirmish and instance, as well as other stuff accessible and enjoyable by higher-level characters, it seems to be a good start. This announcement is just the start, as plans are for Before the Shadow to go up for pre-purchase sometime in late September, so the next few weeks will bring lots of info.