The Lord of the Rings Online's latest update, called The Wildwood, has now launched. This update brings with it a bevy of additions, including a new zone, instances, quests, the Spring Festival as well as some updates to how the game engine handles its lighting.
Update 29 brings the first mid-level questing zone to the MMORPG in quite some time, breaking the mold of creating zones and content mainly for the end-game players as a continuation of the storyline. Wildwood brings players back to Eriador, opening up the Wildwood of Bree, extending the Bree-land map and putting it near the borders of the region of Evendim.
Wildwood targets players in the mid-40s, and should prove especially valuable to long-time vets leveling more alts, as it'll provide a nice change of pace. The new zone includes two three-person instances, as well as a bevy of new quests and deeds to accomplish in the new zone.
"Beyond the Bree-fields lies the lightly travelled wilderness of the Wildwood. This heavily forested area has drawn the attention of two groups of Free Peoples who vie for its resources. The League of the Axe, a group of game hunters and miners down on their fortunes, seek to tap the land's resources and ferry their bounty down the Brandywine from Trader's Wharf to markets abroad. Meanwhile, a group of villagers in Trestlebridge have formed the Woodcutter’s Brotherhood, with the goal of taking advantage of the Wildwood to benefit the folk of Bree-land and rebuild Trestlebridge to its former glory. Both factions must decide the fate of the Wildwood as they work against unsavory Brigands and the Tarkrîp Orcs. The update also includes two new 3-player scaling instances set in Eriador, "Woe of the Willow" & "Agoroth, the Narrowdelve". Free to VIPs and now available in the LOTRO Store!"
The new update also brings trhe Spring Festival to the MMO, starting tomorrow, March 18th. The Spring Festival brings a new boss from the Vaults, Naruhel, the Red-maid.
Interestingly, The Lord of the Rings Online also updated it's lighting rendering, adding "Per Pixel Lighting Attenuation" for DX10/11 GPUs. Standing Stone Games states that by toggling this players will see "softer lighting as well as consistently used normalmaps and specular highlights." LotRO does have a history of adding new technologies and improving its engine over the years, bringing DX10 and DX11 features as they've become more available, and it's nice to see that this is continuing (and it might point to more to come, as we saw hint of during last year's E7 acquisition of Daybreak allude to).
Update 29: Wildwood is free to VIPs and available for purchase in the LOTRO store for free-to-play users. This is a return to the norm after last year's "mini-expansion" that saw widespread criticism as to how SSG is handling content updates for the future.
You can check out the full patch notes here, as well as check out the fancy new trailer in the embed below.