This week on Wayback Wednesday I took an early look at the upcoming fourth expansion for Lord of the Rings Online, Riders of Rohan. Aaron Campbell, Senior Producer for Lord of the Rings Online, joined me for this preview session. In addition to being the Senior Producer Aaron has been a member of the LotRO team for the past six years.
The primary feature that will get you get excited for Riders of Rohan is the addition of War-steeds and the introduction of mounted combat. War-steeds are not your typical horse. They are stronger, faster, and have the capability to carry you into combat. They are the Six Million Dollar Man of the horse world. You will be granted your War-steed while working through the epic quest line in the Riders of Rohan expansion. War-steeds are highly customizable in a number of ways. Much like your player character, your War-steed earns experience as you complete quests and kill monsters in Rohan. As your War-Steed gains levels it will earn skill points to spend in different talent trees. These trees consist of light, medium, and heavy builds. The light builds offer a number of crowd control and support abilities. The heavy builds also offer crowd control but unlike the light builds offer damage dealing instead of support abilities. During the show I played a medium build and my War-steed was talented for damage dealing. Not only will you be able to make your War-Steed unique through talents you will also be able to collect cosmetic gear to change its appearance. I started off last night's adventure wearing the Armor of the Raven. At the 58:00 minute mark of the video you can see a number of different cosmetic options including the Bone Armor set.
The type of character class you play will also influence how you will want to build out your War-steed. Since my character is a Hunter and specializes at dealing damage from range it would make sense that I play a light to medium War-Steed and remain at range to deal the majority of my damage, then dash in at the last minute for a few killing blows. One of the first things you will notice when riding your War-Steed is that it handles like a large animal should. You will not be able to make a hairpin turn at full speed. The faster your mount is traveling the more difficult it will be to maneuver. The trade off is the faster you are moving the more fury you build and as you build fury you will be able to attack your opponents for a devastating amount of damage.
Turbine has added a new encounter type that ties directly into mounted combat. While adventuring across Rohan you will come across roving warbands. When you see a warband your character will automatically accept a quest to destroy it. In order to encourage group play Turbine has made these warbands tag-able by everyone. If you ride upon a warband that is already being assaulted by other players you can join in and help out. Both you and the other players will receive quest credit. No longer do you have to worry about stealing each other's quest mobs. It is encouraging to see that Turbine is working on ways to increase players’ rewards for helping each other. You can see an example of a warband at the 14:30 mark of the video.
Besides advancing your War-Steed you will also be able to advance your own character. The level cap has been raised from 75 to 85 for the expansion. You will also carry on with your epic quest. While Aaron couldn't say exactly how many books would be in this expansion he did mention that it was larger than the last. Your heroes find themselves in the events that are taking place in The Two Towers timeline. You will also find Gandalf the White has returned. You can see Gandalf at 1:08:09 into the video, or you can stop watching at that point if you want to keep his return a surprise.
Aaron answered a number of viewer questions all throughout the video but you will have to watch if you want to find out the answers to all of them. Aaron also talked about a new quest system that will have our adventurers help rebuild a city. This rebuild effort will be phased specific to each character so you do not have to worry about missing out on any of the action because other players took part in the rebuilding effort at a faster rate than you.
The environments in this expansion are nothing short of stunning. Unfortunately because the beta server is a live server the stream took part during the servers' night cycle and we were not able to see any of the daytime skyline. I can assure you that it is extremely impressive. LotRO: Riders of Rohan has the most life like clouds I have ever seen. It also has the best water in any MMO. I was simply amazed at the quality and attention to detail they took on the environments.
I hope you enjoyed this week's sneak peek at the Riders of Rohan Expansion for Lord of the Rings Online. I will attempt to set up another Q&A as the expansion nears release on September 5th. Please leave any questions or comments you have in the feedback section below. You can also contact me on Facebook or Twitter. As always, thank you for watching!