ZAM Editor-in-Chief Chris "Pwyff" Tom grabbed his hiking stick for a Turbine tour that took him from the Fords of Isen to Saruman's Tower of Orthanc. Read on for a taste of Update 5's coming content!
Exciting times are coming for inhabitants of Lord of the Rings Online as Turbine is getting ready to launch Update 5: Prince of Rohan. A large content update, Prince of Rohan will feature some fresh technology - the new Instance Finder - in addition to some epic new dungeon content for progression hungry players. Of course, Turbine's developers were equally excited to be showing off LotRO's new features and content, so I hopped on for a tour with Senior Producer for LotRO, Aaron Campbell, self-titled "Master of the Epic Story," Jeff Libby, and Content Designer Dan Ouelette to see what LotRO's coming update has in store.
Update 5: Prince of Rohan is the first update to come after LotRO's Rise of Isengard expansion, and with it, players will be saying goodbye to the rangers of the Grey Company. It looks like Prince Théodred needs some help on the Fords of Isen, so the rangers send you to his aid. Before you go, however, you do finally get the opportunity to garb yourself in the traditional clothing of the rangers, as the epic storyline awards you the garments just before you head out. Perhaps the rangers already read the books and, knowing what they were sending you into, decided you should at least get a neat cloak before you left. That works for me!
After arriving at the Fords of Isen, your character gets chucked into the fray alongside the Rohirrim of Rohan to battle Saruman's Uruk-hai. This battle was described as a "harbinger" of bigger encounters to come, given that conflicts around the world are beginning to escalate. As such, the battle of the Fords of Isen is a great opportunity for Turbine to start introducing new technology.
The first new piece of technology is the introduction of mini-cutscenes that serve to augment the more exposition heavy portions of LotRO's story. When things need to be explained, rather than going through the traditional quest text medium, Turbine has opted for what I like to call "map movies," where players get to see armies moving about on a map as your guide tells you what objectives need to be completed. The Fords of Isen battle was originally intended for multiple players but, once Turbine decided to implement their mini-cutscene feature, it was determined that a solo experience would work best. Nothing could be more frustrating than waiting for other players to load / finish their own cutscenes, so currently this new feature is reserved for solo instances only.