ZAM chats with LOTRO's designers about the newest content!
Lord of the Rings Online released its sixth update this week, and we got to interview their designers about the newest goodies! Our interview focused on the newest content update, the Great River, with content designers Ryan Penk and Jared Saramago. “We have an update to the instance finder, really making it a full feature with full flexibility; we added two new class updates, Runekeeper and Warden; two new monster player updates for the Weaver and Warg classes, a new currency system for PvP, an entirely new region of the game, and to top it all off, a new capstone instance in a new group-based area.” Wow! Sounds like a lot to cover, so let’s dig into the newest LOTRO update!
The map of The Great River area
“You have the Great River, the Anduin River, that the Fellowship is travelling down. In terms of the region content, we’re fleshing out what was quickly gone over in the books in a couple of sentences. We have the Brownlands, Parth Celebrant, the Wailing Hills, and some other areas that are more generalized and less described.” The guys offered to warp me around to briefly check out each location, and we began in Haldrith, an outpost of elves from Lothlorien, a town steeped in Elven twilight and history of the Rohan and Gondor that acts as a boundary area between the elves and the new zone. After admiring the trees and peace, I was warped down to the fields of Parth Celebrant to check out some of the new monster models.
A ruined Gondorian fortress surrounded by Oathbreakers
In the distance we can see the ruins of a city, while the developers told me that “it’s the ruins of a big Gondorian fortress, which ties in heavily to the zone. Some of the Gondorian soldiers on the field betrayed their men and caused more casualties than would have been sustained otherwise, and as a result we’ll see a good number of Oathbreakers on the field.” The Oathbreakers are a brand new model of shades; “most of our shades up to this point have been skeletal, and these are very human-looking, but have the white tree of Gondor emblazoned upon their chests.” Wandering through the fields, we could see the brand new system for the humanoid monsters. No longer are the monsters with the same names identical; they now have randomized faces and hairstyles, meaning every enemy will look a bit different. The quests of the area gave a taste of the quest line; the Oathbreakers are overwhelming the fields of Parth Celebrant, and the Rohan are looking to a hero to save them. You fit the bill, so why not, right? There are “rails” for players to follow to lead them quickly through the zone, but there are also camps of NPCs for players to help with quests as well for those who love to explore.
The statues of Guthstan, celebrating the alliance of Gondor and Rohan
Our next location to visit was the Guthstan, a memorial statue signifying the union between Gondor and Rohan. “Unfortunately, one of the hands of the statue is missing; it’s sort of a violation of their sacred oath. Some vandalism took place here, and one of your first experiences in the Wailing Hills will be to discover what happened, and to bring the culprit to justice. Players who are more astute may have already seen a GIANT WHITE HAND somewhere else in the game… I wonder where that is?” (Hint: near Sarumon).
Some examples of the Rohirrim architecture
After the Guthstan we travelled to Stangard. “Stangard is really exciting because it’s our first chance to bring in our Rohirrim architecture. Up until this point we’ve had war camps and tents; but now we have buildings. Really, Stangard is a small city, complete with interiors. The world team did a fantastic job working on all the interiors and decorating, and making them feel like a city that’s alive.” As for the story, Stangard is on the extreme edge of the Rohan territory. “This is basically a far outpost, where men who might have committed crimes against the king do their time in exile. But no one is expecting the Easterlings to come back… but unfortunately they have! Stangard is undersupplied, unready to take on an opposing force. They need food and weaponry to survive, and perhaps a hero to lead them!”
One of the Great Eagles that save Sam and Frodo in the books
After a few jokes on how no one in the RPG universe cares if you invade their house, we left Stangard to head to a Secluded Clearing to meet with a Great Eagle. The designers mentioned how excited they were to work on this part of the lore, saying, “The Great Eagles are some of my favorite characters, since they get fleshed out a bit more in the books than the movies. And we haven’t had a chance to use many of them so far, and this is Landroval, who warms up to you as you do quests in the region. In LotR mythology, he’s one of the two Eagles who save Sam and Frodo at the end of the series. You could say that what you do here saves the heroes later on!”