LOTRO Legendarium: 10 things we know about the Mordor expansion

We are one month into 2017, and already the MMO genre is brimming with anticipation over several upcoming expansions. One of those has no name — yet — but is still the talk of the Lord of the Rings Online community.

I confess that I am a little puzzled how Standing Stone is currently handling the reveal of the Mordor expansion. One assumes that there’s an official reveal in the works, yet at the same time, the studio’s been quite chatty about some aspects of the expansion if particular outlets happen to ask about them.

The end result is a scattering of information around several sites, including the main LOTRO site and its producer’s letter, leaving us with the task of putting together a picture of what we know so far about this next step of our epic journey through Middle-earth. Today, let’s count down 10 things we know will be in the Mordor expansion proper (the title of which I am guessing will be The Doom of Mordor).

1. There’s going to be a huge country to explore

Thanks to the in-game map, we have a good idea of the layout of Mordor and how large it will be. Update 20, for example, will be that tiny area in the top-left corner there, and if you draw a line from Minas Morgul to Mount Doom (roughly the path that Frodo and Sam took), you’ll see that the books only covered a small portion of the whole country. My greatest hope is that Mordor will be, if not pretty, then visually diverse, with more than just lava fields and endless jagged brown rocks to look at.

It’s unclear how much of Mordor we’ll get with the expansion launch, but SSG is calling it “multiple regions.” There will undoubtedly be other regions left for future patches, such as Update 22 later this year.

2. The High Elves are coming (back)

Everyone is abuzz about the addition of the game’s sixth race, the High Elves. There is a lot of confusion about them, thanks to SSG being partially cagey on the details of how this race will work. We know that the High Elves won’t be a race/class combo the way the Beornings are, which means that there’s a big question mark about which classes they’ll being able to access. The one that frequently pops up in conversation is the Captain, which is currently restricted to the race of Man.

Standing Stone said that the High Elves are the descendants of those who went to Valinor (over the ocean), making a journey back to Middle-earth. They won’t be as powerful as Galadriel (obviously), but will have their own starting instance, racial traits, and more fluid animations.

3. It takes place after the One Ring was destroyed

I think this is the part that a lot of players are still getting their heads around. After a decade of making the journey toward Mordor to help the Free Peoples of Middle-earth fight Sauron and give Frodo a chance to destroy the One Ring, by the time we actually step foot in Mordor, Frodo’s quest will be accomplished. Lore-wise, it makes sense — Frodo didn’t have thousands of allies scuttling alongside of him, after all — but it’s up to SSG to show us that the story didn’t end on the steps of Mount Doom and with Sauron’s fall. The devs seem very enthusiastic about the narrative possibilities, so I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt for now that it won’t feel anti-climactic.

4. The expansion will finish one big story and kick off another

To piggy-back on the above, Mordor will mark a turning point for our characters, not toward home, but toward new destinies and new quests. The fight against evil won’t be done just because the One Ring is slag, after all (and this is something we know from simply reading the rest of the Return of the King and the appendixes). The devs are using Mordor to establish a staging ground for our adventures into the Fourth Age and “hint(s) at things yet to come.”

“This will be the first time that you, your character now, has to step up. You no longer have the security blanket of all of those, you know, all of the Tolkien heroes sort of moving the story along,” the devs said in a recent interview. Moving off into unknown, strange directions reminds me of earlier times in the game that we would diverge greatly from the path of the Fellowship. That actually fills me with excitement.

5. It will have a choose-your-own adventure element

One of the core features of Mordor questing will apparently be something called the “allegiance system.” We know very little about it other than what the devs summed up in this statement: “You can pledge yourself to the Dwarves, or the Hobbits, or the Men or Elves, and then follow each individual storyline.”

At first I thought that the allegiance system was going to be a rep grind of sorts (and who knows, maybe it still will be that), but the thought of having a choice of quests and to go on a journey that’s imbued with the flavor of a particular race of the core four is downright fascinating to me. If nothing else, it would be a boon for alts!

6. Minas Morgul will be a major landmark

Astute players might have already seen the dreaded fallen city of Minas Morgul from afar, but from the devs’ lips it sounds like that we’ll be enjoying this haunted set-piece at some point in the future: “Once we go into Mordor and then follow up with Minas Morgul, which will sort of be a big content chunk after you have a chance to go in Mordor and explore it a bit.”

So Minas Morgul is Update 22? Or are they just saying that we’ll venture into Mordor then loop back to go through Minas Morgul after the introduction? Either way, I can’t wait to explore it.

I had forgotten that the team previously said that Minas Morgul might also feature a brighter version and function as a quest hub after the Free Peoples free it.

7. “New creatures, new mechanics, new treasures”

After years of covering LOTRO and Turbine, I am quite familiar with the developers’ penchant for giving broad, vague details in their preview letters. Still, this line is worth mentioning for the adjective “new.” We won’t be seeing merely reskinned Orcs, getting the same essences, and playing the same old way. It sounds like effort is being put in to make this not as dull and predictable as it could be, and that is appreciated.

8. The classes will get more work

Another throwaway line was a mention here and there that SSG will be using the expansion as an opportunity to address some issues with classes and perhaps make improvements to them. I think we all have a wish list of changes we’d like to see done to our classes, and I’m hoping that on top of that, we might get new abilities.

I’ve heard it said that there will be a level cap increase with Mordor, but I couldn’t find anything to confirm that. I wouldn’t be surprised, however.

9. There will be a raid (which will probably be Shelob)

While some of SSG’s communication about the expansion enjoys the vague label of “large-scale group content,” in some places (such as in this interview), the word “raid” is more clearly stated. So we’re getting a raid, perhaps other group content too, and it’s not a big secret what that raid will be. Back in 2016, the team was already strongly hinting at a Shelob raid, and I can’t imagine anything more iconic or perfect for a large-scale encounter (especially since Sam didn’t kill her!). The raid will feature at least five bosses, so the other four are anybody’s guess.

10. Our character appearances will get an upgrade

After 10 years, our characters look rather long in the tooth (and I would argue that they had ever since, oh, 2009 or so), and one of the most-repeated criticisms by non-players and players alike is how dated they appear. So it’s of great relief to hear that avatar upgrades are one of the headlining features of the expansion. It’s something that several older MMOs have done, and while it is certainly needed and probably desired by most, I’m also very glad that the devs will not force it upon you if you want to retain your “classic” look.

We have a while yet to go before Mordor opens the Black Gates and lets us in (summer or early fall is the launch window right now), so we have plenty of time for the devs to talk more about this expansion and for us to prepare for the journey. What has you most excited about Mordor so far? Sound off in the comments!

Every two weeks, the LOTRO Legendarium goes on an adventure (horrid things, those) through the wondrous, terrifying, inspiring, and, well, legendary online world of Middle-earth. Justin has been playing LOTRO since its launch in 2007! If you have a topic for the column, send it to him at justin@massivelyop.com.
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48 Comments on "LOTRO Legendarium: 10 things we know about the Mordor expansion"

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Alex Willis

This was a great preview.

Big zones with lots to explore is exactly what LOTRO does best, and it’s what I resubbed to the game for.

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Melissa McDonald

the landmarks can be amazing, but Mordor is supposed to be a wasteland, it doesn’t really have much beauty of any kind. I mean, we’re entering a volcanic wasteland that chiefly serves as an armed military camp for projecting power out across Middle Earth, not farmlands and villages. Angmar should be a preview of Mordor from a geographical point of view. But, Angmar is pretty interesting because of the content there.

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frii mynd

It is more of a ‘wasted’ land than a wasteland, because Sauron made it that way. It has a beauty according to Sauron. Plus, there is just the one volcano, so the rest of the area would be less volcanic the further you go from Mount Doom. I’m just starting the Chris Tolkien books so unsure about how much was already fleshed out beyond the map.
Technically this opens up unlimited possibilities but should be limited by what has already come before, such as the C. Tolkien books.
Also, with Sauron gone there is really no more compelling story element. Hordes of chaos is generic blablabla that could belong to any virtual world.
So, without inventing a completely new world changing villain there is not much of a reason to continue development other than ‘cosmetics’.

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Tobasco da Gama

You left out 11: a chicken run to Mordor might be possible. ;)

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teppic

I kind of like the way they’re leaking bits of information here and there. It’s teasing people a bit and helping to generate some interest, plus it’s given massivelyop and others a couple of exclusives.

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Denice J. Cook

This and ESO: Morrowind are at the top of my 2017 gaming priority list! Just finally hitting Mordor should be a major event.

Reader
Koshelkin

God, I need to do some catching up in Lotro. I also strongly consider subbing again for the High-Elf, even though I usually unlocked stuff when I went along. I hope we can preorder the expansion like with the old ones, where you always got a bunch of nice stuff, tp, cosmetic armor and the like, for very reasonable prices.

bardamu1999
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bardamu1999

I’m still back in Mordor, as a F2P person, I wonder if this is worth going back for? Worth paying for?

Can anybody currently playing tell me: is the Epic Quest line still free?

From what I remember there was a lot of nickel and diming going on on the part of Turbine. People would follow the Epic to a region, level to a certain point, and find no more quests to do without paying for them, leaving only EQ style grinding to progress.

Which sounds pretty awful in 2017.

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Koshelkin

Lotro never nickled and dimed anyone. I have the whole game unlocked sans the latest Update and I did invest ca. 200€ over the course of 3 years.

Reader
bobfish

Right, you’ve done it, I’m curious enough to download the game again. But I really haven’t played for like 8 years.

Reader
Koshelkin

Well seems you have alot to experience until the expansion release this fall. Moria to Minas Tirith. Isengard, Mirkwood, Lothlorien, Rohan, Helm’s Deep, Gondor.

Reader
Roger Melly

I always thought one of two things would happen . If the license didn’t get renewed or the game was going to close down we would get one last update which would end our story at the black gate watch Sauron’s tower falling in the distance or we would get into Mordor after the fall of Sauron . I’m glad it’s the latter and when we are done with Mordor I look forward to going into the Eastern regions of middle earth .

Its kind of a little like when Germany was defeated during the second world war even though the big bad had fallen there was still the war in the Pacific to deal with .

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zoward

I’m still waiting to see what’s going to happen with the Shire. Should I be looking to unload my hobbit-hole cheap and snap up some land in Bree or Ered Luin?

bardamu1999
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bardamu1999

I really hope they do the Scouring of the Shire. It certainly wouldn’t effect anybody’s crafting places or homes I imagine, probably a reskin of the area and a bunch of new quests dealing with that section of the book. It would be amazing to see the player base back in the Shire for more than just crafting and the odd RP session.

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Melissa McDonald

You could only do it as an epic / instance though. You are given a sort of preview early on when Archet burns too, I think.

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Tobasco da Gama

I imagine they’ll use the same technique that they used for Pre/Post-Battle Minas Tirith and Osgiliath. So pre-Scouring and post-Scouring Shire will be totally different zones, with post-Scouring Shire being inaccessible until you do the quests.

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teppic

They’ve had phasing in the game for a long time, so they could do something like that.

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zoward

Here’s MassivelyOP’s daily grind on starting zones. The Shire was pretty much tied with Age of Conan’s Tortage (fairly, IMHO) as the best starting zone across all MMO’s. I think Standing Stone realizes what a gem they have in the Shire, but I’m curious to see how they’ll handle the Scouring. Hey, if they can write off the entire Mordor segment of the ringbearer’s quest, they’ve got plenty of artistic license to handle the Scouring without messing up one of the best MMO starting zones.

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Kickstarter Donor

As someone who just came back, I’m most excited about the high elves and the model reworks. I do hope SSG takes a look at some of the existing stuff with the game; the profusion of currencies, the fact that most crafting loses its usefulness (outside of consumables) at high levels, etc. etc.

Regardless, I’m having fun. :)

Reader
vinicitur

The only one that I’m uncertain about is no 3. I understand why we are entering after the ring is destroyed, It’s just that I hate session play so freakin’ much. And this has session play written all over it.

All the other ones I’m on board 100%. But I hate the idea of being forced to play another character (npc) for the purposes of filling in story holes.

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zoward

Yeah, entering Mordor after the fulfillment of the ringbearer’s quest just killed my enthusiasm for the game, to the point where I cancelled my sub after hearing the announcement. I followed the ringbearer’s quest all the way to the gates of Mordor to be told I can’t come in until the real action is over? Seriously? What’s the point of going there at all? We’re basically reduced to siteseeing, and duking it out with generic leftover Bad Guys ™. I’ve heard several other players talk about how they’re happy to “have their own destiny” … but I can “have my own destiny” in a hundred other MMO’s (or a thousand other fantasy cRPG’s).

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Loopy

Model update is what is bringing me back to LOTRO.

Liandreth
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Liandreth

I’m excited for the model updates. Hubs will play LOTRO with me finally. It will be awesome.

CovertOpsCloaking
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CovertOpsCloaking

Already started playing again. <3 LTE

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Oyjord Hansen

I just returned on account of all the recent LOTRO hype, but for the life of me I can’t decide on a class to main. I’ve tried them all into their 20s, some into the 40s, and I like them all, but none jump out at me.

I read the Warden is a solo PvE god, but I just don’t like the gambit system. So I’m not sure where that leaves this solo PvE’er now. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Reader
Melissa McDonald

Hunter gets teleports :)

bardamu1999
Reader
bardamu1999

I’ve always been a big fan of the Lore-master and Captain, they’re both jack-of-all-trades type of classes which LotRO does so so well IMO. The Captain is more tank-y and the LM more support, but they both have a bunch of different kinds of things they can do in their rotation loop that’s a bit more than your usual 1-2-3-and maybe 4.

That said, if you do want to just lay waste, the Runekeeper is a big DPS factory IIRC.

I wish I could remember more of the meta here, this shows how long its been, and one more reason to get back in!

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Kickstarter Donor

I’d say Captain (although I’m waiting for the high elves to restart mine). Kind of a jack-of-all trades, which fits great for PVE and solo; decent tanking, decent damage, a pet, and heals.

bardamu1999
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bardamu1999

Plus there’s all the screaming. I once used to play with another Captain and the two of us it sounded like a Heavy Metal concert with all the screaming ROFL

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Kickstarter Donor

Minstrels are good for screaming fun too :D

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Kickstarter Donor
Tobasco da Gama

YAAAAAAAAA!!!

You yell at things so hard that they die, what’s not to like?

Crow
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Crow

Champ! nasty AoE. Heavy Armor survivability and suburb single target dps. Swing-Swing

Reader
MesaSage

Red-line Runekeeper if you own it. High damage and solo-ability. Otherwise, a blue line hunter is pretty hot right now. Run and shoot with high damage, plus hunter travel skills. My blue line hobbit hunter is massively op and ridiculously fun.

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Oyjord Hansen

Thanks, I own the RK and Beorn. I’ll look into your suggestions, appreciate it.

Reader
Будусов Виктор

They already said that expansion will have 4 regions. Most probably it’s north-western corner of Mordor: Udun, Gorgoroth, Ephel Duath and Ered Lithui. Nurn and others could be areas for next updates.

And with p.5 really i’m really excited! At last we’ll have our own story!

Reader
MesaSage

One DOES simply walk into Mordor.

Reader
donvweel

Time to update and fire up this game again. Now if I can just figure out which server all my buddies went to?

Reader
Oyjord Hansen

I don’t know about your buddies, but Brandywine seems nicely active. Just FYI.

Reader
Hirku

I commented this morning about how overwhelming the size of the world is, this is like a drowning man being tossed an anchor, heh. I’m very excited about the possibilities of 5 and hope the devs stick with making 10 optional. I’d like each of my characters to have their own unique adventure and not have “improved” faces while doing so.

cambruin
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cambruin

SSG to me is still just plain ol’ Turbine. Same type of communication with the community, same type of content, same type of stubbornness, …
Had this actually resulted in a better game this would’ve been fine, but we all know how that went…

Alas, Middle Earth online only gets bigger, not better.

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Будусов Виктор

Yep we know. Game’s much better than it was in 2007.

But of course whiners gonna whine

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BalsBigBrother

A lot to look forward too but I also hope that they will try to address some of the issues with the game engine while they are throwing out all these new shinies. It won’t matter how nice the characters look if everything stutters along at 10 fps.

UI update, UI update, UI update, um did I mention a UI update, no well just in case I forgot to mention it UI update please :-)

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teppic

They’re definitely aware of the performance issues (hard not to be), but they’re working on it, even a 64bit client is in the works.

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Fred Douglas

Really hoping to be able to make a High Elf Captain. Always thought Captains should be available to elves.

I probably only have one alt left in me.

Reader
teppic

They’ve very strongly hinted that high Elves will be able to be captains.

bardamu1999
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bardamu1999

You say that now, but wait until you get to the character creation screen. There’s always room for more alts. :D

wpDiscuz