LOTRO Legendarium: Simply walking into Mordor

It has been a whirlwind week of news and reveals for Lord of the Rings Online players. Standing Stone Games finally pulled back the curtains of the new expansion, simply titled Mordor — and to make things even more exciting, the first beta test of the region went up on Bullroarer to give players a hands-on preview.

Unlike some other writers here on staff, I do not like playing betas and going through new content before it goes live for real, so I will not be participating on Bullroarer (I’d prefer my first time to be for keeps!). However, that doesn’t mean I’m avoiding the news or the previews! There’s so much to take in and digest, so this week I want to thumb through the reveals and preview videos to share some of my reactions to what we’ll be seeing when LOTRO: Mordor comes out later this summer.

Whether you walk, ride, or hobble (you took fall damage, didn’t you?) into Mordor, the important thing is that we are all going there in 2018. So what will we find?

Open sesame!

It bears repeating that when players move from the end of the current epic volume and into the next book, the storyline will jump forward from the Battle at the Black Gate to the fall of Sauron and the destruction of the One Ring. We’re not getting a lot of insight into what the next steps of the epic will entail (the devs want to keep it under wraps), but we know that the expansion takes place in the aftermath of Frodo’s journey to Mount Doom andthe downfall of the Enemy. But the big question is — what happens next?

After all, it’s not as though the second Sauron was defeated, Mordor as a whole would be transformed into a flower-filled meadow populated by Smurfs. It’s still a nasty place, filled with nasty enemies, and now there’s a power vacuum. Seeing how this pans out definitely has my attention, especially as we start to inch past the official story of the books.

Five regions ahoy

Of particular interest to me was the reveal of all five regions that will make up the Mordor that players will venture into when the expansion launches. I fully expect more regions to come later (the expansion only covers maybe a third or a fourth of the country), but this is a good starting lineup. So what do we have?

The first area, right off the Black Gate, is Udûn (which means “hell”), a dark and gritty valley filled with industry, forges, and two huge fortresses. The area certainly starts off players’ journey into Mordor on the appropriate note, telegraphing that this will not be a stroll through the park.

If that’s not to your liking, then take a stroll down to Lhingris. It’s a narrower zone full of spiders and… spiders. Very spider-themed. Even the Tower of Cirith Ungol looks to be decorated with banners and webs to pay homage to a certain massive spider lurking nearby.

Players will eventually be able to ride right up into Barad-dûr, the dark tower itself. Well, most of the dark tower — a goodly chunk of it collapsed into lava following Sauron’s downfall. Right across from Barad-dûr in Dor Amarth is Mount Doom, a giant, lava-spewing volcano that dominates the region.

On the southern slopes of Mouth Doom is Talath-Urui, a lava field that has some enemy camps and fortresses, but is mostly a gloomy and ash-covered landscape.

If all of the cloudy and fiery landscape gets to you, then you’ll want to take a trip over to the east in Agarnaith. Unlike the other four regions, Agarnaith boasts both sun and flora, making it stick out from what you’d expect from Mordor. It’s still really creepy (blood water everywhere) and not at all welcoming, but it’s a very nice change of pace and indicative of what we might see with the remainder of Mordor (if it ever gets made).

Shadow of Angmar Mordor

Mordor isn’t expected to be, nor should it be, a cakewalk. In addition to brutish mobs and an antagonistic landscape, the country will feature a “shadows” system that will work against players. From what I gather, the further off the road you go, the more subject you will be to the detrimental effects of this country and will need some light to help counteract these debuffs.

From Ashes to Dust

The devs talked a little more about the many different systems and changes coming to the core gameplay, such as a level cap increase (to 115), a virtue cap increase (to 20), and another crafting tier. There will be new essences, but no flower picking this time around… hallelujah!

Instead, we’re going to get a special item called the Flame of Anclamir that will deconstruct unwanted gear into a new barter item called Ashes of Gorgoroth. By collecting Ashes, the idea is that players will be able to buy needed gear that they’re not getting from drops or quest rewards. I like it.

High Elves on their high horses

The first new race since Beornings, High Elves are a different breed from their more common brethren that are currently in the game. But the question is, why roll up a new Elf if you already have one? Are the changes that significantly different?

It’s hard to tell the answer to this. Other than the difference of lore (which does matter strongly to some people), the High Elves will have their own racial skills, traits, and a slightly different appearance. They’ll also be getting a special starting area, which is to my knowledge not playable yet on the test server. We do know that if you want to create a High Elf, it’s going to cost you: The race is not free and will require a purchase through the LOTRO store.

And Sir Not Appearing At Launch Time

While solo players are going to have their hands full with Mordor come launch, those looking for new group challenges are going to need an extra measure of patience. The new raid and smaller group content is all being held back from Update 21 to a later patch. That’s kind of a bummer, but it isn’t that unusual in MMOs these days. Gives the studio something big for later on and allows the devs time to focus more on balancing the leveling content without worrying about group content at the same time. PvMPers are going to have to wait for a future patch as well to get their expansion changes.

I’m actually a little more upset over another delay, this one concerning the much-anticipated character visual revamp. Apparently only Man and Elves will get the upgrade by launch time, with the two shorter races coming at a later date. Discrimination, I say! But seriously, it’s a let-down that it can’t be all done at once. Here’s hoping that Hobbits and Dwarves won’t have to wait for long!

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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17 Comments on "LOTRO Legendarium: Simply walking into Mordor"

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dixa
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dixa

“Apparently only Man and Elves will get the upgrade by launch time,”

makes sense to me, they are the most played races in the game. Dwarves only need a better running animation and hobbits probably need the most work they look like loaves of bread on legs.

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Glen

Lotro is beyond huge now. And they plan on adding content long in to the future.

It would be daunting to start now from the beginning, but so long as you’re not a completionist you can get to the latest content in a somewhat reasonable amount of time.

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Dreema

This is one of the things that keeps pulling me back to LoTRO time and again: the sheer size of the content. You can literally spend months leveling up if you want and it doesn’t have any of the frustrating speed leveling boosts and nerfs to old content that Blizzard are so fond of introducing into WoW.

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Megalus Doomslayer

XD LotRO has had pay-to-level for years. You can even buy level 95. You clearly don’t have a grasp of the game.

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Dreema

There’s a world of difference between buying a high level character and nerfing all the old content to the ground so people can level through it in a fraction of the time it originally took.

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Koshelkin

I’m waiting for the preorder. I’m excited even though I probably won’t be able to start directly after release.

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Jeremiah Ratican

While I briefly tried the game a few years back, after reading this column for quite some time I started playing the game in earnest with my wife for the first time! I’m really liking it can’t wait for the character upgrades. The character revamp in WoW really made a big impact on my enjoyment of the game and I hope the same happens for LOTRO.

dixa
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dixa

this 13 year old female orc disagrees with your ‘like’ of the wow character model revamp.

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Dreema

I’m in two minds about it. On one hand, some of the models do look a bit dated and could certainly do with an update. On the other, I remember when they changed the character models in WoW and I hated the new ones and never used them. As long as there’s an option to use the old character models, I’ll be happy.

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Koshelkin

I’d be cautious about the character upgrades. Blizzard is a different beast and could afford to throw millions on modeling and animation work. I doubt Lotro will see a similar impact on it’s character models.

Minimalistway
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Minimalistway

Every time i see LoTRO article i’m tempted to reinstall it, 2 years ago i tried it for few days and i must say i loved what i saw, started a hobbit bard (is it bard? i don’t remember now) but i thought at the time i’m busy, i’ll play this game sometime later.

One thing i was and still confused about is the expansion model, how do i buy the game with all the expansions? or should i just play for free first then buy expansions? sometimes i get confused by MMO websites/web stores, LoTRO is one of them.

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Dividion

They haven’t announced the Mordor bundles yet, but I’d be pretty surprised if they didn’t make a bundle that included all of the other expansions. (They currently have one that includes Moria, Mirkwood, Isengard and Rohan for $40).

As a free player you’ve got access to a lot of classes and the starting zones. If you run the quests in those, it should get you enough points to unlock the North Downs or Lone Lands (I’d recommend North Downs). So you should be able to get to around level 30 without spending a dime. At that point you can subscribe for a month for $15 (or 3 months for $30) which is plenty of time to get you to level 50 and Moria, the game’s first expansion. (You also get 500 points for each month of VIP which you can use to unlock zones, storage, etc.)

So my recommendation is to start for free, and see what bundles they release for Mordor. Possibly subscribe for a month, which should get you through a lot of zones so you won’t need to unlock them separately.

Expansion Bundle link: http://store.turbine.com/store/turbine/en_US/pd/ThemeID.28979900/productID.284460100/categoryID.58516200 (note that it does not include the Helm’s Deep expansion or parts of Gondor)
VIP Subscription link: http://www.lotro.com/en/game/vip

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Tobasco da Gama

Actually, Lone Lands is free these days! Your options after finishing LL would be North Downs or Trollshaws. I still agree with your recommendation of going to North Downs instead, though. Trollshaws is less annoying now than it used to be, but North Downs is definitely still the more interesting zone.

Minimalistway
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Minimalistway

Thank you, i’ll download it today, play for free for a while.

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Stormwaltz

…how long have you been waiting to use that title? :D

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