LOTRO Legendarium: They’re taking the Hobbits to Erebor!

With some depressing news bouncing around the MMO genre as of late, it was particularly welcome to read an upbeat and exciting producer’s letter from Lord of the Rings Online this past week. And surprising as well — I don’t think many people were expecting a “state of the game” post in late November, of all times. That’s sort of a “new year” thing. I’m not complaining.

Because you all are my fellow Hobbits, there is no one else who I would rather chat with about all of these reveals. Probably no one else would tolerate me doing this, anyway, so here I am and here you are. What did you think about this letter? Here is my takeaway, but I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Peering into the palantir…

Typically when I read letters like this, I’ll quickly skip over the self-congratulating opening section to get to the part where the team finally tells us what’s coming to the game. I really was expecting more Mordor, to tell the truth, but it turns out that I was only half right in that regard.

The letter lays out an update schedule that should play out over the next six to eight months by my reckoning, starting with the Mordor raid in Update 21.3 that will be out by the end of the year. I don’t have a strong connection to LOTRO’s raiding scene — if there even is one — but I imagine that the Abyss of Mordath will be incredibly important to a small group of players and completely forgettable by the rest. That’s kind of how raiding goes.

What was of more interest was the announcement of two new zones coming in 2018. First up with Update 22 is (drumroll) Northern Mirkwood! I listed this region back in September as one of the places that the game could go after Mordor, and I am overjoyed to see it make the list.

It’s such a great idea for the first major content update of the new year, and I’ll tell you why. First of all, we need a visual and thematic break from Mordor. I can’t be the only player who is feeling a little weary at the nonstop death, destruction, and ash-coated interior decor. Getting back to a living, green world will be such a relief. Second, it hits on some of the fans’ favorite areas, including the great forest itself, Dale, Laketown, and Erebor. And third, it is a logical place to go as a follow-up to the destruction of the One Ring.

We’ve seen glimpses of this region already. The six-player dungeon, The Bells of Dale, took us forward in the timeline to see a struggle against the Easterlings in this region after the Return of the King. And players who have pledged their service to the Dwarves in Mordor have already taken a tour around the interior of the Lonely Mountain. Now we’ll be treated to a full-fledged zone, and I seriously cannot wait.

But wait, there’s more!

The team didn’t go into detail about Update 23, but the letter did confirm that the storyline will take us back to Mordor and into Shelob’s current hangout at Minas Morgul. This city of the dead we’ve only seen at a distance so far, and as it’s the last most iconic location left in the country to show, you best believe that the devs are pulling out the stops to capitalize on this.

I appreciated that we heard a lot of other smaller — but no less interesting — additions. These included a playable fiddle, Dwarf and Hobbit avatar upgrades, more Bingo Boffin Halloween foolishness, more housing items, more festival rewards, festival additions, improving the legendary item system, and a storyline that will both touch on lore-bound events and branch off into new tales.

All good stuff, I hope you’ll agree. Mordor was a fine expansion, all things considered, but it certainly was nowhere near the blockbuster event it could have been. It could be that the team is trying to spark some hope and hype in a community that felt somewhat let down by this fall.

I do want to say that as much as I appreciated the info, I was disappointed that Standing Stone Games didn’t publicly address two significant sore spots with fans: the continuing issue of poor client performance and the proliferation of lockboxes. Other than acknowledging that it was adding more to the current rash of lockboxes, SSG avoided that snake’s nest entirely.

The studio has been pushing lockboxes hard this fall and making several questionable decisions around them, and it’s only by the virtue that LOTRO is a much smaller game that it’s been largely getting a pass from the whole controversy and conversation that’s sweeping the genre. We need to hear more about these two issues and not be completely distracted by the new shinies that we let SSG off the hook.

Overall, I am bolstered by the letter and feel a relief that the next area that I explore in the game won’t be another volcano backyard. LOTRO had a mixed 2017, but at least it and SSG are still standing, and I’m encouraged to see that the team is working on so much for the new year.

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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13 Comments on "LOTRO Legendarium: They’re taking the Hobbits to Erebor!"

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Alex Malone

Whilst it is great news that there will be yet more zones for LotRO, these announcements just highlight the poor management of the game.

Expanding the game to include northern mirkwood, dale and the lonely mountain……4 years after The Hobbit movies finished airing. I mean, way to miss a free marketing tie-in! Instead of disappearing into Rohan with shitty mounted combat years after the LotR films had aired, they really should have head north into Mirkwood and Erebor to tie into the movies. They would have brought loads of new blood in and could have then reinvested the money into doing mounted combat properly or releasing an expansion with actual raids and not shitty big battles…

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Michael18

In my wildest dreams I saw N Mirkwood getting its own expansion, ranging from the Lonely Mountain all through the Great River, and being seamlessly connected to the Misty Mountain zone. Maybe after fleshing out the Misty Mountains with a couple more zones in an update or two, as a preparation. Guess this was never realistic.

It’s great LOTRO is still expanded and that we’re heading to one of the most interesting corners of the world, I just have a hard time seeing how they can fit this huge area with all those iconic places into a single update.

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Dracon TOR

Haven’t been to middle earth in awhile myself, but I’m really glad the game is getting updates because the community is the finest I have ever seen. I hope they all enjoy it.

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Paragon Lost

I’m pretty hyped up about Erebor and the other new content. :) I do wish that if they’re going to keep up with the lockboxes that they’d at least improve them. They’re really lackluster in my opinion currently. :/

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Maggie May

I keep planning to log back into it one day . Glad to see new content being planned, nice to see the Shire is still there when I need it.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

..

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Koshelkin

The poor client performance isn’t just a sore spot, it’s the sole reason I didn’t get back into Lotro and it’s a pity, really.

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2Ton Gamer

This is something I complained about on the forums and was told by some that the laggy issues were all in my head and that the game ran fine for them. :/

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Viktor Budusov

Yep, it’s ok for me. Sorry.

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Lateris Ablon

This is such great news for a such a great PvE game./

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cruzader

I was thrilled with North Ithilien being so colorful and alive and basically reminding of the good ol’ days. But then we hit the Wastelands and Mordor, ugh, back to the dark oppressive stuff. I understand it has to be that like that for the story, but overall the game needs more zones like North Ithilien with the dark oppressive stuff being the exception.

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Tobasco da Gama

I’m just glad they learned their lesson about this and moved the very next update out to more open territory. Not like how they stretched out the Dawnless Day for two years.

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Viktor Budusov

Yeah, that was really depressing

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