Here’s what to expect from LOTRO’s new progression servers launching today at noon

    
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As promised, Standing Stone Games is launching two new progression servers for Lord of the Rings Online subscribers (yes, you have to sub VIP or have a lifetime account for these) today. These are planned as “permanent live servers,” with Shadowfax offering accelerated leveling and patch rollout and Treebeard server doing the precise opposite for folks who want the slowest possible experience. Ahead of today’s rollout, SSG released a batch of new info about how the servers will work. Here are the highlights!

Shadowfax vs. Treebeard

The Shadowfax server offers a 50% character experience, legendary item XP, and mount XP boost, as well as a 20% virtue experience boost. Content unlocks are expected about every two months. Treebeard, on the other hand, reduces experience gain by 60% of the normal server rate. Content unlocks are slowed down to five to six months, so you’ll have more than enough time to progress. This means that both servers start out with the original level 50 cap through Shadows of Angmar, though the special classes and races (Rune-keeper, Warden, Beorning, High-elf, and Stout-axe) are playable.

The cash shop will be functional on these servers, including level boosters (up to the current cap). However, transfers are currently limited, in that you cannot transfer to, from, or between Shadowfax and Treebeard. (You can transfer off Anor, the older legendary server, so we assume transfers from these might someday become available.) SSG has clarified that account-based purchases are available on the new realms. PvMP is not available, but most festivals will run, as long as the area is available in that version of the game.

Landscape difficulty

SSG will be testing out its new landscape difficulty option on these two new servers. It’s essentially a way to tweak how hard open-world mobs are for your toon, in exchange for titles, additional boosted experience, and bragging rights. Players will need to chat with Berthadan near the Prancing Pony in Bree to activate this mode.

“You can set the landscape difficulty between Normal and Deadly +6, which increases the challenge of enemies you’ll face on the landscape. The difficulty can be changed again at any time by speaking again with Berthadan. However, if you begin a higher level difficulty prior to reaching level 11 and stick with a high level difficulty you will get rewarded for reaching levels 50 and 130! Four titles are available per class; two for reaching Hard+ difficulty at level 50 and level 130, and two for reaching Deadly+ difficulty at level 50 and level 130. You MUST activate your desired difficulty prior to reaching level 11, and maintain that difficulty or higher until you earn your title. A Deed can be found in-game to track your progress.

“Additional dangers face you at all Deadly difficulties in the form of Eye of Sauron effects. Once the Eye of Sauron is upon you, your progress will be hintered by several random effects for the next minute or so. Players will get an XP and Virtue XP boost for running on higher difficulties, starting at +10% XP up to +20% XP and +1% up to +5% Virtue XP.”

Retail vs. classic

SSG has been very clear that work on the production servers will continue: “We have no intention of adjusting our frequent, regular, and active development of the non-Legendary game worlds, and have plans for them well into the future,” the team says. It’s also emphasized that it considers Shadowfax and Treebeard are “legendary” servers – what we’d typical call a progression server rather than a classic one.

“By most descriptions, a Classic server is an attempt to recreate LOTRO exactly as it was at launch, using only assets and content that was available in 2007,” the team notes. “A Legendary server runs alongside existing servers, and therefore contains many of the changes that have been made to the game over the years, such as UI improvements, bug fixes, changes to game systems, etc. In cases where we have updated or changed the layout of regions, the Legendary server uses the updated version of the regions. In cases where we have changed items or player abilities, the Legendary server uses those updated abilities.”

When can I play???

Noon EDT!

Source: Press release, official landing page
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Matthew Yetter

I don’t anticipate that Shadowfax will be very popular in the long run. Sure, it’s a way to fast-forward through all the content due to the XP boosts, but then that is countered by the roll-out rate for new expansions. So people will be getting through the available content in little time, followed by waiting around for the next drop. On top of that, even on the normal servers it’s super easy to level faster than you can accumulate crafting supplies to level up. That means that crafting is likely to be pretty dead, which in turn will mean a lackluster economy. Oh, and trait XP will be harder to come by because you won’t be completing many quests or slayer deeds before you outlevel an area.

I just can’t see many people being very happy with it in the long run.

Treebeard is likely to be the most popular of the two; especially among those who want a real challenge from the difficulty sliders. The reduced XP will be offset somewhat by boosting the difficulty. Crafting will likely be robust because of how much longer you’ll stay in each resource tier’s region. The larger number of completed deeds will also result in slightly more powerful characters, making the difficulty settings more attractive. Kinships will also likely thrive because people will team up more to get the higher difficulties.

It just seems like Treebeard creates a synergy of the different systems while Shadowfax pulls everything apart.

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teppic

Shadowfax’s population dropped to 100 or so after a short while, and for a day one launch population that’s absolutely terrible. I expect they’ll close the server before it reaches Moria.

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oatraa

When a game loses even the diehard whales…

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teppic

People were level 50 within literally a couple of hours of the “slow pace” server opening because they bought so many XP boosts etc. Even though both servers look like a failure the whales will probably have made it worth it for SSG given it’s had no dev work put in.

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Oleg Chebeneev

So how much more dmg mobs deal at highest difficulty? Is it possible for burglar?

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Bruno Brito

Being a blanket difficulty slider, it probably has the trappings of not embracing all classes. I’m going to argue that both Minstrel and Burglars will feel terrible soloing at +6 specially higher level content that gets pretty spongy.

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teppic

I checked out a few streams and it’s fairly dead, far less people than I imagined (I expected a lot more simply for the novelty of a new server and the slider).

But then requiring a full price sub for ancient content on a server that’s had literally no extra work done on it, while keeping the full boost-packed free to play cash shop on top is a hard sell, even to lotro’s fervent supporters. I don’t imagine there’ll be anyone much playing in a week so I wouldn’t waste time or money on this to be honest.

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Mallus

Requiring VIP makes no sense other than a quick cash grab and that’s if anyone even plays. I would have gladly jumped in (Shadowfax) and started a fresh character if it was FTP like the main game and I would have spent some money for things like tools/riding skill…

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teppic

Yeah, when they’ve done literally no work for the server and it offers nothing other than a level cap over the live ones, requiring VIP is extremely greedy when they include the entire cash shop on top. I could understand it being VIP only if they disabled the cash shop (though it still wouldn’t be great value since this is not new content, and has had no dev work).

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Bruno Brito

Yeah. I don’t get why they didn’t make Treebeard/Shadowfax F2P either.

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oatraa

The game just isn’t that good, though at times it looks pretty, has fun moments, cuteness. Plain cash grab. Whales. Zombie game.

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Vinnie travi

The landscape difficulty slider is what it interesting to me. I hate how every modern MMO has faceroll landscape. Takes all the fun out of leveling and just makes it a rush to endgame. Thats why I still play Vanilla Wow because I like to craft and gear up while leveling. If everything is so easy there is no reason to bother to gear up

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wonderrat

Yeah, I literally left the game because leveling was so easy I was bored to tears. I’m really happy about this option.

I get that some people just want to reach endgame asap and grind for gear but that’s only one segment of the community. Enjoying the journey is an entirely valid way to play.

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oatraa

They dumbed it down a while back. Too bad. Probably no recover from it.

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Douglas Lawson

Gimmick!

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Mark

I thought I read in their post on the LOTRO site that level boosting would NOT be available, at least not the Gifts of the Valar/full boost ones, but perhaps I was wrong?