LOTRO Legendarium: Fate of Gundabad is shaping up to be the full expansion that LOTRO needs

    
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Right before all of the news this week got sucked into the gravity well of the launch of a certain MMO, Lord of the Rings Online made headlines by finally announcing the full launch package for Fate of Gundabad. In one fell swoop, we were given a whole lot of the information we’ve been craving for a while now, including the launch date, the feature list, the pre-order situation, and the names of the zones being added to the game.

Now that it’s all consolidated and officially revealed, Fate of Gundabad has gone from a more abstract future concept to a well-rounded expansion pack that may be one of the most full offerings that LOTRO has seen in a long time. In today’s column, we’re going to break down the reveal and see what there is to stoke out excitement.

There are right and wrong ways to make expansions. In my opinion, an MMO expansion fails when it’s just a loose assortment of content that’s piled together to make it look just big enough to justify a retail price. These lackluster releases do little to nothing to actually stir up interest among the playerbase or draw attention from the wider gaming community.

The right way — again, in my opinion — is to make the expansion an Event. It’s got to be a significant step forward for the MMO in some way with evocative theming, significant content addition, the promise of more character progression, and at least one big tentpole feature that has everyone talking. Using these criteria, I say that Fate of Gundabad has a real potential to be an Event expansion for the game (and well it should, considering how long it’s been in production).

The theming involves the culmination of this “Orcs vs. Dwarves” storyline that’s been going on for a year or so now. I’m sure this story arc has its fans — and I can at least say that I acknowledge it has its moments — but the general sense that I’ve gotten is that most people are lukewarm on this at best. It’s… there. For Dwarf lovers, it’s probably far more effective than the rest of us, who are simply glad that the storyline is about to conclude so we can go on to something else. So let’s chalk up the theming as the weakest part of the expansion.

As for content, Fate of Gundabad looks like it’ll eclipse Minas Morgul in terms of scope and size, and that’s great. From the description, it appears that there are six zones or regions that the game’s adding — and not all of them underground. I know that there was some concern that this would be “Moria 2.0” with a nonstop cavern experience, and it’s good to read that it won’t be the case. It’s kind of very interesting that we’ll even be going back to Angmar, sort of.

Character progression is present, too. After a lot of rumors of a level increase, we got confirmation that we’re getting bumped up to 140 with “new abilities” along the way. I definitely want to see what these new abilities are, as I think that the talent trees could use some fresh blood in them, so I’m going to keep my eye on the test realm. Another point of progression is the revamped legendary item system, which we’ve discussed before in this space. It feels a little disingenuous that this is getting lumped in as an expansion feature when it’s a task that should’ve been done a while ago, but whatever, I’ll allow it.

And the tentpole feature is certainly the addition of the Brawler class. It’s going through some pretty heavy testing right now, so it’s hard to say how this will shake out in terms of popularity and performance. I don’t doubt that there will be a lot of people rolling up one this fall, especially since pre-ordering gets you some measure of early access — October 13th according to the fine print.

It may not be a lock for MMO expansion of the year, but bowl me over with a feather if Fate of Gundabad isn’t looking far more robust than previously assumed. It needs to be, too, to justify the $40 price tag for the base edition (which, thankfully, includes the Brawler).

Of course, Daybreak’s doing the Daybreak thing of selling much more expensive editions ($80 and $130) for those who like to splurge on expansions. Both of those include a single character level boost to 130, and the $130 edition includes an earring that boosts XP gain all the way to the current level cap. I don’t see any of this as a must-have or a will-burn-to-miss, but it’s up to you to decide how to best spend your money.

There were a few additional details worth mentioning, starting with some sort of daily reward track that is going to tie into the legendary item/traceries system. That’s got a lot of people nervous due to the potential for daily grind, but we’ll see. There’s also going to be more dungeons and a raid with a dragon, because dragons rule.

Speaking just for myself, I’m looking forward to Fate of Gundabad after a nearly two-year wait for the pack. I like how much has gone into this expansion, and knowing that SSG delivers great zones and solid tales, I have every reason to hope that it’s going to be a wild time in Middle-earth come November 10th.

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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Mike Minier

Yawn. Call me when they make the game compatible with 4k displays. They would have another long time subscriber back in a second.

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MrReaper

This is going to be interesting, I really hope they don’t just release to live before it’s ready. The revamp and brawler are not near being ready. Moria was the best expansion ever released so hopefully this one is on par. Exciting stuff if it’s done right.

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LazyLex

Very much this.

In its current state, Red Brawler has the lowest dps of any other class in the game. This is not subjective.
It has no way to sustain it’s own buffs — impossible to avoid fall off and reapplication requirements.
It has the worst self-sustaining healing abilities of any other class in the game.

As for Blue Brawler, it is disgustingly overpowered. They have the mitigation scaled to such an extreme level, they often take no damage or only 1-2% of the intended.

Balancing problems have always been a problem for the LoTRO dev team, but this is sheer incompetence and a failure of defining a scope. Even if they buff the red line numbers, there seems to be no niche for the Brawler.

Then on top of that, you have the LI system revamp which has led to a 100k-550k dps swing for classes. Wardens are doing obscene damage but had their heals gutted 3 years ago. They now accidentally nerfed their heals even further and per Raninia, the team is looking into it but there is no saying whether or not the issue will be fixed by October 13th.

His quote:
“I can’t promise that we’ll have everything squared away before 30.3 releases, but I can promise that we’re gonna continue actively working on it in the months ahead until it’s in a relatively good place”

Months? You’re breaking the game even further with no intention of delaying the patch, knowing you won’t be able to fix the problems for months?

The game needs new management, resources, talent and oversight. Even some basic level of project management would do the team wonders.

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Slaphammer

I think you’re being generous in assuming that there will be about 6 zones of content. The description is actually pretty vague and could be describing different locations within one zone, or a small number of zones. I hope that it’s as big as you think but I haven’t really seen anything to indicate that it will be.

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Viktor Budusov

As i saw leaks there are even 7 regions, 5 of them underground. Though each one of them is not that big. In no way it’s big as Moria + Eregion + Dimrill dale. I would say it’s like 50-60% of that. So it’s still quite big expansion. At least it’s certainly bigger than Minas Morgul.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Looking forward to Gundabad and hoping it’s a worthwhile expansion. Throwing my money at the Daybreak over-priced pack because Fluff is Fluff and Dye Carry-all is a must have.

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Sleepy

“Dwarf lovers”.

All four of them.

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Darthbawl

*cough” Five, five Dwarf lovers *cough* 😎

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MrReaper

Beep wrong it was 7 – Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy, and Dopey

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Stormwaltz

Sounds like fighting words to me! ;)

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Ashfyn Ninegold

I confess my intention to roll a dwarf Brawler, to go along with my Dwarf Rune-Keeper and Minstrel.

Why? Because I already have a Hobbit Rune-keeper, Minstrel, Hunter, Champion, Burglar and Guardian.

So I’m looking for a little . . . variety.

Mark
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Mark

Cmon, everyone with a Mc in their ancestor’s surnames loves dwarves.
As do a few of us with Campbell blood.

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Viktor Budusov

What a shameful dwaarfophobia…