LOTRO Legendarium: LOTRO announces its next legendary servers, Angmar and Mordor

    
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Believe it or not, the last time that Lord of the Rings Online brought out fresh legendary servers, it was the pair of Treebeard and Shadowfax in June 2021. Before that there was only one other time that we got to experience these special progression shards, and that was when the original duo of Anor and Ithil opened in November 2018. Today, three of those four have shut down, with Treebeard still plodding along, hrmm hrmm.

Suffice it to say, new LOTRO legendary servers don’t come along every day. We’ve known for over a year now that SSG had a new idea for the next batch in the works, but the studio’s been very tight-lipped about it — until this week. On last night’s livestream, Executive Producer Rob Ciccolini finally revealed the next set of servers. And this time there are a few surprises that are coming with them.

Welcome Angmar and Mordor!

Ciccolini confirmed that the next two servers will be named Angmar and Mordor.

The first surprise is that the studio has positioned a server in Europe to host Mordor, making it the first LOTRO shard to be physically based in that region since the Codemasters days (Angmar will be US-based). “That’s super exciting for us,” said Ciccolini. He did express concern that a single EU server might be “flooded out” by too many players rushing onto it.

Players should also expect a different kind of leveling experience on these two servers, if their namesakes weren’t warning enough. SSG is labeling both of these shards “Veil of the Nine servers,” an indication of increased challenge. While players adventure in the world after level 15, they’ll be occasionally attacked by one of the lesser wraiths hunting them down, which could be a mild hassle at normal difficulty or a nail-biting experience if your difficulty is jacked up.

Additionally, one the nine Ringwraiths may appear to players sitting at the current level cap. Ciccolini said that there’s no way you can solo these; he expects groups of up to 50 players will be needed to fend them off. So it becomes an occasional server event to draw the community together.

To help fight the Ringwraiths, players will find it’ll greatly help to find one of the 12 tradable special rings hidden throughout the game world. Anyone who finds a ring will be able to wield it for 10 days before it loses itself and hides again. But while you have that ring, you’ll be in high demand for those Ringwraith fights. Successful fights will pay out in special rewards.

Stress tests on these servers should start within a week, with a launch sometime in July. As with the other legendary servers, Angmar and Mordor should be VIP-only experiences. The level cap start at 50 and progress normally from there. Additionally, leveling speed will be more or less standard as you’d find on any server (there may be some level nudging to help people get to the cap a little faster, however).

These servers will also mark the debut of LOTRO’s new 64-bit server tech, which should help to greatly combat lag and allow the game to pre-load all instances. Between that and the fact that all characters will be brand-new, these shards should feature some of the most lag-free experiences in the MMO right now.

Reactions to the Veil of the Nine servers

There’s certainly a lot to be excited about here, if nothing else than to get the first fresh start servers since 2021. Ideally, that should be a huge draw for players who want to get in on the ground floor with a community that will level alongside them. I absolutely loved my “do-overs” on Anor and Treebeard back in the day, and I’m already planning what character I’ll be making for Angmar when it arrives.

This is definitely great news for European players who’ve had to deal with higher latency as they connect to the normal realms overseas. Having a shard in their backyard, so to speak, will be a huge boon and offer an unparalleled gaming experience in Middle-earth. I’m not benefiting from this personally, but I’m quite happy for my EU friends.

Back when I was musing about what I’d like to see in a legendary server, my big theme was “higher challenge.” While this doesn’t go as far as I would’ve liked to see, it still has potential to be exciting. There’s the individual threat of a lesser wraith popping out to attack you at any moment, which should keep us on our toes (and maybe provide a few jump scares!).

But those bigger Ringwraith fights have the potential to draw the full server community together for impromptu battles. I hope that the rewards are definitely good enough (and spread out to all involved) so that this is tempting to do beyond the novelty.

So we’ve got a month, more or less, until these servers open. That’s enough time to start making plans, get kinships organized, and stoke the fires of hype. I think it’s a perfect time for LOTRO to bring this out, especially if it arrives with Update 41’s quality-of-life improvements. We don’t have a lot of meaty content coming until this fall’s expansion — which Ciccolini didn’t want to talk about — so a new server or two definitely gives us something to do in the meanwhile.

What are your thoughts on the Veil of the Nine servers? Will you be rolling up a new toon or ignoring it entirely? Let’s get the conversation going 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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