Information about the next big update to LOTRO has appeared on its Web site and on in-game loading screens. Update 6 will be called “Shores of the Great River” and will focus on a new region where this update takes its name, The Great River, which in turn refers to the Anduin, that vast waterway players must cross upon sieging Mirkwood. The update will feature huge changes to the game including a new region to explore, the next chapter in the epic story, soldiers on the landscape, a new iteration of the Instance Finder, class revamps and new PvMP currency.
According to the site, this region will contain “seven new areas along the upper Anduin,” which seems similar, at least in some respects, to how Enedwaith was designed. I suspect this region will connect further south into East Rohan where the expansion, Riders of Rohan, will pick up this Fall. This region will be free to VIP accounts; premium and free-to-play accounts must purchase it through the LOTRO store.
In addition to this new region, the update promises a new chapter in the epic story which leads back “to Lothlórien to seek Galadriel’s wisdom wisdom after experiencing troubling dreams.” (From this statement, it is unclear whether it is the player or Galadriel with the troubling dreams.) After the detour through Dunland with the Rangers, it seems this epic story will begin to take the player back to follow in the footsteps of the fellowship after they leave Lothlórien. Even further in the future, we may also witness the fellowship at Amon Hen before they break up and go seperate ways.
Also on the slate for release is a huge change to the game: soldiers on the landscape. Instead of being trapped inside skirmishes, your soldiers will be available for summoning anywhere in Middle-Earth, however, I doubt they’ll be allowed into instances, but I could be wrong about that.
More updates to the Instance Finder are coming as well, allowing players to queue for specific instances and skirmishes, choose to change loot rules and remove players with a vote. Bonuses (Bonii?) will also change depending on how many instances and skirmishes you make yourself available for when queuing.
Turbine is looking to shake things up in the PvMP arena by introducing a new currency, commendations, which will replace the use of barter items (e.g., Delving of Frór stones) for Freep gear and Destiny Points for Monster Players. To ensure a flow of commendations, the cap will be set at 10,000, meaning that a Freep with the maximum amount of commendations will only be able to purchase one or two pieces of armour. Apparently commendations will be kept in the barter wallet but also shared account wide, but per-server (like Destiny Points are now). Find the details in the very technical developer diary.
There’s no mention of any new instances or skirmishes coming with this update. That’s not to say there won’t be, as it is still months away. And they could release a cluster in a future update to keep players involved in the story similar to the Echoes of the Dead/Enedwaith cluster. Of note, though, the skirmish Icy Crevasse will receive a balance correction so that the bosses will not receive the “Winds of Forochel” buff on Tier 1 making the fight a bit easier to complete.
In addition to all this, there will probably be plenty more changes as yet unannounced. No release date for this update just yet, but I expect it to come some time in March or April, at least in time for LOTRO’s fifth anniversary celebration which Turbine has mentioned will be getting a facelift. There promises to be plenty of fun and excitement in the mean time with several end game instances to master and, of course, the Treasure Hunt will make an appearance from time to time.