Global warming strikes again — the tides of change are breaching the ruined walls of Fornost. With Update 6, this super-long instance has been closed for renovation most likely in the same manner that the Great Barrow, Garth Agarwen or Helegrod instances were long ago. However, Turbine has yet to release any information regarding the changes so I’ll take some creative liberty here to speculate upon what exactly these changes could contain and the implications they might have on the game.
I wasn’t around then, but it’s my understanding that many of the “classic” instances used to be large singular instances. Instead of having the Great Barrow: The Maze, Thadúr and Sambrog, there was just the Great Barrow. After they received the makeover treatment, the instances were split up to balance them for more casual playing with some of the original instance left on the cutting room floor. For example, you might find guides such as this walkthrough for Helegrod which may make no sense if you’re trying to do it now.
In fact, and correct me if I’m wrong, but the instance of Garth Agarwen used to start at the Garth Agarwen gate, where the small barter encampment lies, and adventurers would have to defeat bosses and obtain keys to unlock further areas in the instance. You can see remnants of this in the current instances: Go into the Barrows and look up near the entrance to see a broken bridge and a closed gate which requires the High Pass Gate Key to open. This passageway used to connect the Barrows to what is now the Fortress but now it’s no longer used, however, I suppose a character who’s old enough and still has the key could go through the gate if he somehow managed to find his way up there.
So if the past is any indication as to the future of Fornost, I’d say it’s very likely that Fornost with get split into three, maybe even four instances. Where Turbine will split it and what will get left out is anyone’s guess. Will they make the first area part of the open world like with Garth Agarwen, then make portals at the instance entrances? Or will the original entrance remain with the other entrances hidden such as with the Great Barrow or Helegrod?
The Great Barrow and Helegrod both have gating mechanisms (you must complete the first instances before you have access to the final instance), but Garth Agarwen does not use the same approach. Fornost already has a gate key which could possibly be transitioned into the new gating mechanism. In the original instance, this was a one-person drop and I’m sure not many people ran the instance just to get the key, so many people might get left out and have to run the instance but I suspect it won’t be as big of a chore.
But what will the motivation for running the new Fornost be? Will it become level scalable like the Great Barrow or stay a fixed level like Garth Agarwen? Will it have difficulty tiers? Will it have optional objectives and challenge quests at the cap level with matching rewards? Will it have any deeds and/or Turbine Points to earn? I’d like to see this instance run more often increasing the repertoire of instances for maxed out characters.
Speaking of rewards, I wonder if they’ll add a new barter currency to further make use of the upgraded barter wallets. This and the notion that the North Downs might once again become a desirable quest pack to purchase might be driving the renovations from the LOTRO store side. In fact, this could be part of a larger revamp of the North Downs, but that may be stretching it. I’d just be happy if they make levels 39-44 a little easier like they did for the 30s with Evendim.
And as a bit of an RP touch, it’s interesting to note that the instance is unavailable while they redo it, like they’re getting new furniture from Ikea or something. They have Ikea in Middle-earth, right? As I mentioned before, this is all pure speculation. I’m just excited to see what the new Fornost will bring to the game. What changes would you most like to see with the revamp of Fornost?