One of the significant changes with Update 7: Shades of the Past is that of the Fornost revamp. Developers “jwbarry” and “Rock” wrote an extensive developer diary detailing their thought process behind the face-lift and the process in general. As one of the original instances shipped with LOTRO, Fornost was in dire need of repair and that’s just what these two hoped to accomplish.
As instances have changed, the tools and methods for accomplishing those goals have shifted. Epic no longer means spending 6 hours in one dungeon – it’s translated to more custom art, more skills and mechanics, and more intricate set pieces.
Specifically, Fornost was split into four separate 6-man instances each scalable from level 30 to 75 with two difficulty levels and challenge quests on boss fights. The instances now award level-appropriate loot at higher levels in addition to medallions and bounties. There are plenty more details in the dev diary.
I don’t have much time these days (delving deep into learning Swedish) but I was able to make a quick jaunt through the new Fornost on Bullroarer at level 30 on a level 75 Warden. I was surprised how quickly it went, about 90 minutes for the grand tour, even with running around looking for all the changes. Of course, that’s with an overpowered character on an underleveled instance. Comparatively, though, Wraith of Earth (#2) took me the shortest and Wraith of Shadow (#4) was the longest for me mostly because the mechanics on that final boss make it a pain to solo.
Luckily for me, the developers posted the types of battles they want to introduce players to starting at level 30; all that’s left is to match the boss to the battle type and come up with an effective strategy for each. I definitely noticed most of these types in my playthrough on Bullroarer, however, my concern is that there are too many different types of boss fights whereas other instances take the approach of introducing fight mechanics then ramping those up for the final fight.
- Player Movement and Positioning
- Cluster together, separate (distributed damage vs aoe)
- Jumping and platforming during combat
- Positional damage
- Player Awareness
- Interrupting enemy skills
- Enrage timers
- Red light/Green light
- Target Movement
- Auras that buff other monsters
- Wave Fights
- Boss enters first
- Boss enters last
- Few adds with high health/damage
- Medium adds with medium health/damage
- Lots of adds with low health/damage
- Waves that enter on:
- HP thresholds
- Previous wave clear
- Player trigger
- Combination of above
Aside from these fights, I noticed a few other minor things:
- Two bosses were removed: Shiruk and Kamordî.
- The West Gate and its key have been removed.
- Zhurmat and his minions were moved from Barad Harn to the garrison near Sara Oakheart’s holding cell.
- In order to split the upper level between instances #3 and #4, they destroyed the bridge to the last tower making you take the long way around and enter through the lower levels into Krithmog’s domain. Riamul has been moved to a different location and now resides within instance #3 – Wraith of Fire.
- The upper level is now more linear and Zanthrug is no longer an optional boss.
I, too, share the developers hope that more people will play these instances especially because they now come in fun, bite-size chunks. And with so many quests associated with these instances, both automatically bestowed and from the Ranger’s camp outside, the lower 30s should be a breeze. When this goes live, I’ll be trying out both the low-level version on-level as well as the tier 2 challenge modes at level 75, and I’m hoping the loot will be well worth the trouble (don’t forget to use the instance finder!).
If you’ve got time to kill and want to watch my playthrough of the instances on the Bullroarer test server, you can see them all here. No commentary, so it’s recommended to mute the volume, that is, unless you enjoy generic filler music.