In case you haven’t peeked at the LOTRO forum lately, Update 9 is coming and it’s going to be huge. Not so huge in terms of content but huge in terms of changes. Let’s see… we’ve got open tapping and remote looting for all of Middle-earth, a revamp in the second part of Moria, player experience for crafting (a la Guild Wars 2), changes to the Yule festival and the BREEvamp just to name a few. The list is filled with many, many so-called “quality-of-life” changes and you can see the preliminary release notes (as always, subject to change) in the Bullroarer forum.
Of these changes, there are several that pertain directly to this blog: Part one of the Road to Erebor instances (three 3-person instances), scaling and revamp of the Dol Guldur instances (including the raid), and remote looting on instance chests (no more rolling!). The addition of these new instances brings the total of cap-level instances to 26 by my count, 5 raids, 12 six-person instances, and 9 three-person instances, not to mention all of the skirmishes. Overall, I see these changes as very positive, however, you can blast through the three new instances very quickly and be left scratching your head looking for more stuff to do. On the other hand, the Yule festival, with its newly introduced Hytbold/Farmville-style daily grind, is sure to keep players logging in often, but that’s another story.
Of the new and old instances, they now have their own scalable loot, some better than others, and with the addition of remote looting in instances, you won’t have to roll against your fellow party members. You still roll against the server, but each member gets their own loot. That means all twelve people in a raid could get an epic-quality piece of gear or perhaps you get some shiny, new loot while everyone else gets a few relics and runes. And you’ll want to show off this gear because the epic-quality pieces are class specific and have various class bonii (e.g., +3% Spear Gambit Damage for Wardens).
I had the chance to test out many of these changes in a somewhat unfinished and buggy state on the Bullroarer public test server while gathering information for future guides. I also took a fair amount of screenshots which you can find below. Don’t forget that everything I say here is based on observations from Bullroarer which will almost certainly change before hitting the live servers rendering this blog post effectively null and void.
Dol Guldur instances
The announcement that Turbine’d be scaling the old level 65 Dol Guldur instances from the Mirkwood expansion caught me off-guard, and I suspect it did for many others as well. This cluster contains four instances and a raid which at Update 9 scale from 65-85 and have two tiers of difficulty. Additionally, the Dungeons of Dol Guldur is now a 6-person instance (instead of just 3).
As well as the new scaling loot, players can purchase the old level 65 and the new level 85 Dol Guldur armor sets at skirmish camps. Each of the instances also has the chance to drop various rare-quality (purple) and incomparable-quality (teal) gear as well as the class-specific epic-quality (gold) loot. As far as I’m aware, the epic-quality loot is shared and can drop from any of the Dol Guldur instances.
In order to accommodate difficulty tiers, they’ve made some of the instances easier at tier I and made the challenges uber-difficult on tier II. For example, in tier I of the Dungeons of Dol Guldur instance, they’ve removed the elite-level mobs that used to guard the wings and you can get caught by the Guldur Thugs as many times as you want without them sealing the wings. And in the Sword-halls, the tier II challenge instructs you to defeat all three champions at the same time …oh yeah, and all their minions. On Bullroarer, challenges modes were restricted to tier II, level 85, but the previous quests for the instances have been converted to dailies and auto-bestow upon entering the corresponding instance.
I haven’t been able to run the raid, Barad Guldur, on Bullroarer, but in theory this should provide a slightly new experience for all the end-game raiders until the three new single-boss raids arrive in part two of the Road to Erebor due in February. However, I’m sure many of the hardcore raiding kinships that have been around for a while already farmed this raid to death when the level cap was 65 and won’t be satisfied beyond a few runthroughs just to check it out. On the other hand, they might find a new challenge in running it at level 85 on tier II for all the presumed fat loots and challenges it may have.
The Road to Erebor instances
When Turbine announced their plans for the Road to Erebor instance cluster, people were understandably upset. Only three new small fellowship-size instances and a measly three single-boss raids in February!? Nothing related to Rohan!? Oh, the humanity!
Originally, Turbine was not planning on releasing an instance cluster with Riders of Rohan, and now that we see the direction these instances are taking us, it’s more apparent why. To capitalize on the popularity of the Hobbit movies coming out, these instances revolve around retracing the journey described in that book. These first three take players back to a few locations already in the game — Goblin-town, the Misty Mountains, Mirkwood — and the instances coming in February will presumably take us to Dale and the Lonely Mountain where Smaug once lived. Rowan has said on the forum that these instances will be set in “our current timeline, not the Hobbit” alluding to new stories along the way and an encounter with the Easterlings further down the road.
Again, these instances share the same scaling epic-quality loot between them (although different than the Dol Guldur loot) as well as gear unique to each instance. All of these instances are linked together via a quest obtainable from Gandalf at the newly BREEdesigned Prancing Pony. All of the challenges modes can be completed from level 20 to 85 but only on tier II.
Seat of the Great Goblin
My first concern before stepping foot in this instance was if it would replace the old Goblin-town: Throne Room level 50 instance and if not, how much of it would overlap and be a retread. After completing it a few times, I was pleased with the flow and difficulty of the new instance, however, I still think they should scrap the old Throne Room instance and place it in the landscape. On the other hand, it does offer easy Rivendell rep without traveling out to the Misty Mountains and it is the most unique for its non-linear structure but probably least run out of all the LOTRO instances. I’m torn.
The first boss is similar to the first in Iorbar’s Peak in that there’s plenty of AoE damage and falling objects, but this time from the boss himself. The second boss encounter consists of 2 elite masters, 1 elite, 6 signature and 30 swarm-type goblins (this is Goblin-town after all). The challenge quest wasn’t working when I tried it, but it has something to do with defeating the Great Goblin with great haste.
Taking place at the top of the Misty Mountains, a certain sinister stone giant has stolen an eagle egg and plans to have it for dinner. But first, being the showman typical of all stone giants, he has to put on a grand performance to welcome his unwelcome guests. Festivities include, but are not limited to, boulder throwing, Dourhand bashing and the ever-popular, mammoth tipping.
Between the numerous trash pulls and switchbacks up the mountain, the mechanics in the boss fights are rather simple. In the first, you have to avoid the giants and their boulders while dealing with the boss and his adds. In the second, you must protect the eagle egg from the giant, Helf, and his adds who will damage it if they get too close. On tier II, the boss can get a morale bubble which will do damage to the egg if you allow it to expire. The challenge mode, completable on tier II at any level, requires you to finish the last fight without any damage to the egg. This shouldn’t be too difficult as the boss is only an elite master. I still remember the days when elite master-type mobs were something to be feared and avoided at all costs.
Webs of the Scuttledells
If you remember the Scuttledells in Mirkwood, you’ll remember what a nightmare it was to navigate those perilous pathways and precipices. While you still get turned around often in this instance, it’s not quite as confusing as the same area on the landscape.
Differing from the other two instances, this one has fewer, but more difficult, trash pulls. At a minimum, you’ll be fighting five mobs at a time. And there’s also an optional quest to recover Elf scouts trapped in spider cocoons. But beware, just like the Hytbold daily from Snowbourn, other sorts of creatures may also be trapped in these cocoons.
All manner of crows and barghests roam the first part of this instance, though your first boss is a wight named Beremud. More specifically, he’s a draug, one of those new wights introduced with Rohan, and if you are unlucky enough (or lucky as you may see it) to see him up close, you may be wishing you never set foot in his burial grounds.
After the menacing draugar come the spiders, and eventually you’ll reach the final boss, Digelír, an enormous spider (no surprise there). Defeating her is rather straightforward, though if you want to complete the challenge, you have to grab a torch and burn all of her nests and webs before defeating her. Oh yeah, and there are masses of adds in this one. All those nests and webs spawn more and more mobs. Oh, and that’s not to mention her -50% current morale attack. Fun stuff.