Good news, everyone! There are big changes on the way to LOTRO according to the latest producer’s letter released in early January, some of which was expected and other changes that came out of the blue. The first half of 2015 will be full of server moves and merges, an extended legendary item system, more Gondor, new instances, episodic content (whatever that means), and finally a new PvMP map.
Note: I try to stay accurate given the facts, but sometimes speculation gets the better of me. Take everything written here as subject to change.
A new producer
Aaron “Rowan” Campbell broke the news that he is leaving LOTRO as its executive producer to work on a new project at Turbine with Athena “Vyvyanne” Peters stepping in his place. Most recently, she’s been with Dungeons and Dragons Online and has already been very active on the forum providing clarification and details about Turbine’s plans for LOTRO in 2015. So let’s take the producer’s letter item by item and compile all the additional information that has been outlined in the days following its release.
With the Osgiliath update, you will be able to Imbue Level 100 Legendary Items. An Imbued item continues to gain experience and will no longer need to be deconstructed to advance. These items are already in internal testing! There are many details still to work out, but you should expect a developer diary on the topic early this year.
Without a level cap increase this year and more specifics, it is hard to tell if we’ll be able to fully experience the implications of this system, though I suspect that this will still be a system requiring grinding. Few details have been released, so we’ll just have to wait and see.
New Fellowship Challenges
As we push into the heart of the War of the Ring, this is the perfect time for us to renew our focus on group content and instances. Expect new instances in Osgiliath, along with additional Roving Threats and group content on the landscape.
Vyvyanne later clarified that we’ll see a cluster of three- and six-person instances with Osgiliath and that there will be two major landscape updates this year, Osgiliath in the Spring and Minas Tirith in the Fall. Neither of these will be a full-fledged expansion. Since Osgiliath is north of Minas Tirith, I imagine we’ll enter Anórien through the Eastfold of West Rohan. If this is to be the site of PvE, PvMP and instances, I just hope that they capture the scale of the city unlike their treatment of Pelargir.
Quality of Life
We have been working to identify your most persistent bugs. You can expect a renewed focus on resolving issues that may be small but troublesome, to improve overall gameplay experience.
I almost pity the person who has to go through this thread and compile the list of bugs to work on this year. From my quick skimming of page one, I completely agreed that war-steed dismounting in negligible amounts of water should be on the top of the list.
We are currently in development on a new type of quest content that will roll out like an episodic TV show, a little at a time, as you follow a new friend across Middle-earth seeing familiar places in a new light.
According to MadeOfLions, this has nothing to do with those roving threats in Angmar, but I suspect those may still arrive with Osgiliath in Update 16. However, I presume this is related to a certain hobbit based on some seemingly innocuous quest items added with Update 15. Even before this content becomes active, the observant among us might notice subtle changes to the landscape like the strongbox pictured below atop the Lornspan in the Lone-lands (compare with this image taken before 2010).
Based on your feedback, we’re taking measures to get everyone onto the more populous servers, so that finding parties is easier and festivals and live events are more fun. We are working on both improved server transfer tools and upgrades to our environments to improve playability. Also we will be moving our European servers back to the EU! More details on this coming soon!
For some, this is life-changing news, but I believe it to be for the best. Coming from a low to medium population server, I look forward to moving somewhere with more active players. From the looks of things, the server transfers will happen in two phases. First, Turbine will release a list of preferred servers to which players can transfer their characters. Phase two, they’ll reassess server populations and decide which servers to close then give a grace period for which the players remaining on those condemned servers to move out, and afterwards, those serverless characters should still be available for transfer.
Transferring between EU and NA servers will still be a no-go due to the data dissimilarities which is a bummer. I just hope they mark the servers better especially since they’re moving the physical hardware back to Europe creating lag for NA players who chose an EU server without any prior indication. Unlike the situation today, they hope their new systems will transfer server-bound items like Mithril Coins as well. And it’ll also be interesting to see how they manage kinship transfers.
The team is also seriously investigating a new PvMP map in Osgiliath. This landscape would tell the story of the Battle of Osgiliath, and the layout of the city (split by the Anduin) is perfect for smaller and more tightly focused conflicts than the Ettenmoors. This would make the perfect platform for gradual improvements to the PvMP experience, overall. We’ll provide additional updates on this initiative as we get deeper into 2015.
This is something that has been teased several times before but this time, it seems their plans will actually coalesce. It sounds like this will be fighting in a built-up, somewhat ruined area, but I hope it won’t just be an endless deathmatch. Place some towers to capture maybe even some catapults, ballistas and barricades. In addition to PvE, the PvMP at Osgiliath will be on a separate “layer” so unwitting players won’t be swarmed by bloodthirsty creeps.
Oh, and if you missed it, last Wednesday’s hotfix subtly added level restrictions to all the consumable reputation items which was overshadowed by the producer’s letter. Interestingly, they tried this in December but pulled back saying it was too contentious given the time of year though they could reinstate the changes without pulling the servers down. Why, then, did they bring the servers down this time? Weird.