With Update 16, we get three new instances for the Eastern Gondor quest pack. All three instances take place in the once-great port city on the Anduin, Osgiliath, and focus around finding Faramir, younger brother of the late Boromir. These instances hearken back to a time before skirmishes and epic battles, the classic instanced dungeon for your fellowship with trash mobs, bosses and loot.
Speaking of loot, it seems like you will get the normal pieces of armor and jewelry, IXP runes and sealed relics. You’ll also have a chance to get armor boxes containing class-appropriate armor: chest and glove pieces from Ruined City; head and shoulders from Dome of Stars; feet and legs from Sunken Labyrinth. You can also get Morgul Crests from tier 2 used to trade for 5-slotted essence armor.
Because Ruined City and Dome of Stars both take place in Osgiliath, they begin to feel like the same instance. Without looking at my notes, I can’t recall which boss belongs to which instance. Likewise, the trash mobs in between bosses start to get monotonous, but to the credit of Turbine, these mobs are not always a faceroll. In some places, focusing on the wrong enemy will makes things go torturously slow and may even get your fellowship killed.
I had the highest hopes for Sunken Labyrinth. A puzzle would have been exciting – the confusing puzzles of the Water Wheels and the Mirror-halls are some of my favorite – but the levers in the Labyrinth are easily broken with trial and error. In its current state, I just feel like a rat searching for cheese in a maze.
The highlight of this instance cluster is the final fight in Dome of Stars. There are three different groups of adds each with their own tactics. Burning them down as fast as you can will cause a wipe. Oh, and it’s a completely different beast on tier 2.
While I’m sure the “get the best gear” crowd will run these instances almost constantly for the first few weeks, I’m cautiously optimistic that these new instances won’t just fade into the background. Being able to run them from level 50 and their challenging nature should provide a useful training ground for burgeoning fellowships inching their way into Sauron’s backyard.