The Wold is being overrun, the riders are being outflanked, Saruman’s army is growing ever vigilant, Edoras is in peril, the kings strength is failing, it is time to retreat to the refuge of Helm’s Deep.
This year Turbine gave us the honor of yet again getting a behind the scenes look at Turbines new expansion to their popular MMO Lord of the Rings Online! CSTM had the unique opportunity of receiving a guided walkthrough of western Rohan and Helm’s Deep. Not only did we receive the traditional media overview of Rohan but we were also able to split off into two different groups of press to get two similar but still uniquely different walkthroughs of the game.
The Lord of the Rings: Riders of Rohan is the fifth expansion for LOTRO and will be providing players the opportunity to explore and adventure into Western Rohan an all new region of Tolkien’s world. This expansion will be bringing players into five new regions with multiple mini zones within this region bringing a variety of vibrant environments to the users including Kingsted, East Fold, Broadacres, Stonedeeds, Westfold and Helm’s Deep. Unlike previous expansions players will be deeply entwined with the story and have a direct impact on the outcome of the story fighting side by side with Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli as well as Eomer, Eowen, Theoden, Hama and other members of the Rohirrim.
As players progress through the content in Western Rohan they will be experiencing three new books in the epic storyline with each book containing 12 chapters of content. The first book in this expansion will be focusing on Edoras and the events that transpire in the golden hall. Players will experience the power Grima has over the land and it’s king in addition to witnessing his demise by the revealing of Gandalf the white. The second book will be focused in Western Rohan with a host of new content and characters including quest chains revolving around Eowen and her mentor Frithild. The third book will be centered in and around Helm’s Deep and will include the epic battle of legend.
With the this expansion being focused on the epic battle of Helm’s Deep we wanted to know more about the area and how players will be able to experience both the region and the epic battle. Although they didn’t reveal much about the big battle system, which they officially call “The Battle of Helm’s Deep”, they did provide us with a lot of information about the area and events that will take place. Players will be able to participate in epic battles in 5 different areas within Helms Deep. These spaces are not like skirmishes and don’t scale based on the number of players but are built for a specific number of users.
In addition the battle system is built to be chaotic and different with every play. There will be so much going on every experience will be different making each replay its own experience. In addition there will be no mounted combat elements within Helms Deep but players will be able to participate in a variety of battles including the battle of Helms Dyke, the battle of the Glittering Caves and battle within the Hornburg. Helms Deep is going to be an amazing addition to LOTRO and this is just the beginning. There is so much more about Helms Deep that we were unable to see and experience but we will be finding out much more over the next few months and will be bringing you more updates as soon as they come in.
At the end of this eye opening walkthrough of Helm’s Deep we had the unique opportunity to ask the Turbine representatives a number of different questions. Although not all of my questions were answered here is a list of these questions along with the associated response that were given. Although many questions received the traditional “I can’t talk about that now.” The answers that we did receive are listed below.
Q: Will Eastfold support mounted combat?
A: Yes but only 1/8th of Eastfold will support mounted combat due to the dense collection of trees and foliage.
Q: Will we see the fall of Isengard in this expansion?
A: No the fall of Isengard won’t be apart of this expansion.
Q: Will we see any of the Hobbits in the expansion?
A: Not at this time. For now we are solely focused on Helm’s Deep and we will incorporate the Hobbits (Merry/Pippin & Frodo/Sam) in the future.
Q: Will there be more changes to mounted combat in Helm’s Deep?
A: No, We’re pretty happy with where it’s at right now, so we aren’t looking to change things up at this time.
Q: How much of the expansion supports mounted combat?
A: 75% of the regional divisions will support mounted combat. Eastfold not so much because its tucked into the forest.
Q: Will there be new Warbands?
A: Yes, Warbands will be back and there will be more then any past updates for all levels of experience.
Q: Will Gimli get a box to stand on in Helm’s Deep so he can see the approaching army?
A: No Gimli won’t get his box.
Q: What other deviations from the movies can we expect to see?
A: We don’t deviate from the book as much as the movies. We do elaborate in areas where Tolkien was more vague, but when it comes to major characters we tend to stick closely to the story. For example when it comes to Théoden he isn’t so much as demonically possessed by Saruman as he is under some fairly unpleasant administrations from Gríma and possibly (as Tolkien implies) that Théoden was slowly being poisoned to make him “older” than his 72 years. And then Gandalf confronts him and basically tells him to get his act together.
Q: Are there any choices that players will be able to make in the epic story to effect the outcome?
A: No, there will be more reenactment in this expansion following the main story from the books but in some of the regional quests there will be a variety of decision points players will need to make.
Q: Will players be able to experience the burial of Théodred?
A: No, but you will be able to visit the burial mounds and graves.
Q: Will there be any Hobby additions this update?
Q: Will there be a housing update this expansion?
A: There will be housing updates in the future but not tied to this expansion.
Q: What is the official name of the Big Battle System?
A: We call it the Battle of Helm’s Deep, the system was built for Helms Deep and call it such.
Q: Can you describe the Battle System?
A: Epic Battles are not skirmishes; in fact calling them skirmishes “bigger, brawnier brother” is oversimplifying them. This is a much more complicated system that we will discuss in the near future. The battles will become available at level 10 and they will not require any special unlocking by characters other than purchasing the expansion. They can be jumped into at any time, but they are separate from the actual story.
Q: Will there be Ents in the Battle for Helms Deep?
Yes, Ent play is confirmed for the battle of helms deep. Sapience confirmed this was a joke during the walkthrough they gave the press.
Q: Will there be any raid clusters or instances released with the expansion?
A: The old style of raids (raid clusters, instance clusters, etc.) are not being reintroduced in this expansion. Epic Battles will be filling that void at least for this initial release.
Q: Will there be any updates to user communication to help increase user interaction and easy of planning groups?
A: Yes we are looking into creating a official glff global chat channel so it’s not user created and officially supported.
Q: Will there be new crafting tiers in this expansion?
A: Yes there will be a new crafting tier.
Q: Can you explain more about the decision to make the Epic Story line a “paid” feature this time rather than a “free” feature?
A: The story line is not free this time around due to the way that the tech for battles has been built into the game. Since the way that the battles have been integrated with the story line there really is no way to separate the two at this time. As far as the future goes, this is not our new policy and we cannot say if this is the way we will continue the release the Epic Story line or not. Nothing is decided at this time. This is not the birth of a new policy it was simply a decision we made this time around.
If you have never played LOTRO I would highly recommend it especially now with all this new content on its way. LOTRO is by far one of the best MMO’s available and is still standing strong with yearly game of the year awards as well as many updates and expansions keeping the content fresh and fun. In addition you don’t need to be max level to experience the battle of Helm’s Deep. Players will be able to get access to this content starting at level 10 so there is defiantly fun to be had by all players of all skill levels.
We will be covering more regarding the upcoming release over the next few months so keep checking back for more but until then sharpen your swords, polish your armor and prepare to ride hard for the armies of Isengard are at your heels and you must make it to the refuge at Helm’s Deep if you wish to survive the night!