Turbine has announced the next content update for Lord of the Rings Online. The meat of the press release is:
The Epic Continues! – Amarthiel, introduced in Book 9: Shores of Evendim, has reclaimed the palantir of Carn Dum and is now seeking to make Annuminas her new seat of power as she searches for her lost ring of power: Narchuil. The Dunedain stands against her as the Rangers mount a last, desperate attempt to wrest the palantir from Amarthiel. Before she can find Narchuil, a most dangerous opportunity presents itself that may give the Dunedain the advantage they need to blind the eye of Angmar.
Legendary Play – Once in the Ettenmoors, players can experience monster play in a completely new way by spending their Destiny Points to play as a powerful Ranger of the North or a terrible Troll to offer a strategic advantage to their allies in the battle for control of the Ettenmoors.
Critter Play – Friendly barnyard animals love squawking around the landscape, exploring chicken coops, hunting for worms and more! Players can now explore Middle-earth from a different – and sometimes unexpected – viewpoint as a chicken, the first of many new playable critters that will be added to the game in the future.
New Reputation and Bartering Systems – Book 10 introduces the Reputation and Bartering systems. The Reputation system enables players to earn positive and negative standing with different races and groups in Middle-earth based on both monster kills and quest completions. The Bartering system allows players to trade trophies earned in battle for rewards such as armor sets or mounts.
Over 100 New Quests – The story continues for players as they aid the Fellowship and encounter new adventures, new dungeons and over a dozen new monsters.
Enhanced User Interface – The game’s UI is now customizable. In addition to being able to skin your UI with a unique look, Book 10 will enable players to access sliders in their ?Options’ panel to scale the size of individual elements of the UI to their liking.
Book 10 – So the story continues. That is good. Granted, I think we’re still on Book 2 in our little group, so we have a ways to go still. Quite a ways, given that “little” is the literal truth about our group. We have only four players and, trained by WoW, we keep thinking we’re just one person down. No. A full fellowship is 6 players. We’re only 2/3’s of a fellowship.
Legendary play – In the previous announcement, there was something called session play that included the ability to play as a ranger, a troll, or as a chicken. That seems to have been amended, as the troll and ranger have been moved into the PVP arena, which I think would make this, at most, “Monster Play Plus.”
Critter play – And here is the chicken. And other animals in the future, I guess. I do hope you get to play as a crow. There are crows literally everywhere in Middle-earth, or in Turbine’s vision of it at least, and it would be nice to actually travel a bit without half a dozen of the damn things chasing you around. That would be an experience in Middle-earth new and different enough to attract my attention.
Reputation and Bartering systems – Now this sounds interesting. I will hold back on too much enthusiasm until I get to read the details, but this could be cool. On the other hand, the phrase “Book 10 introduces…” worries me. Does that mean I have to complete Book 10 to be eligible. I hope not. That is a long way down the road.
Over 100 new quests – Always good. It is always better to have too many quests than too few, and that goes double for a game like LOTRO where the majority of your experience is quest derived. I imagine the new quests fall into the 35+ range, so I won’t see them for a while, but it is nice to know that they are coming.
Customizable UI – LOTRO should have shipped with this, given that even EverQuest has had a customizable UI for ages. Still, progress now is better than progress never.
In addition to this, there is already some talk about Book 11 coming up in October with a patch that will include player housing.
You certainly cannot fault Turbine for standing still.
The press release for the August update is available here.
[Addendum: Of course, I spotted a more detailed update on Kill Ten Rats after I posted this.]