Lord of the Rings Online to Add Mounted Combat in 2012

Turbine’s gearing up for a big year in 2012. In addition to all the new additions coming to Dungeons & Dragons Online, they’ve got an impressive lineup of content for Lord of the Rings Online. Last week, we sat down with LotRO Executive Producer Kate Paiz to get all the juicy details of what’s on tap for Turbine’s Tolkien MMO.

2011 was a big year for Turbine as they were finally able to unify their global playerbase. In case you didn’t hear, Turbine took over control of the EU version of LotRO from Codemasters. That’s a huge boon for EU players, because they’ll now receive updates, expansions, and additions to the game simultaneously with US players. Those of you playing in EU should be really happy about this, because 2012 is full of content that you’re going to want.

The biggest news to LotRO players is that Turbine is planning another expansion for this fall that will bring them into the kingdom of Rohan. We’ll talk a little bit more about that later, because the first thing that’s on tap is the Spring update.

Spring Update

The first look players will get at the wilds of Rohan is in the Spring Update, which will open up the Great River region. Situated just south of Lothlorien, this region will give players their first taste of the Rohirrim content. A new region isn’t all that’s coming in this update; no, Turbine’s also including a few changes to game mechanics as well.

In an effort to help players who may need a little aid in completing some quests, Turbine has decided to allow players to use their Skirmish soldiers anywhere on the landscape, as well as in Skirmishes. The only place they won’t be available is inside instances. Paiz also told us that they’re planning to have monthly or near-monthly patches to give players a more regular schedule of bug fixes, new cosmetics, and new rewards. It’s little changes like this that show how Turbine’s listening to concerns they’ve heard from players, and how they’re trying to, as Paiz says, “Never take our players for granted.”

This spring will also bring the Fifth Anniversary of LotRO, and Turbine is planning a huge celebration. While they wouldn’t give us any concrete details on what the celebration will entail, they did say that no fan of the game will want to miss it. They’ll also be adding a new festival later this year, although they wouldn’t reveal just yet what that festival will be.

Riders of Rohan

This fall, Turbine’s bringing the next expansion to LotRo. Titled Riders of Rohan, the new expansion will encompass the largest landscape of any zone Turbine has ever released, covering twice the area that Moria did. Believe it or not, that’s only the Eastern side of Rohan! Players will visit places like Amon Hen (where Boromir dies in the films – and the books!), the Eaves of Fangorn (where Merry and Pippin escaped Saruman’s Uruk-Hai), and the eastern plains of Rohan.

With that much space to move around in, it only makes sense that Turbine will also be introducing one of the most requested features of all time: Mounted Combat. Yes, you’ll finally be able to fight from horseback in LotRO, and you’ll need a new horse to do it. Your war horse will be stronger than the current mounts, and will come complete with in-battle abilities like Trample (we love the sound of that). Of course, if you can fight while mounted, you’ve got to expect that your enemies can as well. Paiz told us that players will be encountering ‘Warbands,’ mounted groups of enemies (think about the Warg riders Saruman employs).

The Rohan expansion will also bring along another raising of the level cap, this time to 85. Future content updates are planned that will link up the Rohan expansion to the Rise of Isengard areas, as well as adding in iconic areas like Helm’s Deep.

Turbine’s plans for 2012 are impressive, especially since they’ll be answering a long-time request of players and letting us fight from horseback. As the MMO population of Middle Earth marches on towards Mordor, it sounds like they’ll be making a fairly significant and enjoyable stop in Rohan. I’ll be honest, I can’t wait to see what they do with Helm’s Deep.

Follow Ron on Twitter: @ffronw

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