LotRO’s Riders of Rohan Review: Mounted Combat Done Right
The Immersion Factor Goes To 11
One feature LotRO has always had in spades was the ability to pull you into Tolkien’s world so thoroughly. From Rivendell to Moria and now Rohan, you feel like you are experiencing the world of Middle-earth. And it’s not just meticulously crafted buildings and identifiable people and monsters, but the music score, the armor you wear, and the places not in the books but believably and delightfully brought to life in game. I’m happy to say Turbine raised the bar yet again with the Rohan expansion.
Some of it is the small touches like the torches shaped like horses heads or the petitioners lining up to speak to the Thane. Other times it’s the big events like the town whose residents you get to know before a Nazgul razes it and runs them out. It *feels* like Middle-earth and you are a part of it. And that is one of the truly wonderful features of this game.
The Darkness That Spreads Across The Lands
Not everything is rainbows and Rohan-colored unicorns with the expansion. For starters, it launched without any new dungeons or raids. The promised seven instances are coming soon and those who paid for the expansion will be getting them for free when they roll out. In fact, the first three are arriving just in time for the new Hobbit movie, with the remaining four rolling out, possibly, in February 2013. Better late than never, but even better had they shipped with the expansion. And though seeing Hobbit-themed content is a bonus, we want to see Rohan-themed instanced dungeons as well.
Other missing content expected by longtime fans includes the lack of new Skirmishes. These instanced, scalable encounters have been a big part of the game since they were introduced in the Mirkwood expansion. And they are yet another way to experience key parts of the books that would otherwise not make sense for players to participate in. They also provide repeatable content for level-capped players as well as alternate advancement for others stuck between quest hubs. But they are glaringly absent in the Rohan expansion with no hint that more are in the works.
While I enjoyed mounted combat and its related systems once I got the hang of them, other players are very unhappy being forced to play their characters very differently than they have since launch. As I mentioned above, much of the new content demands you experience it via mounted combat so there isn’t anything you can do to avoid it. And given the overall success of it, you can expect to see more mounted combat content in the future.
The Final Judgment
The value of the unrivaled immersion and engaging mounted combat features in the Riders of Rohan far outweighs the delayed and missing content. One truly feels part of Middle-earth when riding down enemies on horseback, aiding the Horse-lords of Rohan and earning the begrudging trust of the Ents of Fangorn Forest. Not since the Mines of Moria expansion has Turbine so brilliantly brought to life the world of Tolkien’s imagination. I can’t wait to see what awaits us as the story continues to unfold as does our role in it.
- Mounted combat rocks: It presents a dynamic and exciting new way to experience content
- Immersion levels off the charts: The lands of Rohan and its people are finely detailed, making you feel part of Middle-earth
- New features shine: Auto looting without have to dismount is a welcome addition
- The Fellowship returns: Catching up with Frodo and the other eight right before they go their separate ways brings in much needed direct ties to the book and some unexpected humor
- Missing expected content
- Mounted combat changes character playstyle significantly, which may be jarring for some
Final Score: 85/100