The Lord of the Rings Online Update 5 Preview

Ever since the release of The Lord of the Rings Online: Rise of Isengard expansion, we’ve been hearing bit of information about what would be included in the next update, Update 5. Recently, we got a chance to sit down and take a look at the new update through an in-game preview. Here’s what we learned.

We jumped into the game alongside Producer Aaron Campbell and Jeff Libby, who’s responsible for the game’s epic story. Turbine is adding an instance finder in this update, but Libby’s presence should give you an idea what Update 5 is really all about: story, story, story.

LotRO players have been riding the road to Isengard since the expansion released, and now they’re going to meet up with Theodred, son of Theoden. The Rangers of the Grey Company are continuing on their path to meet up with Aragorn, so the players will be taking their talents to the war against Saruman.

Upon parting from the Grey Company, you’ll receive your choice of a Grey Company or classic Ranger outfit, and then you’ll head to the Ford of Isen to lend Theodred a hand. Unfortunately for him, you’re arriving on what will turn out to be the longest day of his life, at least according to Libby.

We ran through a quest involving holding back marauding orcs. While we were accomplishing specific goals, a battle raged around us. These scenes felt larger and more involved than almost anything Turbine has offered up so far, and the biggest contributing factor to this was not just the amount of fighting going on around us. We weren’t directly involved in that, but occasionally an orc would break from the pack and jump into battle with us, making the battle seem much more alive (and more dangerous).

The new Epic Book, Prince of Rohan, isn’t all that is coming in this update. There are also five new instances, all of them based in the game’s lore. Libby emphasized the care that Turbine takes to tie everything in the game to Tolkien’s stories, and explained that this set of instances is based around a single line from the LotR stories, where Saruman refers to himself as “Saruman, Ring-Maker.”

As the story goes, Saruman crafted a ring for himself, and several for his lieutenants, just as Sauron did. The players are tasked to gather the rings from the lieutenants, and break the power of Saruman’s ring by facing the wizard himself. They’ll do this in three 3-player instances (Dargnakh Unleashed, Pits of Isengard, and Fangorn’s Edge), one 6-player instance (The Foundry) and one 12-man raid (Tower of Orthanc). Obviously, you’ll be facing Saruman in the raid.

The fact that Turbine has crafted a story behind these instances embodies the philosophy behind LotRO, which Libby says is very simple. “Story comes first.” Even if the tie-in to tthe lore is small, as in this case, the team works hard to make sure the things that are happening in the game conform to the stories that are so familiar to the players.

During our walkthrough, we jumped into Fangorn’s Edge to see what the team has in store for players. As the name implies, we were on the outskirts of Fangorn Forest. As Saruman’s orcs and trolls marched into and out of the wood, we were scurrying between them, trying to avoid notice (here’s a tip I’ll give you for free – DO NOT antagonize the trolls). As we went back and forth, we found groups of orcs attacking the Huorns of the forest, and we had to prevent them from destroying these ancient trees. Once we reached the end of the instance, we began fighting the boss, had Ents come to our aid, and then faced off against an even more dangerous foe. I don’t want to spoil it for you, so we’ll leave that description at that.

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