The Lord of the Rings Online Update 5 Preview

A few other changes are included in Update 5 as well. Currency has been consolidated. Instead of numerous different tokens, marks, and what not, you’ll now have only four types of currency that isn’t actual money. Marks for Skirmishes, Medallions from Instances and Challenges, Seals from raids, and the seasonal currency from the numerous festivals Turbine puts on each year.

There’s also the instance finder we mentioned earlier. It’s very much a ‘first release’ product at the moment. While you’ll be able to randomly join any instance or skirmish, you won’t be able to select which instance you’re headed to. Campbell was quick to mention that the functionality for specific joins is being worked on, and will be coming in a future update. You can select which role you’ll be filling (Defense, Healer, Support or Damage) and the tool will find players to fill the missing roles. If your group needs only a single player to fill it, it’s a quick way to find someone without resorting to chat channels.

As a bonus for running random instances, players who use the tool will receive a 1.5x multiplier to all currency looted in the instance, as well as a 5% bonus to morale and power while in the instance. It’s a neat little tool that should only get better as Turbine updates and refines it.

Of course, while I had the Turbine guys on the line, I had to ask them about what is basically the biggest news on the MMO landscape right now, the impending release of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Both Campbell and Libby were enthusiastic about the release of SW:TOR, saying that the game “will do huge things bringing more people to the [MMO] space.” More to the point, I asked them what such a major release could do to the number of players in LotRO. Campbell said that large launches have had, “a smaller impact on our activity than expected,” and added that subscription-based MMOs are basically indirect competitors for them now that LotRO has gone free-to-play.

Overall, Update 5 is just about you’d expect if you’re familiar with Turbine’s track record. It’s a solid amount of new content including instances and a new epic book. It also brings new functionality to the game, and refines the systems that players are accustomed to. If you’re a LotRO player, you’re going to enjoy this update. Just try not to kill Saruman, OK? We need him later in the story.

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