Rohan, one of the kingdoms of man and a region that is extremely important in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Since Lord of the Rings Online was first launched way back in 2007 gamers have been eagerly awaiting the eventual expansion into Rohan. People have speculated about what Turbine would do with Rohan, would there be mounted combat? How big would Rohan actually be? Would it take so long for Turbine to create Rohan that the game would be irrelevant by then? Well thanks to a recent tour of the new expansion, guided by Hannah Foell (Associate Producer of Riders of Rohan), I can firmly answer all of the above questions and I think you are going to like the answer.
Going into the tour I was extremely curious about the actual gameplay of the War-Steeds and I had concerns about how user friendly they would be. After all, the War-Steeds are designed to be constantly moving at high rates of speed, all while you battle enemies. So how could this possibly work in an MMO that was originally designed for close range, foot based combat? Luckily Turbine has done several things to make the mounted combat work. The first thing they did was make Rohan’s zones fairly large. If you add up all of the new zones in Rohan it is twice as big as all of Moria. This room allows players to move around and attack enemies, without the fear of constantly running into an invisible wall.
Turbine is also going to introduce a couple of quality of life improvements with mounted combat. The biggest improvement in my mind is the fact that your character will auto loot everything after a mounted kill, this means you don’t have to constantly stop and dismount in order to grab your loot. The next big improvement is the open tapping system. This new system applies to enemies in the field, with open tapping as long as a player gets a hit on an enemy they will receive both XP and quest credit for it, regardless of who attacked the enemy first and if you are grouped up or not. Last but not least many of the mounted quests will automatically pop up in a UI window once you approach the quest area. So no more running back and forth to town in order to pick up quests. If all of these changes seem familiar to you then it probably means that you have played Guild Wars 2. While the developers didn’t say where they got the ideas from, I think it’s a good sign that they are trying to make quality of life improvements that newer games have.
Finishing up the tour I got to explore another new gameplay element in the town of Hytbold. The developers wanted to create new end game content with the solo gamer in mind and they decided that a natural fit would be the rebuilding of a town that has been destroyed by orcs. Upon first entering Hytbold you will be greeted with burnt down buildings and ruined city defenses. It’s then up to the player to accept quests all designed around rebuilding the town. This doesn’t mean that you will be going from spot A to spot B to pick up nails and wood the whole time. The developers assured me that the quests are varied and will take you all over Rohan. The more quests you complete the better the town will start to look and you will also be able to earn Raid level gear. I personally took a look at the Hunter gear and it was impressive, I will take +170 agility as a stat buff all day long. Hytbold will allow players who don’t like to group up or go on long Raid sessions to finally be able to get really good gear.
There is a lot more to talk about and see in Rohan, but the rest of it will have to wait for my full review of the game after it goes live on October 15th. Rest assured from what I’ve seen long time LotRO players will be happy with Riders of Rohan.