E3 2012: Exploring the freedom of LotRO's Riders of Rohan

Jeffery Wright
J. Wright|06.07.12

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E3 2012: Exploring the freedom of LotRO's Riders of Rohan
E3 2012 Exploring the freedom of LotRO Riders of Rohan
Saddle up, pard'ners: Riders of Rohan is coming! Lord of the Rings Online's fourth expansion in its full equine glory at this week's E3. At Turbine's booth, we got a first look at the expansion's highly touted mounted combat and were able to ask the crew some of our burning questions about the differences between the editions.

It's apparent that Riders of Rohan has a ton to give LotRO subscribers. Turbine's chosen to release the east side of Rohan first, leaving out the west side for future development. The expansion features customizable mounts, impressive graphical upgrades, a slew of customization options, new NPCs, new content, and even a new orchestral soundtrack.

Without further ado, let's dive in to explore the freedom of Rohan!

E3 2012 Exploring the freedom of LotRO Riders of Rohan
Mounted combat: A first look

The first demonstration was that of the brand-new mount combat. Turbine said that the mounts in the game are fully customizable, and not just by what they wear. Players are given trait points and actions for their mounts, including the ability for a mount to take a mean bite out of an enemy.

There are different configurations you can set for mounts, and you can save presets to keep your configurations. Let's say you want to solo: All you would do is change your mount configuration and save it to a preset slot. Perhaps you find yourself with a party and want to change your options on your mount immediately. You can do so with a simple click of the preset.

Mounted combat appears to be smooth. While not entirely developed at first glance, controlling the mount seemed very responsive and free from restriction. It's important to note that I didn't have a hands-on; I was restricted to watching over the shoulder of a dev. The dev picked out a few enemies and knocked them off skillfully. From what I saw, the mechanics for the system were great.

The beauty of Rohan

What really shined was how the character was able to roam the rolling fields of Rohan freely. Wherever the character walked, grass, weeds, and flowers reacted and gave way. When the character stepped into the Fangorn Forest, the light shining through the trees was very dynamic. It's clear there was a strong graphical upgrade from previous versions.

What really drove the demo home was the level of detail for the world of Rohan. A strong challenge with developing the game was keeping true to the universe and story of the Lord of the Rings. Environments straight from the books were developed with lush detail. Turbine showed me Amon Hen (no, not that one), the location where Frodo and Sam break off from the fellowship by sailing away. From there, the landscape opened up expansively.

Rohan is huge. Players can navigate south from Amon Hen to experience huge pastures, rolling fields, and more. Turning north, player will encounter Orc camps, warbands, and burned villages. Bugs flit freely in the air. A ton of variety has been put into this expansion, and it shows.

Villages are now more alive and have several children and horses as interactive NPCs. Each town has its own sense of architecture and history, with free-flying banners that mark the village's identity.

For fans of the music in the game, Chance Thomas has returned to deliver a full orchestral soundtrack, which will hopefully drive home the sense of place and the history of Rohan. While I wasn't able to experience the new score in the demo, Thomas's previous work should be a testament to how he can compose for the new expansion.

Riders of Rohan is downright impressive. There's enough content in here to keep players engaged with LotRO for quite a long time. The expansion is slated for beta in mid-summer.

LotRO Riders of Rohan
Of course, no interview would be complete without a few questions regarding the expansion pack and its pricing!

Massively: So why is there a significant price increase over last year's Rise of Isengard?

Turbine: This expansion pack is much larger in terms of volume and scope than Isengard. We feel like it's appropriate for the level at which we're bringing it to. There's a significant free portion as always.

Do the heroic edition quest packs come with the legendary edition?

No, the heroic and legendary are definitely different offers.

Why wasn't the sixth inventory bag included with the base and heroic editions?

We just wanted to include it in the legendary edition.

Why not include bonus Turbine Points with these editions?

We feel that with the Turbine Points, well, we were exploring with a new mechanism with these expansion packs, and this is our second expansion after going free-to-play. We'll continue to try new offers and new opportunities, but this is just the way we wanted to do things.

Is the Crystal of Remembrance reusable or is it a one-shot item that only applies to a single LI (Legendary Item)?

Yes, it is a one-shot item.

Thank you for your time!

Massively's on the ground in Los Angeles during the week of June 4-7, bringing you all the best news from E3 2012. We're covering everything from PlanetSide 2 and SWTOR and ArcheAge to RIFT's and LotRO's upcoming expansions, so stay tuned!
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