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Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria details

8:44 PM on 08.15.2008 // Brad Nicholson

The first thing that Adam Mersky, Director of Communications at Turbine told me was, “Nobody delivers as much content as Turbine.” Over the course of Gen Con 2008, I’ve learned that may be completely true. Turbine has the excellent habit of never neglecting its fans, even if the game is nine years and has already been updated one hundred times. The idea behind this is one of fan loyalty and a sense of duty.

One game Mersky really takes pride in is Lord of the Rings Online and its upcoming expansion called “Mines of Moria.” The expansion was originally unveiled at Connect ’08 in March, but development on it keeps rolling. The new ideas being introduced, and the epic dungeon of Moria is sounding pretty good. As a Tolkien fan, I have to say I was highly impressed by Turbine’s offering. Their commitment to the fiction of Lord of the Rings seems as true as their commitment to continually updating their material.

Hit the break to learn more about the Mines of Moria expansion.

Lord of the Rings Online has always been about the authentic recreation of not only the framework of the orginal trilogy, but the culture and subtext included as well. A good indication of Turbine’s dedication to this effect is that several staff members have the ability to read and write in Elvish. The Mines of Moria expansion will be no different. As Mersky informed me at the event, there’s pressure at Turbine to make sure that everything translated to the game is as authentic as possible.

In the Fellowship of the Ring, the Mines of Moria were almost a rite of passage for both the Hobbits and the rest of the fellowship. The trials and tribulations encountered on that specific segment of the journey forged trust and cooperation between the members of the group. Even the seemingly untimely demise of Gandalf had its glorious repercussions for Sauron and his evil. Lord of the Rings Online players will be able to walk in the shadows of the fellowship’s descent and eventual escape from the ancient Dwarven stronghold. When I was told it was going to be after the fact, I was a bit in shock. The marketing device for the expansion is an image of the Balrog. My fears were somewhat assuaged after I asked about the possible omission of the Balrog when Mersky stated that Turbine will indeed have a “very cool way to experience the Balrog.”

[video]99841:165[/video]

Visually, the Mines of Moria are aimed to please the eye. The new dramatic lighting system will make every nook and cranny as ominous as Tolkien wished them to be. The dungeon itself will be a massive construct, and described as “robust.” New technology will make the entire dungeon completely seamless and continuous, with zero loading screens. The technology is called “dual-height mapping,” and essentially, it creates landscape underground. It’s essentially inverting mountains and making them ceilings in the Mines of Moria.

Another cool feature of the expansion is the new ability for players to forge “Legendary Items.” Legendary items are weapons, and class-related equipment players will be able to imbue and grind with the hopes of creating a weapon that will rival the legacy of Bilbo’s Sting. The hope is that this system will eventually replace the need for players to endlessly grind for weaponry and equipment. In addition to Legendary Items, two new classes will be introduced, and the level cap will be raised to 60.

The expansion wasn’t playable at Gen Con this year, but it will be available for the first time at PAX in a few weeks. Personally, I’m not the biggest MMO fan on the planet, but I was really impressed with what I saw and was told. The dedication to Lord of the Rings Online is superb, and I’m welcoming Mines of Moria with excessively open arms.



Brad Nicholson,
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