We all know about The Lord of the Rings Online, and we are aware that the newest Expansion releases this fall (Riders of Rohan.) What many forget however, is there will be a massive update coming out sometime between now and RoR: The Shores of the Great River. It has been a while since LotRO has released a quest pack that included a new area instead of an expansion. You have to go back to Enedwaith to see the last one. While Enedwaith was great, it was just one area. The great thing about Enedwaith is that it added quests and plot points to prepare you for Rise of Isengard, The Great River seems to be doing the same for Riders of Rohan.
In total The Great River Region will feature seven “areas” for you to explore: Thinglad, Parth Celebrant, Eorlsmead, Wailing Hills, Limlight Gorge, Brown Lands, and The Rushgore.
Below are excerpts from LotRO’s official release, which you can find here. I have also included my own impression based on the video and the screenshots LotRO provided.
Thinglad – Once part of the Golden Wood, Thinglad has become a no man’s land between Lothlórien and Rohan in the last 200 years.
First Impression – Thinglad has alot of features of Lorien, but the scenery seems darker since the Galadhrim no longer dwell there. It will be interesting to see how they use the tension between the Elves and Men in the region, especially playing on the Rohirrim’s fear of the Golden Wood.
Parth Celebrant – The site of the fiercest fighting during the Battle of the Fields of Celebrant, Parth Celebrant is also the site of a terrible betrayal. Gondorian soldiers allowed their fortress to fall to the enemy in exchange for safety and Eastern riches, condemning their countrymen to death.
First Impression – Parth Celebrant has almost a feel as thought the area is a throw back to Parth Aduial in Evendim. Ruins litter the landscape of this area, and are inhabited by Oathbreakers. Maybe the Oathbreakers that dwell there are the souls of the betraying Gondorians?
Eorlsmead – Established on the highest rise in the rolling plains of Eorlsmead, the Rohirrim village of Stangard keeps its watch over the region. Though many men who serve at Stangard have been sent as punishment for recent, petty crimes, the village remains fiercely loyal to Rohan and Théoden, their king.
First Impression – The area of Eorlsmead looks amazing. Exactly how I would’ve pictured Rohirrim settlements. Be interesting to see how they use this area in particular to set up the entirety of Rohan in the months that follow.
Wailing Hills – The Wailing Hills are defined by the steep, rocky outcroppings, called tors, which stretch out from the Misty Mountains like long fingers. Statues of Cirion of Gondor and Eorl the Young rise from the earth as ancient symbols of friendship but Orcs, growing bolder, have begun to defile them. Hundreds of years ago, the forefathers of Rohan destroyed a great Easterling army in the deep valleys of the Wailing Hills to save the forces of Cirion, Steward of Gondor. The name of the land itself comes from the Rohirric word wael meaning “slaughter.”
First Impression – Another spider infested area, though this one looks great. Hilly outcroppings the River flowing freely throughout. As long as I don’t have to contend with too many spider lairs I will be happy.
Limlight Gorge – Caught between the rugged Misty Mountains and the northern reaches of Fangorn Forest, Limlight Gorge is a dangerous and untamed wilderness. Here, the Limlight River gushes forth over falls and rapids as it flows eastward to join the Anduin. The appearance of the unnatural storms from the North and the encroachment of Fangorn from the South gives the area an uneasy feeling as unseen forces seem to fight for dominance over the canyon.
First Impression – And of course this has the large Arachnid (if you’re keeping score at home: I hate spiders.) The screenshots for this region look amazing though! There are a few shots in particular that make me sit and think “the designers really thought this through.” I’m talking about the shots where you can see the roots of the trees coming out of the side of the hills, because the trees are really old. Ancient, really. The best shots are inside what seems to be the eaves of Fangorn. Cannot wait to see this region in game. (Oh, and in case you were wondering, they have walking trees again…not the Ents but the Huorns.)
Brown Lands – It is believed that the Brown Lands were devastated by the power of Sauron himself nearly 3,000 years ago during the War of the Last Alliance. Before that, many beautiful gardens were tended here though little evidence of them now remains.
First Impression – I have actually been waiting for the Brown Lands since I first started playing LotRO. Having played the Battle for Middle-earth series, I became quite familiar with The Brown Lands, as it is one of the largest maps in that game, and in RTS games I Love larger maps. Kinda sad to see this as an area in another region, but it is understandable at the same time. The Brown Lands are truly the wasteland of eastern Middle-earth. While it does seem reminiscent of the Lone Lands with it’s wide open countryside, the Lone Lands felt just that: Lonely. The emptiness of the Brown Lands truly looks as though it would feel totally empty, but don’t tell that to the Troll wondering the countryside nearby. And what was a leopard doing in that video?
The Rushgore – Within the murky marshland of the Rushgore, ruthless brigands, once only a nuisance, have become a threat to the region. Pursue these brigands to reclaim priceless relics of Rohan and Gondor and extend aid to woodsmen who have found themselves overwhelmed while travelling north and now cannot leave.
First Impression – It’s another bog, but this one does look interesting. There is city and what seemed like ruins in the distance during the video that will definitely be worth exploring.
For more information regarding the new regions, or for some great looking screen shots, check out the page at LotRO’s official release.
Note – All videos courtesy of Lotro.com