Remember the years of the past when we waited well into March or even later for one Lord of the rings online Letter from the producer giving us an outlook for the year? I’m just pointing out that we’re not even done with January before we have a good idea of what’s in store for 2023. And I’m not mad about it at all.
So yes, the roadmap has been released as both a chart and a letter from Orion and overall I’m pretty happy with it. It seems like this format – a letter plus a chart showing the top content drops for each quarter – has become trending among MMOs in recent years beyond Daybreak, and I wholeheartedly agree. With that said, let’s dive into the highlights and my reactions to these revelations.
Conclusion #1: SSG is still holding some of its cards tightly to its chest.
Considering all the follow-up posts the developers had to make on the forums, I think it’s pretty obvious that not everything was crystal clear in that letter. SSG was specific in some details but painted with a broad, vague brush in other areas. Perhaps to save exciting announcements for the future or to give the studio leeway, but I think it needs to be recognized that this letter is only the starting point of the year’s plans, not the whole. I think that’s fine, by the way, but it has to be said.
Takeaway #2: We’re going to Umbar this fall!
OK, I’d like to preface this by saying that if SSG is a bit odd with their wording, we need to be careful not to call this an extension. Part of the letter says we’re looking forward to an “expanded story” with “new biomes,” while another part says Q4 will feature the “next major expansion release.” So I’m not calling it a full expansion (as opposed to a content update or mini-expansion) until the studio has made that clear.
Still, we head south: “There was an overwhelming consensus that we wanted to head south to coasts less traveled. Across the salty sea, beyond the Bay of Belfalas to the coast of the Corsair Kings, Umbar.”
If you’ve never heard of Umbar, join the ignorant club of which I am president. It is a city far to the south of Gondor, lying on the bay of the west coast of the continent. Suffice it to say that the place is absolutely steeped in history and lore, including connections to Sauron, Gondor, Aragorn and the Dúnedain.
That’s cool. I find it quite exciting to travel further south than ever before LOTROand this attitude offers the world builders the opportunity to try something different.
Takeaway #3: A new class is coming!
To be honest, I missed that little detail when I first read the letter. But yes, we will see a new class around the release of Umbar. There’s some heavy speculation that the class will be themed to the area, so maybe our future could see a swashbuckler, a pirate, a reformed corsair, or a landlubber. In any case, as someone who was underwhelmed by the brawler, I am very interested in getting a new class that will make me want to play this great game again.
Also, we get a level cap increase. Level 150, I call it, place your bets now.
Insight #4: Crafts get some love, but is it enough?
I almost never talk about crafting in this area – and for good reason. It’s a system that’s not very compelling in terms of necessity or benefit. Some people like it, but since the craft has been neglected for some time, many have abandoned it.
So it’s good to see SSG putting some love into it, starting with breaking up the “vocational sets” and letting people mix and match their own career choices. And better gear makes more sense.
Adding this on the forums, the studio said: “While not all the details are ready for full reveal just yet, I can say this. The changes will not be extended before the launch of Mordor. We will NOT require a raid to craft top gear.”
Takeaway #5: The Gondor Adventures of Spring sounds interesting
While this was somewhat buried in the letter, management was made aware of it LOTRO plans to release a landscape supplement this spring. “The Q2 update will include the beginnings of post-war Gondor,” confirmed SSG on the forums.
I’m glad that’s the case, because I don’t care about the instance cluster that’s coming soon (and won’t care until this game adds a proper cross-server LFG system), and I don’t want to sit around thumbs rotate until autumn. The studio knows this game has been stagnant at a high level for over a year, so it’s good that Level 140s have a journey ahead of them soon.
Takeaway #6: The studio is making a lot of system adjustments this year
In this letter and in the table there are several mentions of “targeted class updates”, an expanded deepening system and a “power overhaul”. The latter immediately scared some people, until SSG explained that this would only affect dungeons. To be honest, I’m a bit worried too – the specter of resilience and other systems created just to push more gear looms over this title.
I’m also still a bit pissed off about how SSG handled the Minstrel update last year, so forgive me if I’m concerned that the devs will break stuff when they go to classes.
Takeaway #7: There was a lot left unsaid
I don’t expect these kinds of roadmaps to cover 100% of a studio’s projects, vision and goals. But it is inevitable that we will read these and look for what has not been said.
We haven’t heard anything about a possible console version of LOTROEG7 involvement, River Hobbits, a new Hobbit housing development, UI updates, all housing changes, all further business model adjustments, all new legendary worlds and character transfers from dead servers.
After many requests for comment on the performance issues, the studio stated on the forums: “We have spent a great deal of time and energy over the past two years investigating and fixing the causes of the degraded game performance, and that work will continue in 2023 A lot of the work focuses on how the game communicates with itself to become as efficient as possible and improve the various game systems when we can, in cases where older design might not fully consider a game’s impact has entered its 16th year and the multitude of things that would be added to it.”
It’s not the most exciting roadmap I’ve seen, but it’s pretty solid. I like the vision of the story going south as the year progresses, and the new class is certainly the biggest feature hook mentioned. So what do you think of all this?
https://massivelyop.com/2023/01/21/lotro-legendarium-reacting-to-lotros-2023-roadmap/ LOTRO Legendarium: Reacting to LOTRO’s 2023 Roadmap