Thanks to the spanish digital magazine Juegaenred.com, and its english version, Mmoginfo.com, we have this interview to Turbine about LOTRO's expansion, Siege of Mirkwood.
Mmoginfo.com: Let's start with this quote. "As the game expands east of the Misty Mountains, players will face the raging war and shadow that has spread across Middle-earth and the new Skirmish system will thrust players and their soldiers into the War of the Ring". Jeffrey Steefel, Executive Producer of The Lord of the Rings Online.
How would you describe The lord of the Rings Online: Siege of Mirkwood to a new player who hasn't ever hear about "The lord of the Rings" Lore but he wants to join the game? Would you say that the game is oriented to fans of The lord of the Rings only?
Turbine: The Lord of the Rings Online is a game for people who enjoy an engaging story, beautiful environments and deep character customization. Siege of Mirkwood builds on this with our first taste of war in Middle-earth. We have new stories, new challenges and haunting new environments.
Mmoginfo.com: With this new expansion, players are (we are too) excited about the major gameplay enhancements, specially combat system. ¿Can you explain us in general those mayor enhancements?
Turbine: The biggest changes include a fundamental improvement to the pacing of combat. The main change is that auto-attack is now interruptible by skills you execute, causing a much more responsive feel to combat. Along the same lines, we reworked how "immediate" skills work to make them a lot more responsive and fire quicker. We have also normalized all weapons speeds and damage variances which means certain weapon types are no longer inherently better or worse than others (this also has that added benefit that most weapons are faster than they were previously). We've improved skill tool-tips to give you more accurate information. There are also a number of new and revised combat statistics for the player:
• Critical Defence: Help defend against melee, ranged and tactical criticals.
• Outgoing Healing: Increase your outgoing healing from skills.
• Vulnerability: Renamed "Defence", this has been converted to the new ratings system and now it also applies to damage over time skills performed on your character.
• Incoming Healing: This has also been upgraded to the ratings system.
• To handle all these new stats we've updated the Character Panel with lots of new and more detailed information regarding these new combat statistics.
• Healing Rank: A new Legendary Item legacy on the class items for Minstrels, Captains, Loremasters and Runekeepers. Boosts your heals, heals-over-time, power heals and power heals-over-time.
• Tactical Rank: A new Legendary Item legacy on the class items for Minstrels, Loremasters and Runekeepers. Boosts your tactical damage and damage over time.
• Shield Rank: A special bonus for Guardians that affects their shield attacks.
Mmoginfo.com: About combat system enhancements we are intrigated about Auto-attacks. We read on the forum that auto-attacks will not delay firing a skill. What this does mean is that animation have a chance to preempt autoattack anims in such a way as to produce a pop in the anim transition that isn't there right now. ¿Why is this?
Turbine: The real goal is to make combat feel even more responsive. Reactive skills (that you use in response to an opponent) will occur more quickly, while you continue to deal auto-attack damage in the background. As a player you have two options when it comes to handling how the animations work: 1) You can elect to play or not play the optional combat animations and 2) You can choose whether or not to turn on combat animation blending. We are confident that these options will allow players to customize their visual combat experience to their own personal liking.
Mmoginfo.com: Can you tell us what will be the most awesome creature –or thing- that we will found in Dol Guldur, the fortress of the Ringwraith? Would you say that Dol Guldur will be a hard PvE environment?
Turbine: One of the formidable new creatures in Dol Guldur is the Olog-hai. These day-walking trolls have arrived direct from Mordor. As leaders in Sauron's army, they are stronger, smarter, and highly resistant to any form of control or restraint. Don't expect to challenge one alone.
Mmoginfo.com: Would you talk to our readers about your new Skirmishes? We think that it's a nice feature to see it at Lotro. What will skirmishes offer to the players?
Turbine: Skirmishes take LOTRO's existing industry leading story instances and add to them accessibility and replayability, providing a new kind of experience for MMO players:
• Every Skirmish scales in three different directions, group size (solo through raid), level (30 to 70), and difficulty tier. Players are the ones who directly set those three factors on every Skirmish each time they play one.
• Utilizing a new feature called Skirmish Join, players from all over Middle-Earth can come together in Fellowships and instantly play any Skirmish.
• Skirmishes are designed to be completed within twenty to forty minutes, with raids taking about an hour. This allows anyone to jump on during lunch, between quests, or while waiting for friends, and have a meaningful story driven play session that provides concrete advancement and most importantly, fun.
• While playing Skirmishes each player can call upon the aid of one soldier ally. Players can customize their soldiers by selecting and upgrading their behaviors, skills and abilities.
• Every time you play through a skirmish things will change. The enemies you are fighting will be in different locations, use different tactics, be at different strengths and numbers, or be entirely different types of monsters.
Skirmishes build upon the successful story driven experience LOTRO is known for, and through several axis of scaling, instant access from anywhere in the world, bite size play lengths, a customizable and upgradable Soldier Ally, and randomness and unpredictability create a brand new style of instance players of all skill, level, and style can have a fun, rewarding, high quality, enjoyable, Lord of the Rings, gameplay experience.
Mmoginfo.com: Why did you increase the level cap from 50 to 65? What traits, virtues and skill will find the player at the new level cap?
Turbine: We increased the level cap from 60 to 65 to provide players room to grow with the new expansion. There are many ways a character will be able to advance, especially using new Legendary Items. We have improved the overall balance of items and their components, made changes to let you identify the primary abilities of an item earlier, and raised the level cap of the items to 60. This is in addition to a 4th slot for crafted relics and new legendary scrolls.
Mmoginfo.com: Siege of Mirkwood is an expansion pack only to play in group or a solo player can get the same satisfaction?
Turbine: Siege of Mirkwood is accessible to both solo and group play, like all of The Lord of the Rings Online. We work hard to provide a variety of opportunities – you can advance your Legendary Item solo or as a group, take on the challenge of Skirmishes in a range of group sizes (from solo to raid), and follow the Epic story arc as a solo or group player.
Mmoginfo.com: What will we see after Volume II? What it comes after Mines of Moria? Obviously Volume III (I hope).
Turbine: We are already hard at work on Volume III.
Mmoginfo.com: Will we arrive to end Lotro? The Lord of the Rings ends with Frodo destroying the ring of power, but does Lotro have an end?
Turbine: The world of Middle-earth is huge, and we have only begun to scratch the surface. You can expect our story to continue for many years to come.