Jeffrey Steefel, Executive Producer of LotRO, was interviewed at PAX by TenTonHammer regarding newly announced expansion, Siege of Mirkwood. Watching the full video of the interview yesterday, I picked out that the expansion will add the following end-game instances:
2 x 3-man instances
1 x 6-man instance
1 x 12-man instance (Dol Guldur)
In case you aren’t aware, that’s exactly the same amount of instance content that was added in Book 8 – a free update, no less. In contrast, Moria launched with 7 x 6-man instances and a lair raid.
So what’s the deal? Is this what end-game will look like for several months, at least until Volume 3: Book 1 is released next year?
Well, we need to discard our usual conception of an expansion that invalidates previous end-game content. Siege of Mirkwood includes Book 9, the conclusion to the Volume 2 epic story, and players should progress naturally from Moria content to Mirkwood content. Those interested in raiding aren’t going to be able to skip the Moria content, and the reason for that is our old friend radiance. To paraphrase Jeffrey Steefel, Dol Guldur is going to require ‘tons and tons of radiance’. If you want to raid Dol Guldur, you’re going to need to acquaint/reacquaint yourself with the radiance treadmill.
All isn’t all dread and gloom, however. Instead of Moria’s 10 levels, the level-cap is only increasing by 5 this time around. This will make Moria’s end-game instances significantly easier, but it isn’t enough to trivialise them completely. Those that have found one or more of the hard-modes too challenging will now find them much more forgiving. The Watcher will now be manageable by pugs and casual raiders, at least with a bit of persistence. Additionally, the prospective changes to radiance gear bartering should further facilitate acquisition.
In consequence, Dar Narbugud will likely become almost as accessible as The Rift was back in the day, and those extra 5 levels will allow the vast majority of players to make good progress there. In a likely scenario, Dol Guldur might require something like 100 base radiance, and this should now be a pretty realistic goal for those that can raid a couple of nights a week. 3 or 4 pieces of DN +20 gear, the rest +10 or +15 pieces, and the requirement will be met. In the worst case scenario, it might be necessary to obtain a full DN set, but I believe this is extremely unlikely.
So what can we expect from the new instances?
Jeffrey Steefel demonstrates a little of the Dol Guldur instance during the interview. He mentions that it is a multi-boss raid, and going by former precedent, we might assume this means it will include 6 bosses – enough to provide barter items for a full armour set. Dol Guldur, being a former stronghold of Sauron with a rich history in the lore, certainly deserves an epic instance of this magnitude.
On the other hand, multi-boss raids take a considerable chunk of development time to put together, and Dar Narbugud was only released a couple of months ago. Have Turbine had enough time to produce another substantial 6-boss raid instance so soon? Isn’t it more likely that the raid will only include 2 or 3 bosses? Without any other information to go on, and since Dar Narbugud was originally scheduled for Book 7, I’m going to assume that Dol Guldur has been in development for quite a while, and will indeed be a full multi-boss raid.
The other new instances we know even less about, but it would probably be safe to assume that they share a little in common with the similar ‘cluster’ added in Book 8. That is, the 3-mans will be interesting and challenging, probably designed to take about 30-60 minutes, and the 6-man will take about an hour and contain a few challenging bosses. I’d love to see a huge Carn-Dum like affair for the 6-man, but alas, I think it unlikely.
Loot wise, I wouldn’t be surprised if these instances provided (via bartering) +15 radiance pieces to complement those obtained from the Book 8 cluster, cumulating in 90 radiance for a full set. This would sound the death knell for the original Moria 6-mans, however, so we’ll see.