After new screenshots of the upcoming "Echoes of the Dead" update, Turbine has released new Dev Diary about Evendim revamp. This revamp focus on tightening up the flow of the level 30-40 experience and ensuring that enough content was present to move players through those levels.
These goals involved:
- Create enough solo quest content to allow players the ability to level from 30 to 40 within Evendim
- Tighten the overall level range to improve the flow and the area’s play experience
- Increase quest quantity and density
- Raise the quality of quests throughout Evendim to meet current standards
- Revamp quest rewards to allow for meaningful moments in gear advancement
- Provide quality instance content sooner and reduce the glut of instances that open at 50 (LOTRO’s original level cap)
After we completed our revamp of the Lone-lands, we wanted to know where our game was thin and in need of attention. We data mined our quests, focusing on their level ranges, distribution, quest type and experience offered to find any gaps in our content. The 30s stood out pretty dramatically to us as being a place where some time and attention would benefit the game. Evendim was selected because it already covered this level band and was in pretty solid shape. It needed a boatload more quests (see what I did there?) but not a ton of world-building work or extra resources.
Story and Setup
Our theme for Evendim is reclamation. Evendim was the former home of the northern kingdom of Arnor, but it has since fallen into ruin, left to be picked apart by tomb-robbers and the encroaching wild. Additionally, the forces of Angmar have taken over Annuminas for reasons unclear. While the Rangers were able to deal with the tomb-robbers, the addition of Angmar in Annuminas has spread their forces thin and they are now losing on every front.
We’ve significantly tightened up the level range in Evendim. Instead of going from 27 to 50 it now goes from 30 to 40. We’ve also added two new hubs at the Colossus and in the Way of Kings.
|Hub||New Level||Old Level|
|Way of Kings||37-38||N/A|
The instances have had their starting level lowered to 40 to match the new level of the surrounding landscape. The epic that takes place here remains level 50, and should work entirely as a level 50 experience as it uses many instances and unique mobs.
Additionally, the region’s quest content has been dramatically increased thanks to this revamp. We’ve added over 100 new quests, pushing the region total over 200!
Oatbarton covers levels 30 to 31. The questline focuses on a new area of landscape: a level 30 public copy of Northcotton Farm. The hobbits are preparing for their annual Farmer's Market and they desperately need help with the preparations.
Dwaling covers levels 31 to 32. The Dwaling hub focuses on the small hobbit village that has been taken over by brigands while a goblin threat looms in the south. In the meantime, the hobbits of Dwaling have an affinity for glass-making.
The Colossus of Evendim
Colossus covers levels 32 to 33. The Colossus is a new hub that has several questlines dealing with Barad Tharsir and the Colossus itself.
Tinnudir covers levels 33 to 34. Tinnudir focuses on the four ruined estates to the east in the Twilight Hills and also on the ruins of Ost Heryn.
Ost Forod covers levels 35 to 36. Ost Forod focuses on rebuilding the relationship between the Rangers and the men living there. It completes the tomb robbers part of the reclamation-themed story arc.
Eavespires covers levels 36 to 37. The Eavespire is home to an Ent and two Elves. The Guaradan mobs are introduced here, while impressive camps of giants and wood trolls loom nearby. The giants and wood trolls have become signature instead of elite, so this area transitions from requiring a small fellowship to being solo-friendly (though challenging).
The Way of Kings
Way of Kings covers levels 37 to 38. Way of Kings is a new hub that focuses on preserving the tombs of the kingdom’s ancient leaders from the numerous threats they face.
Echad Garthadir covers levels 38 to 40. Echad Garthadir focuses on combating the Angmarim forces in Annuminas itself. Annuminas has had its level reduced from 50 to 38-40, and the monsters have been updated to make this a dense, challenging solo area. The story here focuses on helping a Ranger to explore the ruins and complete several tasks.
Annuminas Control Points
These were changed in book 2 to no longer gate the instances, and thus did not have much value. With the revamp we're going to be making some small tweaks to them. Instead of being attacked every eight hours, they'll now be assaulted every 45 minutes or so. If all three are in the control of the players, all players in Evendim will receive a bonus on all rep earned from monster kills.
New Quest Delivery Mechanics
We’re trying out two new ways of bestowing quests and advancing the story in Evendim, both of which involve the ability to advance your quest line in the field without returning to the hub. The benefits of these methods are that you get to stay in the field, pushing the story and action forward in a more dynamic fashion.
The first of these new quests takes place in Tinnudir, where one of the Rangers will give you a quest and a journal. Reading the journal will bestow a new quest. Once you’ve completed that quest you’ll be prompted to read the journal again and receive the next quest in the chain. As you progress through the locations talked about in the journal, you’ll find items and objects that will bestow additional discovered quests. Once you’ve finished the journal, you then return to the initial Ranger and complete the arc, along with your discovered quests.
The second takes place within Annúminas at Echad Garthadir. There, one of the Rangers will ask you to aid another Ranger, and will present you with a smoke signal with which to call the latter. When you do, the Ranger will appear as your ally and follow you throughout the ruins, aiding you as you fight the forces of Angmar. If you leave Annúminas, he will retreat and you will not be able to call him back until you return to the city. In addition to following you and fighting for you, he will start off with 2 quests available for you to do. As you explore the ruins and come to locations he finds interesting, he will have more quests for you. There are over a dozen quests to discover in this fashion.
For the rewards portion of our developer diary, I turn you over to 7ofSwords, who will explain how he’s updated the region’s rewards.
With JWB working on such a large revamp, I thought it was appropriate to begin a significant overhaul of the rewards as well. In the end, Evendim plays a little differently than many of our previous regions Thanks to JWB’s tireless efforts and a few changes made to the region’s reward structure.
To describe the below very briefly: Our intent was to have the player feel like they are progressing on multiple fronts via quest rewards, barter rewards, and reputation rewards. Evendim utilizes all of these systems in tandem to provide a player with a full set of equipment tailored to their class.
1. What happened to all my quest rewards?
Inventory space is always at a premium in LOTRO and we recognize that players aren't likely to use every piece of uncommon quest gear that drops from a quest. Selling quest rewards that you can't use is an effective way to earn additional silver, and I considered that throughout this revamp. It seems easier to me to simply provide a little more currency in the quest rewards to make up the difference, that way quest rewards feel special.
I also feel that it's usually disappointing to see a series of rewards that either your class cannot use or simply aren't as good as what you've already got equipped. I decided to focus on advancement moments, essentially distilling rewards in the zone down to specific upgrade points. Now, each time a quest rewards you with loot we’ve made sure that there is always something for your class.
That's right: every class in the game has a full set of gear available to them in Evendim! The downside of this is that a player might feel as though they're on a linear track for gear progression. Burglars cannot equip champion swords and captains can't equip guardian armor – this is intended. While the effect might feel a bit stifling for veteran players, I wanted to ensure that newer players were receiving stats that were appropriate to their class. Nothing makes me sadder than seeing level 40 characters getting destroyed by Morrovail near the Angmar Earthkin camp.
Plenty of other equipment options exist through crafting, the auction hall and skirmish rewards.
2. Barter tokens and Reputation Grinds? I've seen these before!
In Evendim we've adopted a barter system. For players who have completed the Mirkwood content you'll see some similarities and some differences.
Firstly, barter tokens are rewards for every quest in Evendim, except for the Dwaling and Oatbarton content. These are the homes of Hobbits, and they deal very little with the Rangers that dwell beside the lake. Those hubs instead provide other, more shire-centric rewards. Barter tokens can be used at vendors in each of the Evendim hubs from the Colossus on.
Secondly, unlike Mirkwood, the barter rewards do not require specific reputation levels to utilize. As long as you have the tokens and are of the appropriate level you may purchase and equip the gear.
Reputation works much in the way that we've come to understand it, though we've rebalanced the Wardens of Annúminas reputation to progress rather rapidly alongside the player's progress throughout the zone. This is a level-up zone; we don't want a level 40 player to feel that they need to stick around in a zone in order to hit kindred in a faction instead of moving on and enjoying new content.
A number of important upgrades arrive via this reputation system, including a pair of neat capstone items for players as they've reached kindred status.
We feel these changes are going to make Evendim feel quite unique and be a better, more fun, more rewarding play experience than before. We hope you enjoy it and look forward to seeing you wherever the revamp tour stops next!