There's nothing quite like getting together with a group of friends and challenging yourself to work your way through an instance. Feeling like you're working together with your friends and defeating a difficult foe, and being rewarded well for your efforts, are some of the best experiences you can have in an MMO. Well, this is something we've been looking to enhance in LOTRO and in Book 14 you'll be seeing some significant updates to a number of our high end instances. I'll break down a few of them to give you an idea of what is coming your way.
Angmar has 3 main instances: Urugarth, Carn Dûm and Barad Gúlaran. While they are set in some awesome spaces, they have suffered from some problems, both in balance and rewards. We've tried to address some of these issues in Book 14.
A New Armour Set
The most significant change to these instances in Book 14 is the addition of a new Angmar armour set. This set comes in the standard flavors of light, medium and heavy, and can be acquired through defeating bosses in these instances. The acquisition of these armour pieces follows a pattern similar to Annúminas, although the number of smaller barter items needed to purchase a piece is much smaller. For all you number crunchers, here are some screenshots of the new sets for you to enjoy:
Angmar Armor - Light
Angmar Armor - Medium
Angmar Armor - Heavy
We've also made a few tweaks to flow and balance in the Angmar instances. We won't give all the details here, so consider these only a taste of what's to come!
The overall flow of Urugarth has not changed, but we have revised some of the fights there, such as the Gruglok arena fight and Lhugrien's battle. We have also tried to better convey what is going on with burning the various totems in the instance, so how that affects the final fight is better explained.
Of the Angmar instances, Carn Dûm has seen the most significant. One of these is the addition of a new bridge that leads into the "city" section of the space. If you have the proper keys, you will no longer have to go down into the pits to enter the city and castle of the Witch-king. In addition, we have reworked the Helchgam fight to be more fun. Helchgam will no longer heal while you try to bring a pillar down - but he will pull down pillars a lot more frequently.
We felt the Barad Gúlaran space was pretty good, especially after we removed the puzzle section of the Castellan fight. The final fight with the Rogmul still represents the hardest fight in Angmar, so why change perfection?
Over the past few updates, Annúminas has received a number of changes, and more are coming in Book 14. Some of them are pretty substantial.
We feel the instances represent the hardest 6-man content in LOTRO, but didn't feel the armour matched that difficulty. To address this, we've bumped the armour up to make it much more desirable, and again for you number crunchers, the updated armour stats can be found below. Note that the Light and Medium Armour sets have a new helm piece that you can purchase. This gives you more flexibility in what armour pieces you use to get your set bonuses.
Annúminas Armour - Light
Annúminas Armour - Medium
Annúminas Armour - Heavy
We also felt the difficulty of the instances didn't match our intended progression. We had always intended that Glinghant, the Gardens, be the easiest, Valandil's Tomb next in difficulty, and Ost Elendil, the Palace, the most challenging. Instead, it felt like the Tomb was very hard, the Palace was uneven, and the Gardens were harder than they should be. We've tried to address these issues in Book 14.
The flow through the space remains the same, but we've added some additional feedback for when you have successfully used the levers to open the doors and when you have not.
The first leg of this instance has seen some significant rework. Overall we have reduced the number of monsters in the lower portion of the tomb, as we felt this took far too long to get through and wasn't very rewarding. We have also introduced new "gimmicks" into the 6 smaller sub-tombs and have worked on providing better feedback about which sub-tombs you have completed and those you still need to conquer. Finally, we have changed the Limrafn so they no longer respawn, as this seemed unnecessarily annoying.
We have done some significant reworking of the first portion of this instance, all with an eye toward better conveying the light dynamic used in this instance. The light-sensitive monsters will now play FX when they are being affected by the light, so you'll have a better idea of who is weakened and who is not. In addition, we have reworked the Guloth fight to be more of a challenge. In comparison to Shingrinder, Guloth was a pushover. Hopefully that is no longer the case!
We haven't made any significant gameplay changes to Helegrod, but we have updated how you acquire the Helegrod armour.
Instead of the various armour pieces dropping from inside the instance, the raid will now use barter items, similar to those found in the Rift. This barter item can be used to exchange for the Class armour piece of your choice from armour traders in Rivendell. Since the Helegrod armour has always been "Bind on Equip," we have not flagged these barter items to be bound to the player in anyway. This means you could possibly sell your barter item on the auction house, if you so desire, or give it to a friend or kinmate. Due to these changes, we have pulled the Helegrod armour pieces from any other treasure sources. The only source for Helegrod armour will be Helegrod.
In addition to these changes, we've updated some of the other trophies that are found in the raid. These trophies, which were previously only used for the quests, can now be traded for consumables with a trader in Rivendell.
While certainly not as challenging as some of our other content, the various Epic instances have suffered for some time from not having any incentive to play them again. How many times have you seen someone looking for a Book 4 group? Well to provide some incentive to replay these instances, we are introducing a series of repeatable quests that direct you into those instances. Players who have never done a particular instance before will be able to group up with those who have and both will be rewarded.
These quests will reward you with a barter item, and with stacks of these items, you can purchase rewards, like consumables, crafting resources, on up to beryl shards and armour pieces from Angmar, Annúminas or Helegrod. These quests, though, are on a weekly timer, so you will only be able to get a limited number of these a week. In addition you will only be able to get one of the armour pieces once a month, so our instance content won't be completely negated by these quests.
Only a limited number of Epic instances will have these repeatable quests. When Book 14 launches, the following instances will be supported:
To receive these quests, you will need to speak to a "Sage of Eriador," who will be found next to the reflecting pool where these instances are found.
Finally, we've done a pass to give most of the instances a few deeds specific to them, like Exploration and Slayer deeds. There are also a few hidden deeds... but we'll leave those up to you to discover!
We hope you like the changes, and we'll see you in Book 14!