Developer Turbine has sneakily revealed the first details of its upcoming Book 11 content patch for Lord of the Rings Online.
Big cheese Jeffrey Steefel spilled the beans to TenTonHammer behind closed doors at the recent Leipzig Games Convention, where he revealed we would be treated to housing and huge Balrogs when the new update is released.
Housing will be available for both you and your kinship (guild), and will be split up into four neighbourhoods, one for each race. That means Hobbit dwellings will all sit together in a Shire-like area, for example, which makes sense - you wouldn't expect to see a fancy Elven creation spiralling into your garden's sunlight if you lived there. Would ruin your sunflowers, for starters.
You'll also be able to decorate your place with various knick-knacks bought or collected on your travels, with Steefel reckoning there would probably be somewhere in the hundreds of different items at launch.
Like Book 9 and Book 10, this update will introduce new areas and another overlying story arc, although he was tight-lipped on what it would be.
In Book 11 you'll get to journey below the Ettenmoors and into Ettendeep, a huge expanse of catacombs and caves - one Steefel hinted would pave the way for other massive underground areas. We can't think what that would be Mines of Moria for the life of us.
You'll also see the Misty Mountains open up for exploration, based on content from The Hobbit, albeit in a different time frame. And no, there's no Smaug the nasty dragon from the book just yet, but Steefel did suggest we might see the giant scaly beasts somewhere down the line.
Talking of giant beasties, Steefel then moved onto concept art of a cave troll - towering above its slaver - and a Balrog. Eek. But it isn't the big one we all remember from the film: that tricksy one who couldn't pass so tripped Gandalf up and pulled him off the bridge.
Steefel says that particular beast is still to come, and will be among the biggest and fiercest nasty around, although the handful of Balrogs being popped into Book 11 will all be epic boss encounters in themselves.
And that was that. Book 11 is expected towards the end of the year.
Book 10: City of the Kings went live last week and added a new area to explore and quests to complete, as well as a fancy reputation system and upgrades to the Monster Play player versus player part of the game.
Steefel touched on these at the Games Convention, showing a Dwarf wielding an axe that was too high-level for him, but because he had a high reputation he was able to use it. He also showed the Monster Play, which will let you take on the roll of a mighty Troll or an Aragorn-like ranger to trounce your opponents if you've handed in a certain amount of trophies.
Head over to our Lord of the Rings Online gamepage for much more information, including our thoughts on why it is one of the finest MMORPGs to date.
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