The Lord of the Rings Online

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Key events

Turbine, the veteran Boston-based online game developer, has laid off staff for the third year in a row. The Boston-based studio created the well-regarded online role-playing games Dungeons & Dragons Online and The Lord of the Rings Online, but it has suffered since the launch of ill-fated DC Comics MOBA Infinite Crisis, and is now apparently turning its attention to mobile games - although LOTRO and DDO will be kept online.

New Lord of the Rings Online expansion Helm's Deep raises level cap again

Meanwhile, in Middle-earth, The Lord of the Rings Online plods on through J. R. R. Tolkien's great fiction one hairy overgrown foot at a time.

A fifth expansion pack, Helm's Deep, has just been announced for the autumn, and will bring the game's story up to that eponymous battle as well as raise the level cap a further 10 levels to 95.

If you're level 10 or above you can fight for Helm's Deep, but don't forget to look to the East at dawn on the fifth day etc.

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More detail on LOTRO Riders of Rohan expansion

More detail on LOTRO Riders of Rohan expansion

On mounted combat, and when the game ends.

Lord of the Rings Online's autumn expansion Riders of Rohan was announced yesterday, and Eurogamer galloped after developer Turbine to find out more.

The headline feature of LOTRO's biggest ever expansion is mounted combat. Kate Paiz, the game's executive producer, told us more.

These War Steeds will only be available to buy and use in Rohan, and from character level 75. The price of a War Steed is TBD.

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LOTRO expansion Riders of Rohan has mounted combat

LOTRO expansion Riders of Rohan has mounted combat

The Rohan region and a level 85 cap.

A new Riders of Rohan expansion is coming to Lord of the Rings Online this autumn that will raise the level cap to 85 and introduce mounted combat.

You'll be able to customise your War-steed's armour and level its skills.

The story of Riders of Rohan will unsurprisingly concern the Rohirrim, the Plains of Rohan and the breaking of the Fellowship at Amon Hen. You'll be able to make friends with the Ent trees of Fangorn Forest as well as Eomer, the adopted son of Theoden. You'll battle roving Warbands of warg riders who are trying to conquer Theoden's lands.

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Saturday Soapbox: The Scourge of Free to Play*

*A small cover charge may apply.

It was Oblivion's horse armour that set the alarm bells off for me. There was a mixture of amusement and incredulity, which quickly descended into horror as the numbers started rolling in. It was the beginning of a fragmentation from the boxed product you'd scurried away from the shops to greedily indulge yourself in, towards one where a breadcrumb trail of further expenditure lay between you and completion of an adventure.

LOTRO Rise of Isengard expansion date

LOTRO Rise of Isengard expansion date

Level 75! Orthanc! Draigoch raid boss!

Rise of Isengard will be the third full expansion for Turbine MMO The Lord of the Rings Online.

The expansion arrives on 27th September.

Rise of Isengard takes you to the home of wizard Saruman, who betrays the goodies and joins Sauron. You'll go inside Saruman's iconic Orthanc tower. But the press release doesn't mention a battle with Saruman himself.

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Free-to-play LOTRO sees revenues triple

Turbine making Baggins of cash.

Lord of the Rings Online is bringing in three times as much money now that it's free-to-play as it did when users were asked to pay a subscription fee.

LOTRO Isengard expansion unveiled

LOTRO Isengard expansion unveiled

Orthanc: a tower wizard walls.

Earlier this week, Eurogamer revealed that The Lord of the Rings Online will soon take you to Isengard and to a face-off with treacherous wizard Saruman. Today, Turbine and Warner Bros. have officially unveiled new expansion Rise of Isengard.

Rise of Isengard will arrive next autumn and bring with it an increased level cap of 70 as well as a revamp for the PVP Monster Play part of the MMO. And with a nudged-up level cap comes new skills, class quests, traits and virtues.

The story involves leading the Grey Company of Rangers - Aragorn's chums - into Isengard, while picking up any allies who dare to stand against the ferocious army being formed there.

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LOTRO: Confront Saruman next year

"Important revisions" to Monster Play, too.

The Lord of the Rings Online may never get another proper expansion pack, producer Aaron Campbell has told Eurogamer - the free-to-play relaunch has taught Turbine "a lot" about "pacing" of updates. But don't worry - next year's trip to Isengard will be just as good.

The Lord of the Rings Online

Trying recently to explain the appeal of Lord of the Rings Online to an MMO-playing friend of mine, I could only come up with an analogy of flavours. The market leader we all know and love represents an infinitely long conveyor belt, funnelling colour and content down your throat as though they were Kola Kubes while you struggle gleefully to fight off diabetic shock. The Lord of the Rings Online, by contrast, is like a fine cheese: matured to perfection and best savoured with a glass of port in front of a roaring fire on a cold winter's night.

Both experiences are equally enjoyable. But to come from one to the other with anything other than a clean palate and an open mind would be to invite disappointment. Taken at face value, there's an obvious checklist of clichés from the fantasy MMO genre – elves, magic, good and evil – but let's not forget that Tolkien literally wrote the book on these. Rather than endless, earth-shattering action, LOTRO is first and foremost about a story, and it deserves to be judged under a spotlight of its own.

Last week, the game was relaunched in Europe as a free-to-play title, available for all to enjoy, albeit with different grades of membership. Breaking down exactly who is entitled to what based on previous subscriptions and in-game purchases is a little like trying to solve one of those logic puzzles where Billy plays the violin, but only on a Thursday afternoon. For the sake of our collective sanity, far better to point you to Codemasters' FAQ on the membership structure.

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Euro LOTRO free-to-play relaunch dated

Euro LOTRO free-to-play relaunch dated

Next week Samwise to you?

The European free-to-play relaunch of The Lord of the Rings Online will happen on Tuesday, 2nd November, Eurogamer can exclusively reveal.

Mandatory monthly subscriptions will be dropped and replaced by three tiers of membership - VIP (has a monthly fee), Premium and Free - and a LOTRO Store. There you can buy expansion packs, premium add-ons, thousands of convenience items, additional character slots, potions and character customisation options. The LOTRO Store works within the game.

The free-to-play overhaul introduces other new features, too: a new Wardrobe storage system for cosmetic items, an updated character creation system, a revamped new player experience and redesign for the vintage dungeons of the world, which will become not only repeatable, but feature scalable content to keep the challenge fresh.

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LotR Online F2P delay explained

Codemasters: "Launch is imminent."

The delay of the free-to-play Lord of the Rings Online update is down to "contractual issues", publisher Codemasters has confirmed.

LOTRO free-to-play relaunch delayed

The European free-to-play relaunch of The Lord of the Rings Online has been delayed so that Codemasters can better prepare for the anticipated "massive increase" in players.

Book 2: Ride of the Grey Company and the Free to Play Store will now be available "later than expected".

"We are really pleased with the performance of the game and excited about the response to Free to Play from our players," said Rowland. "Given the complexities and challenges faced in the preparation and implementation of the new store to work within our infrastructure, we feel more time is needed to deliver the high level of service our players have quite rightly come to expect.

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The Lord of the Rings Online

Ringing the changes: LOTRO goes free-to-play.

A shadow has fallen across Middle-earth. Reports from the West warn of a gathering horde. As the people of Middle Earth prepare themselves for battle, an army of darkness stands poised to invade....

LOTRO to relaunch as free-to-play

LOTRO to relaunch as free-to-play

Worldwide this autumn, DDO-style.

Warner Bros. has announced that Turbine's The Lord of the Rings Online MMO will relaunch worldwide this autumn as a free-to-play game.

The move will follow the model established by Turbine's successful relaunch of Dungeons & Dragons Online in the US last year, with a large chunk of the game available for free and extra content, items, features and services on sale via an in-game store.

Alternatively, you'll be able to pay a VIP subscription for unlimited access to premium content.

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