Gollum will be sneaking his way into LOTRO's Middle Earth, but further details have been kept under wraps so as not to ruin any surprises. Hardcore raiders should also enjoy Book 11's new raid, The Rift. Expect to face a giant Balrog and the game's first flying monsters in this epic new dungeon.
We were particularly impressed with the way the raid has been designed so that monsters drop items which you'll be able to trade with vendor NPCs for the loot that you want for your character. While it doesn't seem like a big deal, it's thinking like this - when it comes to design - that should help eliminate the need for overly elaborate looting rules - like DKP - that almost always lead to in-game drama tantrums. Take a tour through The Rift by clicking here and check it out for yourself.
Above: Here's what Hobbit housing will look like in Book 11's instanced neighborhoods. It's one of the many things you should expect from a service you're paying for
But the biggest new feature to be rolled out with Book 11 will be player housing. The system appears to have found a nice mid-ground between Vanguard's ridiculous requirements for crafting your home from scratch, and EQ2's simplistic instanced dorm room take on player housing.
There will be four Homesteads, with one for the race of Man, the Hobbits, the Elves, and Dwarves. Each homestead will host 250 instanced neighborhoods where you'll eventually purchase your first home. What's most impressive about the neighborhoods is their size, which rivals the game's starting towns in square footage. You can take a tour of the housing here.
It seems like Turbine has got a solid idea of what their fans want from their service, and while Mersky contends that there's no bubble in danger of bursting and that the sky's the limit for the future of online gaming, we still think there's some rough waters ahead for upcoming MMOs.
What do you think? Is the sky the limit for this massively multiplayer genre that seems to be bursting at the seams? Do you play and pay for more than one MMO? Have you bounced back and forth between multiple MMOs? Do you like titles that are free-to-play with micro transactions better than blockbuster monthly fee charging giants? Visit our forums and share a piece of your mind.