So we’ve played the beta, we’ve chatted with the developers a few times, we’ve seen the films and we’ve had our junior-high English teacher read bits of The Hobbit out with a raspy voice and exaggerated hand gestures. But we still don’t know what Angmar is, and we’re still not sure why it’s got shadows. “That’s where the Witch King rises from, the guy who leads the Nazgul,” explains Codemasters’ Ed Blincoe while slapping his forehead. “That’s where he started from - he was doing Sauron’s work from Angmar for quite a long time.”
Perhaps it’s not a huge lapse of Tolkien knowledge on our part, since Angmar is never delved into in any detail in either book or film. Turbine, then, has had the opportunity to use their own imaginations as well as slavishly converting words to worlds from the original texts - seeing as this is an MMO licensed from the books rather than Peter Jackson’s efforts. Staying true to print Tolkien-ana and avoiding the influence of the movies must be pretty tough though surely?
“It isn’t that difficult, in fact it’s easier,” Blincoe tells us. “The movies are very linear, whereas the books themselves are fairly open - certainly more open to interpretation.” True, but even the most hardened of monster-spotters will have it in mind that the Turbine Cave Troll looks more than a little bit like the celluloid one.
The initial release of LOTRO covers spots like Bree, The Shire, Barrow Downs, Angmar and Rivendell. Turbine promises that new content will be pumped in every 6-12 weeks, with expansion packs covering the likes of Gondor, Rohan and Mordor surfacing every nine months or so.