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The Lord of the Rings Online: Siege of Mirkwood

Any hope of them crossing over into the game as a whole? “By restricting the soldiers to the skirmishes, we can craft our skirmishes with more specificity and provide more unique and balanced AI for the soldiers. To put them on landscape would add orders of magnitude to the balance complexity and would, by definition, require us to dumb-down the soldiers’ AI, which we really do not want to do.” And, perhaps, filling the world with military types might spoil that idyllic fantasy that maintains, even in the face of the impending War of the Ring…

Mirkwood itself is a place of foreboding forests – it’s best known from the Hobbit, as a place where Bilbo ran into a bunch of giant spiders. That said, Turbine are steering away from the events and places of the Hobbit, as they want to store that stuff up to coincide with Guillermo del Toro’s 2011 movie.

Instead, the story-arc of Mirkwood has been compared to a sort of D-Day incursion against the Nazgul, culminating in a 12-man raid against one of said Dark Riders atop a hulking Fellbeast. Yep, essentially Mirkwood is Tolkien porn. “The epic story we are exploring and unfolding in the game is intrinsically tied with the War of the Ring and the players’ epic journey as part of that story – this will always be a big focus for us,” says Steefel, epically.

So Mirkwood isn’t a jumping-on point in and of itself, but combined with two years’ of changes, updates and fan-service, it makes for an uncommonly characterful MMO. There’s a reason LotRO has survived – thrived, even – when so many of its peers have opted for harakiri. Still, we really would love to see Lute Hero.

Nov 19, 2009