More postcards from Mordor than yer can shake a stick at!
The beta of update 21 of Lord of the Rings Online was released on the Bullroarer test server last week, and it is live this weekend too. Finally we’re entering Mordor!
Below are the placeholder maps of the new areas and tons of screenshots. This is pretty much a sightseeing post looking at the new landscapes, without any discussion about quests, leveling, armour, crafting or any other game mechanics. It does have a quick spoilery version of the intro quest for the new High Elf race, though.
The usual disclaimer: If you want a pristine game experience with no ruined surprises about the new regions, you should probably stop reading now, if not before! The High Elf part is particularly spoilery. You have been warned!
You can see larger versions of pictures by clicking on them. If you want more details, you can find the latest patch notes on Standing Stone’s Bullroarer forums.
Updated 18 July with finished maps.
Currently, the Mordor map on Bullroarer covers the plateau of Gorgoroth, with five sub-maps and one inside map of the fortress Nargroth.
The main map of the plateau of Gorgoroth.
Udûn, the entryway behind the Black Gate, that holds great forges, quarries, and parade grounds of Mordor.
Lhingris, west of the Morgai ridge, home to Cirith Ungol.
Dor Amarth, the rocky plain holding the broken bones of Barad-dûr, Sauron’s massive tower.
Agarnaith, a valley southeast of Barad-dûr with a dense, pestilent, and bloody swampland.
Talath Urui, located south of Mount Doom, home to key fortresses, prisons, and military establishments.
Orodruin, aka. Mount Doom.
Sammath Naur, the chamber within Mount Doom where Sauron forged the One Ring.
Pictures of Mordor
Below are some pictures from my sightseeing round of the new lands. One thing to note is that we enter Mordor after the battle of the Black Gate and the destruction of the One Ring. If you had hoped to raid Barad-dûr and defeat Sauron yourself and get all his phat loot, you’ll be sorely disappointed. However, there are ways into parts of his old tower still, see below.
The Black Gate, broken after the battle.
Passing through the Black Gate.
New ore! I know a bounder who’ll be very happy with this.
Nothing as smug as a placeholder slug.
There are lots of fortresses and towers on the hillsides of Udûn.
An evil-looking statue on the slopes of Orodruin/Mount Doom.
More statues. The Mordor Ministry of Arts must have been a busy place.
In the distance, the smoldering ruins of Barad-dûr.
A closer look at the Barad-dûr ruins.
Closer still! There has been a lot of debate over the size of the in-game version of Barad-dûr, and many feel it is a bit on the tiny side. I can understand that. On the other hand, given the lag-fest that Minas Tirith still induces in the game, I am somewhat thankful that there has been a bit of restrain shown by the Standing Stone designers.
Hey, is that a door into Barad-dûr? It is! Does it open? It does! Should I go in? I should!
Ah, every evil fortress needs a quality dungeon.
Sometimes, I show the good sense to run away from danger. Not always, but…
Riding away from the evil pile of rubble.
Arganaith is home to bloody swamps. The slugs should be a sight.
View of Mount Doom, from the western side.
Torech Ungol. It is almost like this place is home to some sort of huge web-spinning thing.
A closer look at Cirith Ungol.
Spawn of Ungoliant in the distance. Let’s just say that people who have a dislike of spiders might struggle in some parts of Mordor.
This cheerful place is called Fennas Gost. If my Sindarin serves me right, that means something like “Doorway of Dread”. Groovy.
High Elves and low storytelling, oh my
So, the Mordor expansion introduces a new race to the game: The High Elf. This choice has been extensively debated on the forums, given that the High Elves had their heyday back in the First and Second Age, were super-duper-strong and that most elves are about to leave Middle-Earth when LOTRO happens. So how could Standing Stone conceivably add this race to the game, without ending up with overpowered beasts completely out of tune with all the other characters running around?
Well, they came up with a solution. One that was somewhat predictable, but it didn’t stop me from rolling on the floor laughing over the sheer inanity of it. Read on if you want it spoiled (or have seen it already).
The High Elf intro takes place in Dagorlad, during the War of the Last Alliance, at the end of the Second Age. As you can see by the screenshot above, there is an awesome collection of famous characters running around you during the intro.
Lords of the Nazgûl don’t deserve my respect, naw, and I won’t surrender, naw.
Perhaps the most awesome power of the old High Elves were related to their dance moves. I bet their /dance1 will be spammed continuously at social events once the Mordor expansion is released.
I just need to dance a bit more before running into the field and saving all my comrades. It is really tempting to keep it up too, since all I wear are these pyjamas-looking clothes, while all the others run around in rather dashing armour.
Seriously, this dance move is truly grand.
After half an hour of battles and running back and forth, you catch up with the Lord of the Nazgûl again. He’s actually named “The Witch-King” in game. My lore memory is hazy, but didn’t he get this title several hundreds of years later, when he started making merry mischief up in Angmar?
No matter, even your dance moves won’t save you now. He stabs you a few dozen times. Cue fade-out for you, before the real battle with Sauron starts…
… and you wake up in Rivendell.
When? 3018 years later. You basically SLEPT THROUGH THE ENTIRE THIRD AGE. Conveniently waking up just before it is time to go battle Sauron again. I guess sleeping for 3000 years takes its toll too, because you lost all of your wicked super-duper morale pool in the process, ending up at level 5.
Of course, all your other High Elf friends have left Middle Earth already, and the rest of the elves are about to high-tail across the water just about now too. So what happens with you? You’re shipped off to Celondim, where the intro ends and the game starts proper. The summer festival is on, there are wargs to slay, and surely there are spoiled pies to deliver in the Shire.
But that /dance1 move is truly overpowered. PS. you can see it performed here.
Ahhh, it never occurred to me about dance moves! But presumably these are specific to High Elf?
Can’t recall having seen this on any other races, but then again: I more or less only play hobbits.
It is straight out of ballet class.
Yes, Nimelia will be a very happy bounder. Does this mean that Nimelia will need more Honey Cakes in her larder? No Lina, yer memory is not hazy at all.