The Anduin is sure big if it fits whales.
Updated May 14
Round 2 of the U24 beta is now live on Bullroarer. As usual, you can see updated patch notes on the SSG LOTRO forums.
Among the changes I noticed were:
- Plugins are now supported in the 64-bit client (although the patch notes say they aren’t). I tested a few plugins, and they all seemed to work fine: SongbookBB, Babble, Poetical, Travel Window, etc. That’s good news for many players.
- The virtue update has been implemented, but I haven’t had the chance to look too closely at it. There is a fair bit of discussion about it on the official forums, though, so have a look there.
- You can now enter the interior of Grimbeorn’s lodge, see screenshots below. This is a nice touch, although I didn’t see any pony, dog or sheep servants.
Interor of the lodge, as seen when you enter, towards the right side.
Another view from the entrance, but to the left side of the room
View from the opposite side of the room. Nice throne!
A hobbit enjoys a meal in the lodge again. Must be the second time this has happened.
Original article, from May 1:
LOTRO’s Update 24 was released on the beta test server Bullroarer yesterday. Here we visit the Vales of Anduin, a fertile area between the Misty Mountains and Mirkwood. Of notable interest:
- This is a former homeland of hobbits, where they lived until they headed west over the Misty Mountains and eventually ended up in the Shire.
- Before the War of the Ring, the area was mostly deserted but for the the beornings and woodmen living near Mirkwood.
- Rhosgobel is also in the area, where Radagast the Brown lived for a long time.
Below are lots of screenshots from the new area. This is pretty much a sightseeing post looking at the new landscapes, without much discussion about quests, leveling, armour, crafting or any other game mechanics. I’ll mention some of the new stuff, though.
The usual disclaimer: If you want a pristine game experience and go into the new regions without knowing much about them, you should probably stop reading now. I have zipped across a lot of the new areas here. There are lots of spoilers. 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.
From the patch notes:
Update 24 brings you to the Vales of Anduin, where the Great River courses down through Wilderland to the shores of Lothlórien. Help the Woodmen defend their lands from the goblins and wargs of the Misty Mountains. Delve into the region’s fabled past, when it was home to Dwarves, Elves, and the ancestors of the hobbits and Rohirrim. Seek the aid of the Beornings and Great Eagles – as well as a certain Brown Wizard of some repute. But beware: foul things still roam the woods and marshes, some drawn by the legacy of the One Ring, which lay long hidden near the Anduin’s banks.
Update 24 is Free to VIP players and Lifetime Subscribers, and available in the LOTRO Store.
Here is the map of the new area:
The new area is connected to many existing LOTRO areas: The Misty Mountains, Lothlorien and Eryn Lasgalen.
The Misty Mountains entrance is through a portal in the Northern High Pass.
From Lothlorien, you enter the area through a narrow path in the NE of the woods.
From Eryn Lasgalen/Northern Mirkwood, you enter through the previously closed Forest Gate far west in the woods.
This is the first chance most of us have to test the new, long-awaited 64-bit client for LOTRO. You can enable the test client under “options” in your launcher.
From the patch notes:
Today’s Bullroarer preview includes our first public look at the 64-Bit game client we are working on. You can choose which client you wish to run in the launcher settings. NOTE: The 64-bit client uses a separate file to keep client settings between the 32 and 64 bit versions separated. These include graphics settings, sound settings, some UI settings, some input settings (but not your keymap settings), and vocie chat settings. This file is called UserPreferences64.ini. Also please note, LUA is not currently supported/working with the 64 bit client. It’s something we intend to support, but it will not be ready for U24.
I have tried it out, running at ultra settings and using DirectX 11. Gameplay felt subtly smoother, with less hitching than before, and I didn’t have any crashes on zone changes (even after visits to Minas Tirith). That’s very positive. It doesn’t do away with all stutters and hitches, though, and I am curious how it’ll work when it goes live and more players roam around.
However, the 64-bit client has one massive drawback currently: Plugins are not supported. No Buffbars, Travel Window, Titan Bars, Songbook, Daily Task Tracker, Altinventory, etc – they simply won’t work. This will be critical for many players. If SSG does not manage to support LUA and plugins in the new client, they’ll pretty much be shooting themselves in the foot.
Some new features
Virtues are being updated, although this is not fully implemented in the current beta build. The new system allows you to have 7 different virtue setups in different tabs, that work in tandem with your Class Trait configurations.
The instance finder is also undergoing changes. The Instance Finder panel has been expanded with a new instance grouping section. The new section works similarly to Social Panel Quest Grouping in that you can create or join up to 5 entries that are persisted on your character. The new instance grouping section replaces the functionality of the Simple and Advanced tabs of the Instance Finder panel, and those tabs have been removed.
Another addition is a new quest for chicken play: “There and bawk again”.
Right, here are more screenshots of the new lands:
Frozen lake just inside the entrance from the Misty Mountains.
You’ll see a lot of mist on the ground in the Vales. Far too much for my taste. It’s like the world designers found this really cool effect and decided to put it EVERYWHERE. Much like their approach during the recent revamp of the Shire.
Sunrise over the new lands, as seen from the Eagle’s Eyrie. That’s the Carrock sticking out of the river in the lower part of the screenshot. The distant circle of trees in the middle of the picture is the Beorning starter area, Grimbeorn’s Lodge.
The Eagle’s Eyrie, with notable eagles Landroval, Meneldor and Gwaihir.
Eagle mount! This eagle stands on top of the Carrock and flies you up to the Eyrie, for just a few coins. Greedy eagle… Sadly, the travel is just a teleport, so no flying views.
Looking at the lands south-east below The Carrock.
Similar view to the north from The Carrock.
And here is The Carrock itself. To the left, that is. Thorin and Bilbo was placed on top of The Carrock by the eagles, after crossing the Misty Mountains on their journey east towards the Lonely Mountain.
Yet another view of The Carrock.
Crumbled bridge across the river Anduin. The bridge is by the Old Ford, where the Old Forest Road crosses the river. Also note the odd floating rock to the right of the bridge. This was much-mentioned in the world channel on Bullroarer.
The same bridge as seen from below, by the Old Ford.
More mist, riding up from the Old Ford.
There are no huge settlements in the Vales of Anduin, but a few small villages.
View of the crumbled bridge and The Carrock, looking north.
Yet another view of The Carrock, looking north.
Island to the south of the Old Ford.
Misty-looking entrance to a village.
Woodmen live in small villages near the boundaries to Mirkwood.
Gladden Fields to the south.
The Anduin running into the Gladden Fields.
Looking southwest across the Gladden Fields.
Westwards across the Gladden Fields. Once a lake where the Anduin meets the Gladden river, this is now a marshland with small islands, tall yellow irises and lots of reeds.
Stoors had lived near the fields since they resettled in the area some time after TA 1356, but I saw no traces of any hobbit settlements there when I visited. I found some Sharkey/Saruman-servants, though. This is perhaps not surprising, given that Saruman started searching the marshes for the One Ring after TA 2851.
Rhosgobel is an overgrown valley with ruins and lots of wildlife.
There are of course rabbits in Rhosgobel. I didn’t try to make them pull my sled, though. They come across as a bit directionally challenged anyway…
Yet more Rhosgobel ruins.
Lake at the southern end of Rhosgobel
Overlooking the Duskenvales to the south of the Vales of Anduin.
Cottages in the Duskenvales, near the river Anduin.
More mist on the ground near a village in the Duskenvales.
Looking north along the river, from the southern end of the Duskenvales.
Swishing back to the north, this is Grimbeorn’s Lodge, the Beorning starting area. This is now fully integrated in the landscape, and not a separate “island” anymore.
The lands outside of Grimbeorn’s Lodge, looking towards the Misty Mountains.
And a last screenshot of The Carrock. You can see a small cave at its base. There are also steps towards the top, which were built by Beorn.
New areas in LOTRO are always welcome. Admittedly, these lands are far less spectacular than the Iron Hills and the Grey Mountains which we have visited in the last couple of updates. The most beautiful views in the Vales are of The Carrock and Eagle’s Eyrie, but apart from those you get the same rivers and marshes and woods that you’ve seen many times before, filled with stock monsters like stags, boars, goblins, flies, huorns etc. The area also feels pretty narrow and linear, and there is not that much space to explore. And far too much of it is covered with floating ground mist…
Still, it is a pleasant enough land to travel through, and there are lots of nice touches for those who want to dig into Tolkien’s lore. Also, I suppose this will be a popular area for Beorning roleplayers, not least given that their starter area is now integrated into the landmass. When you first start a beorning, you’ll be in an instanced version of the zone, but once you get the Return Home skill (at level 19 or thereabout) you can beam right back to the open world version. Just be careful when you venture outside of Grimbeorn’s Lodge, the monsters just outside the gate are level 120…
I hope you have enjoyed this quick preview of Update 24! No release date has been set yet, but it typically takes 3-6 weeks of beta testing before new updates are released, and we might have to accomodate for more time to fully test the 64-bit client. Sometimes late June or early July, perhaps? Although I wouldn’t be surprised if SSG pushes it out of the door much earlier either.
Comments on this article or questions about the new update? Just add them below!