You'll finally be able to swing your sword from the back of a mighty steed like Shadowfax.
Turbine's Lord of the Rings Online has one of the most loyal fanbases in the MMO market, with Tolkien fans loving the attention to detail and general feel of the Middle-Earth. The Boston-based MMO company reported LOTRO became much more profitable after it transitioned to a free-to-play model, insuring content will keep coming until the Ring reaches the Crack of Doom (and maybe even beyond).
Today, Turbine announced the largest expansion to date The Riders of Rohan, which will add the plains of the Horselords as well as the Eaves of Fangorn Forest and Amon Hen (where the BReaking of the Fellowship occurs). Fittingly, the expansion has a feature that many MMOs lack, the ability to fight from horseback. That, along with raising the level cap to 85, will keep MMO growing both in population and revenue.
"2011 was another banner year for The Lord of the Rings Online with consistent growth for the game," said Kate Paiz, Executive Producer of The Lord of the Rings Online who touted the size of the update. "One of our largest expansions ever, Rohan is expected to be twice the size of the recent Rise of Isengard expansion and includes the most new game systems and technology we've introduced since 2008's Mines of Moria."
So far, Turbine is mum on how much the expansion content will set you back. The standard game is free, but expansions and quest areas are sometimes placed behind paywalls. The base Rise of Isengard expansion costs $29.99, for example, with bundles of other content and collectibles pushing the "Legendary" Edition up to $49.99. I imagine Riders of Rohan will have similar pricing.
As a Tolkien fan, I've always had a place in my heart for LOTRO and I'm glad to see that it continues to do well. Turbine is planning something special for the game's five year anniversary, a healthy lifespan for any MMO, and it looks like it will be around for a while. I have the free-to-play game on my machine - mostly to see what kind of stuff my old high school friend Jeff Libby is writing - but given my troubled relationship with MMOs, I don't think I'll be investing too much time into it.
That being said, the promise of riding a horse in battle with Eomer might make me consider taking the plunge into Middel-earth. If the mechanic works like Mount & Blade, I might have to resurrect my Rohirrim Captain. Do they still yell every 5 seconds?