Those Dwarves sure loved their epic battles...

Those Dwarves sure loved their epic battles…

Along with the game’s two-year anniversary celebration, the residents of Turbine’s Lord of the Rings Online have a few other things to celebrate – namely, the Summer Festival and the upcoming Volume 2, Book 8: Scourge of Khazad-Dum. Aaron Campbell, LotRO‘s Live Producer, was kind enough to show me around some of the upcoming content – the new instance spaces, the Summer Festival celebration, and the brand new 12-man raid dungeon of Dâr Narbugud.

In Book 8, adventurers will be returning to Moria, and – after past content largely directed at solo players – will be returning to group content (albeit content for all different sizes of groups). There are two 3-man instances coming in Book 8, and for both of them the Turbine team has grabbed inspiration from the Zelda series. In the Mirror-halls of Lumul-nar, adventurers will go to the mountaintops above Moria to route sunlight into the depths with a series of mirrors, and figuring out how to position the mirrors will be a puzzle that the group will have to put together.

Like the Mirror-halls, the other 3-man instance space – the Water Wheels: Nalâ-dûm – relies on puzzle-solving. Instead of bouncing light off mirrors, though, they’ll be routing water through wheels and canals by pulling levers with the proper timing. Campbell also showed me a boss fight with what seemed like a giant aquatic Balrog amidst a forest of gigantic pounding pistons – you could lure the boss under them and it would take damage and be stunned. If nothing else, the ancient Dwarves of Moria certainly had an eye for dramatic setting.

The Mirror-halls and Water Wheels will continue the Epic story of Mines of Moria, so players will need to grab two friends in order to proceed in the storyline as nameless evils spring up from the bottommost depths of Moria to fill the gap left by the death of the Balrog, Durin’s Bane. The Nameless aren’t the only enemies that need a good killing, though – Campbell took me through the Halls of Crafting, where marauding Orcs have claimed the great bellows and forges that the Dwarves once used for their own craftsmanship. Naturally, we need to kill them. It’s a pretty cool-looking instance space, and when fighting the final boss, remember that you shouldn’t stand in the plumes of fire.

Beyond the Halls of Crafting, though, I got a sneak peek at Dâr Narbugud, the first full-size 12-man raid since Mines of Moria launched, that Campbell called LotRO‘s “most difficult content to date.” When all is said and done, the Turbine team thinks that the dungeon will take raid groups about three hours to clear – though they’ll be working on clearing it for a while.

Encountering The Blind One

Encountering The Blind One

While Campbell wanted to keep the Mistress of Pestilence (the raid’s final boss) a surprise, I did get a peek at some of the other bosses in the zone. The first bosses are a pair of trolls, one of whom announced to his brother that “You take the weak one, I’ll take the ugly one!” I’m almost offended. There was also an Orc who drew powers from pedestals that had to be activated to render him vulnerable, with the catch that only certain classes could activate certain pedestals. The final boss that I got to check out was The Blind One – despite being blind, he had no problems munching on my (admin-invulnerable) face or summoning dark holes that sucked my character down into them.

Moving back into Lorien, I had the opportunity to “tell the tale” of how my character had dealt with an Orc chieftain named Mazog – read: I’d play through the encounter myself. It’s a solo space, and you have some NPCs that you can direct accordingly to attack, defend, or restore your Morale or Power. While there wasn’t any direct choice – I had to choose to trade his life for that of a Dwarf captive – Campbell said that in future installments the LotRO team wanted to provide choices with direct consequences.

On the less dire end of things, I checked out the Summer Festival celebrations. The highly prized Horse Token, Campbell told me, was still a part of the festivities but was no longer tied to just the horse races – you could earn one through a variety of competitions. One of which was a combination race and eating contest – which really just seems like a recipe for disaster. Players can bet on one of four hobbits who will run around from table to table eating their fill, and if their chosen hobbit wins the race (held every 10 or so minutes) they’ll get some rewards. Unfortunately, the hobbits that Campbell and I placed our bets on came in 4th and 3rd place, respectively.

I guess I just don’t have good luck betting on hobbits. To learn more about the upcoming Book 8 and the Summer Festival, WarCry is holding a developer chat with the LotRO team tomorrow, June 3rd, and next Wednesday, June 10th! Hope to see you there!

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