Turbine and Codemasters have announced The Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria, the first retail expansion for the hit MMOG based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendary fantasy world.

The underground cities of the Dwarves will be opened for exploration as players engage in epic battles in the depths of Middle Earth, encounter the Watcher in the Water, take part in the release of Durin’s Bane and more. The expansion will also feature an increased level cap to level 60, new Rune-Keeper and Warden classes and a unique item advancement system which will allow players to forge weapons and equipment and evolve them into legendary items similar to Sting or Glamdring.

“The Mines of Moria is one of the most epic settings in all of fantasy fiction,” said Turbine President and CEO Jim Crowley. “No one delivers more quality content than Turbine and with our journey into Moria, we will raise the bar even higher. We are adding vast amounts of content, debuting massive new environments and unveiling numerous unique feature sets, like item advancement, which will create entirely new dimensions of compelling gameplay and social interaction which are unique to The Lord of the Rings Online experience.”

To celebrate the announcement, Turbine and Codemasters invited gamers to check out, where they can learn more about the Mines of Moria and play special mini-games that will be released over the coming months. Players completing special deeds can unlock exclusive previews, assets and in-game items for use when the expansion launches.

The Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria is scheduled for release in fall 2008. For more information, check out The Lord of the Rings Online website.

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