I don’t know who thought Cataclysm was going to be the only big news this winter, because plenty of other MMO studios are stepping up with pretty hefty announcements.
First up is Rift’s transition into closed beta on December 3rd. How I understand it is that the current wide alpha testing group will continue to play on uninterrupted servers, while beta testers will be much more focused and participate in specific events. I’ve got my beta key plugged in, but it isn’t VIP, so I have no idea if I’ll be jumping in or not.
I’d like to, though. I’m not usually huge on betas, but I have a lot of curiosity that’s begging to be addressed concerning Rift. I keep hearing from current testers (who are probably fudging the NDA) that Rift’s won them over and they’ve already given up their other MMO subscriptions. At least, it sounds like Trion has a really solid game on their hands, and if closed beta testing goes well, it’s not outside the realm of reason to hope for a spring launch. My guess? May 2011.
Then, of course, there’s the big news of LOTRO — the next expansion, Rise of Isengard. As expansions go, it certainly seems attractive if not “OH HOLY CRAP I NEED THIS NOOOOOW!” We knew Isengard was coming, and Turbine seems to be beefing up the journey — 3 zones, expanded PvMP conflicts, 5 more levels.
I think this news is overshadowing some of the other topics that Turbine’s dropped, like the really neat-sounding Winter-home village in the Yule Festival or the vastly improved cosmetic outfit system. If anything, it shows that the team is working hard on a wide range of content, and that’s always encouraging when you’re a fan of the game.
Some people are already complaining that Isengard is almost a year away and that’s too long to wait for new zones, etc. I think — and this is just my opinion — that Turbine might throw in at least one new zone between now and then, but for certain the company is going to be cranking out content patches. I don’t anticipate being bored, is what I’m saying.
One of the most unique aspects of LOTRO that separates it from the MMO herd is that it does depict a specific, defined journey. New zones aren’t just added to bulk things up, but to continue an ongoing story and let us take another step toward the final confrontation with Sauron.
And my hope is that by the time Isengard opens up, I’ll have both my captain and lore-master at the level cap to head into the fray. That should be enough time, don’t you think?