This past weekend I hit a nice milestone on my Captain in LOTRO: I finished all of the (non-Hytbold) quests as well as the epic books in Rohan. Apart from wrapping up a trio of virtues, she’s done for the time being — until update 11 — leaving me to focus on my Lore-master full-time.
Overall, I think that Riders of Rohan was one of the best expansions Turbine’s released to date. Maybe the best. It was certainly not skimpy on content, that’s for sure. I was initially concerned that a whole expansion focused on a single culture that lived on the plains would be… well… dull. I kind of miss seeing the mix of Dwarves and Hobbits (and some other far lesser race) up north and wasn’t quite prepared to tune in to the Man Show non-stop. So kudos to the devs for making the Rohan culture visually interesting and captivating from a story perspective.
Counting the epic story, there are three storylines that you follow through the expansion: the book quests, the main questline, and an occasional visit with these four riders that I can never remember what’s their deal. What I loved is that Turbine was really able to sell the dire situation that eastern Rohan is in: caught between the insane demands of a compromised king who tells them not to fight back and the invasion of Orcs and Easterlings. At times, my progression through the towns felt like a series of retreats. I could help but couldn’t single-handedly drive off an entire invasion force. Some of the towns ignored the king’s edict and fought back anyway, others used creative thinking to bend the rules, and some became doormats.
I definitely liked a few points where your character got to make choices in the questing, something I hope that Turbine does more in the future. The quest text is also one of the few games where I read every word, just because it really is that well-written.
The epic quests did a good job getting some face-time in with the Fellowship, particularly Merry and Pippin. At the end of the Great River, you’ve kind of formed an NPC fellowship of your own — an elf, a Rohirrim, and a Dunland tribal warrior — and your adventures through Rohan are done side-by-side with these new companions. I really like this approach, because it’s a lot more interesting than soloing everything and because you get to know these characters over the course of several missions. The final quest of volume 3 book 9 gives a chilling preview of future content (not to mention a second age bridle).
Probably my favorite aspect of RoR was the Eves of Fangorn. It’s such a unique zone for the game and a vastly different forest than others we’ve seen. Having it break up the main Rohan content proved to be a nice intermission.
Mounted combat is solid and adds a little variety to fights. I don’t prefer it to standard combat or anything, but once I got used to it, I was never struggling against doing it if the quest demanded.
So yeah, that was a good six months or so of an adventure through the expansion. It feels good to be on top of it in anticipation for future releases. Update 11 promises a new zone and another book on the epic storyline, a tide-me-over until the next expansion, but it’ll probably not be out until early summer.