Friday, April 3, 2009
Where to, Mr. Frodo?
Kill Ten Rats found out via the forums that Ridersofrohan.com points to LOTRO's site, and now it's being widely reported that this will be the game's next expansion. (See Massively, Nerf The Cat, and Ardwulf's Lair for commentary.) Seems like a slam dunk to me - the game thus far has followed the Fellowship and the majority of the Fellowship ends up in and around the Rohan/Isengard conflict. There are also obvious expansion-worthy features such as the Battle of Helm's Deep and a revamped mount system.
The more interesting question is where the game will go next. Ardwulf thinks it will continue to follow the volumes of LOTR, but his post got me thinking that the next expansion AFTER Rohan may be to Mirkwood, Dale, and the Lonely Mountain.
According to the FAQ at theonering.net, the upcoming Hobbit film is due out in December 2011. That's about the right time for the third LOTRO expansion, and interest in these areas of Middle Earth may never be higher. Turbine has been quick to point out that their license includes LOTR and The Hobbit (but not any of Tolkein's other works - I don't know if that will pose problems or not for taking the game that way during the War of the Ring), so it would appear to be a waste NOT to take advantage of the hype.
Meanwhile, there is the practical consideration of where the game can and will expand to in the future. The closer players get to Mordor and the final, climactic battles, the less sense it will make to send players off in the opposite direction. The end of the campaign in Isengard might actually be an ideal point in the story for someone to send players out to check on the East.
("Gandalf shall take the fool of a Took hence to Gondor with all haste to rid us of his stupidity," Aragorn said. "Theoden and Eomer shall marshall the Riddermark - remember, no girls allowed in the warband! Legolas and Gimli shall accompany me on a path too dark to mention until it gets patched in an expansion or two down the line. Legolasxx, Lagolas, and Legolaaaas, that leaves only you to go forth to Mirkwood and Dale and muster our allies there. Do not fail us, for Middle Earth depends on you!")
Obviously, it doesn't do much good to hold onto the expansion that launches Mordor for so long that the game loses popularity and is canceled before we get there. Regardless, conditions seem just about right for a Hobbit-themed expansion in late 2011/early 2012. Let's come back to this in a few years and see if I was right. :)