The Lord of the Rings Online Book 3 "Echoes of the Dead" PreviewBy Nikole Zivalich - Posted Mar 17, 2011
The Lord of the Rings Online, the free-to-play MMO, is getting a new update next week on March 21. The update, Book 3 "Echoes of the Dead," is more of an expansion than your run of the mill free-to-play game update.
The story picks up as The Rangers of the Grey Company have discovered something mysterious in Endewaith. As the Rangers are off investigating, Sauron's Gaunt-lords are plaguing the lands of Middle-earth with their diabolical shenanigans. It's up to you save the Free Peoples in the Rangers’ absence. Book 3 will include four new instances and a new raid.
The four instances are The Town of Stoneheight, Northcotton Farm, The Lost Temple, and The Glacier Fortress. The Gaunt-lord Ivar is spreading his corruption; his presence is marked by glowing green tablets littered across the Town of Stoneheight. The Lost Temple instance takes place in the ancient temple of Arnor where Ferndúr the Virulent is out to spread a plague across Middle-earth. The other two instances I got to see for myself.
One of the missions had our hero traveling through Northcotton Farm, a part of the Shire. But it was not the cheerful place I imagined it should be. Homes, rocks, and plants were all covered in thick cobwebs. But the most glaring omission from the level was hobbits. Minutes of running around and only two or three were to be found. Thadúr the Ravager has brought venom to the Shire in hopes of poisoning the hobbits, and as a result, the town was full spider-monsters of all sizes.
The next mission took place in the ice cold caves of the Glacier Fortress. Ghosts of past warriors still fight in the caverns, and while the ghosts didn’t have a problem with my presence, the gigantic bears did. There was a mini-boss a little ways into the cavern: a giant decaying bear that was not pleased I was in the fortress. The actual boss of the level is Drugoth, the master of death and fear. He is attempting to put together an army of walking dead. As you can probably tell, this isn't the type of mission you want to go alone. Luckily, I was with one of Turbine's developer’s so God Mode was a welcomed option.
A new 12-person raid has also been added, and it focuses on Gortheron, one of the Gaunt-lords, which you and 11 of your bravest friends have to defeat.
Another LOTR: Online expansion, Rise of Isengard, is planned for this fall.