[LOTRO] First impressions of Isengard

So, the latest LOTRO expansion was released earlier this week. I’m not sure expansion is really the right name for it, but there’s plenty of new content for high level characters and lots of class changes.

The game has been busier than I have seen it for a long time, underlying Turbine’s claim that Rise of Isengard is their biggest selling expansion for LOTRO of all time. The game does allow for multiple instances of zones when the player load is especially heavy, and I’ve been seeing that a lot this week (so if you get an unexpected zone load message when entering or leaving an area, it’s because your character is being assigned one of the multiple instances.)

The storytelling so far in the expansion has been of Turbine’s usual high quality. Unlike most other MMOs, LOTRO doesn’t digress hugely with gonzo zones or plotlines, and is mostly bound to its core lore and background. So in many ways the challenges for writers are how to make the zone storylines fresh and interesting when they are bound to involve similar NPCs and themes.

One theme they have been working with is that the human settlements become more and more influenced by Saruman the closer you get to Isengard. So in Enedwaith (the last zone), the human camps were in the process of speaking to emissaries from the white tower and the PCs (along with the Grey Company, the rangers with whom they are travelling) had to persuade them not to cut the deal. In the end, I seem to remember that they decided to remain neutral, which we counted as a win – sort of.

Now in Dunland (first of the new zones) the first large town we encounter is already allied with Saruman and is fielding men and supplies to his armies. But there are still some rebellious factions who would prefer to be free … your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find them and help their cause.

I find this interesting because it’s a similar storyline to the first Horde encampment in Twilight Highlands, in WoW. There you also encounter a town which has been taken over by a cruel overlord and have to help the rebels take over. It’s just that in WoW it’s all over and done with in a handful of quests and then you can move on. In LOTRO, you get the extended version in which you get to know more of the individuals. Although the game can feel a bit glacial, I quite enjoy the contrast of the slower storylines.


  • Minstrels seem very powerful in this expansion. Just from hearing kinmates chat about how much they are enjoying soloing.
  • A new crafting tier. Many of the recipes are available from random drops (which has also been true in previous tiers) and in the excitement of a new expansion, it’s still quite cool to get one. That will fade fast, I am sure.
  • One of the themes in the new epic book so far is encouraging players to choose whether they want to stay in an area and finish all the other quests before picking up the next book quest. You always had those options, but now they’re explicitly saying things like, “Decide for yourself how long you want to stay and help the men of **wherever** before going to the next ranger.”
  • Whilst LOTRO storytelling is pretty cool, I don’t think it’s all that plausible that elves, dwarves or hobbits could really pass as potential allies to the Saruman-allied men of Dunland.
  • I don’t really think my burglar has the best disguise ever either. (She’s wearing one of those typical ‘burglar’ domino masks. I love it, but it does scream “I AM A BURGLAR!”)

11 thoughts on “[LOTRO] First impressions of Isengard

  1. Pingback: Four Posts. Four MMOs. — MMO Melting Pot

  2. Boring Boring Boring – nothing new – same quest types as before – Book quest is very rubbish – your a prisoner yet you get to run around freely with all your weapons – come on thats a bit far fetched even in fantasy world. Why would you run around a camp doing quests for the white hand – why would they let you and whay would you have vaults, all guilds, a skirmish camp etc in a potential enemy camp. Lacks imagination and finese.

    • I think the idea was that you were doing quests so that you could get them to trust you more which would give you more freedom to try and escape. But yeah, if I’m ever a hugely powerful fantasy wizard and I capture an adventurer and bring them to my tower, I’ll disarm them.

  3. I like your blog, Spinks – stumbled across it looking for LOTRO Isengard info and stayed to read some others.

    More LOTRO content, please!

    PS- Why must I leave my email to post in comments? >:/

    • I’ll tell you why I left the email requirement in: it’s to help trap spam. I don’t harvest email addresses for any purpose myself but the first time anyone comments, I have to approve the comment. Any time after that, as long as you use the same email address (ie. it doesn’t have to be a real one if that’s a concern) then the comment gets automatically approved.

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