A dog may be a man’s best friend, but unless you are playing a pet class in a fantasy MMO, you’ll be spending a lot more time in the company of your trusty mount than just about any PC or NPC in the game.
I am always surprised at how little gameplay goes into the mounts aside from a range of customisation (via skins and animations). I get that they’re pretty and that their main purpose is to let a player move more quickly through the world under their own steam, but there are few enough games that even allow you to name your horse/flaming rhino/ flying manta ray, never mind level it up or buy new saddlebags.
To me, this is a far more integral part of the game than player housing. I’d like to be able to customise my mount/ vehicle and maybe decide if I want to trade off a hardier, stealthier, bouncier (ie, better at jumping) or more sure-footed (ie. better at climbing steep hillsides) mount against one with pure speed. This probably would require more attention from the game to the terrain and how to navigate it, but it’s something I find quite lacking in MMOs at the moment.
One of my hopes for Rohan is not the rumoured mounted combat (because how useful is that for a burglar really? mounted combat and daggers don’t mix ) but simply that Turbine will do for mounts what they did for legendary weapons in the Moria expansion. That is to put some oomph into the lore behind them and allow players to customise them, level them up and then dismantle them for spare parts (I’m still working on that last part.)
I referred to their last dev blog in my last post, which talked about the T (Tolkien) factor. What could be more T than winning the right from the Rohirrim to pick your own mount from their herds and then train it yourself?
NB. Sadly it’s fairly obvious that the reason the Rohirrim in Isengard don’t offer you the use of a horse when you max out your rep with them is because that particular horse was on sale with the pre-order.