Rise of Isengard – what will I get?

I preordered Rise of Isengard, LotRO’s next expansion, as soon as it became available. However, I still don’t know what I’ll get.

Three features are listed:
1) 3 new zones
Dunland, Gap of Rohan and Isengard. With those, we’ll get lots of new quests. Storywise and questwise, I will get something new and hopefully, it’ll be fun. I really like Enedwaith but greatly dislike Mirkwood. So hopefully, at least one of those new zones will be more like Enedwaith.

2) 10 new levels
I really enjoy levelling in MMOs. I love alts. In LotRO, however, this seems to be different. I like the game but I don’t enjoy the combat system as much as I do in other MMOs. It just seems slow compared to WoW or Rift. Still, I don’t mind those extra ten levels for my main character.

(3) A new 24 player raid)
A one-boss-raid. – I don’t get why that’s listed as a feature for the expansion. It was supposed to be added for LotRO’s 4th anniversary but didn’t make it into the game in time.
Massively mentions this here: What is coming, however, is a long-awaited raid against a giant dragon. The raid was scheduled for a previous update but had to be delayed for further development and testing.

So, we basically get 10 new levels and 3 new zones to quest in and, of course, a few new skills and changes to the classes. They will also reduce the different stats on the items to make the system easier.

Call me spoiled but… is that really everything? Why no new features? Something fresh and new to keep us playing the game instead of “more of the same”? A new hobby/profession? Housing overhaul (I do not want to believe that they were serious when they introduced this housing design)? Anything else?

We’re 2 months away from the expansion and only know about those few things. I’ve been following the official forums but there’s no news about anything else. There are optimistic players who are sure that there’ll be tons more. And pessimistic players who say that there won’t be anything else. I’m in between. So far, I can’t and don’t want to believe that this is really everything there is. On the other hand, if there was that much more coming and new features etc., then Turbine would’ve used all this stuff to promote their expansion.

If only I knew what the beta testers can see… *insert long dramatic sigh* Maybe they read the players’ fears and are laughing because they’ve already seen the nice amount of stuff coming with the expansion that Turbine is keeping from its playerbase to surprise them (or because they’re not sure it will be done in time).

GamesCom is coming soon (less than a month now) and I hope we’ll see something more then.

GamesCom 2011 – only… a few more days! ;)

We already know that Sylvari will be playable at GamesCom. So far, this was more or less the only thing I was concerned about (Guild Wars 2, that is, not necessarily the Sylvari).

But now I wonder: What about the other games I’m interested in? More importantly: What about LotRO? They will release their next expansion “Rise of Isengard” in September. So it’d make sense to have them be present at GamesCom. I couldn’t find anything definite, though. The only thing I could find was that Warner Bros. will have a booth there which led to people assuming that Turbine (which was bought by WB) will be there as well. I don’t like assuming things, though. So I asked. ;) Sapience, CM of Turbine, replied to me with this: “Yes. I’ll be there along with Producer Aaron Campbell, and also Tolero and ProducerGlin from DDO!” They will be at the WB booth!

I still remember last year when we were looking for LotRO at the Codemasters booth and one guy working there had no clue what LotRO even was. O.o Last year, they were also at the WB booth, I think. So, just in case you’re going to GamesCom and want to see what WB/Turbine has to show, they will be in hall 8.1 Booth: C020 B021.

NCSoft, on the other hand, will be in Hall 9.1 Booth: A011 B010 .

Whatever you do, avoid coming close to Hall 6.1, Booths B20 B21 B30 B31 C20 C30. That’s where Activision Blizzard will be and while in general, I really enjoyed GamesCom last year, this whole area was loud and crowded with hardly any fresh air left. ;)

Sylvari week coming soon! Asura still left

Yesterday, ArenaNet announced that the Sylvari week will take place before Gamescom. They will also be playable at Gamescom. I can’t wait! :)

But let’s look at some dates: Gamescom will be from August 17 – August 21. If Sylvari week is to take place before that, it will have to start before August 16. That’s in just a bit more than 3 weeks – in the worst case! Thus, we’ll probably see more about them very, very soon.

The biggest question for me now is just: How many stations will they have and how long will the queues be to test the game? ;) I’m also really curious about how the movement/controls feel. I’m hoping for them to be/feel like World of Warcraft and not like Lord of the Rings Online. If you know both games, you hopefully know what I mean. ;)

Unfortunately, that also means that Asuras will probably not be playable at Gamescom. I was really hoping they would be. I’m also waiting for Asura week more or less impatiently. The reason is that so far, I really love the race from what I’ve read in the Guild Wars books. And I love how they look in the current Guild Wars game. I don’t, however, like them as much in the previews for Guild Wars 2. Something seems to… plastic-y about them. Let’s have a look at a rather well-known picture showing two Asuras (also note how it’s not too hard to differentiate between males and females):

In Guild Wars, Asuras look like this:
Note that it’s difficult to tell who’s female or who’s male. I can just assume that they want players to easily tell them apart because it might be weird to choose a character where you can’t easily see whether they’re male or female (on the other hand… elves… ^^). In case you’re wondering, I wrote about the differences between males and females here: Females tend to have rounder ears than males. That difference doesn’t appear in the above GW2 screenshot.

All in all, I much prefer the look of the “older Asuras”. But maybe they’re not done yet? And whenever I see the GW2 version in a video, I really love their animations. So while I prefer the old look, it won’t stop me from creating an Asura in Guild Wars 2 (preferably a guardian or even a warrior. We’ll see which class I’ll like more). ;)

Guild Wars 2: Engineer Walkthrough

When the engineer was first introduced by ArenaNet I was disappointed. It seemed to come right out of a first person shooter. However, seeing this walkthrough now, I feel that I’m slowly falling in love with this class, actually. Wouldn’t be the first time I end up playing exactly that class that I disliked the most at first. ;)

Also, I really loved the guns in WoW and enjoyed my engineer in Warhammer Online (until she hit tier 4 while being on a server that was heavily outnumbered by Destruction at that time… never made it out of the T4 warcamp, actually…).

Click the link to watch the video (from San Diego Comic Con. The video is commented by Colin Johanson, so you’ll know what you’re seeing on the screen!): Guild Wars 2 Video Game, SDCC 11: Engineer Walkthrough | GameTrailers.com.

SWTOR: The other FAQ

Today with a special edition of Bookahneer’s Geekwatch. It’s all about Star Wars: The Old Republic!

Bioware announced the preorder and I think quite a lot of bloggers have already declared their allegiance: Pro or con CE. ;) I also saw lots of questions and had some people ask me whether I knew about X or Y. So I looked around and found some answers.

If you want to know something, your best bet is probably to go and look it up at Bioware’s FAQ. There, you will found out, among other things, that:

Will SWTOR have a monthly fee?
Yep. How much it will be is unclear at this point: Yes, a monthly subscription is required to play Star Wars: The Old Republic. Exact pricing will be revealed at a later date. (found under “Purchasing”)
Update July 24: Monthly fee will be revealed closer to launch date but the cost won’t be “anomalous”. (Source)

When will Early Access start?
No precise date yet. But the earlier you entered your preorder key, the earlier you will get in there. I saw rumours about it being 6 days for CE owners and 3 days for regular preorders. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. All that counts is apparently how fast you entered your preorder code, according to Stephen Reid, Community Manager for SWTOR.

What is this CE-exclusive in-game vendor?
Apparently an NPC in game that you can only buy stuff from if you have bought the physical Collector’s Edition. The Digital one does not count! A user summarized some things Bioware mentioned at San Diego Comic Con: 4th posting on this page. There is also mention of this vendor. In addition, Stephen Reid posted in his twitter: “We are being very careful not to unbalance things with CE.” – I personally have become rather cynical with stuff like that. Read it like he wrote it. Don’t interpret. In the best case, this means that there’ll never be more powerful stuff to buy at this vendor. In the worst case, while they tried to be careful, they still managed to unbalance stuff and you can buy things that are more powerful. Only time will tell, I guess. ;)

Some more stuff from that posting about SDCC:
– respeccing of advanced classes will be possible
– ship interior customization (that is, most likely, “housing”) will not be in game at launch but they’re planning to add it in the future
– SWTOR “runs great in Bootcamp” – for MAC users (no guarantee, though).
…and more. ;)

Who can preorder?
While SWTOR will be released in North America and “Europe”, what Bioware actually means is that it will be released in parts of Europe (9 countries that belong to the European Union are not part of Bioware’s Europe. More if you count countries that have territory in Europe but don’t belong to the European Union…). (Found under “International”). Stephen Reid “will look into it” when asked whether he could add a FAQ to help those players who aren’t part of SWTOR’s launch with more information.

I am in Europe and belong to those who can buy the game. Yay! But can I play together with friends from the USA?
Yep. :)

Will there be IP blocking?
Approximately 6 hours ago, Stephen Reid said “On IP / region blocking. Current plan is no blocking.”. He wasn’t sure, though. A bit later, he sent another tweet: “Sleep soon. Please understand on IP blocking stuff, I will investigate, doesn’t guarantee I am right or you will like answers.”
Update July 24: On region locking: right now things are unchanged, anyone can play #SWTOR from anywhere in the world on any server, but latency may affect. (Source). – Important to note is the “right now”. Hopefully, that’s just him making sure that even though there are no plans at all, you never know what happens in about 20 or 30 years and he doesn’t want to be called a liar in the future. ;)

What does that mean now? Nobody knows but Bioware. We’ll see soon, hopefully.