Today, sees the last installment from Joe “jwbarry” Barry discussing the revamps we’ll see concverning dungeons in the upcoming F2P release. In this installment he discusses the Great Barrow Cluster aka, Othrongroth. Joe explains that since the Great Barrows is the “first real introduction to instances” in LOTRO that it needed some attention to ensure that players had a positive experience. Also, since the dungeon starts at level 20, it also allows for them to test their scaling technology on a lower level dungeon as the rest were level 50+.
It seems that one of the primary reasons to divide the dungeon up was that each time a different instance was launched it put a great strain on the servers due to its size. Also, it allows for players to be able to commit to an instance run without having to worry about being able to complete all of the dungeon or having to skip major parts. Due to the preexisting quests and stories within the instance, the decision on how to break up the dungeon felt natural:
- The first wing will host the Maze with the twin brothers (where you currently get the first key).
- Next, the Water Wing will host Thadúr the Ravager, a Gaunt-lord (where you currently get the second key).
- Last will be the wing that hosts Sambrog.
- All wings should range from 20-30 minutes of play-time.
- The Maze and Water Wings will start just after the anvil room.
- Sambrog’s wing starts in the anvil room.
- The Epic quest remains the same.
- The quest for the key has been removed.
- The mini-bosses for the Maze and Water wings were turned into bosses.
- You must complete the new deeds to defeat the Maze and Water Wings in order to play the Sambrog Wing. (This is a one-time gate, similar to Helegrod.)
The Maze Wing
The feedback received on the Maze Wing was that it was somewhat bland and that there was improvement that needed to be done in order to make it more “memorable”. Starting with trash mobs there will now be “hotspots” that some mobs will put on the ground; forcing you to move (i.e. fire, acid, etc.). New crawlers that explode and leave an acid cloud have been added as well as melee wights (the former replacing archer wights). Existing trash mobs have also been tweaked to be signatures and normal mobs from their current swarm and normal status. The lighting in the area was also adjusted to make the wing feel more unique. A mini-boss fight was also added that involves an elite master wight with several adds, who will summon additional adds (crawlers) when he gets low on health. It’s also interesting to note that similar to how mobs gain different abilities as the level of the dungeons increase.
Next, we looked to tackle the issue of how to balance level 20 and level 65 players needing different things. We examined the existing tech and discovered we could alter which skills a monster has available to it at different levels without having to replace the monster. Within the Great Barrow, we’re trying that out to see how it feels. Specifically in the Maze Wing at 65, you’ll see melee wights gain the ability to summon crawlers throughout combat and deal shadow damage instead of common damage, decayed will gain the ability to interrupt inductions, and crawlers now deal exclusively acid damage.
The Water Wing
A mini-boss fight was added that “…involves limrafn, spreading your party out, and timing.” Also, the boss fight was upgraded as were the trash monsters as they reach level 65.
Third, just like the Maze Wing, we upgraded the trash monsters at level 65. This saw the gaunt-men now dealing exclusively shadow damage, the limrafn gaining a cold aura and damage reflect, frost-wights dealing only cold damage, and archer wights gaining the ability to heal.
The Sambrog Wing
The trash for this wing was modified as well as adding the previously mentioned exploding monsters. And as in the previous wings, the level 65 trash was changed greatly.
Level 65 trash upgrades consisted of upgrading the gaunt-men from common damage to shadow and giving them the ability to bring in pets. We gave archers healing abilities and upgraded the fell spirits to give them ranged attacks and hotspot creation. The mini-boss is an encounter inspired by the classic game Gauntlet. Two gaunt-men stand in the center of a large room, summoning undead. So long as each is alive, endless undead will swarm the room and continually respawn. Defeat the gaunt-men, and the path forward opens up for you.
Sambrog was revamped to instantly darken the entire room, and at one stage of his health he will create hotspots and later he summons healers. A challenge mode was also created for Sambrog by using a crypt before entering battle which will cause adds to enter the fight starting at 15 seconds and then every 30 seconds thereafter until Sambrog is defeated. Crazy.
It sounds like a lot of work went into the revamp and as someone who has not been through the dungeon in a while, I’m looking forward to it quite a bit. Of course, ultimately how many times I will go through it will admittedly be tied to the rewards on my main. On my alts though, the thought of being able to join an instance from where ever I am in the world when I get bored (if I can find a group) makes me downright ecstatic. And I don’t think that finding a group will be that difficult in the upcoming future.