A Developer Diary, written by Joe ‘”jwbarry” Barry, was released today focusing again on the Isengard Cluster that came with Update 5. And although I thought it was strange that we would see another diary focusing on the cluster it appears that while the Roundtable was focused on the process of designing the cluster, today’s focuses on the end result. And what was the end result? Well, Joe breaks it down into some stats for us.
In this update we have a total of 5 instances — three small fellowships, one fellowship, and one raid. There are 15 boss fights, two difficulty tiers, 10 challenges, over 75 new monsters, 250 new skills, 500 new effects, 200 new chest drops, and 54 new armour sets!
Now, if you’re loot centered like me and saw the “54 new armour” sets, your jaw will drop a little. What this means is that there are 6 sets of armor for each of the 9 classes. Three of the class sets will be obtainable solely through the non-raid instances and the others will require you to run the Tower of Orthanc raid. Each of the three sets will focus on a particular class trait line. And while I will really have to take a hard look at the bonuses that are offered on the armor, I do like the thought of having several sets to choose from instead of having only one that tries to pigeon-hole me into a certain playstyle.
Joe goes on to discuss how while Draigoch was a “change-of-pace raid”, with this cluster they are returning to “classic LOTRO cluster model” with the continued use of the difficulty Tiers, Automated Raid Markings, and Cooldown Resets seen in the “In Their Absence” cluster. But at the same time they wanted to improve on the experience.
Interactives and environment were a heavy focus this time around. We have things like ballistas that need to be loaded and then fired, superheated walls the boss can knock you back into, and giant saw mills that chop down trees in the background. We wanted to focus on bringing the spaces fully to life and making sure there was always something going on around you; whether these things were important to the gameplay or just interactive background decorations.
and improve on the difficulty
…Monsters have learned how to utilize bubbles and what we’re calling overheals — an attack that will inflict a permanent damage over time effect not removed until you are healed to (or over) full health. We have places where if you move you take damage, where if you aren’t constantly moving you take damage and even one where you take damage if you’re not jumping. Anger has been upgraded by Adaptation, where a monster can only be hit with each type of control once before becoming immune to it for the duration of its life. We have new UI elements to display and track important information of progress and the state of mechanics during boss fights.
Joe also goes on to discuss more about the different items that are coming in the form of loot throughout the dungeon, including the new upgradable necklace and the ability to upgrade the cloak obtained form Draigoch. He then moves into the importance of the storyline and how it ties into the books.
Saruman has been copying Sauron’s plan. He has created himself a ring that amplifies his control over the primal elements of nature. He has also created a suite of minor rings that have been given to several trusted lieutenants, each allowing the manipulation of a single element (fire, frost, lightning, acid, shadow). Fortunately for us, Saruman is capable but not competent in making rings. These rings do not have the same workmanship or quality of the Rings of Power — there are minor flaws and impurities. They are still very potent, but their power is limited. But, even beyond the limitations of the minor rings, Saruman also made a very grave miscalculation. While his ring is more powerful than any one of the minor rings, together they can overwhelm his commanding ring.
The storyline of the raid is to find the lieutenants, destroy them, take their rings, and then battle Saruman on the peak of Orthanc. It’s here when you’ll utilize the power of the minor rings to ultimately destroy his ring. Once that happens, victory is obtained and I won’t spoil the end sequence. The goal of the raid is not to defeat Saruman. The goal is to destroy his ring and then get out alive. Saruman may still win the battle, but you will have struck a decisive blow.
And while some purists may balk at this, I think it makes for a fun game that utilizes a line within the books as well. I myself am eagerly looking forward to this evening for a chance to jump into the game and experience the new clusters. And although I may not find myself in the raid in the near future (or ever) I certainly look forward to the prospect of doing so. How about you? Are you excited for the Instance Cluster?