An unexpected item to be added with update 5 are new steel-bound lootboxes. I learned about these on Store Update listing showing that Sturdy Steel Keys are available for purchase in the store.
I have yet to find one of these myself but there is a post on the official forums by Iyalim showing a lootbox he picked up from a skeleton in the Barrow Downs.
According to the tool-tip, the LOTRO Store is not the only place to pick up the keys. However, the keys dropping in the world are “very rare”.
The loot is intended to be helpful and they seem to be broken into level chunks to try to get rewards helpful for that level range. For example, Iyalim’s lootbox is for ranges 20 to 29.
In this thread there is a lootbox pictured for levels 70-75 being picked up by a Monster Player (creep) so they are available for both sides to find.
The boxes themselves seem to be rare as well so getting one will be more of a surprise rather than “ugh another box I can’t open”. The Monster Player thread was stating it was ~1% drop rate though who knows if that is accurate.
This seems to me a bit like Turbine is using the same idea used for the anniversary gift box token drops. In that event, mobs of a certain level drop corresponding tokens good for a gift box of goodies for that level range. The steel-bound boxes seem at least similar in design to try to give an extra bonus for the player fighting that level of monster.
The store posting does state that there is a chance to get an exclusive mount, a Marrow Painted Steed, from these lootboxes which may cause the horse collectors to perk up a bit. Unfortunately there is no picture of this new mount to share so far.
The keys on the LOTRO Store are selling for 100 Turbine Points (roughly $1 US) each and are consumed on use.
The boxes themselves are not bound and so you can trade them to friends or even sell them on the Auction House.
The general consensus seems to be that the rareness of the boxes and keys coupled with the randomness of the loot inside make these not worth the time at the moment.
Personally, the idea of finding a rare item with random goodies inside appeals to me. What tends to sour me is that finding just one rare item (a lootbox) is essentially useless without it’s matching rare component (the key). I’d either have to place the lootbox in storage until such time I can find a key or cough up some turbine points to open it. At that point there’s a third game of chance that I paid for a key and ended up with a lot of silly junk I didn’t need/want.
I think I’d be more comfortable with the idea if the key in the store was some piddly price. That way if my random lootbox was filled with just some stuff I wasn’t interested in, I’d shrug it off more easily than “aw man, that wasn’t worth a $1!”
Honestly, this seems more like a tactic you’d see in a Zynga game than in a game like LOTRO. The instant-gratification-impulse-buy so you can complete something. Sure there are other things in the store similar to this but this seems a bit more than pay a little extra and advance. It’s pay a little extra and maybe you’ll get something awesome! There’s more uncertainty there than with other purchases.
As a parent I might also be concerned for the younger players (LOTRO is rated T and is for ages 13+) as this smacks of gambling a bit. Much like buying a raffle ticket for the chance at a prize, you’re buying a key hoping for that item you dreamed of. Perhaps it is out of the scope of gambling since “everyone’s a winner” in the fact that a key will grant you something. Still it should be a concern and we know there are no parental controls in LOTRO currently. (Read that article before you start yelling at me to “be the parent” okay?)
There is a discussion forum on the LOTRO site for thoughts and opinions on this new addition if you wish to do so! You’re also welcome to leave a comment here with your thoughts or experiences with the new lootboxes.