The Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria

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The Lord of the Rings Online:
Mines of Moria
LOTR Mines of Moria.jpg
Developer(s)Turbine, Inc.
Publisher(s)Turbine, Inc.
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment[1]
Codemasters
Composer(s)Chance Thomas
EngineTurbine G3
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows
ReleaseNovember 18, 2008
Genre(s)MMORPG
Mode(s)Multiplayer

The Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria is the first retail expansion pack for the MMORPG The Lord of the Rings Online released on November 18, 2008.[2] The added the region of Moria, an enormous underground complex in north-western Middle-earth, with the region of Lothlórien added soon after. The game's level cap was increased to level 60 and the main storyline was extended by six books of the new Epic Volume II. The expansion also added two new classes, the Rune-keeper and the Warden, a new Legendary Items system and other features such as environment aware AI and dynamic lighting.

The expansion was promoted through playing web-based minigames. Visitors could play three games: King Under the Mountain, Swig & Toss, and Eleventy-Seven Morsels at the official site. By performing certain tasks players could complete "deeds", three of which unlocked a "goodie". These included one trailer and three pieces of game art. By applying for a beta invitation, players could also receive a fourth game art.

New areas[edit]

The Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria expanded the world of Middle-earth by adding the areas of Moria and Lothlórien:

Moria[edit]

  • Great Delving: Home to many chambers of Dwarvish lore and the Dolven-view, where the Iron-Garrison Expedition has set their first camp. Within this area, the player is introduced to the plans of the expedition and directed to other areas inside Moria.
  • Durin's Way: Within this avenue of old, the player finds the Chamber of the Cross-roads and numerous goblin camps. Orcs of the White-hand have been seen prowling the roads and bat-like evils rest within its rooms.
  • Zirak-zigil: At the highest peak of the Misty Mountains, the player finds a harsh cold climate and as well as a smote evil of old. The Mirror-Halls of Lumul-nar are accessible through here.
  • Zelem-melek: This previously hospitable delving is home to the Twenty-first Hall. Within this hall the player finds the main camp of the expedition, as well as the main centre for trade, training and services. The leaders of the expedition rest in the Chamber of Leadership and the Chamber of Mazarbul lies in ruin.
  • Silvertine Lodes: One of the latest delvings inside Moria. This area is home to the Forgotten Treasury as well as many secrets forgotten by time. Goblins have one of their many camps within this mine.
  • The Water-works: This deep delving is flooded with water. Wheels creek and Globsnaga Orcs prowl its ways. The player finds the Rotten Cellar, quest hub for the area as well as several lizards, toads and turtles. The Watcher in the Water lies hidden within the Vile Maw.
  • Flaming Deeps: This previously habitable area in the deeps of Moria is now flaming with fire. The great Forges of Khazad-dûm can be found as well as the Orc keeps of Fil-gashan and the Halls of Crating. The player is challenged by fiery spirits of old and fire-orcs have established camps around its halls.
  • Redhorn Lodes: Within one of the oldest delvings of the Dwarves, the White-hand Orcs have been seen infesting the mines. They have guarded themselves inside the Grand Stair and the player must clean the area and expel the orcs out of Moria. Two of the newest mines found by the expedition can be accessed by the player in the form of the Crafting Instances.
  • Foundations of Stone: The Dwarves delved too greedily and too deep and they woke an ancient evil of earlier ages. Being the most difficult area inside Moria, the player fights off a dreadful infestation while clearing the chasm of Skumfil and the rune-caves of the Dark Delving.
  • Nud-Melek: The entrance to Moria from the East, this area is home to the Bridge of Khazad-dûm and to the First and Second Hall. The Throne of Durin lies in its wastes and the 16th Hall is infested with Globsnaga Orcs.

Lothlorien[edit]

  • Dimrill Dale: The East Doors of Moria and the Mirrormere are found here The player gets to help the Elves of Lothlórien to drive back the orcs into Moria and defend the borders of Lothlórien. Once inside the Golden Wood, the player has access to both pacific and warlike quests; while proving their worth in the Battle of Lórien (six-player battlefield instance).
  • Caras Galadhon: The city in the Golden Wood, founded by Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel.

New classes[edit]

The expansion added two new classes to the game: Warden and Rune-keeper. Existing classes that were available with the release of The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar were also improved with added skills for the additional levels included in the expansion.

Class Races Armour Shields Weapons Dual-wielding Role
Rune-keeper Elf, Dwarf Light Rune Stones, (1H axes with Dwarf base passive skill) No DPS / Healer
Warden Man, Elf, Hobbit Light, Medium Light, Warden Daggers, 1H axes, 1H clubs, 1H hammers, 1H maces, 1H swords, spears, javelins No Tank

Rune-keepers are the closest thing to magic-users existing in The Lord of the Rings Online, but they aren't magicians in the traditional sense. Their new Attunement mechanic is represented by a bar with a sliding scale to illustrate whether they're attuned to dealing damage or healing wounds. As a Rune-keeper uses either healing or damaging abilities, the scale slides towards either end of the bar and the Rune-keeper's proficiency in either focus increases. As the Rune-keeper increases focus towards one end of the scale, more of those skills become available in greater power. However, the Rune-keeper will then also lose focus on the other end of the scale, making the skills associated with the opposite end unavailable. Therefore, the Rune-keeper can only effectively maneuver either their healing or damage abilities, but not both.

Wardens primarily use spears (though they can opt for other small arms) and wear medium armour, making them neither a tank nor a DPS class specifically. Designed to represent the equivalent of a town sheriff, Wardens are protectors that specialize in combination attacks using their Gambit User Interface. A Warden will execute their abilities in certain sequences that eventually culminate in a special attack only available after completing the prescribed set of moves. The Warden's Gambit UI is an array of two to five (depending on character level) squares that slot the abilities as players use them. Once all of the squares have been filled, a new skill will flash at the end of the bar as it becomes available.

Legendary items[edit]

The new Legendary Item Advancement System was designed to replicate the kind of connection with individual weapons characteristic of the most famous weapons found in Tolkien lore, such as Bilbo's sword Sting, Gandalf's Glamdring and Aragorn's Andúril. To that end, each class could acquire and equip two new items: a main hand weapon, and a class item. These Legendary items range in base power by level, rarity (Third-, Second-, or First Age), and the attributes assigned to them. Each Legendary Item initially started with two to four random Legacies that either affected the existing class skills or granted stat bonuses, with three to four more available to be selected as the Legendary Item increased in levels. Because the number and the potency of Legacies were unpredictable, it guided players to try several different Legendary Items before fully investing in one

The legendary equipment gain experience from quest completions and defeating enemies, increasing levels alongside their owner and becoming more powerful with use until the hit the item's cap. Special drops known as Heritage runes can be applied to legendary gear that will instantly increase the number of experience points and artificially level them. Each 10 levels a Legendary Item has to reforged at the new Forge-Master NPC to be able to increase in levels, while his Relic-Master counterpart can break unwanted Legendary Items into relics that can be infused into the usable Legendary Items to increase their power. Players can give each item an individual name and apply special titles which also affect their capabilities.

When originally introduced, the Legendary Item System had the intended effect of prolonging the usage of player's favorite weapons as opposed to them being replaced every time a better piece of equipment is acquired. In practice, the Legendary Item's power was still capped by its equip level, so with each new expansion a common Third Age item would quickly outperform an exclusive First Age item from the previous level cap, forcing the players to start building all of their items anew. The Legendary Item System received a number of tweaks and changes over the years, until in 2014 "imbuement" of Legendary Items was introduced. At then-current level cap of 100, the players were able to imbue their best Legendary Item and select their desired Legacies for them directly, bypassing the randomization part. Imbued items were finally able to live up to the original goal of the Legendary Items, with further level cap increases extending the level cap of the imbued Legendary Items as well, allowing players to keep them permanently as opposed to continue being replaced.

Storyline[edit]

The expansion added a second Volume of the main Epic Storyline, wholly unrelated to the first one. In it, the players continue following the path of the Fellowship into Moria and beyond. The conclusion of this storyline is part of the following Siege of Mirkwood expansion.

Volume II: Mines of Moria[edit]

Book I - The Walls of Moria[edit]

An expedition of Dwarves sent by King Dain Ironfoot and known as the Iron Garrison begins its attempts to excavate and enter the Hollin Gate shortly after the Fellowship's passage. Led by Dwarves Bosi and Brogur, sons of Bifur and Bofur, they succeed with the player's help, but when the last rocks are cleared, the Watcher in the Water attacks the assembled Dwarves, claiming the life of Brogur's son Broin. As the Dwarves regroup, they turn their hope to a discovered cache of older weapons, tasking the player with discovering if one such weapon might be endowed with the power to fight off such a foe as the Watcher. After selecting, training with, and reforging such a weapon, the Iron Garrison faces the Watcher again. This time, it is forced from the Black Pool, and the Iron Garrison passes into Moria.

Book II - Echoes in the Dark[edit]

Establishing themselves in their new home, the Iron Garrison begins the task of rediscovering the lore and artifacts of their heritage. One such passage of lore speaks of an ancient Dwarf-smith, favored by Durin, who endeavored to create an axe of solid mithril. So large was the task that an entire forge was created specifically for it: The Heart of Fire. After searching the mines for clues to its location, the Heart of Fire is unearthed, yet the axe, Zigilburk, is nowhere to be found. Nevertheless, the Dwarves are heartened by the recovery of one of their greatest forges, and Brogur pushes onward into Moria, establishing a command post in the Twenty-First Hall.

Book III - The Lord of Moria[edit]

Brogur sees to the defense of the Twenty-First Hall, only to learn of the presence of the White Hand's minions nearby. Meanwhile, excavation begins in the Chamber of Mazarbul, producing the Book of Mazarbul, a record of the demise of Balin's Company. While Bosi takes on the task of reading the tome in its entirety, his son Bori plans a strike against the White Hand in Broin's honor. While a pair of Dwarves cause a diversion, Bori and the player sneak into the White Hand camp and confront the commander, Ashpar. Before he dies, Ashpar boasts that his is not the major power, and mentions the name of Mazog, grandson of Azog and son of Bolg. Brogur rests assured that Ashpar was simply boasting, yet the news weighs heavy on Bosi. Mazog, he reveals, was the Orc commander responsible for the demise of Balin's company at Mazarbul.

Book IV - Fire and Water[edit]

The Orcs and Dwarves prepare for war. Fearing that attacks may be imminent, Brogur and Bori see that the defenses are secured at the Twenty-First Hall, the Chamber of Crossroads, and the Heart of Fire. The player is sent into the rotting Waterworks and Orc-infested Flaming Deeps beneath Moria to both harass the Orcs and gather supplies. In the meantime, Bori sneaks a look at the Book of Mazarbul, finding mention there of a Dwarf named Óin who went off in search of Zigilburk. Bori and the player follow Óin's path, arriving after a time at a flooded treasury, The Hall of Mithril. There they find not only Zigilburk, but also Broin, wounded yet alive, and the Watcher in the Water. The player drives the Watcher from the hall once again, and the Dwarves return in victory. Broin confesses from his sickbed that he feels a dread about Zigilburk, and fears it may be cursed. Bori does not agree with Broin.

Book V - Drums in the Deep[edit]

Broin is still worried about the repercussions of recovering Zigilburk, yet Bori laughs them off and sends the player to Zabadgathol, Mazog's fortress, to defeat some of his bodyguards. Some of these in their dying words speak of an alliance they have obtained, and it is discovered that Mazog is indeed allied with Dol Guldur. Upon discovery, Bori plans a raid on Zabadgathol to defeat Mazog once and for all. Yet the appearance of Gorothul, Sauron's servant from Dol Guldur, ruins the plan and despite Zigilburk, Bori along with the legendary axe are captured while the player is sent to deliver the news to the Dwarves. After this blow, Bosi has lost hope in the expedition to reclaim Moria, and leaves it up to the player to see to the defenses during a major raid by Mazog's forces, in which the Dwarves succeed for a time.

Book VI - The Shadowy Abyss[edit]

Even after the successful defense of several key locations, Bosi's spirits are still low. He sends the player to Lothlórien to seek help from the Elves of the Golden Wood. After the player proves to Haldir that they are indeed a friend, they are asked to assist Haldir's brothers in patrolling the borders of the Wood while messengers are sent to Galadriel to relay Bosi's request for aid. By the time the task is done, a company of elves has been sent to the Foundations of Stone, where the player learns that the Elves believe Dol Guldur is behind this move of the Orcs. The player is then instructed to find clues of Gandalf's passage through the area, and his fate following the fall from the Bridge of Khazad-Dum begins to unravel. An Elf named Magor has gone missing, and the player is sent to discover his fate. Magor is found captured by Orcs, and the player is able to free him from his captors. Magor then asks for the player's help in defeating the source of the evil that Galadriel sensed beneath Moria. After a hard-fought battle, the player defeats the nameless creature in the depths of the cave. Finally, hearing of the victory the Lady Galadriel summons the player to her garden where many secrets are revealed, including a partial explanation of the fate of Gandalf.

Book VII - Leaves of Lórien[edit]

The Fellowship rests in Lórien, while Elves and Dwarves take their first steps toward peace. Bosi is granted an audience with Celeborn and Galadriel, resulting in a contingent of Galadhrim being dispatched to aid the Dwarves in Moria. Among their first joint tasks is to sweep an infestation of the fungus-infested Orcs called the Globsnaga from a recent excavation in Buzun-ghar. Instead of working to free their kinsmen, Brogur is pushing ahead with mining efforts, tasking Broin with searching old mining records for notes on potential nodes. Yet such efforts once again prove fruitful, as one record speaks of a secret emergency passage leading from Durin's throne (on which Mazog now sits) to Buzun-ghar. Through its use, and the cooperation of Elf and Dwarf alike, Mazog is captured, yet Bori is nowhere to be found, having been already sent away to Dol Guldur. Celeborn grants the player an audience, commending them while also disagreeing on the notion of sparing Mazog's life. Haldir confesses the time may be drawing near for the Elves to cross the Anduin to confront the evil in Mirkwood directly.

Book VIII - Scourge of Khazad-dûm[edit]

Lothlórien history keeper Issuriel asks the player to recount the finer points of the escape with Mazog in tow from his throne room. Mazog lets slip a chilling fact: that he's not interested in being a king of Moria because Moria will soon become not fit even for the rule of the Orcs, referring to the rise of ancient nameless creatures from within the depth of Moria. This concerns both the Elves within Foundations of Stone and the Dwarves in the Upper levels. Several relics left by Gorothul before his leave for Dol Guldur are found to attract the nameless creatures, yet the player manages to destroy them.

The conclusion of the Epic Volume 2 takes place within the Siege of Mirkwood expansion

Book IX - Fortress of the Nazgul[edit]

A full-frontal assault is launched against Dol Guldur by the Elves of Lothlorien, under the banners of the Golden Host. Meanwhile, a small band of Elves known as the Hidden Guard also crosses the river Anduin in secret, with Mazog as their prisoner, accompanied by the player and the dwarf Broin. They seek to exchange the life of Mazog for the life of the prisoners, including dwarf Bori. Yet while the military campaign of the Golden Host goes well, the Hidden Guard faces the risk of disaster from the very start: the scout Raddir is found dead before he reveals the planned route and soon the scholar Issuriel is poisoned by the deadly spiders alongside Mazog. The stout elf Achardor becomes furious that his friend has been wounded and threatens to take Mazog's life if Issuriel dies. Issuriel speaks of a rare antidote that will cure the poison but later refuses to take it, allowing Mazog to take it instead. Achardor is even more outraged with this action taken, but just before Issuriel loses her life, the dwarf Broin brings another portion of antidote and the quest to Dol Guldur continues.

The Hidden Guard soon reaches the gates of Dol Guldur where the planned exchange takes place. But Gorothul and the Ringwraiths who arrive at the scene refuse to hand over Bori, and Achardor sacrifices himself to allow the rest to escape, while Mazog goes with Gorothul into Dol Guldur. The mission of the Hidden Guard is a total failure, yet the military campaign of the Golden Host goes extremely well: multiple adversaries are slain, enemy communications are disrupted and the Tower of Dol Guldur itself besieged. The task meant to be secret is accomplished by force and Bori is rescued from the Dungeons of Dol Guldur. He recounts a secret passage into tower, once used by Gandalf to find Thorin's father Thrain. The passage is used to launch a surprise assault and during battle in the tower, Broin slays Mazog, reclaiming the mithril axe Zigilburk.

Epilogue - Of Elves and Dwarves[edit]

While the assault was successful, the Elves do not have the strength to break the walls of the fortress. Enemy reinforcements are coming from the East and the Elves prepare to fall back beyond Anduin: the whole campaign was a diversion both to weaken the enemy and allow the Fellowship to safely depart Lothlorien. Both Elves and Dwarves finish the last deeds throughout southern Mirkwood, while the axe Zigilburk is buried yet again where the dwarves found it, to never wield its power again. The Elves of Lothlórien also strike several additional blows against the dark fortress, and Gorothul is challenged within his quarters in Sammath Gul, and finally defeated.

Free updates[edit]

Like Shadows of Angmar, Mines of Moria continued to regularly release major updates, although they have been less frequent.

Book 7: Leaves of Lórien[edit]

Book 7 was released on March 17, 2009. This update included: (complete release notes)

  • Continuation of the Epic Storyline.
  • Expansion of the Lothlórien Area including the reputation gated city of Caras Galadhon and a conflict area north of the Golden Wood.
  • A new raid entitled "Strange Happenings" in the Waterworks.
  • The new Reputation faction of the Galadhrim.
  • Crafting instances that allow players to gather resources.
  • Revised new player experience in Ered Luin for Elves and Dwarves.

Book 8: Scourge of Khazad-dûm[edit]

Book 8 was released on June 23, 2009. This update included: (complete release notes)

  • Four new raids and instances: Dar Narbugud (a multi-boss, radiance-gated 12-player raid) in The Foundations of Stone, The Halls of Crafting (a six-player instance), Lumul-nar (three-player instance) in Zirak-Zigil and Nala-dûm (three-player instance) in the Waterworks.
  • Revised new player experience in Bree-land.
  • The continuation of the storyline with the character returning to Moria.

Instances[edit]

Inside Moria there are seven group instances intended for groups of six-player: Fil-gashan, Forges of Khazad-dûm, Grand Stair, Halls of Crafting, Skumfil, 16th Hall, and Dark Delvings; each with different quests and loot rewards. Also, two three-man instances have been added with Book 8: The Mirror-Halls of Lumul-nar, where bats and evil merrevail seek to forever extinguish the light of the dwarf-mirrors and bring darkness once more to Moria, and Nâla-dûm (The Water-Wheels), where the great Water-works which funneled water from the mountains into the halls of Moria are found. These new instances can be completed in regular mode or hard mode (later renamed to "Challenge"), the latter giving players additional rewards.

Aside from those, three new raids intended for 12-player groups have been added: the Vile Maw, where the Watcher in the Water is found; Dâr Narbugud, where the Mistress of Pestilence seeks to bring her plague to the world of light; and Filikul, where a giant turtle dwells.

Soundtrack[edit]

Critically acclaimed video game composer Chance Thomas who worked on the base game of The Lord of the Rings Online returned to work on the expansion.[3] A compilation album was released as a CD with the Collector's Edition of the expansion.

Critical reception[edit]

Mines of Moria has been praised for its attention to detail, with GameSpot's Kevin VanOrd stating, "The bowels of Middle-earth have no right to be this interesting to investigate..."[9] WarCry.com went so far as to call it "[t]he best fantasy MMORPG yet created".[16] Gaming Trend claimed it beat World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King (released at roughly the same time) as an expansion, citing its replay value and gameplay quality. The review also praised Turbine for making a complete expansion, rather than simply cashing in on the license in their possession.[13] Eurogamer observed the story as one of the high points, stating that frequently this is a weakness of many MMOs. Rather, LotRO was said to be faithful to Tolkien's original narrative, and thus provided a very good storyline.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Turbine Announces Distribution Partnership with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for the Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria". Turbine Press Release. 30 July 2008. Archived from the original on 19 November 2008. Retrieved 20 October 2008.
  2. ^ Codemasters Online Connect 2008[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "HUGEsound.com". Chance Thomas' Web Site. Retrieved 12 June 2008.
  4. ^ "The Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria for PC". GameRankings. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  5. ^ "The Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria for PC Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  6. ^ Chase, Matthew (18 December 2008). "The Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria Review for the PC from 1UP.com". 1UP.com. Archived from the original on 6 March 2009.
  7. ^ "Mines of Moria Review". Computerandvideogames.com. Retrieved 10 January 2009.
  8. ^ a b Zitron, Ed (25 November 2008). "The Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria". EuroGamer. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  9. ^ a b VanOrd, Kevin (8 January 2009). "The Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria Review". Gamespot.com. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  10. ^ "Mines of Moria Review". Gamespy.com. Retrieved 10 January 2009.
  11. ^ "Mines of Moria Review". Gamezone.com. Archived from the original on 5 January 2009. Retrieved 10 January 2009.
  12. ^ "Mines of Moria Review". IGN.com. Archived from the original on 5 December 2008. Retrieved 10 January 2009.
  13. ^ a b "Mines of Moria Review". GamingTrend.com. Retrieved 10 January 2009.
  14. ^ "Mines of Moria Review". Gamervision.com. Archived from the original on 26 December 2008. Retrieved 10 January 2009.
  15. ^ "Mines of Moria Review" (PDF). DPADmagazine.com. Retrieved 10 January 2009.
  16. ^ "Mines of Moria Review". WarCry.com. Archived from the original on 1 January 2009. Retrieved 10 January 2009.

External links[edit]