The Lord of the Rings Online: Rise of Isengard
|The Lord of the Rings Online:
Rise of Isengard
|Release date(s)||September 27, 2011|
The Lord of the Rings Online: Rise of Isengard is the third expansion pack for the MMORPG The Lord of the Rings Online, released on September 27, 2011. This is the third expansion pack for The Lord of the Rings Online and, like the previous expansion, it is available as a web-based download only.
The Rise of Isengard officially brings the game's timeline to the events of The Two Towers. Players accompany the Grey Company as they ride to the aid of Aragorn, traveling through the new areas of Dunland, The Gap of Rohan, and the legendary region of Isengard, seat of Saruman the White. New game enhancements include a level cap increase to 75, level 75 legendary items, a new crafting tier, a 24-man raid, stat cap removal and improved virtue traits. There were also several major class revisions; the minstrel and the champion classes, in particular. The Epic Story was advanced with Volume 3 Book 4: The Rise of Isengard and introduced such iconic characters as Grimbold, Théodred, Grima Wormtongue and Saruman the White.
The expansion was first announced on November 19, 2010 and made available for pre-order June 7, 2011, when Turbine announced a release date of September 27. Various pre-order deals were made available including special in-game titles and items. The Rise of Isengard closed-beta launched on July 27 and closed several weeks before live release.
Volume III: Allies of the King
Rise of Isengard continues the storyline that began shortly after Siege of Mirkwood expansion and is described in that article.
Book 4 - Rise of Isengard
Passing into the lands of Dunland, the Rangers investigate the loyalties of the local tribes of Dunlendings. Some are fiercely loyal to Saruman, other openly oppose him and many have not yet been convinced to do either. The Falcon-clan of Tur Morva village offers the Rangers shelter in exchange for their help against Saruman. The Rangers busy themselves with preparations for war while the player is sent to scout the rest of Dunland. Finding a surprise ally in Nona, who insists that she does not need Halbarad's permission to travel over her own land, the player and the Rangers come into first contact with the Rohirrim. Riders led by Grimbold hold the Fords of Isen against inevitable assault, while Théodred, son of King Théoden, leads a smaller scouting party into the lands of the Dunlendings, who have been sworn enemies of Rohan for centuries. Returning to village of Tur Morva, the player finds a betrayal waiting for them: the clan decided that more is to be gained by siding with Saruman than by opposing him. The Grey Company is caught unprepared, many Rangers are killed and the rest captured.
The player and Ranger Lothrandir are sent directly to Isengard as a gift to Saruman. Separated from the Ranger, the player is sent working into the pits, observed by merciless Uruks. Using the dislike of Uruks for each other, the player fakes a total submission and is eventually allowed more freedom, as none believes him able to escape any longer. The player finds other prisoners, among them captured Rohirrim and Dunlendings - sworn enemies once, both find something in common after being made slaves to Saruman. Staging a diversion and freeing many prisoners at once, the player is able to sneak past confusion and escape Isengard.
Théodred offers the Rangers Saeradan and Radanir help in rescuing their captive friends and avenging the betrayal. The player and Rohirrim storm the village of traitors and rescue many Rangers, including Halbarad and the sons of Elrond. Yet they are still outnumbered - the leader of the traitorous clan gloats over Ranger's weaknesses and allows them to leave, telling them to spread the tale of how the Falcon-clan beat them. Of almost 60 named Rangers barely 30 made it out alive: Halbarad takes an oath to avenge the traitors and proclaims himself in eternal debt to Théodred, before planning the next move.
Book 5 - The Prince of Rohan
The secrecy required by Grey Company's errand and their weakened state following capture and imprisonment prevents them from continuing their journey for the time being. Finishing his scouting of Dunlending lands, Prince Théodred returns to the Fords of Isen and Halbarad bids the player to go with him, to repay the debt. Saying farewell to old friends, the player arrives at Grimbold's encampment and joins the preparations for the upcoming battle. Théodred shares his plan: the Rohirrim are to journey north to Isengard and smash the vanguard of Saruman's forces, then retreat to the Ford, forcing the Wizard to delay his assault on Rohan and buy themselves valuable time.
At dawn, the Prince leaves a small company to guard the Ford and leads his Éored into battle, with Grimbold and the player at his side. They encounter the vanguard of the Uruks and quickly cut through their lines, but then reinforcements come out of Isengard and outflank the cavalry, nearly surrounding them. Théodred orders a retreat, covered by Grimbold and the player, who have to cut down their pursuers many times. Unknown to the Rohirrim, Saruman has already sent his main force to the Ford of Isen by the eastern bank of the river while the riders attacked from the west. The defenders of the Ford are caught between two forces and are surrounded on a small island amidst the river by the time Théodred returns. Their forces are already failing by the time Grimbold and the player arrive. They cut through the enemies, but as they reach Théodred, he is struck by a mighty Uruk. It is then that the reinforcements from Riddermark finally arrive, led by Elfhelm from Helm's Deep, and charge the attackers. The Uruks retreat to Isengard, while Elfhelm and Grimbold tend to the gravely wounded Prince, who orders to bury him at the Ford - to guard it until such time as Éomer comes. At nightfall, the Prince of the Riddermark passes away.
Book 6 - Mists of Anduin
Regrouping at Grimbold's encampment at night, the Rohirrim and the player take a rest after a long day of battle. The player experiences a strange lucid dream, seeing many friends and enemies, both living and already dead. An apparition of Lady Galadriel bids the player to come and visit her urgently, adding a request to "bring the ghost" at the end. "The Ghost" refers to the Dunlending girl Nona, who had dubbed herself "Wadu's Ghost" in memory of her late brother and began waging her own vendetta over the Dunlendings who sold themselves over to Saruman. The players tracks Nona in the Gap of Rohan and convinces her to undertake a journey to Lothlorien. While the Galadhrim border sentries are even more distrusting of an outsider from Dunland than usual, the two are granted an audience. Galadriel shocks the player by saying that the dream had nothing to do with her, when Gandalf the White enters the conversation, having barely missed the Fellowship as they departed down the Great River days earlier. The Wizard insists that the dream must have had meaning and bids the player to explore the shores of Anduin downstream. After passing through the Rohirrim border settlement of Stangard, the player and Nona arrive at the Brown Lands, where they find a new threat: a corpse of a fell beast, slain by an arrow fired by Legolas as described in Fellowship of the Ring, with its rider missing. On their way back to the Rohirrim town, the player and Nona are attacked by first a band of Easterlings and later the Nazgul himself. Using the fire, the two manage to hold their ground, yet Nona is wounded - and whether by an Easterling blade or a Morgul one is unclear. The Rohirrim are in no hurry to offer help to one of their old enemies, save for one man named Horn. With all haste Horn and the player take Nona back to Lady Galadriel, who heals the wound, leaving her out of danger. Later, Galadriel reveals to the player that in her Mirror she foresaw Nona's demise and that she was saved only by the player's actions.
Like Shadows of Angmar, Mines of Moria and the Siege of Mirkwood, Turbine has continued to regularly release updates.
Update 5: Armies of Isengard
Update 5 was released on December 12, 2011.
Updates included (complete release notes):
- A new cluster of four instances and a 12-man raid set around the area of Isengard.
- Continuation of the Epic Story in Volume 3 Book 5.
- A newly implemented Instance finder allows players to form groups more efficiently.
- Various barter currencies were streamlined and unified.
- Changes to Reputation items allowing them to be consumed instantly.
Update 6: Shores Of The Great River
Update 6 was released on March 12, 2012. Some of the highlights include (complete release notes):
- A new region: The Great River (Anduin), located to the south of Lothlorien.
- A new 6 man instance set in a cavern underneath Fangorn Forest.
- The next iteration of Instance Finder, with updated functionality.
- Further tweaks to Warden, Rune-Keeper, and Minstrel classes.
- Skirmish soldiers could be summoned to assist in combat on regular landscape.
- Volume 3: Book 6 of the Epic story.
- Changes to itemization and currencies in the Ettenmoors.
- Upgrades to the Barter Wallet.
Update 7: Shades Of The Past
Update 7 was released on May 14, 2012. Highlights include (initial notes):
- Revamping of the Western half of Moria (Durin's Way, The Great Delving, Silvertine Lodes, and Water Works).
- The revamp of the Fornost instance, now separated into 4 parts and scalable from level 40 upwards.
- A new skirmish.
The Lord of the Rings Online: Rise of Isengard expanded the world of Middle-earth by adding Dunland, the Gap of Rohan and Nan Curunír. The areas along the banks of the Anduin between Lórien and eastern Rohan were added in update 6.
- Galtrev: The major site of commerce within Dunland.
- Gap of Rohan: The border area separating Dunland, Isengard and Rohan.
- Isengard: The site of the Tower of Orthanc, Saruman's stronghold.
- Thinglad: The southernmost fortification of the elves of Lórien.
- Stangard: The northernmost outpost of Rohan.
- Parth Celebrant: Site of the Battle of Celebrant, which led to the formation of Rohan, and the northern gateway into Rohan.
Rise of Isengard won the 2011 Best Expansion of E3 Award by MMORPG.com.