New Instance Cluster Developer Diary
New Instance Cluster
By Ben Schneider
We heard you loud and clear. We heard it after Update 14 when you mobbed Tarlang's Crown and we heard it over the Roving Threats and in responses to the full-fellowship Retaking Pelargir. There's a hunger among you guys for hard. And after thinking things over, we knew just what kind we wanted to build for you next: a little love letter to Lord of the Rings Online past.
The mere word "Osgiliath" conjures a host of images. Grandeur crumbled nearly into dust. The halfway point between light and darkness, between sun and moon... between victory and defeat where the frozen moment of pitched battle rages eternal. And this last thought reminded us of the favorite hero from this frozen moment: Faramir, son of Denethor, brother of Boromir. Where is he at the moment we arrive in Osgiliath? Few know where he is and whether he yet lives. Certainly not the few Rangers of Ithilien left in Osgiliath. And with that thought, the seed was planted.
There was so much to weave in, and we had fun doing it. Aragorn sailing secretly from Pelargir, an army poised and ready to assault Minas Tirith, Nazgul flying overhead, the Dawnless Day. And although I don't want to give anything away, maybe some old faces from our online version if Middle-earth in particular.
But enough about backdrop. Let's talk instances. Here's what I mean, specifically, by a love letter to our past: a cluster of two three-player and one full fellowship instances that climb from the depths to the heights of Osgiliath. Scaling from level 50 to 100, two tiers and a cap-level challenge in each. We've wrapped them (lovingly) in a quest chain and hope that everyone will get through the Tier 1 version. Tier 2 and the Challenge, though--that is where we're bringing the hard. We've labored to keep it interesting, fair, and fun... but merciful Tier 2 is not. You have been warned.
There will, of course, be rewards. The first thing you should know is that for these instances, we're returning to group loot mode. We like the sense of, well, group it gives us. We like seeing what everyone's got on their plate. Here's what we're serving up: Tier 1 chests hold a pile of armour, necklaces, and off-handers that should keep you in business in this region of the world. In Tier 2 chests you'll find "picker boxes" of set-bonus equipment. We've given you options for a large number of slots in these so that there will be plenty of ways to shuffle things around to maximum effect. The brass ring, of course, lies in the Challenge chests, where you'll acquire Morgul Crests that can be traded for blank items with five essence slots. We think you'll want some of those--for the next good challenge coming up the road.
The first three-player instance, the Sunken Labyrinth, begins in the culverts beneath Osgiliath, where some Rangers have fled to escape the eyes and swords of the invading force. Of course, the Morgulduin's fouled currents wash in here, and who knows what you'll find deeper down there. Next, in the Ruined City, a mysterious stranger dressed in Faramir's tattered cloak will stay just steps ahead of you at every turn. Finally, a full fellowship can ascend to the Dome of Stars and encounter one particular Nazgul in the full heart of his army's power. Some secrets will be revealed, others must be kept from the Lidless Eye.
So to all of you who like a challenge, here's one for you. Bring your Guardians, Champions, Rune-Keepers, Minstrels, Beornings... you'll need them all. Gear up, tune your build: the Osgiliath instance cluster is on its way.