There’s been a bunch of hype swirling around the F2P launch and in addition, Turbine is slowly leaking out what their game plan is for the upcoming couple of releases.  I’ve pieced this information together from a few sources, but since it hasn’t shown up as an official post of sorts this is certainly subject to change.

The first good source of information was the Massive Online Gamer podcast interview with Kate Paiz talking about LOTRO’s future as well as various F2P tidbits.  Also, Merric from a Casual Stroll to Mordor has posted some of the various links and dev comments.  I’ll also splice in some other forum blue-name posts talking about this as well.

Our first update will come later this year, and I’m guessing it will be late November or early December to try and keep a couple people from the WoW exodus.  Plus that is a pretty popular time for Turbine over the past years with LOTRO.  This will most likely be a similar update to the Enedwaith region with the next book in the Epic Line and hopefully into the Dunland region.  I’m not sure about the region, but I’m pretty confident there will be a content update of some sort around this timeline and not just a book quest line.  I also expect another new skirmish or the possible revamp of the Volume 2 quest line in a similar fashion to what they did with Volume 1.  This also wouldn’t be a bad place to start rolling out the class updates from all the feedback threads, as they’ve talked about spreading those over a few updates.  Certainly not all of this will make it in, but if I toss out enough ideas, one is sure to be right.

The big news for me is the confirmation of the new raid content that will be another instance cluster.  We do know a few things about it as it has been confirmed to be back in Eriador and not story based and completely separate from the Rift, Carn Dum, or Urugarth.  The “not story based” means that it won’t be like the instances added with Enedwaith that were only accessible during the Epic Story Quest line.  This content is slated for the first part of next year (February is my guess), and during the interview it was mentioned that this would be the second update after F2P, which is why I’m slating the first one when I am.  The other big portion of this update is the removal of Radiance, also mentioned in the interview.  I’m thinking that old raids will still have radiance requirements, but the new cluster will have some other mechanism as I talked about previously.  I also expect this cluster to be very similar to the BG cluster with a couple 3-man instances, a 6-man, and a 12-man raid.  And from what has been mentioned, this area should prove to be quite challenging!  I’m pretty sure they’ll continue to have both skirmishes and instances as the skirmish system allows them to do all the instance scaling but the new instances need to have the cool fun loot we all crave.

Overall, I’m pretty excited about all this as it does get us back onto a nice routine of content updates and new raid content.  It also shows that Turbine is planning to maintain a similar update schedule that they’ve done with DDO, which should also be something along the lines of what we saw back in the Shadows of Angmar days.

I’m expecting to start seeing some news in the next week or so since we have the Fall Festival starting tomorrow.