Lord of the Rings Online: Helm's Deep explores a new vision of Rohan.
Several weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with the development team of Lord of the Rings Online to discuss the new expansion for the game, Helm's Deep. Set to release on November 18th, Helm's Deep will pick up the epic story of Lord of the Rings Online, and take players to new places, introduce them to new and familiar allies, and pit them against perilous foes. I recently had the opportunity to attend a follow up walkthrough with the developers at Turbine to discuss the new lore and plot for the expansion, and how the story of the game will expand on the already impressive universe of Lord of the Rings.
The expansion takes place in West Rohan at around the same time as the Fellowship of the Ring is traveling there during The Two Towers, and players will be able to interact directly with characters such as Aragorn, King Théoden, and Gandalf. Players pick up Lord of the Rings Online's epic story right at the end of Riders of Rohan, after being banished from Western Rohan by the Wormtongue-influenced Théoden. The players first enter Rohan at the exact time that Gandalf and the Hobbit-less Fellowship arrive. They enter Théoden's chambers at nearly the exact moment that Gandalf frees Théoden from Sarumon's influence, which is depicted in a masterfully done in-game scene. Players will have the opportunity to see a unique take on Gandalf's revelation of his White robes, and take part in many of the more dramatic scenes, such as Éomer giving Théoden back his sword, a notable, symbolic scene in the books. Helm's Deep is littered with dramatic scenes such as these, where players can be an active participant in the epic story of Lord of the Rings.
Turbine is jumping on a unique opportunity in Helm's Deep by adding their own voice to the Lord of the Rings universe. Although they're clearly dedicated to maintaining consistency with the books, the developers have added to content that was left largely unwritten by Tolkien, and sometimes in direct contrast with the films. An example of this is the shieldmaiden, Éowyn. Though in the movies, Éowyn is largely eye-candy-temptation for Aragorn, in Helm's Deep, we find out that Éowyn is left as Reagent of West Rohan when Théoden leaves for Isengard, tending to the elderly and sick who could not fight. Players will have the opportunity to aid Éowyn and the struggling Rohirrim before they head down to Helm's Deep, adding an extra layer to the story that will be icing on the cake for Lord of the Rings lore nerds.
Helm's Deep features three 'books' of content, each of which represents approximately 100 quests, events, and scenes for players to engage with. Each book breaks down into about 12 chapters consisting of a minor arc or subplot within the story.
The first book is set in Edoras, the capital of Rohan, and will introduce players to the setting and background of what is going on in Rohan. Players will be introduced to new characters such as Éomer, Háma, Éowyn, and other characters who build the story of the Helm's Deep expansion. Edoras also introduces the players to the city itself, allowing player to engage in a "bottom-up" version of the story, where they can see the city from the individuals who make it up, rather than being fed plot circumstances and reacting accordingly. The second book of Helm's Deep is set in the greater region of Western Rohan, and the third features Helm's Deep exclusively, including the Epic Battles system that will be featured as the end-game for the expansion.