New expansion, new classes

January 13, 2009

There’s a lot of people out there who are currently trying out LotRO because of the Mines of Moria expansion with both the massive new area of content, the new instances, the legendary weapons and also the two new classes – the Warden and Rune-Keeper. It seems, for the first time in ages, that some new classes have been received with genuine excitement. Well done Turbine.

From my own perspective and talking to guildmates in-game the classes are both excellent and a lot of fun. I warm more to the Warden because I love the gambit system – basically you get lots of combo moves, and you need to learn how to use your skills in combination to get the combo skill you want to use. It adds a certain strategy to gameplay, and this is something people always love. So – how long do we think it’ll be until every game has a warden-like class added? It’s not that hard a mechanic to include, and definitely not that hard to work into any IP. In fact you could have a game where every character worked on some form of combination-skill playstyle, taking hybrids to a completely new level. Just something to ponder. I estimate it won’t take too long for other developers to take a good look at the warden class and mimic it – in the best possible form of flattery for Turbine, really.

The Rune Keeper is a bit like the Archmage in WAR, with one notable difference. Instead of increased dps making you a better healer, and vice versa, it works the other way. If you  are fully attuned to dps, it’s harder to switch to healing and your heals are worse until you regain neutral and, from there, healing attunement. It’s quite an interesting mechanic this way around, as it was with the Archmage the other way. There are skills that help you regain neutrality, and a legendary that lets you wipe the slate clean (I believe). But what’s really interesting about the Rune Keeper, for me, is some of the high level skills. You can cure wounds and poison, but instead of doing so reactively, you heal them beforehand. Sounds weird? Yeah, I’ve not seen it in play yet (though we do have a level 45 RK in guild, so I hope to soon), but it’s supposedly a ‘prophetic’ skill, enabling you to cure poison from the next strike from a mob. This will be incredibly useful in some fights, especially when combined with the more reactive cures in-game. It’s another mode of strategic play for us all to get our heads around.

Personally, I’ve always expressed concerns about new classes and MMOs. In my experience every new class has taken something from the old balance, and often they come in a little stronger and a little cooler than what came before, in an evolutionary way. No-one is to blame, but to add something new often means something that doesn’t revisit old problems, which means it’s viewed as a bit better, a bit more uber, a bit ‘flavour of the month’ by its very presence. And I have participated in my fair number of discussions about which classes will no longer be needed because of wardens and RKs – these all end in laughter, as we tend to take things to extreme points on view and then turn them into jokes. But, there was a thread recently on one of the LotRO boards that asked a pertinent question about raid make-up, listing what classes are taken now to the Rift and asking which would be cycled out for a warden or RK. It’s the same question that was asked in WoW when Shamans and Paladins crossed the big divide and the same question that will undoubtably be asked in WAR when the full complement of classes come in (except WAR doesn’t rely on class balance as much because it’s so focussed on RvR).

It’s a valid concern, and yet it always seems to work itself out. It’s also something I’ll definitely write more about (this post rambled on for another 3 paragraphs, but I just clipped them and decided to revisit the topic sometime instead!).



  1. My pet theory is that the Warden was an experiment in making a class mechanic more suited to console control pads, because it’s no great secret that Turbine are working on a console based MMO (maybe Harry Potter).

    The Warden mechanic would be ideal for 360 and PS3 pads. A few simple skill buttons to build combos out of, a button to trigger them, cancel them, jump, etc. It allows the complexity of traditional MMO combat but with a much simpler interface.

  2. Ooh good point , and all the more incentive for other games to nick it 🙂

  3. Am heading back to lotro, just patching the game now & looking to try out the Lore-Master. When I originally tried the game I didn’t even get to Book 1, such was the pull of WoW at the time.

    Interesting times…

  4. Well now, I just happen to know a couple of people who need to do Book 1 🙂

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