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The latest update to The Lord of the Rings Online allows fans to play through a memorable moment in Middle-earth history. The massively multiplayer role-playing game, based on the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, first launched back in 2007. Since then the game’s long line of developers have continued to keep the game updated with new content, with developer Standing Stone Games currently managing the title.
In 2019 it was announced that Amazon Game Studios was working on a new Lord of the Rings MMO, presumably to coincide with Amazon Prime Video’s upcoming television series based on the franchise. This title was then cancelled in April 2021, but that has not hindered Standing Stone Games’ support for 2007’s LOTR Online. In April the developer launched Update 29.5, which kicked off a celebration of the game’s 14th anniversary while also adding new single-player quests to the game. These quests, titled “The Further Adventures of Bilbo Baggins,” allowed players to take control of the iconic Hobbit to complete specifically designed missions.
Release notes from Standing Stone Games detail Update 30, titled “Blood of Azog,” the newest update for LotRO. Described as an interlude in the ongoing story of LOTR Online, this update allows players to revisit historical moments from the fantasy franchise. Chief among these quests is a new raid, “The Fall of Khazad-Dûm,” a 12-player campaign against the dreaded Balrog of Morgoth. Series fans will recognize Khazad-Dûm and its demonic inhabitant from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, but now players can experience exactly how the Balrog came to reside within the dwarven city.
“Blood of Azog” will also see the addition of a new dwarven city, Azanulbizar, which was the site of a great historical battle. Players will relive this battle through the eyes of Hermáth Stormhammer, a great dwarven hero. “Blood of Azog” is said to act as an interlude questline, leading directly into a future update which will take place on Mount Gundabad. The expansion will be available for purchase as a Quest Pack within the game’s online store. Update 30 also includes several tweaks to the game, including a change to how revives work during raids and changes to a number of class stats.
Lord of the Rings Online has maintained a devoted fanbase, even more than a decade after its release. This devotion is displayed in a number of unique ways, such as several in-game tributes upon the passing of actor Ian Holm. The English actor was perhaps most well-known for portraying Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of Lord of the Rings. After his death in June 2020, LOTR Online players gathered by the hundreds to share their grief and celebrate the actor’s life. A more recent and less somber show of devotion came when a LOTR Online player managed to reach Level 130 in the game not by slaying monsters or raiding fortresses, but by simply baking a lot of pies.
Lord of the Rings Online gives players the ability to become truly immersed in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth. Exploring the franchise’s iconic world is still a unique experience, even more than a decade after its initial launch. Now the “Blood of Azog” expansion allows players to explore Khazad-Dûm and battle against the iconic Balrog of Morgoth, making the title an even greater love-letter to fans of the series.
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