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Of Mounts And Blades: LOTRO's Mounted Combat

Lord of the Rings Online has sort of gotten trampled by the recent surge in new MMOs recently, but the F2P journey through the One Fantasy Universe To Rule Them All actually hasn't disappeared off the face of the planet. On September 5, it's even getting a shiny new expansion in the form of Riders of Rohan - which, sadly, is not about putting a saddle on the Rohan region and charging into battle atop a colossal landmass. The largely free chunk of content will, however, give everyone their own WARSTEED from which to do violence to both people and monsters. Turbine's even sent along a nice trailer, which actually looks really impressive. Go on an epic quest of self-discovery, friendship, and betrayal culminating in a battle that nearly tears the world asunder and also ewww there's a giant spider past the break to see the full thing.

Reading through the FAQ, it sounds like Turbine's really thought this through, too. Each class gets WARSTEED-specific skills, WARSTEEDs can level up, and - most importantly - this: "Q: I’m a Dwarf or a Hobbit. I’m tiny! What do I ride? A: Your [WARSTEED] comes in pony size!" Hooray! WARPONIES! Also, PVE content in the expansion is largely being designed with WARSTEEDs in mind. Turbine explained:

"Many of the opponents you encounter in the plains of Rohan will be mounted and an unmounted combatant will find combat more difficult against mounted opponents. Mounted combat is likely to be incorporated into parts of the epic quest line so in the course of completing that content, you will spend a moderate amount of time fighting from horseback.  There may also be some optional quests that can only be completed with the extra speed and agility you will have when riding your [WARSTEED]."

Truth be told, I haven't played LOTRO in ages (possibly literally, in Middle-Earth time), but this sounds really enticing. Back when I gave it a go, it was a glorified WoW clone, but between things like this and an in-game, player-driven music festival (!), it really seems to have picked up an identity all its own. So, does anyone still play? If I find myself languidly sitting in my idyllic hovel, munching perfectly aged cheeses and waiting for a wizard who swears he's not running late, should I pass the time by jumping back in?

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