Spoiler alert: This article contains pictures relating to the Riders of Rohan expansion.
I would appear that a provisional map for the new Riders of Rohan expansion was leaked a few weeks ago via Twitter, just prior to E3. Once data like this is available on the internet, it never really goes way. The same image resurfaced again recently and was subsequently discussed on the LOTRO forums. As you would expect, Turbine closed the thread. You may recall that similar material of this nature surfaced last year at Gamescom, regarding the previous expansion Rise of Isengard. It featured maps that were unfinished and still subject to alteration. However, the majority of what was shown then made it in to the final release build relatively unaltered. Perhaps this should be considered when viewing this new map.
Now you do not have to be Hercule Poirot to figure out where this map came from. Therefore there’s a good chance that more data of this nature will surface between now and the September launch date. At present the map does raise a lot of interesting points as it is copiously annotated with references to the source text. That in itself will excite most fans of the game. It is also curious to note that there is a sizeable section to the North West that is not included. Namely from Limlight Gorge down to the Entwash vale. Is this work in progress or a region held in reserve for a future update, such as Shores of the Anduin?
I have tried to reconcile this map with existing data and as a result assumed that a player will enter the new region via the road that is on the opposite side of the broken bridge south of Ost Celebrant. It is also interesting to note that when SotA was released you could swim across the river and get to the other side. Once over you could proceed across the road until you hit an invisible wall. However, this has now been altered since the last update. The river banks have been raise so a player cannot cross any more. A curious change to implement.
Also I have tried to make a comparison to see if I can determine if the Riders of Rohan landmass is as large as Turbine claim that it is. So far I would tentatively say yes based on an image comparison between the new region and the last update Shores of the Anduin. However, one has to acknowledge that there is a lot of information that is not currently available and whatever there is is subject to change between now and September. Cross referencing the new land mass to any area is a difficult thing to do as in-game maps are often on many levels and a simple two dimensional comparison in not sufficient a test.
Now whenever it comes to spoilers or leaked material, there are always mixed opinions on both sides of the debate. From my point of view all I have done is collate information that is already out there in the public domain. However, as I implied earlier, the information is not that hard to come by and I wonder if this is ultimately some sort of “Guerilla advertising”? It has been said many times that “any publicity is good publicity”. As far as I am concerned, anything that gets people talking about LOTRO is a good thing. It can lead to new players, which means increased revenue for Turbine which is surely a good thing for the games longevity.
I was trawling through the internet this morning and found a couple of interesting images. The first is obviously a fake as it turned up on the Official LOTRO Forums back in 2010. It never ceases to amaze me the efforts people will go to, just to do a bit of forum trolling.
The next one looks more genuine and certainly seems to correlate with the provisional map shown above. It also has the right look and feel of the other in-game LOTRO maps, especially if you compare it to the Great River area. Whether this is the real deal remains to be seen.