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Turbine have opened up pre-orders for the Lord Of the Rings Online’s next expansion – Riders of Rohan. They’ve firmly staked a claim to a September 5 launch date, which strikes me as pretty brave when Guild Wars 2, some little-known game featuring pandas and (possibly) Rift’s Storm Legion expansion are all hovering out there playing chicken with each other over their respective launches.

In terms of features, I can’t really fault RoR: there’s the expected level cap increase, new landscape “almost twice the size of Moria” which was a good-sized expansion in its own right, mounted combat with war-steeds that you can level up and customise (feels like the legendary weapon system all over again, and hopefully Turbine have learned some lessons on that one) and roving enemy warbands on the landscape that sound suspiciously like Rift’s planar invasions. The “ouch” of the title comes from the pre-order pricing: there are three versions at $40, $50 and $70, and only the $70 version gives the much-longed-for 6th inventory bag as well as an item to add an extra legacy to your legendary weapon of choice and “exclusive Rohan content” leading to a unique skill for your war-steed (note: unique skills with no details specified may well resemble a pig in a poke, this could be anything from a cosmetic or emote skill through to the ‘I win’ Flailing Hooves Of Doom skill).

Apparently the 6th bag and the legendary upgrade will be available in the LotRO store once RoR goes live, so the economical option for lifetime VIPs like myself would be to buy the $40 pre-order and use my stash of Turbine points, or even forgo pre-ordering as I have no character anywhere near Rohan levels (my old characters are still parked at 65, my rebooted Burglar hit 43 yesterday but still has a ways to go). That would be the sensible choice.

On the other hand – dropping the $70 gets me the 6th bag NOW, as well as a new mount and some pretty cosmetic gear for my character and his skirmish soldier. And I’ve spent half of the four day weekend here in the UK up to my eyeballs in design reviews so I reckon I’m allowed to spend some of the overtime money on treating myself. Especially as I still like Turbine as a games company so throwing some money their way feels like I’m encouraging one of the better studios out there.

But I still think that $70 is “ouch!” for an expansion.

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