[10th June] Note: I edited this post a little bit. I wrote it late at night after a tiring day at work. I did not change any content, just the wording which I felt was off and not clearly expressing what I was trying to say. Apologies.
The expansion for Lord of the Rings Online, Riders of Rohan, was made avaliable for pre-purchase on their site meaning that both the pricing and the pre-purchase bonuses have been made public. Readers with a keen eye might have noticed that the url for the site ends with pre-order.html. There is actually no pre-ordering involved here. Once you agree to purchase you will instantly get billed for the full cost of the expansion although you’ll have to wait till September 5th 2012 to ride into Rohan. However you will be able to immediately access the bonuses associated with the bundle you decide to buy. Some bonuses are available only to those who agree to part with cash prematurely so, presumably, they will not be available after the expansion goes live. There is a distinct possibility that we will see these bonuses appear on the Turbine Store eventually as has become customary of late.
Of the bonuses you get for pre-purchasing (and the only one of note to me) is ‘The Outrider’s Token’ an account wide 25% XP boost up to level 75. I am not sure if this is an item or some kind of buff . The site is not really clear about this (edit: its a pocket item). What I know is that it makes Derudh’s Stone redundant (This item gives you +25% XP gain while equipped and is usable up to level 65). This was the most valuable pre-purchase bonus associated with the previous expansion, Rise of Isengard. The fact that the base edition does not have this perk associated with it makes it a very hard sell for me. This only leaves the Heroic and Legendary editions as viable options for pre-purchase for me and frankly what’s on offer is not enough.
My gripe, and the reason why I am writing this rant-ish post: The much vaunted 6th inventory slot is currently only available to those forking 70$ for the Legendary Edition (edit: It will be available later on in the store for 1000 TP). This price would be extremely high for a full PC game but more so for an expansion (to a 5+ year old game nonetheless). Clearly Turbine are riding on the fact that the extra bag is extremely coveted by high level players since it adds readily available space for their characters. They are basically telling us that to be allowed such ‘luxury’ on our characters we will have to pay almost double the price for the expansion. Woe to anyone who, like me, thought they were getting the extra bag slot just for pre-ordering. It seems that at this point dishing out money months in advance has become the norm within the industry and players should not be expecting any signs of gratitude for doing so.
Furthermore, another bonus for the Legendary Edition got me worried. It is labelled as ‘Exclusive Rohan Content’ and the tool tip says that it’s a deed that grants an exclusive skill for your war steed. I have been fearing for some time that all game systems going forward would be devised in such a way as to make them easily monetized through the LotRO Store. To me this all but confirms it although we will only know for sure when the expansion is released come September.
I concede that I may be livid purely because most bonuses do not appeal to me. The extra quest packs for the Heroic Edition are a nice touch but quite useless to me since I already have those. It might prove to be a reasonably priced choice for those new to the game. Then again this expansion offers nothing for anyone who is not at level cap and I cannot imagine why newcomers should invest in an expansion which they will experience quite some time from now. As for me, I decided to put my foot down. I will not be pre-purchasing the expansion, especially since I am not too keen on another XP boosting thingamajig. I will wait until release and then buy the base edition when it’s priced decently. I just hope that Turbine stop alienating their player base with such ill crafted money grabbing schemes. They should be striving to provide value for our money not demand a ransom for the items we value.