To take small part in the Beta Testing of Turbine's forthcoming expansion to Lord of the Rings Online Shadows of Angmar, the Mines of Moria.
I can only provide a layman's eye view of the things I experienced, and I'll be glad to answer questions as best I can, but realize I won't be able to do any 'technical analisys'.
I just don't have the tools.
That said, let's get to the juice!
There are many, many changes coming.
Not only to the 'map' available for play, but to the very game itself.
The new map areas start in Eregion, and work through Moria, to a small portion of Lothlorien.
My guess is that it vertually doubles the size of the overall playable area.
This means a whole new world of exploration.
If you haven't 'finished' exploring the current map, you had better get busy!
The players currently at the level cap of 50, and ready to embark on new journies will enter Eregion, and find a whole new group of quests waiting for them there.
Get busy and empty out the Quest Log now, because what awaits you is more than enough to fill it again, several times.
In addition to stand alone and chain quests, here you also begin the 'Epic' or Book Quests that are required that will take you inside Moria itself.
Like the Fellowship, you will also have to get past the Watcher in the Water to gain entrance to Moria, so be ready!
But there is much more to do in Eregion than 'just' enter Moria, though it may be your main desire.
Don't overlook Eregion though, as many interesting and suprising events await you there.
The School, the Library and other areas hold much for those intrepid enough to explore.
When you do finally enter Moria, expect to be amazed, and you won't be disapointed.
Expect to be awed, and you won't be astounded.
Expect to be thrilled, and you won't go into shock.
Moria itself is huge, beyond (my) expectation or imagination!
Were this a rollercoaster, the top would not be visible from the ground.
The level of detail and the size combine to cause one 'run aground' often.
You wander, and gawk, only to look down and find you've (your character) been defeated.
There is no way to adiquitely discribe, in short or long, the beauty of what they have created.
It must be experienced.
Add to this the overhaul of many of the 'game mechanic' aspects.
Traits, Weapons and Crafting are some of the areas that have recieved major reworkings, each of them have been enhanced greatly.
Traits have recieved a huge revamp.
No longer a just 'sub-section' of your Character Journal, the new Trait Window is in itself a whole rework and indepth study of play style.
How you as an individual like to play your peticular character and class is now much more customizable and focused.
Play styles are enhanced and specialized, giving the player a greater ability to drive forward their characters in the way they want.
The new trait system allows you to enhance your own play style in ways that will be felt immedietly and benificially.
Where before you may have had to make choices based on balancing one style over another, you can now follow a path either way, or switch between the two when the need arises.
Additionally, two more slots for Class, and one more for Legendary become available as your levels progress towards the new cap of 60.
Powerful and determined, fell handed warriors strike out on quests that will test even their mettle, as foes greater still wander the deep places.
Weapons now include Legendary Items, befitting the fact that we are now entering an area of antiquity in Middle-earth, where hoards plundered have long been unseen by the eyes of the Free Peoples.
We get small glimpes of what had been in the items we find now, and as we rummage amongst the shard and splinter of lost eras, finding the rare value, and investing ourselves in it we are rewarded for our time by weapons and items of significant worth.
This worth is expanded and enhanced by a number of customizable features.
First, there are a complex and indepth list of 'Legacies' each item might contain.
These Legacies are futher customizable in their own right.
As your weapon earns experience through combat, it will gain 'Legendary Points' which are expendable towards upgrading the Legacies and damage dealt potentials of the item.
In addition there are 'Relics' which you can choose from to add more value to your Weapon.
'Equipping' these Relics further customize and tailor your weapon to you and your play style.
The Legendary Item window gives you information and options throughout the line of advancement, creating a personal and potentially devistating weapon of fear among your foes.
Crafting recieves a huge boost in this new expansion.
Not only a slew of new recipes for each craft dicipline, but a whole new path of specialization awaits.
Guilds offer the crafter an opportunity to create powerful new items for each class of player.
Each Guild specializes in their own discipline, and offers the crafter a huge array of recipe enhancements as a reward for following the path of that Guild.
Almost everything, almost all recipes, from component to complete item is enhancable, through Guild Reward Recipes.
It gives the individual crafter a large array of options on how to best take advantage, in time, materials and end products.
I haven't even begun to discuss the options of the two new classes, the Rune Keeper, and the Warden which become available in this coming expansion, and for those of you frettting over having all of your current five character slots filled, don't worry.
You won't have to delete any of your current characters to make room for a new class, because Turbine is adding two more Character Slots to your current cap of five, for a total of SEVEN character slots! WooHoo!
Well, I'm a bit winded now, so I'll end it here.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask and I'll do my best to answer them.