The Lord of the Rings Online: Rise of Isengard Preview

The folks at GameSpy have cooked up a brief preview for the upcoming expansion to The Lord of the Rings Online, Rise of Isengard, based on its beta, and it's not too positive in tone, arguing that it "occasionally feels rushed and incomplete". Here's a sampling:
Indeed, The Lord of the Rings Online: Rise of Isengard might be the first major expansion for LOTRO since the massively multiplayer online role-playing game went free-to-play last year, but it feels more like a generous patch. You can explore fabled zones such as Dunland, the Gap of Rohan, and the vale of Isengard on your way to the new level cap of 75, but you won't encounter a new player-versus-player battleground. You can fight a bearded dragon of the non-Australian variety in a new 25-man raid, but you won't experience any new instanced dungeons at launch (although you will later in the year). Veteran Middle-earthers might enjoy the extensive tweaks for almost every class, while simultaneously balking at the absence of a new playable class and a new gameplay mechanic. For an expansion that's been in the works for around a year now, Rise of Isengard occasionally feels rushed and incomplete.

That doesn't mean it's dull. Rise of Isengard preserves LOTRO's reputation for nerdly grandeur, even while feeling smaller than previous expansions. You'll pick up much of the adventure while questing among the hardscrabble hills of Dunland, best known as the home of the filthy rabble that the wizard Saruman roused about halfway through Peter Jackson's film version of The Two Towers. The unwashed swarm is a little more articulate here, and you'll spend several levels dickering with the various factions. But while Dunland feels like a region worthy of an expansion, the Gap of Rohan and Isengard feel like cramped subzones. An epic quest line that pulls you down into the bowels of Orthanc alleviates the feeling somewhat, but once you're done, you're left with a narrow river valley and a thorn patch until the next content update.