So, we had a preview of the Mordor xpac today (6/22/2017).
5 new regions within Mordor.
10 levels of content (level cap is 115).
Virtue cap increased to 20 from 19.
Occurs after the destruction of the ring & downfall of Sauron.
Non-epic plot line called the Black Book of Morder.
New crafting tier (but no new guild rep tier).
New craftable minstrel instruments (no new trainable instruments).
Craftable gear at level 105, 110, & 115.
More streamlined essences.
No new monster play features or skills.
New "shadow/light" mechanic.
New ways to get gear, including from landscape & reputation, as well as the ability to deconstruct gear and barter the results for other gear.
New "Allegiance" system.
Looks like a major plot will be that the "king" of each region will be fighting for dominance.
I think it's obvious they are reusing assets. To me, several regions looked a lot like Isengard/Nan Curunír and the "industrial waste" area just outside the revamped Thorin's Gate. That surprised me, since I was expected it to be more like Angmar. There also seemed to be a lot of Gondorian-style architecture in the ruins, thought that might just be because they were porting to convenient, "safer" areas.
Mount Doom did look good.
One of the regions has rivers of lava (think of the lag), which is somewhat reminiscent of the Rift and the instances where we deal with Mordirith.
Another region is the "Valley of Spiders". It is being overrun with the spawn of Shelob. No indication is Shelob would make an appearance (it's almost certain there will be an instance involving her. The players would probably riot if they were not given a chance to spank her).
No indication if the waters of Morder are toxic.
There will be stable-masters, since some good guys will be scouting ahead. But there will be no major hub.
The Shadow mechanic is an effect that tiers up the further off the main path you go. It can be countered with a "Light of Earendil" effect that is applied to your gear. They did not really show how it works, other than some particle effects around your character.
Nothing was really said about the Light effect, how it's obtains, or how it is applied to the gear (except that it will be a separate thing).
You are being encouraged to go off-script, however, because there will be rewards (gear) out there.
This sounds a bit like Radiance.
Epic Story/Black Book Plot
It wasn't clear to me how the epic is going to be handled in the xpac. In one breath they would say that the epic won't be available until the xpac goes live, and in another they were saying that they were taking a bit of a break from the traditional epic to tell their own story with the Black Book plot.
Gear & Stats
Great is supposed to be much more plentiful and easy to obtain. There will be a token you can use on an item that breaks it into "Ashes", which can be bartered for other gear. The idea is that if your character needs Might-based gear, and you get something with Will on it, you can break it down and barter for the Might piece. This seems to work even for the raid gear. There is no indication on how these tokens will drop (I'm thinking it's going to be a store item).
They mentioned that the MOBs are going to be more powerful, but that our characters would also be more powerful. They are revamping Vitality to make it more important. No new skills or trait points. No discussion of essences.
New audacity gear for PVP will be available in a later update.
There will be new relics for LIs. They did not say there were new tiers, but that they will be "different ones" for the same slots. I assume that means new Crafted relics. No word on whether there will additional xp tiers for imbued LIs.
The devs have come to rely on Reputation as end-game content. And the Allegiance system seems to be reputation on steroids.
Basically, you pledge your allegiance to a specific race (elves, dwarves, men, or hobbits), and build up rep with them in order to get gear & other rewards. This is supposed to be done for story purposes, with the idea that you'll pledge to one race. You can, however, pledge allegiance to multiple races, but it the difficulty level tiers up with each race you pledge to. They want you to play through the region on multiple alts. And yes, they said that.
Since QuarterMaster U ported into Erebor, the dwarven faction is obviously led by Thorin III, who succeeded Dain after the Battle of Dale.
It not clear if there are non-allegiance reputation factions.
Nothing new here. They can be any class except Burglar. They will have their own staring zone, racial deeds, etc.
You will not be able to convert an existing elf into a high elf (no real surprise there)
They have added more options to the Barbers so you can customize your character almost fully.
No flowers to pick.
No word on prices or pre-order packages.
An instance cluster will be released separately. No word on whether it will be bundled with the xpac.
First preview will be available on Bullroarer tomorrow (6/23/2017). You can download the client and transfer your character now.