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Patch 2.02 v9.0.0 Released!

By Excelsior - 4th February 2023 - 11:13 AM

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Greetings People of Middle-earth!

After what seemed to be an endless wait, it is my pleasure to announce the official release of Patch 2.02 v9.0.0! The 2.02 Team has been working tirelessly to bring the community a patch focused on quality, and thus there was a conscious effort to ensure as much testing as possible took place prior to the official release.

What can you expect in Patch 2.02 9.0.0?
  • Careful balance tuning
  • Countless bug fixes
  • Introduction of new and/or improved features and content
  • Quality of life improvements
  • Off-host gameplay performance improvements
The 2.02 Team has pulled out all the stops and believes v9.0.0 is going to be a revolutionary patch for both the competitive and non-competitive communities.

Delay Fix

Aside from the team's continuous work on gameplay, balance, and design, the most notable breakthrough achieved in v9.0.0 is the long-awaited fix of the off-host-delay - a dream come true for online players!

Thanks to the countless hours of work put in by our reverse engineer Danetta and a few other contributors, we were able to perform the 3rd and largest modification of the game's engine in the history of Patch 2.02!

What is the Delay Fix?

This improvement reduces the network delay between the host and off-host players in a lobby by roughly 90%. Please note, it does not affect latency or performance-related lag. Therefore, just like any other game out there, higher ping resulting from distance from other players will still very much be a reality.

The fix comes at the cost of two (small) things: Animations will be sped up marginally which can be perceived as visually less smooth, and latency-related lag can come through as bigger jumps in the game instead of multiple small skips or slowness of the game. Given that this could potentially be bothersome to people, we have ensured the delay fix is an optional setting in our 2.02 launcher. We would recommend disabling the fix when playing offline.

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The delay fix is still in its infancy and subject to improvements. It is a resource-heavy endeavour and we ask for patience and support while we continue to work and improve it for future iterations.

Please note, enabling/disabling delay fix will not cause out-of-sync. Additionally, please ensure you enable delay fix when installing the patch for the first time.

As always we encourage everyone to read through our CHANGELOG as well as our thoughts behind some of the most notable changes in the v9.0.0 patch, detailed below.

Most Notable Changes

Global Changes

Patch 2.02 v9.0.0 includes two global changes that are meant to alter the pace of the game in various ways:

Resource Modifier

BFME2 and RotWK come with a predesigned anti-snowball mechanic called the resource modifier. It slightly reduces the resource output percentage of all Resource Buildings based on the number present on the field. We found the penalty values used in the original modifier were too harsh, excessively hindering a player's growth and awarding too little for map control. With the values adjusted, the game will now progress slightly faster and encourage both players to harass more.

Buff, Leadership, and Spell Bonuses

One of the notable flaws of previous versions of Patch 2.02 was the major impact of Buff, Leadership, and Spell bonuses, resulting in gameplay that was too heavily based on power cooldowns and hero-supported armies. Therefore, we reduced the percentages of all the abovementioned bonuses, which not only makes them less oppressive but also reduces the efficacy gap between them. We hope that this prevents certain timed attacks from being too deadly and encourages players to use their Buffs more freely.
  • Buff armour and damage bonuses reduced to +33% (from +50%)
  • Leadership armour and damage bonuses reduced to +25% (from +33%)
  • Spells (I.e., Darkness, Starlight, Dark Glory, Mighty Rage, etc) reduced to +25% armour and damage (from +33% or +50%)

Balance Changes due to Delay Fix

Halfway through our development process, our team received the news of the work on the delay fix being a success. This allowed us to continue balance testing under near-perfect playing conditions, with both on-host and off-host players able to control their units smoothly.

Following numerous competitive tests, it was apparent that delay-free matches would present some new balance problems. For example, fast, agile, and micro-intensive units would benefit too heavily as a result of delay-free commanding, dictating a dominant gameplay style that we were not comfortable with. Considering the delay fix will undoubtedly impact the current game balance beyond the above, we've begun implementing appropriate changes, some of which will be live in v9.0.0. As you would imagine, the task is by no means finished as it will take a considerable amount of time to fully understand what needs to be adjusted. Below is a list of the changes we've implemented thus far:
  • Damage reduction of Cavalry against Resource Buildings
  • Speed reduction of Giant Eagles
  • Damage reduction of Fellbeasts against Resource Buildings and Lumber Mills
  • Damage reduction of certain mounted Heroes against structures
  • Armor reduction of Battlewagons
  • Damage reduction of Knights of Dol Amroth

Unit Changes

In our constant effort to make every unit useful and viable, v9 tackled the most prominent cases of rarely seen units and brought them into the spotlight:

Sorcerers and Black Numenoreans

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The two signature units of Angmar received significant buffs to their "tankiness" and utility. Easier access to Death Masks for Black Numenoreans and the improved Charge ability will finally make them the most fearsome Swordsmen in the game. Accompanied by faster movement speed and "tankiness" for Sorcerers, and the significant buff to the structural damage of the Corpse Rain ability, these two units will have great synergy and prove to be worthy tech-up options for Angmar.

Corsairs of Umbar

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The reintroduction of the Tavern to Mordor was not only for aesthetic reasons but to allow Corsairs to make a more regular appearance in Mordor's gameplay. While previously only recruited 1-2 times after a Haradrim Palace start, they now have multiple build orders based around them, adding more options to Mordor's early-game. The redesign of the problematic Firebomb ability and the addition of Pillage (functions similarly to that of Wildmen) is to ensure their usefulness as a starting unit.


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The reason for Harad's mighty war beasts not making many appearances in competitive games was quite simple: The initial cost was too high and keeping them alive proved difficult. Therefore, we reduced the cost of both the Mumakil Pen and Mumakil and improved the healing rate of the Mumakil.

Rohirrim and Gondor Archers

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Men of the West have always struggled with their different unit types overshadowing each other. Gondor Knights fulfilled the cavalry role too well for too long, leaving too little reason to tech up to Rohirrim in most cases. Gondor Archers on the other hand were simply too weak and often entirely skipped in favour of Ithilien Rangers. With the changes made to these units, we hope that all of them will find an appropriate identity in the stage of the game they are meant for.

Fortress Drake and Eagle

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Not only were these two special Hero units locked behind an unreasonably long recruiting process, their rare appearances also led us to overlook a few problematic aspects such as their rapid leveling - all of which have been addressed for v9.0.0.

Cosmetic Changes

Another big task the 2.02 Team has taken on is improving on things that suffered from EA's lack of development time, specifically for RotWK.

The Tavern for Mordor

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When RotWK was developed, EA introduced Wildmen and Wildmen Axethrowers as regular units to Isengard, who naturally needed their own production building. Due to the lack of time to create something appropriate, they took Mordor's Tavern, renamed it "Clansteading" and moved Corsairs into the Haradrim Palace.

Patch 2.02 overhauled the Clansteading in v8.0.0 and gave it a more unique and fitting model. This resulted in the Tavern building model disappearing from the game entirely. Since this was not only a loss of an amazingly designed EA structure but also diminished Mordor's original faction set-up, we decided to re-introduce the Tavern. It now once again serves as home to the Corsairs and for upgrade research.

Blizzard for Angmar

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It doesn't take an experienced game designer to notice that a snowfall weather ability would be more thematically fitting for Angmar than Freezing Rain which EA ported from Isengard's spellbook. Another classic case of a lack of time for a very obvious addition - an addition that 2.02 finally came around implementing! Not only does it come with atmospheric sound design and lighting, we also gave it a brand-new icon!

Last Stand for Boromir

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Along with the redesign of Horn of Gondor, we wanted to restore this cut EA ability for Boromir, which is based on his heroic stand against Lurtz in the Fellowship of the Ring. It provides Boromir with +33% armour and damage when low on health. The ability is representative of a red FX hovering over Boromir's head.

Siege Kegs Statue

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This upgrade for the Dwarven Fortress turned out to have a beautiful statue come with it that EA didn't end up including for the final release. We added it back in for you!

Icon Improvements

As already mentioned, RotWK has quite a number of lazily re-used ability icons with some of its new units. Our artist took the time to design new, high-quality icons that properly depict each ability's purpose and are unique to the unit. Below is a list of new icons:

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Quality of Life Changes

One of the most important goals of Patch 2.02 is polishing the game as much as possible. So whether you're an online or offline player, these improvements will hopefully help you enjoy RotWK even more!

Cavalry Movement

For v9.0.0 we managed to improve the movement behaviour of many Cavalry units by giving them more smooth turnarounds. This eliminates many ugly situations in which cavalry took too much damage when maneuvering around or retreating.

Builder and Worker improvements

Occasionally, builders have to take an oddly long path around a new construction site in order to start the building process, often costing the player a few seconds. v9.0.0 has added two additional entry points for builders in order to prevent this.

Additionally, repair workers on damaged buildings and Fortress expansion construction workers will no longer body block real, controllable units and hinder their movement.

Fixed Creep Treasure Spawn Positions

Ever lost three of your four treasure chests to your opponent after creeping a Troll Lair simply because they happened to spawn on their side of the rubble? This should no longer be the case! We have ensured that all Lair chests will always spawn at fixed positions. This will remove any "bad luck" from fights over a Lair and allow players to better coordinate their plans.

Ability Casting Fixes

Certain abilities such as the Gorgoroth Spire, Legolas' Arrow Wind, or all of the Sorcerer's spells could not be used properly near uneven terrain. Targeting these abilities would result in units moving straight up to the target location before being able to use them. This issue has now been addressed!

Hero Attack Behaviour

When commanding a bigger group of heroes to attack a target, oftentimes some of them wouldn't move around the target properly so that all of them can attack simultaneously. We have ensured that heroes can now stand closer together while attacking, which eliminates this pathfinding problem!

Additionally, we have also finally fixed Gothmog's tendency of running all the way into enemy lines before attacking.

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Antivirus Whitelisting
Based on recent feedback, some 2.02 files are occasionally flagged as malicious malware by antivirus software. However, this is a false positive and all 2.02 files are perfectly safe. We would therefore strongly recommend whitelisting the RotWK directory before the installation to prevent potential problems. In the following section, you can find a short guide on how to go about the whitelisting process in Windows Defender.

How to whitelist files in Windows Defender

In the case of the Windows Defender, we can browse the Microsoft Support website here. We will summarize the steps:
  1. Go to Start > Settings > Update & Security > Windows Security > Virus & threat protection
  2. Under Virus & threat protection settings, select Manage settings, and then under Exclusions, select Add or remove exclusions.
  3. Select Add an exclusion, and then select the RotWK directory (folder).
    Usually: C:\Program Files (x86)\Electronic Arts\The Lord of the Rings, The Rise of the Witch-king
  4. After successfully adding the RotWK directory to the whitelist you should end up with it in the Exclusion list, as shown in the image below.

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In case your machine uses different antivirus software, we suggest following the corresponding guide.

Join the Rise of the Witch-king 2.02 League!

During the development of Patch 2.02 v9.0.0 players had the chance to try out our new RotWK 2.02 League using our beta testing patches. Now the league will be available to all players for the release of v9.0.0!

Want to join others in competing for points, and earn a spot in the competitive community ladder? You can do so and find out more by clicking the yellow Witch-king banner below! Please note, you will need to be part of the RotWK 2.02 Discord server to participate.

Special Thanks

Shout out to the people who have helped shape Patch 2.02 v9.0.0!
  • Excelsior
  • Nameless
  • Danetta
  • Brabox
  • SpecialGuest
  • Solas
  • Eternal
  • Miraak
  • GitGut
  • Mr.SmoKkkk
  • Talos
  • All beta patch/RotWK 2.02 League testers

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If you have any questions, need assistance, or would like to report an issue, feel free to reach us via our socials linked below. Please note, we now have a new YouTube channel to which we'll be uploading content. Stay tuned!

~ The RotWK 2.02 Team

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