So LOTRO’s devs have confirmed that the new class for 2014 will be a shapeshifter, the forums had already settled on this as the likely (though not universally popular) choice. Beorn as inspiration for this is of course canon, appearing in the Hobbit novel. The issue that this is a race, or sub-race of man and not a class is neither here nor there to Turbine of course (a class is a learned profession, this is more akin to an innate power).
On a related note I was in a discussion with my Neverwinter guildies this last weekend about lore and characters. Someone complained they hated to see a fiction inspired character that was not true to the lore, e.g. a character called Raistlin with black hair or one who is a cleric and not a wizard. My first thought was “what would a character called Raistlin be doing in the Forgotten Realms in the first place!” but that’s just me being a picky perhaps.
I find these kinds of clashes of opinion and values between those who respect lore and those who play games more freely interesting and they’ve been evident in every MMO I’ve played with an established lore. Sadly for me the Beorning holds no interest as a concept, I’ve long been one of a minority who thinks druids should not be primarily shapeshifters and I have no interest in Twilight or similar Vampire/Werewolf-obsessed TV series. It may be that Turbine are hoping to cash in on a shapeshifting angle to get people interested again, certainly they couldn’t twist the lore enough to allow player vampires on the Free People’s side of the game. A lot will depend on how the class actually plays I guess, perhaps the massive changes to the classes in the last major update were needed to open up space for some new classes without overlapping with the old ones?
The above linked LOTRO dev post also closes the door on the promised housing revamp, it’s out for 2014 now. That’s disappointing as I was looking forward to seeing a more flexible system in that game. The news of yet another level cap increase (5 more levels, to a new cap of 100!) adds to the feeling that I’ll never catch up with the end game of this MMO. Maybe in a few months time I’ll be slightly less obsessed with Neverwinter and will be able to make some progress again – the level cap isn’t likely until 2015 so that’s some time to get through the book quests of Rohan and Helm’s Deep…