The latest developer blog for the Lord of the Rings: War in the North reveals that the two challenge maps, previously planned to be exclusive pre-order incentives, will be included on the disc for everyone. "After seeing the passion from the Community and Fans for this mode of play, we have decided to put them on disc for everyone to enjoy!" reads the post. Recreating two legendary battle grounds of Middle Earth, the two challenge maps unleash waves of enemies on the heroes in an arena-style fight. As the blog points out, they offer a good way to earn experience, loot, coins, and achievements.
Each of the two maps is designed for a set range of character levels. Osgiliath is the first one you'll likely tackle, tuned for levels 4-16. Lorien skews a little higher, set for levels 11-22. Both can be accessed as soon as they are unlocked by reaching the second hub area in the game. The challenge maps also include a Fellowship symbol that allows the party to transport directly back to town making them easy to hop in and out of without disrupting progress in the main storyline.
However much time you wind up spending on the challenge maps it will be over and above the main campaign that sounds like it's shaping up to be fairly beefy for an action RPG. In an ongoing Q&A target="_blank">thread on the NEO-GAF forums, the game’s community manager gave this update on how long to expect a play through to take. "We had a group of reviewers and playtesters come in, and the game came in with a minimum of 15 hours. Some experienced much longer than that, but at this point, we're comfortable saying 15+. We'd rather err on our shorter side, and have people find the game to be longer, than give a longer time and have a user feel taken advantage of," said SnowblindTina.