The 2.02 project began in August 2007 after a more or less clear indication by EA that it essentially had no intention of further patching RotWK. Consequently, the decision was made to create a community-produced patch. 2.02 has gone through a long process of "fixing" RotWK, as ever since the game's release it has been clear several elements of the official version of RotWK were broken. Issues at hand included bugs and grave imbalances, as well as useless units, structures, and powers.
After years of updates, the patch has now reached a very mature and balanced stage. It extensively revamps several aspects of the game as needed, without gravely altering the principles of gameplay used in 2.01. The primary objective of 2.02 is to leave RotWK players with the familiarity they have acquired playing 2.01, but nevertheless make gameplay far more enjoyable by making underused aspects of the game better, fixing bugs, and balancing the game.
We don't expect anyone who plays 2.02 to enjoy every single change that it has made to the game from 2.01. But we do expect that nearly everyone who plays it will find it a considerably more enjoyable experience overall. Here's why.
One of the biggest problems with the official 2.01 patch is the huge number of practically useless units, structures, heroes, abilities, and powers. For competitive players, this is completely unacceptable, which is why competitive players have used 2.02 for over 10 years now. For the casual player, it just makes the game less fun than it should be. It's fun to be able to dismount the Witch-king so that he becomes more resistant to arrows, rather than having to keep him constantly on his Fellbeast because he takes exactly the same damage from everything when he's in the air as he does on the ground. It's fun to be able to use heroes that couldn't be used in 2.01, like Haldir (insanely vulnerable to damage and unable to do anything useful), Sharku (expensive and unable to do anything useful), and Rogash (ridiculously slow, bugged heal rate prevents him from seeing combat more than once every five minutes). It's fun to build upgrades like Houses of Healing (worse healing than a Well in 2.01) and Venom Sacs (a practically useless upgrade for a practically useless unit, which cost 1000 just to research). It's fun to see powers like Army of the Dead (an otherwise great power hindered by poor accessibility) and Cloud Break (overshadowed by other 15 PP powers) used on a regular basis. It's fun to make regular use of every aspect of RotWK.
Though 2.02 is mostly focused on buffing units, structures, abilities, and powers that were too weak in 2.01, the fact remains that some things are just too darn strong in 2.01. (The entire Dwarven faction, for instance.) 2.02 has nerfed several units, including Boromir, Knights of Dol Amroth, Glorfindel, Mirkwood Archers, Men of Dale, Mordor Orc Archers, and Black Riders. However, all of these nerfs pale in significance to the buffs that many other units have received. Units that have been nerfed overall from 2.01 to 2.02 are, as a rule, still useful (and generally extremely popular) to purchase. 2.02 is all about making units that you wish you could have used in 2.01 stronger, not nerfing your favorite units.
It's no secret that the 2.01 patch is plagued by a myriad of serious bugs. 2.02 fixes tons of bugs in 2.01, ranging from extremely serious failings in the official patch, like Lindon Horse Archers instantly killing anything they trample, both Elven cavalry units themselves being trampleable (try it!), or Fell Wind damaging structures at 0% construction, to minor details that we only notice because we're so dedicated to making sure our patch is really darn good, like making sure the border around the Houses of Healing upgrade changes when you start researching it, or making sure that Create-a-Hero summoned Orc Warriors count towards the Mordor horde bonus like any other Orcs. We've also fixed odd bugs on random maps, like changing dust FX to snow FX on RotWK snow maps, and fixing the friendly Troll Lair on Tournament Westmarch. This patch is thorough. Thoroughly good. Although a few bugs can only be fixed by EA itself, we do fix everything that we can. If you believe you've found a bug in 2.02, let us know in our Bug Report Topic, and we'll try to make sure it gets fixed in the next release. There is no single list of bugfixes in 2.02; instead, we've scattered these across the changelog.
Every major release of 2.02 in the past years has also included Excelsior and Mrak's tweaks to improve the AI. The BFME II AI is difficult to work with, but we think we've nevertheless made significant strides with it from 2.01: it has better build orders, makes better use of its powers and hero abilities, creates better-mixed armies, tries to do better things with its armies, purchases more upgrades and Fortress expansions, and is simply better overall throughout the entire game.
2.02 isn't just about multiplayer. In fact, we have reason to believe that only a small minority of 2.02 players play multiplayer, since up until this point, 2.02 has had a rather small online community, yet recent patches have been downloaded over 1,500 times each. All of the reasons that 2.02 makes the game more fun in multiplayer apply to singleplayer as well. We've also painstakingly taken the time to make sure that every change that we make to the Men faction is reflected in the Arnor faction as well, so that you're really playing a 2.02 campaign, not a 2.01 campaign. 2.02 also has a few campaign-specific bugfixes, such as fixing nearly inaudible voices in the second mission.
EA has ended multiplayer support for all BFME series games. As such, third-party programs are now required to play BFME online. The GameReplays.org community uses a program called GameRanger.
2.02 is determined to leave no aspect of the game unsupported, so Create-a-Heroes have received a fair number of changes as well, though all of your 2.01 heroes will work perfectly on 2.02, and vice-versa. We've fixed Create-a-Hero stats to prevent them from being ridiculously powerful compared to normal heroes and to support more natural skill point purchases, and revamped the cost of powers to better reflect their usefulness and reward more strategic power selection. When we change a power in the "normal" game, we make sure to change any equivalent Create-a-Hero powers, as well. And, of course, we've fixed plenty of Create-a-Hero-specific bugs, so your Invulnerability will actually protect you from frost damage now.
We've also totally rebalanced War of the Ring mode, which is now a ton of fun. Resource structures are no longer free, penalizing huge persistent armies early in the game and making War of the Ring revolve more around living world tactics than "cheating" the living world by amassing large armies in RTS battles. For the autoresolve battles, we've made significant changes to nearly all of the new RotWK units in autoresolve, so that units perform as you'd expect them to, rather than in completely nonsensical ways. Did you know that making Snow Trolls to counter enemy archers was a mistake in 2.01, since Snow Trolls had autoresolve stats like pikemen? Did you know that building Tower Guards was wrong, since they had exactly the same stats as the cheaper Rohan Spearmen? In 2.02, you don't have to worry about these flaws, since everything functions exactly the way you'd expect it to, even if it is behind-the-scenes. Of course, we've also fixed the odd bug, as well.
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Highest Rated (7 agree) 10/10
Amazing community patch, developed with integrity and vision.
Balance is much improved, annoying bugs are fixed, and gorgeous new maps designed for competitive play were added.
A must-have for vanilla RotWK players.
Jan 8 2016 by MathijsRevora