Update 22 is now on Bullroarer. This is the third weekend it has been available. There has been no word exactly when it will launch.
The update includes extensive new areas and lots of quests.
I have not seen any changes to Ashes. The barterers have the same items available, and lootboxes seem to produce the same items and ashes.
There are three new reputation factions: Men of Dale, Elves of Felegoth and Dwarves of Erebor. These factions have different armour and jewellery: Men light, Elves medium, and Dwarves heavy. You'll need to get rep with the appropriate faction to get the gear.
The quests reward Tokens of the Lake and Rivers that can be used to barter with any faction.
Teal item level 345 earrings are available at kindred rep. Purple 345 jewellery is available at lower rep.
Teal 340 shoulders are at kindred, gloves and boots at ally. There is a craftable teal 345/349 crit helm from a single-use recipe. Purple 340 armour is available at lower rep.
So far, I don't see any reason to delay using ashes or opening lootboxes, but of course things might change before launch.
If there is anything in particular you want to know for planning purposes, let me know and I'll see what I can find out.
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