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A Sneak Peek at LotRO Volume 3 Book 1

Posted Fri, Feb 26, 2010 by B. de la Durantaye

Come Monday players of The Lord of the Rings Online will see the first major update since the launch of Siege of Mirkwood. Volume III: Allies of the King, Book 1: Oath of the Rangers has a ton more features for new and old players of the game and is a fine demonstration of Turbine’s continued commitment to the title.

So what’s included?

First there’s the story, obviously. Elrond is the new narrator for this book and Book 1 will begin in Rivendell where Elrond & sons are trying to figure out the meaning of Galadriel’s message. This means new lands, new monsters to fight, and new adventures as players assist Elrond and his sons in the attempt to decipher the message. From there it will become apparent that Aragorn will need the Dúnedain so it will be up to the players to assemble the Grey Company and spread word throughout the land to the Rangers and summon them for Aragorn’s aid. The introductory quest is geared for players levels 64-65.


Daywalk Berserker - an optional boss in a new Skirmish

Perhaps the coolest feature here is that the story is dynamic. Based on your actions you can unlock alternate drama sequences. If someone died in one of your story plots, they’ll be dead in subsequent stories. If you’ve interacted with an NPC before, they won’t react to you as a stranger. You’ll recognize many of the Rangers from previous explorations around Middle Earth.

And what about Skirmishes? Surely with over ten million Skirmishes completed since the launch of the Siege of Mirkwood expansion Turbine would continue to add more to this feature. And surely they have. Book 1 will introduce an all-new Skirmish that takes players back to the Rift of Angmar. The Skirmish system will also now offer a “Duo Mode” which will allow two players and their soldiers to run through a Skirmish. Previously players were only able to do Skirmishes solo, as 3-player or small fellowships, so this is just another way that players can do what they want, when they want and with whom they want. This idea was incorporated after Turbine had noticed that players were scaling down the 3-player Skirmishes to 2-player. There are also four new 12-player Skirmishes that will be included with the update.


Stompin' Shrews
in the Spring Festival

The annual Spring Festival will be returning this year and will run from March 23rd through April 19th. This festival gets larger every year. Not only will players be able to return to the Hedge maze, Horse Races and the Fest of Greenfields, but this year also kicks off a Stomp-A-Shrew event. Up to 24 players can team up for the event and it is exactly as it sounds – stomping shrews. Throw on some stomping boots and get ready to stomp the critters as they burrow their way to the surface. The Spring Festival will also provide players with various rewards including a new horse and a Majestic Shrew Statue which can be placed outside player housing.

Overall soloability has improved with this update. The entire first volume can now be completed solo by calling on Inspired Greatness. While this may at first glance sound like a hefty nerf, in actuality I found it to be a welcome change. The bulk of the active playerbase is now entrenched in the volumes 2 and 3 and for new players or even older players rolling an alternate character it can sometimes be difficult to find the help you needed to get through some of the older content. Now that it can be done solo players can still enjoy the full story and not run into frustrating bottlenecks before they can catch up to the rest of the community progression. The Inspired Greatness ability allows players to take on Elites and other challenges that were previously much too difficult to do solo.

Where does this leave the higher level player? Well they get benefits too. New level 64 skills are being introduced which will benefit all classes. Minstrels can avoid knockback with Lyric of the Hammerhand, Guardians gain benefits based on stance from Warrior's Fortitude and Wardens have a new 5-Spear Gambit: Unerring Strike.


A Majestic Shrew - an outdoor house item reward

Crafters will get their perks too. There are some major updates to the Jeweller profession offering better stats to crafted items and multi-output recipes. Cooks receive new Trail Food recipes, new ingredient recipes and new functionality for the food they make across all tiers. Weaponsmiths and Woodworkers get new items and new crop farming recipes.

Overall, the update is a big one, but certainly a welcome addition. LotRO has been leading the way in story-driven MMOGs for some time now and older parts of the story are now easier to enjoy as you work your way up to the new content. And if you’ve already worked your way through the Siege of Mirkwood expansion there’s also enough new content coming with this update that will keep you entertained for many more hours in Middle Earth.


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