Come Monday players of The Lord of
the Rings Online
will see the first
major update since the launch of Siege
. Volume III:
of the King, Book 1: Oath of the Rangers
has a ton more features
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
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.
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.
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
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.