Turbine Tours: LotRO's Book 1: Oath of the Rangers

Turbine invited ZAM on an in-game tour to check out LotRO's latest update, Volume III, Book 1: Oath of the Rangers

Over the past few weeks, we've heard some of the horror stories that can come with a lack of updates for some of our favorite MMORPGs, but one MMO team that you won't hear that from has to be Turbine, developers of the very successful Lord of the Rings Online and one of the most consistent teams you could ask for. Well, true to their reputation, Turbine has yet another update coming hot on the heels of their Siege of Mirkwood expansion, and they invited us at ZAM.com to check out Volume III: Book 1: Oath of the Rangers.

We began our journey at The Last Homely House, also known as the House of Elrond, and Aaron Campbell, LotRO's Live Producer, noted that not only was Volume III Turbine's third epic story arc, but it coincides well with LotRO's upcoming third anniversary - so happy anniversary in advance, LotRO!

To go back to our tour, Book 1's focus is fitting for the beginning of a new arc, as Campbell notes that they were trying to wrap up the past and the future of LotRO in their latest batch of epic quests. Thematically, Book 1 is meant to deal with the darker sides of LotRO, like the tragic themes of loss and madness. Either way, upon setting foot in Elrond's house, Elrond, being the gracious host that he is, immediately sent us back out (when's a Hobbit to rest?), asking that we help assemble the Grey Company, the Dunadain of the North.

One of the newest additions to LotRO is that much of the story is more dynamic in nature and entirely dependent upon the players' previous experience with the NPCs. Anyone can remember those times where they've just met an NPC, only to have that NPC treat them as if they've been best friends since pre-school. Chances are, it's because the programmers assumed that the player had completed a previous quest chain that introduced that NPC, and they designed the next quest under that same assumption. In LotRO, however, the Rangers that you will be recruiting may treat you like a stranger if you've never met them in your quests, but if you've finished all of the content thus far, and you've met a particular ranger in your journeys, they may greet you with a little more recognition.

Following this, after we were given a who's who checklist of the Rangers we were to recruit, Campbell whisked us away to their latest skirmish, where players must fight to protect one of their own who has gone slightly bonkers. While there was nothing particularly ground-breaking in terms of their newest skirmish, Turbine's big update to the skirmish system has been the addition of the highly anticipated "Duo Mode," which will, as the name suggests, allow two players to team up and take down all the skirmish challenges they can handle in Middle-earth.

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