- What was that?
- That was your new content...
- Oh. Do I get any more?
- No. Sorry.
With apologies to Basil Fawlty, that was more or less how most of us felt after checking out the latest free LOTRO content, a.k.a. Volume III, Book 1: Oath of the Rangers. I'm not one of those players who hit l.65 twelve hours after Siege of Mirkwood came out, and I like to take my time over the epic quests and enjoy the plot. So I was seriously disappointed to find that it took me slightly less than four hours to complete all of Vol.III/Bk.1. That's right, all nine chapters. Including the new instance. After which - zilch. I had just exhausted the new content...
This was, without any doubt, the thinnest update ever from Turbine. Other than the aforementioned mini-book and instance, we get some new recipes, some cosmetic loot from the Rift instance, an upgrade on a class skill and very little else. I wouldn't mind too much - after all, there's still the very tricky Barad Guldur 12-man raid to be completed - if it wasn't for the fact that a brilliant opportunity was needlessly blown by the epic quest chain. The basic idea of revisiting different regions of Eriador for the purpose of recruiting Rangers to the Grey Company of the Dunedain, leading in each case to a quest or instance, was a clever one; unfortunately, in terms of plot and narrative design the quests themselves proved unbelievably lame and superficial, as though they had been cobbled together in a spare half-hour on the back of an envelope. The saddest part is that a couple of instances, like the Annuminas tombs in the illustration above, were graphically excellent - but all the hard work of the graphics team was gratuitously wasted by whoever was in charge of writing the story. Also completely wasted was the boss mob of the Rift instance, who could have proved a tough and tenacious opponent under different circumstances, but can here be knocked over by a hobbit granny wielding a feather duster. Report: "Must do better".