Ever since Ak-haranu mentioned to you that he is from a place called 'The Eastern Lands', you've fantasized about what it could be. Well it's here. Setting sail for the first time from Port Phasmatys will bring you to a whole new area, filled with Quests, NPCs, monsters, minigames, and... A new skill.
Much like Slayer gives you XP while doing combat and Dungeoneering hands you a chunk of XP after you've completed a bunch of tasks, you earn Orient XP while doing things in the Eastern Lands or by using the equipment from over there. Farming Rice or Bamboo, for example, will earn you both Farming and Orient XP. And since you need a higher level to unlock more stuff from the Eastern Lands, it's considered quite necessary to train the skill.
Even though you cannot use the equipment without the proper Orient level, you can still bring all items from there back with you (this isn't Dungeoneering). Once made from Buffalo hides, Rubber and Bamboo; Brigandine armour will provide a Range/Mage hybrid with neatly rounded defences, without too much hindrance when spell-casting or using your Crossbow. Even the food made from Rice and all types of exotic fish (which might just revolutionise the Fishing skill too) makes the Tuna Potato seem simple to make, and obsolete to use.
Or what about the magical robes? Once you have obtained some Silk, and have reached a sufficiently high level, you can Craft it into some very powerful stuff! When attuned to an element, the full set also provides you with unlimited Runes, much like a Staff of Air would. But I especially like the Tai Chi and Yoga mats, which can be neatly stored away on your tool-belt, allowing you to rest and train Agility at the same time.
Unfortunately, there is no direct teleport to the Eastern Lands. Despite having many useful resources, you'll have to walk everywhere to collect it all. But I find that this brings back some of the magic of early exploration from when we were still low level players.
But at least you'll meet a lot of people. Unlike the rest of RuneScape, the Eastern Lands are busy pretty much everywhere, and there's quite a bit of traffic between them. That goes double between the three main tribe-like nations, who have been spaced out in such a way that a walk between any two of them is no longer than a walk from Varrock to Edgeville. In fact, if you're looking to earn both XP and GP, you can perform tasks for the leaders of these tribes. Be it a spot of looting and pillaging for money, building defences against such actions by constructing some towers and walls for Construction and Defence XP (on top of Orient XP, of course), or by convincing members of one tribe to join another for some Prayer XP.
Completing such tasks over time may earn you favour with your particular aligned nation, which can then be traded in for a variety of bonuses. The downside is that the other two will in turn decrease favour, meaning you lose those bonuses again. You can tell a lot of detail went into this, as the NPCs of unfavourable tribes will become increasingly rude and disrespectful to you.
Fortunately, you can switch your alignment to a different nation, and as your Orient level increases, so do your options to perform tasks that are less harmful to your favour with the other tribes. It is my guess that full favour with all tribes is one of the requirements for a future Quest.
One thing is certain: when you stand back far enough, the entire continent seems to be a giant minigame-ish experience, but not in a bad way (as I have personally found with Dungeoneering). Even though you start off as a lowly skiller, everything is geared towards slowly immersing you in the culture of the continent. You'll have grown to feel at home here, long before you can make and wield your own Composite Crossbow, various Pole-arms, or the coveted Katana - which, while taking 4 hours to make, is automatically wielded with both hands for a much higher max hit, should you not have a shield equipped.
Looking back, I can't help but think that skills such as Farming, Slayer, Dungeoneering and Construction were but a dry run for this new skill. Prayer seems to have taken a step closer to religion, Fishing now takes you out to sea, Smelting and Smithing now actually takes time to get the metallurgical properties just right and have therefore replaced mass-production, and even a repetitive skill such as Agility has been revolutionised.
So there you have it; A skill that exceeds the RuneScape definition in every single respect. To do things with the Orient skill - even something as simple as Farming Rice - actually requires skill, rather than a mass of clicking to level it, although I think the JagMotion equipment will definitely help with that. Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'm getting a bit sunburnt while I'm enjoying my cup of Kaf'Fei, so I'm off to get a Wasabi-P-Hat.