If (like yours truly) the chapter of The Lord of the Rings “A Journey in the Dark” ever made you wish it were possible to explore more of the ruined halls of Khazad-dûm, this forthcoming survival crafting game for PC may be just the thing for you.

The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria is a new video game from North Beach Games that follows the Dwarves as they reclaim Moria in the Fourth Age. Developers say that players will have the opportunity to join forces to survive, craft, build and explore the legendary and sprawling mines.

Summoned to the Misty Mountains by Lord Gimli Lockbearer, players take control of a company of Dwarves tasked to reclaim the lost spoils from the Dwarven homeland of Moria—known as Khazad-dûm or Dwarrowdelf—in the depths below their very feet. Their quest will require fortitude, delving deep into the Mines of Moria to recover its treasures.

The game will have a solo mode and an online mode for cooperative play with up to 8 others. Developers also say that no two adventures will be exactly alike as the game setting is procedurally generated.

Some of the key game features include:

Comprehensive Dwarf builder: Players become part of Dwarven Legend as they create their own Dwarf in the custom character creator. Dwarves can be customized in a variety of ways to create a unique Dwarven identity. Then, during gameplay, players can find and craft armor and weapons to further enhance their unique style.

Survive the dark: To survive the treacherous Mines of Moria players must conserve resources, hunt and gather for food and manage their sleep, temperature and noise levels. Utilize dynamic light systems for safety and to blaze a path further into the darkness. Battle unspeakable evils and survive hordes of monstrous Orcs in visceral combat, while uncovering the secret of the Shadow that looms within the mountain.

Base building: Find solace from the darkness. Reveal and clear new locations to create architecture on a grand scale. Get creative and construct bases from scratch or build upon the existing environment. Beware the evils which seek to destroy Dwarven progress.

Rebuild and reshape Moria: Restore the long-lost ancient kingdom of Khazad-dûm to its former glory, recovering Dwarven landmarks as the story progresses. Resurrect old mines and refire their forges to yield their untouched resources.

Explore: Delve into the depths of the Mines of Moria. Procedurally generated environments are abundant with resources and fraught with mystery and danger, providing a unique experience each and every time.

Craft Dwarven tools, weapons and more: Craft and loot legendary Dwarven armor, tools, weapons and structures. Rebuild ancient forges to strengthen, repair and enchant gear. Upgrade and unlock new technologies and fantastical machines.

Return to Moria screenshot

Uncover magic artifacts: Discover ancient magic items including swords that glow when Orcs are near, maps of long-dormant Mithril veins, books with forgotten crafting plans and amulets that give strength or wisdom.

Mine ore and jewels: Establish mines to unearth deposits of precious resources such as iron, gold, and quartz; and fantastical materials such as Mithril. Access crafting stations and forges to convert ore to ingots and upgrade gear. But be prepared, mining is loud and can awaken what lurks in the darkness.

The game is expected to be released in the northern hemisphere Spring of 2023.

The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria logo

Daedelic Entertainment yesterday announced that its The Lord of the Rings: Gollum game will be released on September 1 on PC and consoles.

The developers descibe the game as a story-driven action adventure that allows the player to take on a perilous journey as Gollum, chasing the only thing that is precious to him.

In order to survive the dangers on his journey through Middle-earth, Gollum has to sneak, climb and use all his cunning. He also has to deal with his more human side – Sméagol. It’s up to the players if they want Gollum to have the upper hand when it comes to making important decisions or let Sméagol take over. Gollum also encounters well-known characters from the books as well as a few new faces.

Lord of the Rings: Gollum
“Gollum is skillful and cunning, but also torn by his split personality. One mind, two egos – you decide!”

Beta version showcase: questions raised, questions answered

Reviewers also recently got a first look at the game through an event that — if not exactly hands-on — did provide the opportunity to watch a pair of devs playing through the early levels and pose a bunch of questions.

Overall the mood seems cautiously positive, acknowledging that the visuals are still a work in progress, wondering how well a stealth-focused game will hold up across 25 hours of gameplay, and intrigued about the potential of the internal moral choices mechanic. And the Lore-obsessed may find some reassurance in the knowledge that game licensor Middle-earth Enterprises seems to have put a tighter leash on out-of-canon inventions.

Lord of the Rings: Gollum

Gamespot

Gamespot’s Lord of the Rings expert Lucy James also provides a comprhensive yet easily digestible run-down of what the devs decided to profile. If you don’t actually know a lot about the game, this is a great overview.

Last week, I got a sneak peek at the Gollum game at a virtual event by Daedalic Entertainment. While the gameplay footage was still in a rough beta stage, we were given a sense for the stealth platformer techniques, saw some new images, spoke with the developers, and – most exciting – we were able to learn and ask questions about the LORE behind the game.

The Gamer

The Gamer’s Ben Sledge has a great write-up of impressions of the two devs putting the game through its paces.

It’s hard to tell how good the stealth aspects of a game are unless you’re actually playing it, but it all seemed to work well. Combat is discouraged – you’re a scrawny little thing, after all – but your “Deus Ex inspired” parkour can get you out of a scrape if some Orcs (or worse) spot you. The most interesting part was seeing how the Gollum-versus-Smeagol internal debates worked out. We only saw a low stakes option, as the pitiful creature decided whether to kill a beetle or not, but Haberstroh assured me that future decisions would be more impactful and actually affect the story and gameplay.

Sledge also put a few lore questions to Daedelic’s Tolkien expert, Damiri Knapheide about how and where they are filling in gaps in Tolkien’s work to tell their story.

The Girdle of Melian is not what I expected to hear come up in conversation, but apparently it will play a “big part” in the Mirkwood sections of the game. For those who haven’t read The Silmarillion, Melian’s Girdle is not a physical item, it’s a magical enchantment that surrounded Thingol’s kingdom of Doriath, preventing anyone from entering against the king’s will. In Daedalic’s Middle-earth, Thranduil brought this enchantment with him to the Greenwood, and it protects the forest, or at least his kingdom, to this day.

Personally, I agree it’s a bit of a stretch. If anyone in the Third Age is benefitting from Melian’s instruction, the text implies that it’s Galadriel.

Read the full review here.

Nerd of the Rings

Dig video-based reviews? Keen on knowing how well the game all fits into the Legendarium? Nerd of the Rings is the review for you.

NME

NME is probably the most cautious regarding the long-term draw of the stealth mechanic for players.

Gollum is better off crawling through handy tufts of long grass and throwing rocks to distract patrols and get them out of his path. This lends a great portrayal of Gollum as a sneaky, slimy backstabber; but even during the preview it feels a bit repetitive. There’s not too much variation on the tried-and-true stealth formula used by action games and as a result, there’s no guarantee that Gollum’s skulking won’t get stale by the end of the game’s roughly 25-hour runtime.

That being said, there is one interesting caveat: as displayed in The Lord Of The Rings, Gollum is a character in turmoil. Formerly a Hobbit by the name of Sméagol, years of hardship (and ownership of the one ring) birthed an alternate personality called Gollum. Throughout the game, you’re tasked with shaping the character through a series of moral decisions. This starts off humorous – Gollum convinces poor Sméagol to eat a beetle, claiming self defence. Later on, Daedalic Entertainment says players can expect bigger choices, such as choosing whether to betray allies or stay true to them.

Read the full review here.

Lord of the Rings: Gollum

Developer FAQ

Daedelic also posted a reply to common questions that they’ve received from fans over on Steam. We’ve reproduced their responses to the key ones below.

Q. When and how does the story of the game fit into the story of the books?

A. The story of the game largely takes place in parallel to the early chapters of The Lord of the Rings, from Gollum’s time in Mordor, his capture by Sauron and his interrogation by Gandalf. During this time, although very little is known about Gollum’s adventures, there was enough to give us an excellent outline and timeframe for the setting.

Q. Why did you choose Gollum as the main character?

A. We picked Gollum because he’s one of the most fascinating characters from the work of Professor Tolkien. A twisted Hobbit with two personalities, hundreds of years old; and with a rich knowledge of Middle-earth. Despite his looks he’s also an agile creature that can climb, leap and grapple his way past dangers or into advantageous spots. This makes for an epic adventure through exciting never-seen-before parts of Middle-earth, and leads the player to interesting moral choices, and varied gameplay, alternating platforming and stealth.

Q. Why doesn’t he look like Peter Jackson’s Gollum?

A. While all of us enjoy the previous adaptations of the stories Tolkien created, we wanted to create our own unique interpretation of the world and its characters. As such, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is original while being true to the literary source material.

Q. Who is the voice actor behind Gollum

A. Gollum is voiced by Wayne Forester.

Q. Is the game related to other The Lord of the Rings games or is it a standalone title?

A. The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is not related to other adaptations of The Lord of the Rings.
The game picks up the story as it’s told in the books. The Daedalic team wrote the untold story of Gollum and therefore the players will encounter both new created characters and meet iconic characters!

Q. What type of game is it?

A. The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is an epic Action-Adventure game with stealth and platform elements.

Q. Will the game be available in physical copies as well?

A. You will be able to purchase a physical copy of The Lord of the Rings: Gollum. Please visit your local or preferred retailer to know it’s availability.

According to Gamespot, the free-to-play MMO game The Lord of the Rings Online SteamDB recorded 3,700 concurrent players on April 21.

This peak represents the highest simultaneous numbers since 2012 when the game first launched on Steam. Gamespot points out that the numbers don’t take into consideration the people who play via the game’s own proprietary launcher and client.

Players from TORn’s Discord also report that, anecdotally, the game’s servers have been noticeably busier recently with many new characters. The surge may coincide with the current 15th anniversary event that offers both current and new players a huge swag of freebies when they login.

The game’s anniversary celebration event runs until 3:00am ET on May 12 and you can find out more about the freebies on offer for all players here.

The Lord of the Rings Online

TheOneRing.net would like to congratulate the team at Minecraft Middle-earth for celebrating 10 years of meticulously recreating an immersive The Lord of the Rings based world for gamers and adventurers alike.

If you have been living under a block (😂), Minecraft is a 3D world where users can explore and create entire worlds one block at a time. To then build the whole of Middle-earth is a historic task, and the team at Minecraft Middle-earth continue to succeed in this momentous undertaking. Check out the video below, a gallery of the the amazing areas created, and an excerpt from the PCMag interview with the creator. And of course, you can get involved their official website MCMiddleearth.com.

Vermeersch was first introduced to Minecraft when the sandbox was still in beta back in 2009, and like many others who played early on in the game’s development, he got completely hooked. As a moderator on a Dutch Minecraft server, the idea of building Middle-earth was something that had begun to float around the server’s community.

“I grew up with Lord of the Rings, like most people around 30 years old I imagine,” Vermeersch says. “We had people who were interested from the Minecraft forums, so we had this solid player base to start with. We began building the basic locations, like Bree and Hobbiton, then after publishing screenshots, people got hooked on what we were doing and started joining the project.”  

PC Magazine – November 2020
Photo by: Gage Skidmore

#FidelityToTolkien now in flux?

Renown Tolkien scholar and author Tom Shippey is off the Lord of the Rings project, according to twitch broadcaster Tolkien Professor, confirming our early reports from March.

In a recent live stream from the Tolkien Professor – who we suggest watching & subscribing – Cory Olsen stumbles for words as he responds to a chat question about the status of his colleague Tom Shippey on Amazon’s LOTR series.

Olsen runs Signum University, the preeminent Tolkien scholar event series that travels the world bringing thoughtful, intelligent dialog to the world & works of J.R.R. Tolkien. His weekly LOTR streams have a dedicated audience that counts Stephen Colbert as an avid fan.

“I have spoken to Shippey… is he still involved? I don’t believe so.”

Cory Olsen, the Tolkien Professor
Forward to minute 43:00 for a reluctant confirmation

The early rumors of Shippey’s status set the community ablaze, with both reddit threads and YouTube comments becoming hotbeds of debate. On an early March episode of TORn Tuesday, it was revealed that none of the writers were currently engaged on the production and that the latest rumor was Tom Shippey was off the project. See TORn Veteran Quickbeam’s reaction starting 16:00 minutes into the show:

Shippey conversation starts at 16 minutes in.

Fans hopes & concerns were calmed in 2019 when Amazon released a video that includes Tom Shippey in the creative team behind its billion-dollar LOTR series. Out of all the extremely talented people involved, Shippey brought a sense of authority and respect for Tolkien alongside artist John Howe. For many fans, Shippey is the iron rock that will ensure Amazon maintains fidelity to Tolkien — keeping the green showrunners in check with a focus on Tolkien’s intent. With his involvement diminished, Amazon risks alienating core fans and losing credibility among the show’s biggest champions.

Neither Amazon nor Shippey has publicly commented on the current status of their relationship. With the Tolkien Professor independently hearing the same things TORn Tuesday is hearing, there must be some truth in the air.

Tell us your thoughts! Are you concerned? Engage with us on Facebook and Twitter (@theoneringnet) to share your opinion!