Middle Earth has long held our collective imaginations captive, and in a thrilling announcement, the world is about to delve deeper into the lore we all hold dear - quite literally.
Come this October 24, fans of Tolkien's sprawling Middle-Earth-centric universe will find themselves once again setting foot in the enigmatic Mines of Moria, this time in Free Range Games' brand-new survival crafting game, The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria.
For those not familiar with the setting, the game plants its roots firmly in the Fourth Age of Middle Earth. The narrative centers on a bold group of Dwarves, determined to reclaim their ancestral home in Moria. An endeavor that demands a healthy mix of Dwarven resilience and resourcefulness as well as ingenuity as players navigate the Mines of Moria in an attempt to chase after its lost treasures and rekindling hopes of restoring this iconic location to its former splendor. And while the game's core is driven by a narrative steeped in tradition, its mechanics promise innovation.
Eager fans can look forward to a robust survival crafting experience. In a world where every stone might hide mithril or a lurking menace, players will customize their very own Dwarf, either embarking on this journey alone or forging ahead with a fellowship of up to eight players on PC. Resource management intertwines with exploration, and as players find themselves deeper into the Mines, they'll face the quintessential challenges of a survival game - hunger, sanity, and the ever-looming shadows that are drawn to noise and chaos.
One of the intriguing aspects is the use of a procedurally generated map, ensuring that each playthrough provides a fresh and unpredictable challenge. As players settle down, building bases and fortifying their positions, they'll discover an intricate crafting system that holds true to Dwarven creativity, allowing players to flex their creative muscles in the process.
While Return to Moria isn't technically canon, it does resonate with echoes from past outings, specifically, the original The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Set 70 years after The Return of the King, with Sauron long-vanquished and the One Ring no longer, this ginormous quest is driven by none other than Gimli. This familiar fan-beloved face is sure to be a treat for fans of Peter Jackson's cinematic adaptation, with John Rhys-Davies reprising his role from the movies to lend his voice as the game's narrator.
For those who consider themselves Tolkien purists, the took great care to ensure the game remains true to the lore. The Tolkien scholar, Corey Olsen, plays an advisory role, and in a recent interview, lead director Jon-Paul Dumont hinted at deeper explorations of Dwarven lore and references to some of the lesser-known tales within Tolkien's expansive universe.
While the core game is scheduled for a digital release on the PlayStation 5 and the PC through the Epic Games Store, a tangible, physical edition for PS5 enthusiasts will hit the shelves on December 5. Furthermore, the Xbox Series S/X users will need to harbor a touch more patience, with a release earmarked for early next year.
It's unclear why the Xbox Series S/X port is delayed but it wouldn't surprise us if it had something to do with the same reason Baldur's Gate 3 and Naruto x Boruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections won't provide the same gameplay experience on the Xbox Series S and the Xbox Series X.
Return to Moria isn't the first Lord of the Rings game to come out this year. Earlier, gamers saw The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, which unfortunately didn't meet the expectations of many. Yet, with the richness of the source material and the evident passion of the developers, Return to Moria holds the potential to be the LotR game that fans worldwide have been waiting for.