The Lord Of The Rings: Return To Moria Needs A Miracle To Recover From Murky Waters

Gollum left a pretty bad aftertaste, and it'll take a lot to recover from that mess.

Story Highlights

  • The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria is the upcoming survival-crafting game set in the LotR world.
  • After the magnificent movies that defined an era, The Lord of the Rings has seen some weak projects like Rings of Power and LotR: Gollum.
  • Shadow of Mordor was an excellent concept for a LotR game and should have been continued beyond Shadow of War.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria seems an interesting project, but it will need to do a lot to recover from recent errors.

The Lord of The Rings: Return to Moria is the next game set in Tolkien’s magnificent fantasy world that spawned legendary movies and multiple game adaptations. The game first came to light during last year’s Epic Games showcase and now re-appeared in the recent Summer Game Fest. The event struggled to live up to the expectations, and Return to Moria also went under the radar, as it suffered the after-effects of its predecessor.

The Lord of the Rings is held in extremely high regard and is considered a legend among fantasy works. This revolutionary franchise has been adapted into games multiple times, with The Lord of the Rings: Gollum being the most recent entry. It was a complete disappointment, and those repercussions can hinder subsequent games as well. The developers are working on a new LotR project, we can only hope it’s an improvement.

The Lord Of The Rings’ Recent Troubles

The Lord of the Rings began as a fantasy novel where Tolkien masterfully crafted a rich fantasy world filled with exciting lore and characters. Most people came to know of the series with the movie adaptations. The movies brought critical acclaim and widespread fame and recognition to the franchise, as they gathered a gigantic fan following and thus became a cornerstone for fantasy works in general.

Frodo’s adventure through Mordor to escort the ring, the legendary Fellowship accompanying his dangerous journey, fascinating antagonists, and a bulk of fascinating lore to take in. I admit it all left me in awe when I binged through the long but truly worth-the-time experience. And it was only a matter of time before this legendary series started getting video game adaptations.

LotR movies were nothing but perfection
LotR movies were nothing but perfection

Early attempts included game adaptations of the movies, which although not too exceptional, held a particular charm. The breakthrough in LotR games came with Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. The game possessed an excellent concept and was perfectly executed. It also received a sequel – Shadow of War. The sequel refined a few gameplay aspects but contained significant problems and that’s where the trouble began.

Recently, LotR received a TV series titled The Lords of The Rings: Rings of Power. The series was a prequel, set thousands of years before The Hobbit and The Lords of The Rings movies. It served to establish a connection and explain how the events came to be in the movies we’re all familiar with and fondly cherish. Although an excellent concept, this new series didn’t quite live up to its enormous predecessors.

Why is Rings of Power so boring?
by u/JealousObligation182 in lordoftherings

The execution had many flaws, all the more apparent since the series had to stand up to a golden standard. In addition, The problems with Rings of Power were more noticeable because it was released alongside another highly renowned fantasy series – A Game of Thrones project, House of the Dragon. Sporting a similar fantasy setting and coming from exceptional backgrounds, the availability of a substitute meant less tolerance for any shortcomings.

After a less-than-ideal project, a lot of hope rested on The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, whose reveal had caught the eyes of many. The reveal felt visually appropriate and seemed like a concept full of potential. Taking control of Gollum to stealthily navigate Middle-Earth’s unique environments and aid him in the quest to reclaim his “precious” sounded like an interesting premise.

At that point, we couldn’t have known what sort of a nightmare awaits us down the line. The problems slowly started revealing themselves. The first blow was the insane PC requirements, that raised concerns about its performance and optimization. These concerns were nothing compared to the disaster the actual game turned out to be. This has placed considerable pressure on The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria.

Gollum's design in LotR: Gollum is an abomination
Gollum’s design in LotR: Gollum is an abomination

LotR: Gollum was an utter mess. Just take a look at Gollum to get an idea. In no media has he ever looked this poorly designed. The game was quite hollow and life-less in its mechanics as well, with no sense of thrill. Even the dying animation looks lazy with no thought put into it whatsoever. For a franchise this beloved, LotR: Gollum dealt its fans a fairly critical blow, hard to recover from.

Shadow Of Mordor Formula Should’ve Been Continued

While the series continued to be adapted into games of different genres, Shadow of Mordor came as a pleasant surprise. An open-world setting to explore the beautiful and treacherous lands of Middle-Earth, an intricate story of recovering memories and vengeance, and excellent exploration and combat mechanics to complement it. The game was a fantastic fantasy RPG.

Middle Earth : Shadow of Mordor is truly worth the time spent.
by u/shadowblaze25mc in patientgamers

Set in the duration between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings movies, Shadow of Mordor introduces Talion, a Ranger who perishes alongside his family at the hands of the Black Hand and his fellows. However, he’s revived when the spirit of the Elf Lord Celebrimbor merges with him. Suffering from amnesia, Celebrimbor eventually learns of his past and joins Talion in a quest to avenge both their families.

The game featured a creative Middle-Earth to explore. Being merged with Celebrimbor, Talion acquires his wraith-like abilities that can be used in both combat and exploration. Swift movements and short-range warping are some of the abilities available for exploration. In combat, Celebrimbor’s strength can be borrowed to intimidate and even turn enemies to your side if you wish.

Celebrimbor's ability to intimidate foes established a sense of superiority
Celebrimbor’s ability to intimidate foes established a sense of superiority

Speaking of combat, the mechanics were highly similar to Batman: Arkham. Seamless attacking, fluidly jumping between enemies, the ability to counter enemy attacks mid-combo, and stealth approaches to takeout enemies played a lot like the Arkham games. The inspiration was utilized effectively, and the overall world-building and combat were further spruced up by the game’s highly exceptional Nemesis system.

The Nemesis system was one of the game’s most ingenious mechanics. The enemy AI remembers past actions and behaves accordingly. There is an overall ranking system among the enemies. If a low-rank enemy manages to kill Talion or survives an encounter with him, he gets promoted and becomes stronger and more influential among the crowd, thus harder to deal with. This unique mechanic was the highlight of Shadow of Mordor.

All in all, the game was a surprise hit and a faithful adaptation full of potential. Its sequel – Shadow of War, improved upon certain aspects, but it also contained critical flaws. Its major improvements were the combat and the Nemesis system, and praising where it’s due, they were much more refined in Shadow of War. The new abilities and more fluid combat were indeed significant improvements.

The game’s Nemesis system was the true shining point. Taking the prequel’s formula to new heights, the system created unique and meaningful enemies, where each encounter had the potential to branch off into creative interactions. Regrettably, the system was never again used due to being patented. Moving on, the open world was also of a much larger scale, but with a wider world came equally troubling redundancy and bloat problems.

The major issues were a lackluster and disjointed story too distant from the source material. In addition, the larger world although beautiful, felt a lot more empty, and the content and enemy variety took a serious hit. The most off-putting was the forced loot mechanics and predatory microtransactions, completely unacceptable in a single-player experience. This led to a weaker reception and so no continuation has been made.

Microtransactions unfairly damaged the game’s reputation.
by u/Prof_Black in shadowofmordor

Among the many different game adaptations, Shadow of Mordor was a gem that got many things right about a game adaptation of The Lord of The Rings. It’s a shame the formula hasn’t been continued since Shadow of War’s reception. The problems were not with the formula – it held considerable potential. The actual culprits were the loot-focused mechanics, and I believe this concept should have been followed up while removing those poisons.

The Lord Of The Rings: Return To Moria Seems An Improvement

Instead of looking into the actual problems and rooting them out, the concept itself was put aside and we started getting games of a different genre. I still believe the Shadow of Mordor formula deserves another chance, but it wouldn’t have been that much of a problem if the next game were good. Instead, we got Gollum which turned out to be a complete mess. At least The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria seems a better idea.

The game is a crafting-focused survival adventure centered around the dwarves. The player creates their custom dwarf to play their part in restoring Moria after the events of The Lord of The Rings. The concept focuses on delving deep into the mines of Moria either solo or in online parties, scavenging resources and crafting supplies, and reinforcing your base. It is also accompanied by surviving the onslaught of enemies.

The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria seems an interesting venture. A crafting and survival game set in Tolkien’s fantasy world can be a desirable concept for many if handled correctly. From what we know so far, it looks like the game packs solid depth to the crafting and discovery mechanics, and the combat also seems like an appropriate implementation rather than just a means to further the scavenging.

We’re not yet sure about the story of the game, how it fits into the lore of this gigantic series, further details about the gameplay, and the extent of co-op support. Regardless, at least it looks to be an improvement over The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, the first step towards redemption. The game has a solid concept, all that remains is a proper execution and we might have a fun game to look forward to.

With all that said, The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria still requires considerable effort if it hopes to please the audience after earlier blunders. Gollum has left the fans devastated, and even if Return to Moria ends up being a good game, it will be judged a lot more strictly considering past circumstances. The game needs to do something epic to win back everyone’s hearts.

The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria arrives in Fall 2023 for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X|S.

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Najam Ul Hassan


Najam Ul Hassan is a News Reporter on eXputer who enjoys investing hours in his favorite video game titles. When he’s not playing games, he’s practicing Journalism. He began his career on eXputer after combining his limitless love of video games and all things geek with his considerable writing experience. He has been cited numerous times by several noteworthy publications and sites such as Game Rant, Yahoo, PlayStation LifeStyle, VGC, VG247, TheGamer, among others. Experience: 2+ Years || Education: Masters in Mass Media Communication || Written 300+ News Stories.

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