Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

The Lord of the Rings: War in the North

Preview: The Lord of the Rings: War in the North

8:30 PM on 10.25.2011 // Wesley Ruscher

There will be blood... and lots of it. The Lord of the Rings: War in the North sets to dismiss the stench of mediocrity that has befallen one of literature and cinema's finest franchises in the videogame realm. Past games have been hit or miss -- partially due to the usual movie tie-in fate that rushes development cycles, but also due to the fact that the The Lord of the Rings' book and movie rights, in past, were under license from different entities.

Thankfully, we don't have to deal with that nonsense anymore. With WB Games holding the rights to both the movies and novels now and without the presence of a film to coincide with its launch, The Lord of the Rings: War in the North appears to be what fans have been waiting for: a deep, action-centric affair set in the heart of J.R.R Tolkien's fantasy epic. Oh yeah, and it also doesn't hurt that folks who brought us classics such as Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance and the Champions of Norrath series, Snowblind Studios, are helming the charge.

With just a mere week away before launch, I was able to take a final look at this three-player co-op fest.

The Lord of the Rings: War in the North (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [previewed], PC)
Developer: Snowblind Studios
Publisher: WB Games
Release: November 1, 2011

My adventure began, fitting enough -- as I am a stout man sporting a beard -- with Farin the Dwarven Champion, a Gimli-esque warrior who is all about smiting and mitigating damage. Paired with Eradan the Human Ranger, and Andriel the Elven Loremaster (played by fellow members of the gaming press) we cooperatively made our way through the goblin-infested stronghold of Fornost.

The path was straightforward, but we pressed forward into the first wave of soon-to-be cannon fodder.  Wielding a two-handed sword (Where's my axe?), slashing apart the denizen forces was instantly rewarding. Melee combat is quick, visceral, and highly satisfying as you watch the blood douse your armor. Though combat is essentially relegated to two buttons -- one for light and another for heavy attacks -- each character also possesses a ranged weapon -- a crossbow, in my case -- to further mix up the offense. If you're familiar with the top-down hack and slash fests that put Snowblind on the map, you'll feel right at home with War in the North.

In fact really the only thing that has changed from Snowblind's previous action-RPGs is the viewpoint from which War in the North is played from. An action-driven third-person camera provides more immediacy to the tensions at hand. With this more personal vantage point, each character is free to explore the surroundings for loot and hidden treasures without the limitations of being fixed to the host's screen. My only gripe with the camera is that it, at times, left me susceptible to enemy flanking, but this became less of an issue once I was accustomed to rolling successfully out of harm's way.

Outside of the camera though, not much has deviated from Snowblind's tried and true path of delivering addicting loot-collecting, hack-and-slash adventuring. There are five different levels of loot to pillage from and weapons and gear even contain sockets to add extra attributes to their standard statistics, such as elemental damage and bleeding effects.

Loot dropped is unique to every player, so there is never a need to race for the rare item. You can trade items amongst players or even sell them at certain "shop" locations found per level. There is no weight encumbrance to worry about, but there is a predetermined number of slots for carrying gear -- providing ample storage.

While War in the North does limit itself to just the three predetermined characters -- forgoing a character creator -- the amount of customization available should provide adequate depth to allow for the play style of choice. After leveling up during combat, I was afforded the opportunity to gander at just how the character progression system works. Typical to this sort of fare, a few points can be allocated to improve certain attributes -- i.e. strength and defense -- followed by the upgrading or purchasing of a new skill.

Each character skill tree provides three branching paths, and from what I was told, only one would be able to be fully completed by the time the campaign concludes. Fear not, those who must have the most complete and well-versed combatant, as War in the North contains a new game plus and even a new game plus plus with more challenging difficulties -- which I can attest should be a trial.

After my fellowship made it through Fornost, we skipped ahead a bit into the dank caves of the Barrow-downs. If you remember the part in Return of the King where Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli venture into the Paths of the Dead, you'll have a good idea of what to expect esthetically. It was here also that I began to understand how imperative strong cooperative play is for War in the North.

As we fought the vile undead that make refuge in the Barrows, we were tasked with working together to defeat both the level's mid-boss and final boss. While the end boss consisted more or less of making sure no one perished and focusing our offense in unison, the Barrow's mid-boss was a shining example of using all three character's proficiencies. 

While our nemesis stood off in the distance, hurling boulders and powering up nearby enemies, our communication was paramount to our success. Having Andriel protect us with her shield bubble -- which had been augmented to heal us on top of block projectiles -- I took it upon myself to agro the nearby enemies so Eradan could use his bow to pick off the mid-boss. Had we not worked together so cohesively we may have easily fallen in our attempt. In fact a few times we were close to death, but each character is offered some time to be revived by fellow players before a mission is failed.

After we wrapped up the Barrow-downs, we stopped off at on the game's hub location, Rivendell. It was here we actually met up with many of the main characters from Lord of the Rings trilogy -- all of which resemble their likenesses from the films. These characters serve as story drivers and some even offer additional side quests to further the adventuring. From theses hubs, previous areas can be revisited to find any missing secrets or to finish up incomplete side quests.

While The Lord of the Rings: War in the North doesn't bring a whole lot new to the genre, Snowblind has appeared to update its classic gameplay for a modern generation -- engaging, team-focused co-op surrounded by the addiction of loot and hack and slashing. I'm frothing at the bit to get more time with War in the North as it definitely feels like the Tolkien-esque experience gamers have been waiting for.

Photo Gallery: (6 images)
Click to zoom - browse by swipe, or use arrow keys

Wesley Ruscher, Former Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure Tips
Former Dtoid Weekend News Editor & Mash Tactics Host.  more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
The Lord of the Rings: War in the North

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

So that just happened: The Talos Principle

Sick, Sad and just dumb news: 25th October - Leighapalooza

Context Matters! Fanservice's Secrets EXPOSED!

To editorialize or not to editorialize: An editorial

Tiny Dangerous Dungeons REVIEW - The Pocket Metroidvania

Cblogs of 11/24/15 + Big Ass Fort

Primal Carnage: Extinction Review (PS4)

Belated Spoiler-Free SOMA Review

Friday Night Fights: The Blackest Of Fridays

Super Destructoid Community Interviews Hyper Encore ##Reload

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
Photos and videos are back on quickposts but clipping on some devices. We're going to add a new quickpost editing interface so photos and videos can only be displayed one way (a la twitter) to solve this. Also, a My cBlog link was added to your user menu
Flegma avatarFlegma
Machine-washed my Wii Fit meter yesterday by accident. Took the battery out and let it dry for the night. Luckily the meter still worked - but it had counted a fair number of steps more that day.
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Finally killed Ludwig, now if I could only get passed the 2 hunters on the second floor. that 2 some is rather annoying,and her holy blade kills in only a few hits. wish mine was that strong.
Casus Gaming avatarCasus Gaming
After reading a blog post about DMC4 I decided to watch all the cutscenes on Youtube. Tried the games years ago and couldn't get into them, but man that shit was stylish. Likeable protagonists, intense drama... still think DmC reboot wasn't that bad tho.
lewness avatarlewness
me on 1st ff14 raid (void ark): ooh so many people and lights, so many lights, lights, fuck I can't see, what is happening, i don't understand, is it tuesday already, get on the platform fuuuuck, wow void helm
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Just a reminder that you have until the 30th to get your Bloggers Wanted post, "Thankful it's over" in. I'm either going to tell you how I ruined my best online gaming experience or rip Twilight Princess a new one. Maybe both.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Huh. I just found out the developers of Hatred (remember that controversy?) region-locked their game to prevent it from being accessed by Australians. Destructive Creations are more censor-happy than Nintendo, it seems. Where's the outrage?
Oh yeah, I have an account on this site.
Parismio avatarParismio
Ever wanted to get that item behind that safe in the beginning of Fallout 4?:
Shinta avatarShinta
Got Resident Evil 4 Wii for $5. Uh ... this might be my favorite version. I'm just getting headshots nonstop. Did I miss any other Wii games that are frequently overlooked? Like, really obscure Wii games that no one talks about? I'm interested.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Poeple due not aprecciate teh hrdships of bein a squid.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Guys, check out your blogs! Just be sure to bring tissues. I wish I had. [img][/img]
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
Anyone see the new Captain America trailer? It's pretty dope!
Shinta avatarShinta You're welcome.
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
Update: played through Hyper Dimension Neptunia Rebirth, reminded why I don't like the series, and requested a refund on it and its sequel. Not sure if they'll refund the sequel, but if they honor at least the first, I'll use that money to get Undertale.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
I hope the new Star Wars movie answers the biggest question I have about the franchise; do Midi-Chlorians poop?
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Wow, I feel really stupid. You had to give the Zora King the bottle with the letter in it. Like actually equip the... Wow. Oh, modern gaming conveniences, how I take you for granted.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Srry abot tye lak of coments latly. As a squid now it haas bcom hrrd 2 tipe. Im a sqiid now.
EdgyDude avatarEdgyDude
Backing Indivisible can be done with more than just money. Strapped for cash? then spread the word! post about it on Facebook, Instagram, tweet or simply tell your friends. Head to
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Even with the help of an old hunter I can only knock ludwig to his holy blade phase -_- I will kill the jerk, even if it takes me all night.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -