Coming to the Epic Games Store on PC
Did you know there’s an Epic Games Store showcase going on right now? Me neither! More Lord of the Rings-licensed games are on the way beyond that vague EA mobile project and the Gollum title; as The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria was just announced today.
The trailer opens up at the Doors of Durin, before showcasing a group of dwarves (players) quite literally heading back into Moria. Social elements (group drinking), survival moments (evading orcs that are still skulking about the halls), crafting, and building seem to be in play. Development is handled by Free Range Games, who has worked as an external developer on several titles, and handled primary development for Spelldrifter.
Here’s a quick description that sums up the vibe:
“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.”
Eight-player co-op is on the table, which is likely one of the bigger selling points of Return to Moria for the studio. A spring 2023 window for the Epic Games Store is teased. The copyright is with Middle-earth Enterprises (not the Tolkien Estate), so like other similar projects, they’ll be limited in what they can cover from The Legendarium (as is customary for the vast majority of Tolkien-related media). But given that the core book series pretty much gives them free rein on Moria, they should be good there.
[Update: Following the game’s reveal, legendary Tolkien scholar Corey Olsen (also known as The Tolkien Professor) confirmed that he has been tapped to consult for Return to Moria. Olsen, a preeminent leader in Tolkien academia, lends a lot of credence to everything from the meta-narrative of the game, down to the granularity of items and locations. While the jury is out on gameplay and the technical aspects of the build, I’m a lot more excited knowing that the team asked for help from a pro to help with the lore.]