The State of Lord of the Rings Video Games in 2024

One of the most famous IPs, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, not only has amazing books, movies, and a fledgling (yet polarizing) TV show, but also a catalog of video games under its belt. After the massive misstep that was 2023’s Gollum, and with Tales of the Shire releasing later this year, the IP’s gaming future stands upon the edge of a knife. Let’s take a look what games were offered in the past, how the games today compare to those, and what games are coming in the immediate future.

The reason for this quick stroll down memory lane is to show why It would be daunting to be a developer today working in this IP. There are many gamers that have fond memories of previous LotR games. I would be remiss if I didn’t kick this article off with my personal favorite blast from the past, The Lord of the Rings movie games. These games still stand out as some of the few movie-adaption games that succeeded. The Two Towers had a Metacritic score of 82%, while the next entry boasted a score of 85%!

Other well-received games include the RTS series, The Battle for Middle-earth 1 & 2. The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age was another note-worthy addition that didn’t score quite as high in the reviews, but still garnered a big fan base.

However, it’s easy to look back with rose-tinted glasses and forget about The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring — both of which received more lukewarm critical scores. These are likely the past titles that most people remember, but there are probably gamers reading this that were there 3000 years ago, who remember there are many, many, older games that had the same ups and downs. Only Elrond could remember the shortcomings of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Volume 1 for the SNES, or the innovative text physics of The Hobbit Software Adventure (1982).

The LotR games in the modern gaming era are more of the same: some good, one meh, and one that was bound up in the fate of the ring. The good games that received the same level of success as the movie-adaption series were the Shadow series (Shadow of War, and Shadow of Mordor). It is likely that both of these titles being open world action adventure RPGs — a very popular genre — had something to do with their success. Both are still worth playing if you like that style of game, and it’s often possible to grab them for a pittance on sale, so keep your (one large, fiery) eye peeled.

In the more recent years, though, the IP seems to have dug too deep. A survival crafting game called Return to Moria released last year to pretty bad reviews. However, this period in gaming is unique because games are usually worked on after release. Just this month, a new update released for Return to Moria that fixed bugs and added content. It doesn’t happen often, but games can really transform for the better after difficult launches — just look at Cyberpunk 2077.

state of lord of the rings return to moria art
“End? No, the journey doesn’t end here.”

For anyone that has been keeping up on gaming news, this last one won’t surprise you. Of course, we have to mention the very poorly rated game, Gollum. Even though, it too had some updates, it doesn’t seem that it was enough to fix the many issues that plagued it. Like how Gollum the character is a cautionary tale for those who wish to use the ring, the game Gollum reminds us that one does not simply make a good LotR video game.

state of lord of the rings gollum art
“I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies…”

Finally, we’ll be gazing into the Seer Stone and looking at what’s to come. We were recently given a new trailer for the upcoming game, Tales of the Shire. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s looking to be a cozy and relaxing type of game where you can play as a hobbit in the Shire doing….well, hobbit things.

If it’s able to capture the same mood and style of Stardew Valley (which I suspect is the goal), it could be a real winner when it releases this year. Fans are cautiously optimistic for this since the trailer, but many are voicing their concerns about the graphics being of low-quality.

“I wish I was at home in my nice hole by the fire, with the kettle just beginning to sing!”

The other game that’s upcoming, but doesn’t have a release date, is Amazon’s new LotR MMO (massive multiplayer online) game. Amazon has taken a swing at this before, but the previous attempt was cancelled back in 2021. From the little info that’s been shared so far, this one sounds pretty generic. Still, with a massive company financing the endeavor, it’s worth keeping two eyes on it.

What do you think about the state of Lord of the Rings gaming? Have you been going back and playing any of the classics, or were you one of the few that actually liked Gollum? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

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Kelson H.
Kelson H.

Kelson is a spud head from out west. He is most happy when holding a milky tea with too much honey and playing a sprawling role playing game or reading a fantasy novel. His video game tastes vary but his main genres are looter shooters, RPGs, and real time strategy games.

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