The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria

I was one of those weirdos who completely skipped World of Warcraft and instead invested thousands of hours into The Lord of the Rings Online. In fact, until my pandemic-induced Final Fantasy XIV binge last year, LotRO is the only MMO that saw my play time break that 1,000-hour mark, and even now, I think LotRO is still the MMO that I have the most time invested in.

The game’s very first paid expansion was called Mines of Moria, and it took players to a lovingly rendered re-creation of the massive underground world of Khazad-dûm (which movie fans should remember from The Fellowship of the Ring). I spent hundreds of hours exploring those dark, nearly endless caverns and grand halls, and I think back on that expansion with a whole lot of nostalgia. It would probably be hard to go back to all these years later, but I still think of that expansion as one of the most compelling video-game locations I’ve ever been to.

So imagine my surprise when the Epic Games Store Summer Showcase opened up with a trailer for The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria. The very first line of the trailer says, “The forge’s fire has long grown cold under the mountain of Durin’s folk.” As a Lord of the Rings lore nerd, I immediately started paying attention — the mention of Durin’s folk signaled right away that this was a Lord of the Rings game.

And what a game! Apparently, The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria is a building and crafting game that sees the dwarves return to Moria and begin rebuilding it. It’s a premise that I never would have imagined, but now that I know that it exists, I won’t be able to stop thinking about it. This sounds incredibly up my damp, dark, cavernous alley.

The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria

Here’s a list of features from an official press release:

  • Feel the Fellowship: Experience the Fellowship of the Dwarves like never before, with the rich lore of the iconic fantasy world from J.R.R. Tolkien interwoven into the very fabric of The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria.
  • Survive the Dark: 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.
  • Base Building: Find solace from the darkness. Reveal and clear new locations to create architecture on a grand scale. Get creative and construct bases from scratch or build upon the existing environment. Beware the evils which seek to destroy Dwarven progress.
  • Rebuild and Reshape Moria: Restore the long-lost ancient kingdom of Khazad-dûm to its former glory, recovering Dwarven landmarks as the story progresses. Resurrect old mines and refire their forges to yield their untouched resources.
  • Explore: Delve intothe depths of the Mines of Moria. Procedurally generated environments are abundant with resources and fraught with mystery and danger, providing a unique experience each and every time.
  • Co-op Multiplayer: Adventure alone or band together with friends in online cooperative multiplayer with up to eight players.
  • Craft Dwarven Tools, Weapons and More: Craft and loot legendary Dwarven armor, tools, weapons and structures. Rebuild ancient forges to strengthen, repair and enchant gear. Upgrade and unlock new technologies and fantastical machines.
  • Uncover Magic Artifacts: Discover ancient magic items including swords that glow when Orcs are near, maps of long-dormant Mithril veins, books with forgotten crafting plans, and amulets that give strength or wisdom.
  • Mine Ore and Jewels: Establish mines to unearth deposits of precious resources such as iron, gold, and quartz, and fantastical materials such as Mithril. Access crafting stations and forges to convert ore to ingots and upgrade gear. But be prepared, mining is loud and can awaken what lurks in the darkness.
  • Comprehensive Dwarf Builder: Players become part of Dwarven Legend as they create their own Dwarf in the custom character creator. Dwarves can be customized in a variety of ways to create a unique Dwarven identity. Then, during gameplay, players can find and craft armor and weapons to further enhance their unique style.

The game is set to come to PC in spring of 2023. You can check out the announcement trailer for The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria below.

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