J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings saga revolutionized the fantasy genre upon its publication of the first novel, The Fellowship of the Ring, in 1954. So powerful was the effect on the literary landscape that Tolkien is often now referred to as the father of modern fantasy literature. And for good reason, the story and characters contained within these tomes would go on to influence stories for decades, with the DNA of many modern fantasy worlds being reminiscent of Tolkien’s tales. When those stories got their big-budget film adaptations in the early 2000s, a whole new generation was exposed to Middle-earth, either through the movies themselves or the media those movies inspired.
Among the extra material that Rings fans were hungry for was a line of video games across all platforms that either adapted the movies themselves or feature original stories of their own set in Tolkien’s vast world. Get acquainted with some of the best The Lord of the Rings games on offer with this list of the Top 5 Current and Future Lord of the Rings Games.
The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
The first game on this list is the video game adaptation of the third film in the franchise: Return of the King. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King was a very successful, highly polished hack and slash game created by EA Redwood Shores for PlayStation 2 and PC and later ported to the Gamecube, original Xbox, and the Game Boy Advance. This title served as the sequel to the previous game and film: The Two Towers, which was a similar hack and slash game but didn’t feature the many upgrades that Return of the King had. Features such as multiple storylines, more playable characters, and highly interactable environments were some of the things that set Return of the King apart from the other games in the series, and it also featured two-player co-op for several missions. The development studio was completely dedicated to the project and went as far as using actual film assets in collaboration with the film production.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War
Middle-earth: Shadow of War was Monolith’s sequel to their previous Middle-earth title and continued the series of stealth-focused, action role-playing games. It continues its story where the previous game left off and featured many improvements to the game’s formula, including graphical enhancements, quality of life additions, and improved parkour traversal. The game was initially dismissed upon its launch due to how the publisher forced microtransactions into the game. They were completely unnecessary and made portions of the game nearly impossible to complete without spending more money through these microtransactions. Several months after release, these microtransactions were removed, and the game that was hidden behind them truly shines now. If you were one of the people who skipped the game because of the repugnant money-grubbing, you owe it to yourself to experience this awesome action game.
The Lord of the Rings Online
Perhaps the longest-running The Lord of the Rings game of all time is the MMO RPG The Lord of the Rings Online. This game was originally released in 2007 (!!!) by developer Turbine, who continued to support and develop the game for almost 10 years up until 2016, where the project was then handed off to Standing Stone Games, who continues to add content with the latest expansion being added in 2021. This MMO set in Tolkien’s world has seen steady, constant growth in its nearly 15-year run, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum
Our first yet-to-be-released Lord of the Rings game is The Lord of the Rings: Gollum. This game is being developed by Daedelic Entertainment and promises to be an action-adventure title that stars Gollum and presents his adventures that occurred before the beginning of the original Lord of the Rings trilogy and even before its prequel, The Hobbit. This adventure will rely on stealth mechanics due to Gollum’s inherent frailty (you can see his ribs!), with players either sneaking around avoiding confrontation or sneakily plotting out creative deaths for your enemies. Gollum’s agility will lend to fantastic platforming, with him being able to jump and climb just about anywhere. The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is scheduled to sneak out in 2022 for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One, Series X/S, and PC.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Finally, what I consider to be the best Lord of the Rings video game experience available is Monolith’s original Middle-earth game: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. This action-adventure role-playing game introduced players to Talion, a Gondorian Ranger who embarks on a mission to avenge his murdered wife with the help of the spirit inhabiting his body, Celebrimbor, an Elf Lord who is actually a character from Tolkiens The Silmarillion. In gameplay, you control Talion as he engages in combat, parkours around and through castle ruins, and even rides on Wargs for faster travel through the large open world. Celebrimbor provides a useful mechanic where you can brainwash enemy orcs, forcing them to fight alongside you. His mechanics play heavily into the groundbreaking Nemesis system, which allowed you to fight your way through the Orc hierarchy, eliminating captains and generals until you are able to engage in a boss fight against the main Orc that controls any particular region. These Orcs have the possibility of showing up later, and they would remember your encounter and show damage based on how you dispatched them previously. No other game has done anything like this since, and it truly makes Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (and its sequel) must-play experiences.
Mike has been playing video games since he was able to hold a controller, having been fascinated by Sonic 2 on his mom’s Sega Genesis. That fascination and passion for the art form has grown exponentially nearly 30 years later, and he doesn’t see that fading away anytime soon.