With The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria, Free Range Games and North Beach Games are developing the Lord of the Rings franchise in a new direction. While “Return to Moria” certainly sounds promising, it would be wise for the development team to draw inspiration from recent successful games, most notably Valheim, which laid out a useful plan for future survival games.
The announcing trailer for “Return to Moria” highlights several key differences between the title and a game like Valheim. The most obvious is the fact that “Return to Moria” will take place exclusively underground, while “Walheim” offers a more extensive open-world experience, but all the principles that made “Walheim” so successful can be applied in “Return to Moria”, despite these differences.
“Return to Moria” should put exploration and adventure first
If Valheim’s success proved anything, it’s that even in a survival game, building a base must be connected to research. While Valheim’s recent Mistlands update has enhanced the crafting of the game, Valheim has always intertwined its two central aspects so closely that neither of them can be neglected. To complete the game, players need to explore, collect materials and defeat difficult bosses, but it is also important that they have a strong base of operations to work with. “Return to Moria” should be based on the same idea. After all, The Lord of the Rings is an absolute adventure story, and any related game, regardless of genre, should strive to do justice to it.
For “Return to Moria” adventures should be necessary to unlock the best technology and building components. For example, “Return to Moria” can make it so that when digging deep enough, a relic of the friendship of dwarves and elves that existed during the Second Era is discovered, which then gave the player access to elven architecture or other abilities. Even though there is a lot of knowledge to be gleaned from, “Return to Moria” can play relatively fast and loose with canonical material, as the story of Moria is not as concrete as other aspects of the franchise.
“Return to Moria” Requires Major Boss Fights
“Return to Moria” should take notes from Walheim and include large and complex boss fights, which are important milestones for the player. The Balrog that Gandalf is facing is killed in the Third Epoch after the Brotherhood encountered him, but there is an extensive list of creatures from which to extract a “Return to Moria”, and it is possible that another Balrog will be hiding in the depths. under Moria. It may happen that defeating a Balrog will give the player fire-based powers or access to higher melting temperatures, which will allow him to create better armor and weapons.
Even if the “Return to Moria” wants to leave the Balrog aside, it can still attract interesting monsters, such as the “Guardian in the Water”, which in the interval between the Third and Fourth Epochs could slip back into the waters under Moria. Since Moria is home to some of the most powerful creatures viewers have ever seen in the Lord of the Rings franchise, the setting is perfect for an adventure development with the main boss in a game like Walheim. As you get deeper into “Return to Moria”, players will face more challenging challenges, but also unlock bigger rewards.
For what it’s worth, “Return to Moria” can also build a progression system around the recovery of ancient artifacts, very similar to Balin’s ill-fated expedition when he returned to Moria before the events of The Brotherhood of the Ring. In whatever direction the developers decide to go, “Return to Moria” will greatly benefit from a system that outlines clear and obvious milestones in the development of players.
“The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria” will be released on PC in the spring of 2023.