The success of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books and films has unsurprisingly led to numerous tie-in games that take place in the fantasy world of Middle-Earth. The next game originally appeared to be just around the corner when The Lord of the Rings: Gollum was announced in 2019, and news of a 2021 release date followed shortly thereafter.
Unfortunately, the game has recently been hit with a lengthy delay, and Gollum is now expected to release sometime in 2022. Although this is disappointing, the disastrous release of Cyberpunk 2077 has reminded players of the importance of developers getting all of the time that they need to complete their game in full. Thankfully, the plethora of Middle-Earth games that have been released over the last few decades means that there are more than enough titles to play in the meantime that can temporarily fill the void.
10 The Lord Of The Rings: Conquest
A Lord of the Rings game based on the classic Star Wars: Battlefront II (2005) sounded like a match made in heaven, and expectations for the game were unsurprisingly huge when EA teamed up with Battlefront II‘s developer Pandemic Studios to make the dream into a reality.
Sadly, Pandemic Studios weren’t able to recapture the magic of Battlefront II, and Conquest quickly became viewed as a disappointment, exemplified by its Metascore of just 55. Despite the lackluster execution, Conquest can still be great fun to play, and fans of Lord of the Rings and Star Wars: Battlefront II will likely find plenty to love about the action game.
9 The Lord Of The Rings: War In The North
From one hack and slash title to another, The Lord Of The Rings: War In The North was released in 2011 to underwhelming sales, likely due to Skyrim and Uncharted 3 releasing around the same time. The game performed particularly badly in the UK, where it only just crept into the top 40 charts.
Although the sales were disappointing, the game is certainly worth Lord of the Rings fans checking out today as it’s an ambitious game that attempted to improve upon the Two Towers and Return of the King tie-in games by adding RPG mechanics and more-depth to the hack and slash combat.
8 The Lord Of The Rings: The Third Age
From a game that took inspiration from Star Wars: Battlefront II, to one that will remind players of Final Fantasy X. EA’s The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age released in 2004 and scored a respectable 75 on Metacritic.
Criticisms from reviewers were predominantly aimed at the game’s combat and character development which both lacked any real depth, though The Third Age redeemed itself with its fantastic presentation and set-pieces that are guaranteed to impress fans of the franchise.
7 The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was released just under a year after the film of the same name. Surprisingly though, the game is not an adaptation of Peter Jackson’s film, as Vivendi only had a license to make tie-in games to Tolkien’s books.
Because of this, The Fellowship of the Ring‘s gameplay is drastically different from EA’s Two Towers and Return of the King games. Whereas the latter titles predominantly offer an action-packed hack and slash experience, Fellowship of the Ring has a much slower pace with exploration and fetch quests taking center stage over combat.
6 The Lord Of The Rings Online
An MMORPG set in Tolkien’s Middle-Earth almost sounded too good to be true before the game’s release, but Midway Games made it happen in 2007 when they teamed up with Turbine to create the online experience. The game received an impressive 86 Metascore upon release, as well as GameSpy’s award of MMO of the Year.
Today, the game has a player base of around 100k and is being worked on by the team of Standing Stone Games and Daybreak Game Company.
5 The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers
Despite the enormous critical and commercial success of Peter Jackson’s The Two Towers, the game wasn’t a sure-fire success, as the aforementioned licensing of Vivendi’s The Fellowship of the Ring game had left many consumers confused as to whether The Two Towers would also be based on the books rather than the films.
EA’s excellent marketing of the game soon calmed any doubts, and the game went on to be a huge success that is still beloved to this day.
4 Lego The Lord Of The Rings
The success of Lego Star Wars: The Video Game in 2005 didn’t go unnoticed, and it wasn’t long before the Lego collectathon formula that Traveller’s Tales created found itself adapting some of the film industries most iconic franchises like Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, and of course Lord of the Rings.
Lego The Lord of the Rings is widely considered today to be both one of the best Lord of the Rings games, as well as one of the best Lego games, predominantly due to the excellent open-world implementation.
3 The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King
EA didn’t try to reinvent the wheel with The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, as they instead opted to keep the gameplay very similar to the hack and slash formula introduced with The Two Towers.
The game did expand the horizons of its predecessor though, by giving players a far vaster range of characters to control. Whereas The Two Towers simply followed the quest of Legolas, Aragon, and Gimli, The Two Towers incorporated the stories of all of the main characters by having three branching campaigns.
2 The Lord Of The Rings: The Battle For Middle-Earth II
The Lord of the Rings: The Battle For Middle-Earth II is yet another example on this list of a fantastic idea on paper (a real-time strategy Lord of the Rings game) being put into practice.
Much like its 2004 predecessor, Battle For Middle-Earth II didn’t disappoint with its fantastic strategy gameplay, enjoyable Good and Evil campaigns, and impressive range of units to choose from. The game also added a One Ring Mode, which put an interesting spin on Skirmishes by having Gollum constantly hiding somewhere during a battle. If one team finds him, they can take the ring from him and bring it back to their base in exchange for a powerful hero.
1 Middle-Earth: Shadow Of War
From one critically acclaimed sequel to another, Middle-Earth: Shadow of War was released in 2017 to impressive critical reception. Much like its predecessor, Shadow of War offers a fantastic open-world set in Middle-earth that will have realized the dreams of many fans.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War isn’t without its issues, particularly due to the unfortunate implementation of microtransactions; but the game is still worth any fan of Tolkien’s books or Peter Jackson’s films checking out, and the amount of content offered should just be enough to tide players over until The Lord of the Rings: Gollum hits stores.