Earlier this year we went hands-on with Lord of the Rings: War in the North, but Warner Bros.' big Electronic Entertainment Expo reveal was that you are now able to summon Beleram, a massive eagle that will swoop in from the skies--and gouge the eyes out of any large foe or simply carry the small ones away. In our quick demo, we played as Andriel, the elf who was certainly the physically weakest of the bunch, but her powerful spells and ranged attacks made it easy to keep up with the other two members of the party.
Our show-floor demo had us start at the base of a looming fortress, and we had to work our way up the ancient stone steps, disposing of hordes of misshapen minions along the way. As Andriel, we relied on our staff to fend off creatures with melee strikes, but her true power lies in her spells, which we used liberally until we ran out of mana. By holding the right trigger down and pressing B, we could bring up a bubble shield that would heal anyone who stood within, and we could fend off ranged attacks. With X we were able to throw down a forceful push to stun enemies around us.
Beleram was the star of this demo and was considered an unofficial fourth member of the fellowship. We had five chances to summon the great eagle to help us during the demo, so we didn't want to waste it. There were a few tight moments when our team was low on health and we were getting swarmed, but with the push of a button, Beleram came crashing down to help clear our way. We obviously couldn't abuse this tactic too much, but it certainly made things a bit more interesting--it's almost like a panic button.
At one point during the demo we all leveled, so we were able to assign some abilities to our skill tree. As the magic user, we divvied up the points between boosting our damage spells and increasing the stats that would support the team. We were able to put points into giving our group more experience as well as increase our healing abilities.
It was difficult to get a sense of how the game plays out during our short demo, but we had fun casting spells while letting the dwarf and the human ranger take the brunt of the attacks. For anyone who enjoys cooperative play, you might want to keep an eye out for this one. Lord of the Rings: War in the North is set to be released later this year for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.