Lord of the Rings: War in the North Updated Impressions

Snowblind Studios' upcoming action RPG aims to be the bloodiest Middle-earth game yet.

There is a point when you look at Lord of the Rings: War in the North and inevitably think to yourself, "Well, then. I don't think I've played a Lord of the Rings game quite like this before." Perhaps that moment arrives when you see your first feral goblin decapitation. Or maybe it's when a mountain troll saunters along, picks up your elf friend, and quite literally rips her in half. Regardless of when it happens, the point remains: War in the North is certainly treading new (if slightly bloodied) ground with this beloved license.

It's no coincidence, either. Developer Snowblind studios has made violence one of its main areas of focus for War in the North. As an action role-playing game, there's very much a focus on the combat. Playing three-player co-op as either a dwarf, human, or elf, you're sent on a journey through stretches of Middle-earth filled with some of Sauron's nastiest friends. Your fighting style depends heavily on your race of choice, as there are abilities and skill trees unique to each race, but the result seems to be just as bloody no matter the selection.

The demo we saw here at Gamescom 2010 was set in a hilly area to the west of the Misty Mountains. It was a wilderness setting, with tall trees and patches of melting snow on the forest floor. Among the smaller enemies in this demo were feral goblins who quickly skitter around on hands and feet, and orc guards who grimace and growl much the way you'd expect any good orc to. Then there were the giant guys who seem to act as magnets to pull any potential wayward teammates together to act as one. These included the hulking orc champion who's so big he makes a dwarf look like, well, a baby dwarf. There's also the aforementioned mountain troll who, as we said earlier, is capable of picking up a teammate and ripping the poor thing in half unless you or a friend hurries and offers a helping hand.

Snowblind calls the style of teamwork driving the game "interdependent co-op," a reference to the unique abilities that each race brings to the table. The human is a master craftsman who, unlike the others, can collect plants in order to make helpful items like healing potions, while the dwarf has the ability to spy structural weaknesses in order to find hidden goodies behind a crumbling wall. It's then up to that dwarf whether he or she wants to share the loot with teammates or simply hoard it. Add to this your standard revive mechanic and special attacks that combine two or more characters' powers, and you can see how Snowblind is looking to mold players into a harmonious trio.

We didn't get a chance to see what any of the storytelling has to offer, but Snowblind seemed keen to reassure everyone that despite the high level of violence inherent to the combat, there is indeed a heavy focus on narrative as well. It's a brand-new tale that adheres to Lord of the Rings canon, and with both the book and movie licenses firmly in place, we're told to expect some familiar faces from the movies popping up every so often to connect the game's plot back to the original story of Frodo and company. Hopefully we'll have the opportunity to check out those story elements sometime before Lord of the Rings: War in the North is released in 2011.

Written By

Want the latest news about The Lord of the Rings: War in the North?

The Lord of the Rings: War in the North

The Lord of the Rings: War in the North

Discussion

64 comments
CaptainAhab13
CaptainAhab13

Please, make this game awesome. I want a huge, long, in-depth action RPG set in the seemingly endless Middle-Earth that could last me 100+ hours. Dear God, please!

Bunnyninja117
Bunnyninja117

@ DanieltheDead They have said that there will be 2 player split screen coop and online 1-3 player coop. There is also the option to play by yourself, or 2player splitscreen with a friend over the internet =)

DanieltheDead
DanieltheDead

The only thing that could let this game down would be the omission of local co-op. If they pull that 'Online Only' garbage I will be severely disappointed.

yayo121
yayo121

The only thing that could let this game down is if the dwarf elf and human are the only characters you can play as, other than that Im deffo looking forward to it

TheGreyArea
TheGreyArea

I am very keen to know more about this game. I have a damn good feeling about it. My one, huge hope is that it is a long and challenging campaign

rasputin177
rasputin177

the Champions of Norrath games were the best console hack and slash games period. They know how to make a good multi player game. So, I am excited to see where the LOTR franchise takes them.

SgtDeathrax
SgtDeathrax

May look good! But it's no LOTR online Shadows Of Angmar. the best Lotr game ever created!! plenty of action, Plenty of quests, plenty of room and plenty of online players. And a hole lot more!! This game will not even compare to the trailer of LOTR Online Shadows Of Angmar. Which will be free to play soon so check it out!! You won't go back!

Marvelous0303
Marvelous0303

Yeah But the Conquest Online was fun though...so sad it didn't really catch on to people : ( We'll see how this one does, it looks decent

RussianRAGE
RussianRAGE

I dunno...LotR:Conquest sucked and this looks similar...

peterfaj
peterfaj

Games like that (bloody and whatnot) are usually shallow, but this is Lord of the Rings, so it can't be shallow.

stormswrath
stormswrath

Wow, this sounds great!!!! Another rpg to add to my list of rpgs to get.

jacobhazard1704
jacobhazard1704

I have been waiting for a next gen "Champions of Norrath" for some time. I love you Snowblind. So much.

bubsy6087
bubsy6087

I wonder if the camera/combat is going to be like Fable, or if its gonna be like LotRO. Personally, I'm hoping for something like Fable; if not, I'll still probably get it.

huggybear1974
huggybear1974

Can't wait for this game. i Think i own every lord of the rings game ever created so its a given, im going to be excited for this one

Gantrathor
Gantrathor

Why does this game look amazing? Oh yeah. It's probably because it looks so amazing... just sayin'.

ciava13
ciava13

This looks promising. I enjoy a good upgrade tree and this bonus coop likes like it may just be enough to get my money.

KlepticGrooves
KlepticGrooves

Sounds interesting. Greater customisation and character choices would be needed though.

swordaxe
swordaxe

Oh man its only 3 player co-op? And the races are set there's no customizing? Lame. I miss the old Everquest ARPGs that Snow Blind used to make for the PS2. Why the hell can't we have one of those awesome games on the PS3. So lame.

Phoenix6359
Phoenix6359

This sounds pretty good, I'm surprised how the LOTR game franchise has died off a bit, there are still so many RTS and RPG's that can be made.

-rukah_bear
-rukah_bear

OMG GIVE ME THIS.. NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW.

beardedkillacam
beardedkillacam

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Olsenz
Olsenz

I might like a grittier LOTR game. I like the Online game but still a bit PG for me. The books had intense battles.

shinchy
shinchy

I don't understand why they don't create an RPG that allows you to play the actual story of the books with the characters from it.

mne635
mne635

laaaavly been waiting for a decent gritty lotr game

fetusfart18
fetusfart18

Anybody who's read the books know that the violence in this game is indeed true to the source material. I mean, honestly, if they'd have had half a mind to, the films could have easily been rated R. There was some seriously gruesome scenes in the books.

elessar_tee
elessar_tee

I just have to shake my head at this. This franchise needs to die and stay where it belongs. That is, in literature.

SuperMegaMaster
SuperMegaMaster

Hell yeah!!! blood and gore..can't wait to play this game!

me4656
me4656

Riiight...and the reason why we couldn't have our own made characters in a game that isn't canon anyways is...?

ggregd
ggregd

Do they still have "Mages" shooting lightning bolts out their asses, because based on one preview I read "adheres to Lord of the Rings canon" is simply untrue.

Gadeos
Gadeos

SImply GREAT!!!!!!

tobbe4321
tobbe4321

LOTR has such potential, I dont understand why they cant make a solid RTS out of it. BFME2 was succcess to the xbox

tobelight
tobelight

Looks solid, gonna keep an eye on this

Henu
Henu

Only three classes and races with no combination possibilities? hmm..

WiredDreemz
WiredDreemz

I didn't even know this game was being developed. It's definitely on my 'Want' list.

owza48
owza48

Seems pretty good to me, definitely one to watch out for

dylanscott1992
dylanscott1992

@Elite39 Thank you, I took it off the screen so the rez is kinda crappy :(

Elite39
Elite39

Cool! @dylanscott1992 Nice pic 8-).

Barighm
Barighm

Damn Warner Bros...buying Snowblind and killing any chance we'd ever see another Dark Alliance or Champions game...I hope this is pretty good.

Krypteia_mTc
Krypteia_mTc

I hope its not a top down Diablo-rip off, and I hope its a lot better than those other LotR games on the PS2/ Xbox.

gashoe13
gashoe13

Looks good. Hope the combat's good.