‘Middle-earth: Shadow of War’ mobile game rekindles the Tolkien magic

Mobile spinoff games don’t have the best reputation among more dedicated players. They can often feel like watered-down knock-offs of the console experience rather than their own separate game, but Warner Bros. and developer IUGO Mobile seem to be taking a much different approach with Middle-earth: Shadow of War. Its mobile counterpart doesn’t attempt to replicate its big brother’s gameplay, but it still shares its Tolkien essence.

Available for pre-registration now on iOS and Android devices, the Middle-earth: Shadow of War mobile game is a free-to-play “real-time RPG” that follows Talion, the star of Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War. Sauron continues to threaten the people of Middle-earth, and in the game’s trailer, Talion remarks that it is time for a “new ring.”

“We need to build our army,” says his wraith companion Celebrimbor, who had actually forged a ring when he was still alive.

Who will make up this army? Not only will Talion be able to recruit characters seen in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, including fan-favorite Uruk Ratbag, but also a selection of characters from other Tolkien works. Gimli will make an appearance, as will Boromir, but if you know anything about Sean Bean, you probably shouldn’t get too attached to him.

Unlike the main Shadow of War game, the mobile game will have you control four of these heroes at once in a top-down perspective similar to the Diablo series. Combat is very number-heavy, but it appears to still contain some gameplay mechanics from the console and PC games. At one point, an ambush is set up by a nemesis named “Orthak Who Devours,” and you can fully customize your heroes for their upcoming battles. Several different currencies are listed at the top of the screen, including a lightning bolt — if you’ve ever played a free mobile game, you know that this icon almost always represents how much “energy” you have left before you have to either wait or pay real cash.

No release date was given for the mobile game, but Middle-earth: Shadow of War launches for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 10. The game was delayed after initially targeting an August release.