Skip to main content

Tales of the Shire is a The Lord of the Rings-themed take on Stardew Valley

A Hobbit gardens in Tales of the Shire.
Private Division

Private Division revealed a new game set in the Middle-earth universe called Tales of the Shire: A The Lord of the Rings Game. The title, developed by Wētā Workshop Game Studio, is a cozy life simulator set within the world of the books by J.R.R. Tolkien.

In 2022, No Rest for the Wicked publisher Private Division first teased that it was working on a game based on The Lord of the Rings with Wētā Workshop, the visual effects studio whose initial claim to fame was working on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Wētā Workshop has technically had a game studio since 2014, but Tales of the Shire will be its most significant release yet.

Tales of the Shire is meant to be a relaxing life sim where players go about their day in a town of Hobbits called Bywater. It looks like it will draw inspiration from games like Stardew Valley, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Fae Farm, and Bandle Tale: A League of Legends Story. It’s a cozy game where players can customize their home, explore, farm, fish, and cook every day in between conversations with the Hobbits that inhabit Bywater. The ultimate goal is to throw an amazing Bywater Festival for the Shire where characters like Gandalf can potentially show up.

It definitely seems like it will be a breath of fresh air for The Lord of the Rings games following Monlith’s gory Middle-Earth action titles and 2023’s disastrous The Lord of the Rings: Gollum. Tales of the Shire: A The Lord of the Rings Game will be released for PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch sometime during “the second half of 2024.”

Editors' Recommendations

Tomas Franzese
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum publisher lays off internal development staff
Gollum stares at a cruel woman in The Lord of the Rings: Gollum.

The developer and publisher behind The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, Daedalic Entertainment, laid off its internal development staff so it can focus on game publishing going forward.

Daedalic Entertainment made a name for itself by developing and publishing a lot of adventure games and RPGs in the 2010s. It developed series like Deponia and Blackguards and published games like Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun and Inkulinati. Nacon acquired Daedalic in February 2022, ahead of the release of what was supposed to be its most ambitious title, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum. When the game finally came out in May 2023 after multiple delays, it was a train wreck.
The game was near-unplayable for reviewers ahead of launch, and even when the game did work, its design felt outdated and unpolished. Digital Trends' one-star review of The Lord of the Rings: Gollum called it "a disaster in a way that I sincerely thought wasn’t possible anymore." Earlier today, German outlet Games Wirtschaft reported that Daedalic had closed its development branch, and the company confirmed that to Digital Trends in a statement.
"Daedalic Entertainment has made the decision to close its development department, with full focus now on our publishing business. Eight promising releases will be launching in this financial year alone," a spokesperson for Daedalic said. "Even though The Lord of the Rings: Gollum did not live up to the expectations we had for the game, we are very grateful for the opportunity and the learning experience it brought us."
Daedalic confirmed to Digital Trends that another Gollum patch is in the works but that an upcoming The Lord of the Rings game from Daedalic is canceled. It's a sad end to the Gollum saga for the developers involved, although Daedalic wants to frame this situation as a "new beginning" for the company.
"Currently, we are working on another patch for The Lord of the Rings: Gollum," the spokesperson continued. "A follow-up project in The Lord of the Rings universe that has already been started will be discontinued. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, as the body responsible for the federal funding, was informed of this some time ago. We value each and every member of our team very much, and it is important to us that the transition goes as well as possible. We will therefore support our former employees in finding new opportunities within our network. A difficult break, but also a new beginning in the already long history of Daedalic Entertainment."
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is available now for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch. 

Read more
Heroes of Middle-Earth isn’t afraid to play with Lord of the Rings canon
An evil Galadriel in Heroes of Middle-Earth

The Lord of the Rings franchise has a storied history in almost every entertainment medium, and we are entering a new era for its film and gaming efforts. As Amazon continues to produce The Rings of Power, Middle-Earth Enterprises has been acquired by Embracer Group. Instead of all of The Lord of Rings' games being made by Warner Bros., which had been the case for some time, we are now seeing lots of studios make games in the Lord of the Rings universe, providing their own spin on the idea. While The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is doing that on consoles this month, mobile game players are also getting a brand new game.
The Lord of the Rings: Heroes of Middle-Earth is on the way from Capital Games and EA, and I attended a preview event for the game ahead of its launch on May 10. This game takes the character-collecting RPG approach established through its previous game Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes and gives it a Middle-Earth makeover. What’s most intriguing about the title, though, is that it’s not afraid to ask “What if?” while playing around in the world of this long-running franchise.
What if?
When it comes to gameplay, my brief playtime with Heroes of Middle-Earth didn’t surprise me. It’s exactly what you’d expect from a mobile character-collecting RPG set in The Lord of the Rings universe. Still, the character-based approach allows Capital Games to play in The Lord of the Rings sandbox in ways few creatives have been able to. It has more freedom to craft more experimental scenarios with the franchise's iconic characters, as it’s not as concerned with falling in line with lore.

The premise is that players have discovered a new Ring of Power, which they must use to keep The Lord of the Rings timeline intact as a mysterious enemy is trying to throw it in disarray. That setup means that the game can create scenarios that don’t necessarily align with the Middle-Earth canon. Players can make characters from different time periods, races, and allegiances team up in a way that wouldn’t work anywhere else. They’ll encounter a Galadriel who was corrupted by the Ring and other characters who may have strayed from the path laid for them in the books and films. Post-launch, some of these alternate versions of characters will eventually become playable as well.
In the age of the multiverse story in media, these kinds of “What if?” scenarios make for a novel The Lord of the Rings game set pieces and give the developers plenty of room to come up with future characters for players to collect. In a press roundtable, Heroes of Middle-Earth Design Director Jay Ambrosini was undoubtedly enthusiastic about these concepts but said the team is also making sure any of these ideas and alternate timelines that they do pursue feeling respectful toward the world J.R.R. Tolkien established.
“There are so many characters that you look at and see the small little decisions that happen and affect them, and it’s so fun to think about what happens if they made the other decision,” Ambrosini says. “They are fun things to explore and talk about, but the most important thing to us is that we’re telling a genuine Tolkien story and that we’re very faithful to the laws of the world that exist. Good deeds are rewarded with goodness; bad deeds are rewarded with bad things happening. We’re making sure that we’re appreciating and celebrating those pieces of Tolkien’s work.”

Read more
Lord of the Rings: Heroes of Middle-earth: release date speculation, trailers, gameplay, and more
Two hobbits in The Lord of the Rings Heroes of Middle-earth.

Get ready to jump back into the vibrant world of Middle-earth with Lord of the Rings: Heroes of Middle-earth, the newest game inspired by the fantastic literary work. We've already had dozens of games based on all the books in this series, including The Hobbit, as well as experiences that explore other stories not yet told in those original texts, with the most notable being Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and its sequel, Shadow of War. However, the mobile space has not had a big hit with this IP as of yet.

Lord of the Rings: Heroes of Middle-earth looks to change that. This ambitious new free-to-play game wants to bring the high production value, scale, characters, story, and fun gameplay of other titles into the palm of our hands. Like many things in Middle-earth, a lot of information about this upcoming game is still shrouded in darkness. However, after plumbing the books and scrolls of Minas Tirith and consulting our council, we offer you everything we know about Lord of the Rings: Heroes of Middle-earth.

Read more