The Lord of the Rings: War in the North developers discuss the best way to smash an Orc

the lord of rings war in north developers discuss best way to smash an orcJ.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth is a big place.  But more than that, thanks to a nearly obsessive amount of information, it is a place that is steeped in history and lore.  Thanks to the books and movies, many people are familiar with the story of Frodo and the war against Sauron, but all but the hardcore fans are are aware of the several other story lines that were hinted at, yet never explored.  One of those stories involves a small group of heroes fighting their own war in the North, in a second front against Sauron. That is the story that will be featured in Lord of the Rings: The War in the North.

“With his far reaching right hand Sauron might have done great evil in the North. Yet all that has been averted because a handful of heroes stood in his path.”

From that quote by Gandalf uttered in passing, a new adventure has been created featuring three characters: a human ranger, an elf and a dwarf. Each character is not only playable, but upgradable, and each character begins with their own advantages and disadvantages. The ranger is balanced, the elf is exceptional in ranged weapons, and the dwarf is a brawler, plus all three can find equipment specific to them.

Part hack and slash, part RPG, the game features both single-player and co-op gamplay, which can be played both online and off. The game will also be big—very big. Several locations will be exporable, hidden locations will be sprinkled throughout, and interaction with non-playable allies will unfold via a dialog tree that can lead to more information, new areas, or nothing at all.

After unveiling an early playable demo at GDC, it is safe to say that the developers have spent a great deal of time designing the look and feel of the sections of Middle Earth you will travel through. As the name suggests, the game takes you to the North, an area mostly undiscussed in the trilogy, but steeped with history recounted in The Silmarillion. The region was once the home to many great cities, as well as the kingdom of Numenor, which was destroyed long before the events of The Lord of the Rings. In other words, Snowblind has a rich history to delve into for the setting of their game. It is a mostly unknown section of one of the most well-known stories in modern times, so expect this game to receive more attention—and more scrutiny—as the release date approaches.

In the video below, the developers discuss the gameplay mechanics involved with the fighting. The key point is the ability to selectively attack individual sections of an enemy. If you hit a leg, that leg will come off. Same goes for an arm, which makes a headshot a fatal blow immediately.

Check out the video, and look for The Lord of the Rings: War in the North for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 towards the end of the year.

{Warning: The following trailer may not be suitable for all ages}