Free Range Games and North Beach Games announced The Lord of the Rings: Return to Mora, a survival crafting game, during the Epic Games Showcase, an Epic exclusive planned for release in early 2023. Return to Moria takes place in Middle Earth’s Fourth Age, after the War of the Ring ends, the elves depart, and Sauron is no more. Gimli the dwarf lord sends an expedition team back into the Mines of Moria to establish a new settlement, and that’s where you and your city planning expertise come in.
Keen Tolkien fans will already realize the timeline is a bit skewed here. In Tolkien’s saga, Gimli establishes a settlement in the Glittering Caves of Rohan before expressing a desire to see the Undying Lands and meet Legolas again. Return to Moria may take liberties with the established timeline, but it’s based on a winning formula.
Your goal in Return to Moria is carving out a new civilization on a procedurally generated map, building cities and villages, gathering resources, handling threats, and exploring as deeply as you dare. In short, it’s a Lord of the Rings twist on the Valheim formula Iron Gate established so well.
One unique spin in Return to Moria is the danger associated with every activity. You can craft and mine to your dwarvish heart’s content, but anything that makes noise runs the risk of attracting unwanted attention.
Free Range was careful to avoid mentioning any specific, Balrog-shaped threats when it cautioned players against being too reckless. Fiery demons aside, the Mines still seem to contain no end of dangers in addition to the usual orcs and goblins, including “secrets of the Shadow,” and an unspeakable evil – not the usual things you want for your neighbors.
On the bright side, delving into the mines uncovers the lost ruins of Dwarrowdelf, which you can restore and repurpose as you see fit, along with gems and precious metals and even magical artifacts you can use in service of your new civilization. And because it gets lonely down in the mines, you can do all this with up to eight friends thanks to Return to Moria’s co-op multiplayer features.
If you can’t wait until 2023 for more Tolkien goodness, you don’t have to. Daedalic’s Lord of the Rings: Gollum is out in September, offering a new take on the War of the Ring from Gollum’s perspective.
And should you decide to give Valheim a spin, you’re just in time. The Mistlands update is set to add new areas and enemies to the already-vast game, so make sure you’ve got the right weapons on hand to stay alive.