The Lord of the Rings is a massively popular franchise. Outside of the novels and blockbuster movies, we also have a slew of video game titles to enjoy as well. In this list, we’re going to showcase some of the very best video games based around The Lord of the Rings.
#15 The Lord of the Rings: Adventure Card Game – Definitive Edition
Platform : PC
Release Date : August 29, 2019
Card games may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Lord of The Rings, but if you’re a fan of digital card games like Hearthstone then you might want to check into The Lord of the Rings: Adventure Card Game. This is a game based on completing challenges rather than fighting off random opponents. Players will be crafting their decks to fight against Sauron’s forces through three different story-driven quests.
It’s worth pointing out that the base game only came with the single campaign mode, but the title has since received a Definitive Edition. Those that already own the game will receive the Definitive Edition for free which comes packed with two additional storyline campaigns along with a brand new game mode called The Mirror Of Galadriel. This is essentially a mode that allows players to compete in randomly generated quests.
Likewise, there is a cooperative game mode that will allow two players to join together in quests as they attempt to free people. As you can imagine, this is an online gameplay feature, but it’s at least something a bit unique when it comes to card battling games.
#14 The Lord of the Rings: Conquest
Platform : PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS
Release Date : January 13, 2009
Genre : Action
The Lord of The Rings franchise is quite cherished. It’s a great high fantasy storyline that has appealed to book readers and movie watchers. However, The Lord of The Rings: Conquest decides to make a few changes, in particular how the narrative ends. Rather than the Ring being destroyed, it’s kept and a slew of battles for the Ring continues on.
It’s an interesting storyline that’s appealing, but the gameplay is actually the weak spot here. The game follows a similar pathway to Star Wars Battlefront or even Dynasty Warriors. That’s not to say those games are bad, but you might find the title a bit repetitive after a while. Within the campaign, you’ll take control of generic characters for each side of the war. Fortunately, during certain points of the game, you’ll get to take control of the more high profile characters like Gandalf. While the campaign has a cooperative game mode, this title really opens up with multiplayer. The battles are a bit more intense and there are various game modes to go through.
#13 Helm’s Deep
Platform : PC
Release Date : November 20, 2013
Genre : MMORPG
Left 4 Dead 2 might have launched back in 2009, but it’s still being supported by a community of fans. The video game is a first-person shooter with up to four-player cooperative gameplay. Players typically are fighting against a horde of undead zombies, but as mentioned, the fan base community has brought out plenty of new levels and content for other players to enjoy. One of those fans created maps is the battle of Helm’s Deep. You’ll need a copy of Left 4 Dead 2 on PC but from there you can go through a makeshift battle. It’s not a long game but it’s certainly a neat take on the iconic battle.
#12 Lego The Lord of The Rings
PC, SP3, Xbox 360, Wii November 13, 2012
OS X 22 February 2013
iOS, Android 7 November 2013
The Lego-based video game titles are typically well-developed pieces that are more family-friendly. Really, every big movie typically gets some kind of a Lego video game treatment and that holds true for The Lord of the Rings. Released back in 2012, the video game release combines the narrative of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Of course, as you can imagine, the narrative is toned down for a younger audience.
Just like with the other Lego-based video game titles, Lego The Lord of the Rings has players going through a more comical narrative of our heroes attempting to destroy the One Ring. You’ll be battling against an assortment of enemies, collecting Lego pieces, completing mini-games, and solving puzzles. Throughout the campaign, players will get to swap around to other iconic characters of the franchise, each with their own unique attributes. Since this game features the entire trilogy narrative, it will only take players about ten hours to complete the main storyline.
#11 The Lord of the Rings Online
Platform: PC OS X
Release Date: April 24, 2007
The Lord of the Rings Online is an MMORPG that launched in 2007 which you can play for free right now. The video game is set within The Lord of the Rings time period but with the focus based around the novels rather than the cinematic blockbuster films. As a result, you’ll probably notice some small differences between the two. Overall, this is everything you would expect to find in an MMORPG based on the franchise.
There’s a range of classes to choose from before you embark on a grand adventure filled with NPCs to meet, quests to partake, and battles to win. Since this game launched back in 2007, there are several expansions released to give players more content to play through. For instance, the latest expansion came in 2019 so the game is still being supported. Furthermore, there’s been rumors that we would see The Lord of the Rings Online get a big visual update which may help bring in a new resurgence to the community.
#10 The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age
Release Date: November 2, 2004
The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age is a bit of a unique kind of game. This is an RPG that’s split between exploration and turn-based combat. Developed under EA, the narrative is aligned with the film trilogy, but it’s a bit more loosely based on the material. Overall, the game hits certain beats of the plot points while also throwing players into new events such as battles that were not shown in the films. This is due to EA not having the rights to adapt the novels so any content made had to be either directly from the movies or tied towards the film narrative.
Overall, the narrative is centered around another group of heroes that are aiding the quest in saving Middle-earth as our star cast goes through their journey of destroying the One Ring. Even then several of the characters in the party resembles much of the stars of the Fellowship such as the ranger Elegost and the dwarf Hadhod.
As mentioned, this game is split between two modes. Players will be able to freely explore areas until they trigger a battle in which case the game transitions into a turn-based RPG. There’s even a leveling system attached that allows players to fine-tune their playstyle just a bit.
#9 Lord of the Rings – Journeys in Middle-earth
Release Date: April 19, 2019
Lord of the Rings – Journeys in Middle-earth is an app and it’s not really a game you can play on its own. This is a companion application for your mobile phone that requires the Lord of the Rings – Journey’s in Middle-earth board game. If you own the board game then this application will help players go through different campaigns all while playing out battles and keeping everything in check such as XP or your inventory.
Even if you’re not much of a board game player then this could help ease you in as it can be played solo or with a group of friends. You’ll find the companion application is free to download for both Android and iOS platforms. However, keep in mind that if you want anything outside of the first main campaign then you’ll need to purchase the additional DLC packs.
#8 The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth
Release Date: December 6, 2004
Genre: Real-time strategy
The Lord of the Rings: The Battle For Middle-earth is a real-time strategy game and a pretty decent one that fans have been enjoying since 2004. Released exclusively for the PC platform, this game doesn’t put much focus directly on the Fellowship as they attempt to destroy the One Ring as it instead offers both a good and evil side campaign to play as you attempt to overtake the map.
Much like other RTS titles, players will be presented with a map and from there will control their various units as they attempt to capture certain points of interest. Depending on the campaign side you choose to play will determine what missions you’ll have available. For instance, if you pick the good side you’re going to have some iconic battles from the films featured. Meanwhile, the evil side will start to tell an alternative story of Sauron’s success. Unfortunately, it’s a game that’s not supported as the servers came to an end back in 2010, but there is a community that’s keeping the title alive unofficially.
#7 The Last Days of The Third Age of Middle-earth
We have another mod for you much like Left 4 Dead 2’s mod of Helm’s Deep. Instead, this game mod is for Mount & Blade: Warband. Mount & Blade: Warband came out in 2010 as an action RPG strategy title and you can take the same type of gameplay but replicating The Lord of the Rings with this particular mod. It’s a single player campaign where players are able to pick from a range of characters.
This is all about the War of the Ring where players can take control of a soldier on either side which you’ll take control of either a man, elf, dwarf, orc, Uruk, or an Uruk-hai. While the mod offers a new storyline and settings for Mount & Blade: Warband the combat is mainly the same with just a few key differences. For instance, you won’t be able to start a siege but instead can aid in sieges. Likewise, troops will remain stationary at the start of battles until the order of attack is given. In terms of the storyline adaptation, while there is the ability to go through the game fighting for either side of the war, the developers behind the mod choose to go through the novels as their source material rather than Peter Jackson’s film trilogy.
#6 The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
Release Date: PC November 3, 2003
PS2 November 4, 2003
Game Boy Advance, GameCube & Xbox November 5, 2003
Mobile December 1, 2003
OS X April 10, 2004
When it comes to video games being adapted to movies, there are usually quite a few misses than hits. However, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King is one of those games that was a must-buy back when it launched. As the title suggests, this game is based around the events of The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, the third installment to Peter Jackson’s trilogy. From the start to the very end of this game, there’s non-stop action as you take control of various members of the Fellowship. Levels do a great job of throwing players into these large battles with familiar characters from the film.
As you progress through the campaign you’ll earn more experience points that can be used to purchase new attacks or increase stats like your health, which will be used across all the characters in your party. The gameplay is also pretty accessible allowing anyone to pick up a controller and get into the game rather easily. To top it off, there is cooperative gameplay support so you and a friend can go through the game entirely.
#5 Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Release Date: PS2 October 21, 2002
Game Boy Advance November 12, 2002
Xbox December 30, 2002
GameCube December 31, 2002
Mobile May 1, 200
You could easily swap this game with our previous point, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. It’s more or less based around the narrative as the gameplay mainly is the same between the two. With Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, you’re thrown into the heat of the battles featuring the Fellowship as they attempt to destroy the One Ring.
This, as mentioned above, is a hack-and-slash type of game where you’re constantly thrown in front of a barrage of enemies and iconic battles from the film. In fact, this game came out before the film so in a lot of ways, there was plenty of players jumping on the game at launch as they got to see Peter Jackson’s vision before the movie even released. You had the iconic battles, various characters to take control of, all while having scenes from the movie to help tell the storyline. While the game may have been released back in 2002, it’s still just as fun today as it was when it was first released.
#4 Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Release Date: PC, PS4, Xbox One September 30, 2014
PS3, Xbox 360 November 18, 2014
Linux, OS X July 30, 2015
One of the more recent releases on this list is Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. It’s a game that brings players into a new storyline, one which follows a ranger named Talion who gets slaughtered with his family by a group of Orcs. Without dabbling too much into the lore and backstory, Talion is connected with a spirited Elf Lord named Celebrimbor. Talion is then given a new lease on life as he attempts to seek revenge for his loved ones.
Released back in 2014, the game is often compared to the Batman Arkham video game titles for its combat. Talion is able to drop down into a group of Orcs and deliver a barrage of attacks while pulling off counter-attacks rather fluidly. Of course, with the help of Celebrimbor, Talion also comes with a few unique powers and abilities that can allow players a more stealth approach.
This game also had a particular feature that plenty of players found enjoyable and that was the fights you lose, thanks to the Nemesis system. If you managed to lose out on a battle and some random Orc gets the kill then they’ll actually get promoted in their clan. It’s when you cross paths with this enemy that they’ll reflect on the previous battle.
#3 Middle-earth: Shadow of War
Platform: PC, PS, Xbox One
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Middle-earth: Shadow of War is the sequel to Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and it does everything that we loved from that first game and expands on it. A lot of what I mentioned above holds true at this point, you have the intense Batman Arkham style combat with a range of upgrades to further buff your character up more. Likewise, the Nemesis system is attached once again and it’s just as fun as the first installment. Every character that happens to get the edge on you will make some kind of a return and could even hold some battle scars from the first bout.
Once you get past the learning curve of the game, it’s really an enjoyable experience. I think if you went into Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor then you’re going to find an easier time getting used to things with Shadow of War, but that’s not to say there weren’t a few issues with this game when it first launched. Like a lot of titles, this game was filled with microtransactions. At the time, every game was featuring loot boxes and some type of in-game purchases, fortunately, that’s not a thing for Shadow of War anymore. It wasn’t too long after the game launched that the developers went back in and removed all the microtransactions.
#2 The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II
Platform: PC, Xbox 360
Release Date: PC February 28, 2006
Xbox 360 July 5, 2006
Genre: Real-time strategy
The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II is the sequel from the 2004 release of The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth. Just like before this is an RTS video game but you can expect bigger and more expansive battles than before. You’re getting two campaigns again as well with the story either focusing on an Elf’s attempt to eliminate Sauron and restore Middle-earth to a peaceful state. Likewise, you can take control of Sauron and attempt to destroy the remainder of Middle-earth.
Unlike the last installment, EA was able to gain the ability to adapt the novels alongside the movie franchise. This means that there are more battles featured which were not included in the movies. You’ll be controlling units around the map while building up structures, fortifying their defenses, gathering resources, and making upgrades during your battles. It’s a game that’s been widely well-received when it launched in 2006 but similar to the last installment, official severs have shutdown. In fact, much like the first installment, the servers for the sequel came to an end within 2010 for PC players with Xbox 360 seeing their servers shutdown a year later. However, the community of players has been able to get the game running through unofficial game servers.
#1 Third Age – Total War
For our number one pick, we have another mod. This time around we have Third Age, a game mod for Medieval II: Total War. Coming out back in 2009, the title was a community hit as the developers behind the project really nailed a great LOTR experience. If you’re familiar with Total War then the gameplay should be easy to get through. For those of you who may not be familiar with Medieval II: Total War, then this is an RTS title but now instead of historical medieval battles, we’re getting to enjoy this game set in a high fantasy world of Middle-earth.
Third Age brings in a map that’s filled with over 100 settlements featured in the lore of Lord of the Rings along with complete fictional locations. Players can stumble upon Minas Tirith to Isengard all while battling against different factions. Speaking of factions, there’s quite a few of them scattered across the lands and each will have their own strengths and weaknesses. The group behind this mod even reworked the AI to make it a bit more of a challenge.