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The Lord of the Rings: War in the North – First Look at The Witch-king

Ruth Tomandl's Avatar + Posted by Ruth Tomandl on Oct 27, 2011 // Producer, Snowblind Studios

The whole Snowblind Studios team here in Seattle is in the final stretch of development for The Lord of the Rings: War in the North. We cannot wait for the PlayStation community to get their hands on the game, which ships on November 1st.

This has been a great year for The Lord of the Rings. The extended BDs came out this summer, timed with special theatre showings of the films across the nation. It really gave fans the chance to reconnect with these amazing stories, as well as see new content. With The Lord of the Rings: War in the North, players will be able to experience the iconic Middle-earth universe even more deeply with completely new adventures and story, all based on The Lord of the Rings canon and approved by the license holders.


The Lord of the Rings: War in the North brings a new story to the table, and we’ve also created a video game experience that I believe is truer to The Lord of the Rings than has been achieved before. We developed the game as an Action RPG, rather than purely Action or Action Adventure, and this hybrid genre really allows us to spotlight some of the central themes of the books and films – combat and exploration of course, but also character growth and progression, and the theme of Fellowship. On that note, the game will also be the first The Lord of the Rings game to receive an M rating, truly depicting the brutality of war, as portrayed in the literature; by making the combat more brutal, it becomes more realistic the way J.R.R. Tolkien wrote it. Players will quickly learn that Middle-earth is a beautiful place, but also a very dangerous place and they must stick with their allies to prevail.

The story takes place in parallel to the Ring-bearer’s quest that we all know so well from the books and movies; however, the game’s heroes – a fellowship of an Elf, a Ranger and a Dwarf – have been dispatched to the Northern lands of Middle-earth to investigate rumors of an army that Agandaûr is amassing. On their journey to the North, players will explore regions of Middle-earth that have been only hinted at in the books— Fornost, Gundabad and many others— as well as lands that are familiar. We’re excited to bring fans new experiences in new locations.

The game’s “Fellowship of three” is the basis for the unique 3-player co-op experience at the heart of the game. We took this direction for a couple of reasons. First, the story of The Lord of the Rings really emphasizes how important it is to have allies you can trust, work with, and depend on, especially during wartime. So this interdependent co-op at the core of your own fellowship helps tie the gameplay back to the narrative as a whole.

Second, Snowblind Studios has a long history with co-op action RPGs, and The Lord of the Rings is a perfect match for this type of game. We want to make a game that is fun to play with your friends on the couch, so you can experience more of Middle-earth together. Whether playing single player, couch co-op and split-screen, or hopping on PSN to play online co-op, players will always be part of a 3 player team, each member with specific strengths and abilities. Players will need to strategize and depend on each other to advance, really promoting that theme of fellowship that’s at the heart of the Lord of the Rings.

Lord of the Rings War in the North Witch King

As players support each other throughout the game, true to the Action RPG genre, they’ll also be building up their own characters. We wanted each of the three heroes to really be different from one another, and for players to be able to customize their character to suit their playstyle. Each hero’s skill tree has three distinct branches, allowing each hero to fill 3 different combat roles that build on their specialties. With literally thousands of different loot items in the game, players can really customize their characters. We want players to feel really invested in their characters, as well as their Fellowship. With all the different ways you can customize your character, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to build them the way you want to, and to make them a vital part of the team. Players can gift items to their teammates, including AI characters in the single player mode, but also, loot drops all contain specific loot for each race, so players won’t need to fight amongst themselves.

Today we would also like to share exclusively with the PlayStation community a look at the Witch-king of Angmar in the game, leader and most powerful of the Nazgûl — also known as Ringwraiths or Black Riders. Chief Lieutenant of Sauron the Dark Lord, the Witch-king dwells in Minas Morgul. In old times, the Witch-king was a great king, but was enslaved to the will of Sauron – falling victim to his ring of power as with the rest of the Nazgûl. Sauron sent the Witch-king and the other Ringwraiths on a secret mission to find and capture the Ring of Power. In the films, we watched as the Nazgûl chased Frodo from the Shire to Rivendell to obtain the One Ring. Disguised as riders in black, in the physical realm they are no more than spirits wrapped in black cloth. Once the Witch-king discovered Frodo and stabbed him at Weathertop, only then did their true form become revealed – twisted, malicious fiends, still bearing the tall crown of their office.

This hunt in particular is the motivating force behind the entire first half of The Fellowship of the Ring. The Nazgûl’s attack on the Rangers guarding the Sarn Ford is part of Tolkien’s canon. In The Lord of the Rings: War in the North players will meet these same Ringwraiths and delve further into this battle through the appearance of Agandaûr, Sauron’s lieutenant in the North.

Lord of the Rings War in the North Witch King

Agandaûr is called upon to support the Nazgûl’s hunt – his mission is to organize evil forces in the North to make a coordinated attack on Sauron’s enemies in Eriador. Agandaûr leads the efforts of the With-king and Sauron the Dark Lord in the North. In War in the North Aragorn sends players to thwart his effort, beginning their long struggle to be a constant thorn in Agandaûr’s side.

We’re really excited for the PlayStation community to get their hands on the game, get online, and start battling through this new experience in Middle-earth! We actually have a pre-order bonus for the Collector’s edition of the game exclusively for the PlayStation Community, with a War in the North Theme Pack – includes War in the North wallpaper, fonts, icons and more. Check it out and let us know what you think of the game at www.warinthenorth.com. You can also ‘like’ us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/lotrwitn and follow us on Twitter @WarInTheNorth.

//Add Your Own

19 Comments

1

+ killersense on October 27th, 2011 at 8:13 am said:

releasing on NOV 1st you say. hmmmm

i am really interested in this game but this is gonna have to wait till early next year unfortunately. loved your baldur’s gate games on ps2


2

+ KidCommando on October 27th, 2011 at 8:25 am said:

Haven’t played a LotR game since the PS2 era, but I have to say that the trailer looked pretty good. I like the 3 player co-op aspect. Might check it out down the line after I hear a bit more about it.

This is probably the worst time/date to be releasing this game however.


3

+ Instrumentalie on October 27th, 2011 at 8:52 am said:

I’m excited for this game. No other LotR game has every looked this good in visuals and gameplay. However I’m already preordered overloaded with Uncharted 3, Assassins Creed Revelations and Skyrim. I plan on picking it up as soon as I’m able to complete most of these titles.

I only hope my excitement for the game is worth it, or even better if the game goes over my expectations.


4

+ AwRy108 on October 27th, 2011 at 9:08 am said:

I’m intrgued by this game–especially based on Snowblind’s history in this genre–but there’s no way I’m even going to think about trying to fit it in until after the holidays are over. IMHO, releasing this game during the same window as big-hitting, well-known franchises like Uncharted, Edler Scrolls, Saints Row, Battlefield, Modern Warfare, etc. is just simply sending it to an early grave. Oh well, I guess that means that it’ll be significantly cheaper by the time I’m ready to give it a try.

Keep up the great work, Snowblind; but maybe put a bit of thought into when your games get pushed onto store shelves.


5

+ Nemisis666 on October 27th, 2011 at 9:26 am said:

One question for you .
Is the War of the North going to have split screen co op? And additionally any hint on trophy difficulty? Conquest was easy to platinum


6

+ RE_Player on October 27th, 2011 at 9:40 am said:

Really excited about this.


7

+ Arcadian_Rebel on October 27th, 2011 at 9:41 am said:

Witch-king =/= Lich King? :)


8

+ Craazy on October 27th, 2011 at 9:55 am said:

Yes the split screen co-op is crucial to my purchasing of this game……and if it is there hopefully its done right, not some Dungeon Siege botchery!


9

+ JKar275 on October 27th, 2011 at 10:49 am said:

I have this game pre-ordered & can hardly wait to play it!!!!!

i’m hoping that the mage can upgrade her powers to some very cool & powerful ones.


10

+ mcbuttz78 on October 27th, 2011 at 12:12 pm said:

question is this ps exclusive? or just this annouucnemnt. either way thank you

mcbuttz78
vp- psn legioniaree group


11

+ lisatsunami on October 27th, 2011 at 12:21 pm said:

I’m a long time LOTR fan, going back to when I actually read for enjoyment. Thanks to Playstation, those days are over.

But I echo those who said bad timing, dude. My backlog is itself getting backlogged. If this has good reviews, I’ll keep it in my radar.


12

+ DanKuuga on October 27th, 2011 at 1:16 pm said:

Really looking forward to this! Screw uncharted. I’ve gotten so sick of hearing about it for the last year, that I’m completely boycotting it. I’ll be spending November in Middle Earth!


13

+ luvtoseek on October 27th, 2011 at 2:17 pm said:

Pre-ordered & paid in full, Snowblind! You’ve made great games in the past- you’ve got my support. Some questions if you can address them:

1. How are the heroes used? If I choose the Elf character from the start of the game, am I stuck there or are there 3x different storylines/endings… or can we switch between heroes on the fly?

2. Is the soundtrack licensed music from the films?

3. Can you elaborate on any DLC options- as in single player content, such as more quests or simple item DLC?

4. Any chance of a New Game+ (on a higher difficulty) setting?

Thanks, Ruth!


14

+ JKar275 on October 27th, 2011 at 3:44 pm said:

@10: No, this game is not a PS exclusive because it’s also available for Xbox 360 & PC.

BTW, there is also a Collector’s Edition for PS3 for $139.99. I saw it on Amazon.com.


15

+ madhi19 on October 27th, 2011 at 4:54 pm said:

I already got three games that I have barely played from this fall line-up because of Dark Souls. I think this one and Skyrim will have to wait.


16

+ AfrosRockMan on October 27th, 2011 at 6:12 pm said:

I say rename the expansion “Wrath of the Witch King”.

Just my 2 cents.


17

+ YungShep on October 27th, 2011 at 9:11 pm said:

played this at an event in march here in texas, wow! i was truly impressed..i love the mechanics and the style of gameplay for this version of LOTR. i wish it wasnt Nov 1st.. but ill get it for sure


18

+ marlyt on October 29th, 2011 at 1:48 pm said:

@ 7

I really hope you’re not saying that Witch King is a rip-off or imitation of Lich King. LOTR has been around since the early 1900s, and if anybody copied it would be WOW (I think that’s what Lich King is from) it’s likely a tribute to the genius that is Tolkien. Look it up.


19

+ marlyt on October 29th, 2011 at 1:50 pm said:

Sorry…on topic…I have this PO’d and will finally get it Tuesday. I ordered this game way back when it was the cover story for Game Informer. Geez it’s been a long wait, but hopefully worth it. :)


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