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Lord of the Rings: Rise to War hands-on | Conquer Middle Earth!

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Lord of the Rings is one of the most beloved worlds in existence. Tolkien's books have left their mark in the fantasies of many generations. Today, we take a quick look at the strategy mobile game Lord of the Rings: Rise to War to tell you if it's worthy of your strategic mastermind.

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TL;DR

  • Lord of the Rings: Rise to War is a free-to-play strategy game for iOS and Android.
  • It brings a nice MMO twist to the mobile strategy formula.
  • There are no advertisements in the game, but there is a nudge towards microtransactions.

If you are interested in fantasy and you are not living in some kind of hobbit role-playing commune without internet, then you are probably as excited about the new Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power series by Amazon (watch the trailer here) as we are. So to quench your thirst, I present Lord of the Rings: Rise to War, a mobile strategy game that lets you wield a ring of power and conquer Middle-Earth! 

This is not your typical mobile city-building strategy game with a Lord of the Rings skin. NetEase, the developer, really tries hard to bring fresh air into the genre with this game. Now, a few months after its mediocre September 2021 release, I can say that things are beginning to fall into shape.

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Lord of the Rings: Rise to War | A community-based strategy game

LOTR: RTW keeps a relatively fast pace with few building upgrades and unlocks, which helps it stand apart from the slow-burning experiences of similar strategy games. Your city and units can be fully maxed out within a few weeks. All players reach a relatively equal power level by the middle of each season, emphasizing strategic thinking over pure grinding or microtransactions.

The season slowly progresses, setting new, more ambitious goals until it climaxes, which keeps adventurers on their toes. When the next season begins, your progress is wiped, allowing you to start over in a new faction, giving you a fresh chance to outsmart your opponents and win the game while exploring new content and mechanics. You only get to keep your unlocked heroes, like Legolas, Frodo, and Aragorn, and the items you have collected.

So because everything is wiped out every few months, what holds it together is community: First, you need to join a clan or "fellowship" to make tactical decisions. Then all the fellowships belong to the faction that the player chose, like Rohan, Gondor, and Mordor, and decide on general strategy and diplomacy. In addition, since you get to start over, pay-to-win players and soloists will not enjoy the game, balancing it between pay to win and normal players.

"Single-player" content does exist, in the form of quest grinding to upgrade and unlock heroes and items, which you can pay to unlock faster. But still, don't expect a single maxed-out hero to change the outcome of a poorly organized war effort.

There are a lot of politics and backstabbing involved, especially on the Discord servers that the developers invite you to create or join, and some interesting situations may arise. For example, when an entire server decides to unite to overturn a faction with particularly mean leaders, which does sound a lot like a TL;DR summary of the books.

So what do you think? Are you rising to war for the one ring? Are you excited about the new Amazon Series? Let me know in the comments! 

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