September 26, 2022

Taylor Daily Press

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Column: Living Between Hope and Fear for a Fan Project

Everyone has a game in their life that always makes you smile when you think about it. A game in which you spent countless hours, alone or with friends. A game that you would still prefer to start playing, but it may not be that easy anymore, especially if it is a PC game. Yes, I have a game like that too. The name of that game is The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth II. And what if I told you the idea is to revive this game better than ever, like Gandalf once did after the Balrog dragged him into the depths of Middle-earth?

By pure chance I came across the project, The Battle for Middle-earth: Reforged. This project is entirely run by fans of the original version. Dozens of nerds of different nationalities are rolling up their sleeves to delight the loyal fan base of Tolkien’s fantasy world. Getting the original work is terrifying. A complete remodeler will solve all these problems in one fell swoop. However, the question is whether the final product of the project will ever see the light of day and there are several reasons for this.

First, there is a lack of information and updates. This project dates back to 2019 and no alpha has been produced since then, although this is the first step of the project. Multiplayer with two playable factions is the goal, after which it will eventually be expanded to single player and single campaign. For now, this is future music and we’re still waiting for the alpha. According to the developers, you will go faster after alpha, because the base is already there. This is of course true after all, the gameplay should work and you’ll just need to adjust it. The first gameplay footage was shared about a year ago.

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What we’ve seen at the moment, are basically graphic impressions. For example, in July the Balrog was shown in 4K, which is immediately the first update for 2022. Earlier we saw buildings such as the stables of the elves and models of the figures of spiders and the elves themselves. So something is sure to happen behind the scenes. But where will it end?

The developers of this non-commercial project have set high standards. For example, a new engine is used (of course), the models are ten times more detailed than the original and a frame rate higher than the original 30 fps. The game’s acclaimed upgrade system is overhauled with new options, all of which have to be done in 4K. So it is not wrong. Even the recently released Age of Empires 4 version cannot play in 4K.

But what if these guys really got the time? Will something beautiful arise? This is very much the question. What amazes me the most is that the original publisher: Electronic Arts has yet to step in. In addition, this is a game that has to do with licenses that are no longer in the possession of EA, nor of course those Patriots. On top of that, the original game wasn’t just based on the books but on the movies even more. This takes you back to the waters of New Line Cinemas. In short, license hell.

I have to do my best not to be pessimistic about this project. I hope to someday get this update which makes me run to my computer to run the download. Should that happen today, I will of course report (maybe with joy). do you agree?

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