Guardians of Middle Earth is the newest iteration of the MOBA genre to break through onto consoles. If you’re a fan of the Lord of the Rings and want to play a game based on the series which has some depth and playability. Monolith have taken the art assets and concept of Middle Earth and portrayed than in a new an interesting way outside of the usual LOTR hack and slash style games.
This time around instead of hacking your way through levels to reach a goal, you’re put up against a group of 5 Guardians who’re human players. From here you need to battle your way through the droves of enemies to beat the opposing teams score, or to destroy their main tower. You can think of this as part tower defense and part strategic, as well as leveling up your guardian as you play.
Even though the game has a simple enough design, there’s a lot to take into account, this isn’t a title you can jump into and kill everything in your path. You will need to use your team and work out the best strategy to become victorious.
In this rather small package the game offers a lot with various characters, gameplay styles, progression and various game modes for you to enjoy. The price may seem steep, but you get what you pay for in the long run as this title contains 100s of hours of re-playability.
Just as you would expect like everything else within the game, the audio is also to the highest production value that you would expect. As you would expect you will be assaulted by the usual grunts, groans and sounds of enemies dying, but that’s to be expected. The music is of a very suitable high quality hum in the background of all the chaos which makes for a nice filler in between the down times.
As you start out the game details may bypass your main focus as there’s so much to take in, but the game world and environments you fight in are extremely detailed and interesting. All the characters have a lot going for them and look like you would expect. You won’t find any issues with the games visuals aside from the odd blip in frame rate due to a lot going on within the battle arena, but everything is crisp clear and provides you with a lot of interesting visuals to look at.
Even though the game offers a rich visual experience, the environment’s don’t really change, so expect to see a lot of the same areas as you battle your way through the opposing guardians.
There’s not a whole lot the game offers in story, but the dialog stays true to the characters and the world. In this case, we’re not going to review the story and writing as there’s not much to comment on.
To begin with, the game gives you several options to learn how to play, it offers tutorials, as well as various other options to re-view previous tutorials and hints. If you’re a new player to the MOBA style games, then these tutorials are a must, and add a lot to the games experience rather than being thrown into the action without knowing what to do. The game’s simple at heart, but offers a lot of creativity with your builds and character progression. You have one base level set of skills which you can apply to all characters. With your general game progression and leveling you can add potions, update and alter your skill bests and apply commands. From here you can play as any character, that’s open to you. To unlock others you can either buy the season pass and gain access to the paid content, or unlock new characters through game progression and unlocking them with in-game currency.
This is an interesting take on character progression, as you have to work towards other classes and characters to use. There’s always one basic level character of each class open, but some characters are slightly stronger or have different skills than the base level ones. Once you start the game, you have three options, 1 lane, 3 lane and the alternative skirmish mode. Depending on your skill level will depend on which game modes you jump into first, the standard battlegrounds are for PVP, where as Skirmish is for Player vs AI. Depending on the game mode you desire will depend on how you play, but the AI will give you a hard time regardless so it’s a good starting point.
As you start out, you have several towers, AI soldiers and an opposing team who have the same layout and objective your team does. The object of the game is simple, thrash your way through the other teams defenses and take their tower or outscore them with kills. Though this is a simple concept, you can’t just rush in and kill everyone, there’s a lot of strategy involved with how to play. One person will not take on a whole team of Guardians, so don’t expect to become Rambo, and don’t expect to win every single game you play. Games consist of 5v5 games, but if you have a group of players who don’t coordinate and get themselves killed you won’t win. This goes for having one team-mate who is a weak link in a somewhat good team. Remember that this is a team game. Playing the lone wolf will only get you killed, so learning the basics is just enough to get you going.
As this game is an arena style game, playing with your team and not against them is a must. Not everyone will play to your standard and they may run off and get killed, but that’s just part of the gaming community. There are several map layouts, but they’re all designed with the 1 lane or 3 lane game play in mind. So don’t expect a huge variety in what’s on offer, once you master the game, there’s a lot of progression involved, but every match you play will always play slightly differently.
Something that may be a little unexpected , which is true to the MOBA style is you have a general rank, then a character level. Your character levels reset with every game, which then allows you to re-earn your 14 levels to become stronger in the fight. You overall rank allows you to build your character and progress with different belt setups
One of the biggest downfalls to this title is the fact that it can take time to get into matches, and the lag spikes that seem to affect some games make it almost unplayable. These are usually user issues, and nothing the developers of the title can control unless they host dedicated servers, but it’s something to keep note of as not every game will play perfectly.
If you’re looking for something totally different and a fresh, then Guardians of Middle Earth might be the ticket. The MOBA style gameplay is something new to consoles, and has rarely been explored by developers. But if done properly, it can be the perfect online experience for users who are always trying to find new and interesting game types.
Guardians of Middle Earth offers a lot in such a small package, but if you’re unsure, check out the demo and judge for yourself. There are a few quirks such as connection issues within the game, but this is player related, and the odd wait times which can drag on. But if you’re a big fantasy fan, then pick this title up as it will provide you with endless hours of entertainment.