Guardians of Middle-Earth Hands-On Preview -- Lord Of The Console MOBAsBy Leah Jackson - Posted Jun 07, 2012
Guardians of Middle-Earth (GoME) is the new multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) experience from Warner Bros. set in the Lord of the Rings universe. Notable characters like Gandalf, Sauron, Gollum, and Legolas, are all featured in the competitive 5v5 game, as are characters from deep in LotR lore who weren’t featured in the hit movies.
In most MOBA games, including GoME, the objective is to work within a team of five players to destroy your opponent's base. GoME will have several different game modes for all sorts of players.
The first mode, Battlegrounds, is your standard 5v5 destroy-the-other-base fare. At launch, there will be two different maps available. One is the classic three-lane MOBA map, where you and your teammates start the game on opposite sides of a symmetrical map with three lanes in between the bases called top, middle (mid), and bottom (bot). In order to get to the other team’s base to destroy it, you have to go through a series of defensive towers per lane. The other map will only feature one lane, allowing players to go all out on one another for control over a single area.
GoME will also feature a Skirmish Mode, where players can compete against the AI to test out new characters, items, and strategies. You can also play a custom or private game with your friends against bots in Custom Mode.
Before you jump in to the game, there's a lot of customization you have to do with your characters. Currently there are 10 characters in the game, but there will be 20 at launch, with more added later.
Each character has three customizable loadout categories: potions, commands, and their relic belt. Potions are consumable items that regenerate your character’s health or increase their stats. Commands are long cooldown, epic player spells that everyone can use once they reach a certain level in the game.
The Relic Belt is where you can get deeper in to the customization of your character. Think of the Relic Belt as your passive skill tree, where you spend points in order to increase your passive attributes by a certain percent. For example, as a ranged damage-dealing Legolas, I wanted to put my relic points in attack damage and attack speed, but a tank character might want to spend their points in more defensive skills.
Once in the game, each character has four abilities, which are mapped to each bound to a button on the controller. As Legolas, I had a move that made me sprint, one that rooted my targets to the ground, and one that slowed their movement speed. My command ability allowed me to sprint for a long period of time, or drop down an Ent to help protect me for a while. The other team had Sauron, whose command ability, Lidless Eye, allowed him to see where everyone was on the map and to deal damage to them.
Unfortunately our team wasn't as coordinated as our opponents and we were defeated during our E3 2012 demo, but since all of the customization is done outside of the match, the game's are generally short, around 15-20 minutes, so it's not a huge deal to lose like it is in other MOBA titles where the games can last over an hour.
Even in its early state, Guardians of Middle-Earth is shaping up to be an engaging MOBA experience for consoles. The game may not be the one MOBA to rule them all, but it's a fast-paced, fun experience, especially for Lord of the Rings fans.
Guardians of Middle-Earth is coming to XBLA and PSN this fall.