A group of modders are remaking iconic 2004 strategy title The Lord Of The Rings: The Battle For Middle Earth within Unreal Engine.
The project, titled “The Battle for Middle-Earth: Reforged” is going to be focused primarily on recreating the multiplayer gameplay, yet the developers won’t rule out a single-player campaign further down the line.
The developers are rewriting all of the code found in the original game so it can run on modern hardware, but attempting to remake the mechanics to keep as close to the original gameplay as possible.
A few of the modern comforts coming to Reforged include 4k support, improved physics and terrain and a better frame-rate.
The original game was a product of a lucrative Tolkien licensing deal with EA which spawned a sequel, Battle for Middle Earth II in 2006. When the deal ended, EA shut down the multiplayer servers in 2010.
The Lord of The Rings gaming license is currently with Warner Bros., who have been hard at work publishing Monolith’s third-person “Shadow Of” series, the most recent being Middle Earth: Shadow Of War in 2017.
The worry is that Warner Bros will set Shelob on the project, but speaking to Eurogamer, it appears that the developers aren’t too worried about that.
“We worry a bit when it comes to Warner B. and their possible reaction. However, take many examples of non-commercial projects of Total War, Skyrim or other engines.”
“Unreal Engine 4 is free for non-commercial projects, so anybody could play the game for free.”
If asked to cease development, the developers told Eurogamer that they will attempt to make a deal due to the popularity of the proposed game, and the fact that Warner Bros. isn’t present in the RTS market.
“They (Warner Bros.) could eventually make this game themselves after realising how many people so want it.”
Sadly, this is a little naïve considering the track record of publishers and developers protecting their intellectual property, but seeing how promising the game is, there is hope this could see the light of day.