Once upon a time, it was Lord of the Rings games that EA was disappointing us with, not Star Wars. Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth and its sequel weren’t strategy games that set the world aflame, but they were two of the better titles to come out of the old licensing deal. If any of EA’s LotR games were going to get a fan remake, better that it’s The Battle for Middle-Earth and not Conquest. That’s exactly what’s happening thanks to The Battle for Middle-Earth: Reforged.
Reforged sees Middle-Earth’s battlefields remade in Unreal Engine 4, with all the code being rewritten. On the Mod DB page, the modders emphasise that while Reforged will be different from the original, they’ve attempted to preserve as much of the original’s mechanics as possible. Beyond looking a lot flashier than its progenitor, Reforged also boasts more realistic physics, destructible terrain, 4K support and a free building system à la The Battle for Middle-Earth 2. Take a look at it in action in the teaser below.
The original campaign is not being remade yet, as the focus here is on multiplayer. When the licensing deal ended, EA shut down the servers, so Reforged will be the only way to play the game online. If it takes off, a campaign will be made, but it’s a “secondary task”, according the to the team.
As with any unaffiliated fan projects, there’s the fear of litigation. Warner Bros. controls the Lord of the Rings license and is still using it to make games, the most notable being Monolith’s Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War. The project’s creators are aware of the risks, sort of, but are far more optimistic than they probably should be, believing that Warner Bros. might be willing to make a deal, or even make the game itself.
Don’t hold your breath.