As we previously reported (via German gaming news outlet GameStar), The Lord of the Rings: Gollum will be a stealth-action game, where Gollum’s small frame will allow him to hide under certain objects. There is also a focus on “verticality” in level design, allowing Gollum to climb over, around, or under enemies.
Players can also use high vantage points to scope out the surrounding area. While most areas seem to be open, the player will also come across winding and linear areas, such as a tunnel full of giant spiders. It is implied that certain enemies may have better AI.
In addition, Gollum split-personality will create choices for the player, choosing between “Gollum” and “Smeagol” for what they must do next. The adventure will take the player to locations such as Mirkwood and Barad-dûr. There is also a focus on scale, with not just other humanoids such as the Haradrim named Grashneg, but of mighty fortresses towering over both of them.
Now, IGN reports more of the game’s gameplay, along with screenshots. However the screenshots and some of the information is the same as that from GameStar. The game has stealth and narrative segments, with exploration focused on climbing. However, lead game designer Martin Wilkes reveals that Gollum will be able to fight back in stealth.
“The game mixes stealth with vertical climbing parkour. If you want a reference you might think of it as similar to Prince of Persia. It is mostly a non-combat game, but Gollum will be able to stealthily take out enemies. However, this will not be easy and always come with big risks. We want players to carefully weigh these encounters. After all, Gollum’s strengths lie in cunning not combat.”
Players cannot use weapons, relying on environmental hazards or allies (some of which will be familiar to fans, though appropriate for the timeline). They can also distract foes by throwing objects.
“The game is, for the most part, structured in sets of levels and hubs. When Gollum arrives at a new location the places where he can go from that hub are limited until he either works his way in (for example, the prisons of the Dark Tower), finds secret passages or information, or manages to scheme his way into otherwise restricted areas.
Some levels are completely open in all three dimensions and can be explored freely, while others are more linear but often with alternative routes where players can, for example, decide if they rather sneak around some guards or take a risky parkour route in vertiginous heights to pass the next segment.”
The choices the players makes during narrative segments will affect more than just where the story goes; even through the story itself will not be straying far from the source material.
Lead narrative designer Tilman Schanen explains “the decisions you make affect the way the game feels. You always either play as Sméagol or as Gollum as the ‘dominant’ persona and that can influence animations, soundscapes, certain gameplay situations, and in-game dialogue.”
Wilkes explains the environments themselves are inspired by the drawings of J.R.R. Tolkien, though with some influence by Peter Jackson’s movies.
“Peter Jackson’s movies are fantastic but our game is based on the original book license. The source material for both is, of course, largely the same. Our world follows the same descriptions and is also in parts inspired by the same artworks as were the movies. Their influence on popular culture has been tremendous, so we have to be mindful of players who might only know Middle-earth from the two film trilogies.”
Art director Mathias Fischer expanded on this point. “Our approach is therefore to create a unique and distinctive style but at the same time not deviate entirely from the iconic shapes that are familiar from the movies. Sauron’s Dark Tower will still look like a tower and not like a broad fortress, even if the books would allow such interpretation.”
The game’s story is parallel to the first book, when Gollum has ventured into Mordor seeking Bilbo Baggins and the Ring. Soon after he is captured by Sauron’s minions. While “Gollumn” wants to escape and find the ring, Smeagol “causes trouble and distractions and opens up new, conflicting goals that we cannot talk about yet,” Wilkes explains.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum launches 2021 for Windows PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X.
Taking his first steps onto Route 1 and never stopping, Ryan has had a love of RPGs since a young age. Now he’s learning to appreciate a wider pallet of genres and challenges.
World news – US – The Lord of the Rings: Gollum Teaser Trailer – Niche Gamer