The Lord of the Rings: Gollum has been in development for several years. But the upcoming Middle-earth adventure game from Daedalic Entertainment, best known for creating the Deponia point-and-click adventure series, will soon be upon us.
The German developer has been hard at work these past few years shaping The Lord of the Rings: Gollum into the next potential hit for Tolkien’s Middle-Earth universe – one that has had a surprisingly strong track record when it comes to video games.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is set to be a canonical story in the Middle-Earth mythos. It follows the titular creature after he discovers The One Ring, set before the events of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. As such, it’s possible the game will fill in the story gaps presented here, or provide additional context to the events of Tolkien’s books.
Despite generating an interested following, we're only now seeing truly what gameplay can offer. Here's everything we know about this new Lord of the Rings adventure.
The Lord of the Rings Gollum: cut to the chase
- What is it? An action-adventure video game centered around Gollum
- When can I play it? September 1, 2022
- What can I play it on? PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4 and Xbox One (Switch after launch)
The Lord of the Rings Gollum release date and platforms
It won't be long before you can hop into the nonexistent shoes of everybody's favorite morally confused, corrupted Hobbit.
The stealth adventure game was originally slated to launch in late 2021. However, in January of that year, developer Daedalic Entertainment announced that the game had been delayed to 2022. While it was later announced for September 1, 2022, that's now been delayed into late 2022.
However, this launch will be a slightly jolted one. While the game is coming to PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, and PC in September, it won't be launching on Nintendo's handheld at the same time. The Nintendo Switch version of the game is set to release at on an unspecified date post-launch.
The Lord of the Rings Gollum gameplay
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is a story-driven action RPG. While we've not seen much beyond a short gameplay trailer, previews emerged back in May 2022 which gave us more details about our twisted protagonist. For one, you'll need to manage to both Gollum and Sméagol, his former self, and gameplay is split between these two aspects of his character.
Gameplay will largely revolve around stealth and platforming. Gollum himself won’t get much in the way of actionable abilities. True to his character, he’ll be small and relatively spry, making him a perfect choice for a stealth game, really. As much as we’d love to see the little guy suplex an Orc, that’s likely not going to happen.
Within the Gollum segments, our protagonist can use "Gollum Vision" to highlight enemies, basically a Detective Mode. Taking a stealth-driven approach, Gollum finds different locations to hide between, avoiding guards and sentries, before carrying out a stealth takedown. Your choices will have small effects on the story, though it doesn't affect the major story elements. As for Sméagol, his segments don't appear to be combat-based, taking the platforming approach instead.
Speaking to IGN (opens in new tab) in August 2020, lead game designer Martin Wilkes explained more, advising there'll be a mixture of linear stages and open-world environments:
“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’d rather sneak around some guards or take a risky parkour route in vertiginous heights to pass the next segment.”
“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[s] with big risks. We want players to carefully weigh these encounters. After all, Gollum’s strengths lie in cunning, not combat.”
The Lord of the Rings Gollum story and setting
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum takes place during the first few chapters of The Fellowship of the Ring. It picks up as the titular character is captured by the forces of Sauron in the dungeons of Barad-dûr, before he escapes and journeys across the Misty Mountains. Eventually, he'll arrive into the belly of Mirkwood.
The journey will see you encounter many familiar and famed characters of Middle-Earth, including Gandalf. You'll also run into King Thranduil and a whole bunch of orcs. This being a stealth-focused game, though, you'll spend more time surreptitiously slipping around them, instead of fighting the Dark Lord Sauron's soldiers head-on.
Players will also have to make decisions at certain key points through choices and actions displayed in thought bubbles around the main character. What we find interesting is that the choices will be split between Gollum’s own split personalities. From what we’ve seen, we can choose to suppress Gollum and select choices more in line with Smeagol (his original form before coming in contact with The One Ring).
Conversely, players can indulge the more feral Gollum with more cunning and aggressive choices.
It sounds like a clever system that makes a ton of sense for Gollum specifically, leading us to think that the game could end up being an interesting character study. It remains unclear as to how much these decisions will affect the overarching story, but we can imagine Gollum’s personality altering over time based on which side of him you choose to invest in more.
The Lord of the Rings Gollum trailers
Publisher Nacon hosted a Nacon Connect (opens in new tab) presentation on July 7, giving us our first major gameplay reveal for Lord of the Rings: Gollum. It wasn't particularly long but you can view that in full below:
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum received a fresh trailer during The Game Awards 2021. The short cinematic trailer shows Smeagol battling against his split personality as Gollum tries to commit villainous acts to protect his precious ring.
Another trailer was unveiled at the Future Games Show in March 2021. The trailer, which shows off more of Mordor, helps set the tone for the adventure and shows a bit of what the gameplay will be like playing as Gollum.
Back in 2020, Daedalic released a teaser trailer giving fans a sneak peek at the game’s visual style, and the kinds of environments we can expect to explore.
The Lord of the Rings Gollum news and rumors
Amazon's and Tencent's Lord of the Rings MMO is no more
It looks like The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is now the only Lord of the Rings game on the horizon after Amazon and Tencent's MMO title set in Tolkien's universe is reported to have been cancelled.
Bloomberg reports that the Lord of the Rings MMO's cancellation is due to "a dispute between Amazon and Tencent", with the latter publisher having acquired one of Amazon's other development partners on the game – Leyou Technologies Holdings Ltd. Contract negotiations fells through, and the fallout seems sensitive enough that the publication's sources asked not to be named.
Amazon has, however, confirmed that it is "unable to secure terms to proceed with this title at this time," and that the organization is "disappointed that we won't be bringing this game to customers."
Fortunately, for Lord of the Rings fans, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is still in development and expected sometime in 2022.
It will have PS5 DualSense support
One reason players may want to pick up the PS5 version of The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is the inclusion of features made possible by its DualSense controller. Namely, the haptic feedback offered by the controller’s triggers.
Comments made by Daedalic’s Jonas Husges indicate that the triggers’ haptic feedback functionality will be tied to Gollum’s stamina. The more Gollum tires himself out by running, the more resistance will be applied to the triggers, indicating that the creature is getting tired.
We wonder if this will be a superficial feature purely for the sake of immersion, or if there’s something more ambitious at play here. For example, players might have to manage Gollum’s stamina to be able to more effectively sprint. Another possibility is that we might have to contend with increased resistance on the triggers to maintain extended bouts of speed.
This inclusion points to what kind of set pieces we might see during the game, too. You don’t typically do a lot of running while in stealth, after all, unless you’ve been spotted and have to make like a Nazgûl chasing a Hobbit.
There may be sequences where the player is being chased as part of the story, with no alternative recourse. In this case, haptic feedback on the DualSense could add another layer of challenge as players fight to keep Gollum on the move.
Daedalic has confirmed that ray-tracing will be a feature
Daedalic has confirmed that current-gen versions of The Lord of the Rings Gollum will put ray-tracing front and center as a graphical feature. The developer has hinted that ray-tracing could be used dynamically in the game’s level design.
An example was attributed to how ray-traced lighting can both help and hinder the player in their stealthy endeavors. Passages of shadows can be used to maneuver safely from the enemy, while moving light sources can expose Gollum at a moment’s notice.
If this is indeed the case, we can see The Lord of the Rings Gollum turning into a unique and challenging stealth-based game which could pave the way for how other developers look at how to best utilize ray-tracing in gameplay-oriented ways. A certain long-dormant stealth action franchise comes to mind.
As for the game’s overall visual style, it’s certainly a step away from the gritty photorealism we’re used to seeing from Middle-Earth projects. It’s not overly cartoonish, but definitely straddles the line between that and a more realistic look. Gollum himself looks unsettlingly adorable, for example.
From screenshots released by Daedalic, it looks like the game’s environments have an impressive sense of scale. There are many scenes where the camera is tilted upward, immediately highlighting just how small Gollum is in comparison, while touching on the immense journey laid out ahead of him.
Touching on the game’s environmental progression, Daedalic confirmed the opening level will be Barad-dûr, a Mordor stronghold where Gollum is being held captive. However, the hellish landscapes of Mordor won’t be the only locale we’ll get to visit, as Daedalic has promised a variety of areas across Middle-Earth. Many of these environments will likely be large and explorable, offering several quest lines for players to uncover.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum has been in the works over at Daedalic for some time now, and its launch doesn’t appear to be all that far away. What we have seen so far looks promising, and hopefully Daedalic can deliver a unique stealth-based adventure that fits perfectly into Tolkien’s mythos. As always, we’ll keep you updated on any news regarding the game as it approaches release.