Both Gamespot and VG24/7 carried stories in the last twenty four hours hinting at a new Lord of the Rings based game currently being developed by Monolith Productions for Warner Bros. Interactive. It would appear that a former employee of Monolith, who is by trade a Concept Designer, claims to have created storyboards for a new and unannounced Lord of the Rings game in December and January of this year. These details were found on his LinkedIn profile. As this was after the launch of Monolith’s last game Guardians of Middle-earth, the implications are that the material was for a separate project. Furthermore, since then Monolith has been seeking to recruit staff for a “cross-generational AAA action-adventure game”. One of the roles required is for a lead mission designer with “open-world mission design” experience.
At present the only formally announced title currently under development from Monolith is Betrayer, which is a period set FPS. Certainly it does not sound like a title that would require a open world mission designer. It may also be prudent to recollect that The Saul Zaentz Company recently registered several game-related trademarks and domains for Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor. So it is not inconceivable that there is another high profile game based on the franchise under development. Considering that the second instalment of The Hobbit Trilogy will be in the cinemas this December, it would be a wasted opportunity not to capitalise on the ongoing interest in Tolkien’s work.
If there is a new LOTR based game under development, it beggars the question what type exactly? The phrase “open-world mission design” does seem to imply some sort of RPG. Those of a more optimistic disposition have even surmised an MMORPG. Considering that LOTRO is currently five years old, it could be cogently argued that a reboot or a 2.0 version could be a viable proposition. The MMO genre is far from dead although it is rapidly changing. It makes sense that Warner Bros. may wish to have a product that can compete with The Elder Scrolls Online and EverQuest Next. They are attempting to enter the MOBA market with the forthcoming Infinite Crisis.
However, it should noted that Monolith were recruiting specifically for a “large AAA quality product shipping on Next-Gen and Current Gen platforms simultaneously”. MMOs do exist for these platforms but they are not so common place so perhaps an RPG is a more plausible option. I personally would not object to a game similar to Skyrim based in Middle-earth. However, whatever the nature of this alleged game, it may while before it see the light of day. The Saul Zaentz Company have a track record for registering trademarks well in advance. The Lord of the Rings: War in The North was was formally registered two years before the final product was released.