Guardians of Middle Earth is Monolith’s take on the multiplayer online battle arena genre, set in the Lord of the Rings universe. The company had developed several other games based on the world envisioned by J.R.R. Tolkien and brought all the popular characters into this MOBA. The game is inspired by the popular games of this genre, such as League of Legends and DOTA, but it is aimed at casual players.
Gameplay of Guardians of Middle Earth
The Guardians of Middle Earth gameplay won’t surprise anyone who is familiar to the popular MOBA genre. Players control one of the 20+ characters, which in this game go by the name of guardians and fight against a team of five opponents. The heroes they control are grouped into categories which are called Defender, Striker, Warrior, Tactician, and Mage. These are essentially the same ones as in traditional multiplayer online battle arena games, namely tanks, support and damage dealers.
While players discover familiar faces from the Tolkien world, the game mechanics are textbook MOBA. They start from one end of the map and slowly but surely advance to the opposite end, while destroying towers and AI controlled opponents. Heroes level up and as this happens, they become more powerful and inflict more damage. Controlling the guardians is surprisingly easy and abilities are used by simply pressing one button.
The gameplay of Guardians of Middle Earth is probably more similar to League of Legends than any other MOBA out there. Even the graphics are more cartoonish, for the sake of simplicity, but also to accurately depict the world of Lords of the Rings. The three lanes are scattered with defensive towers, which the indiscriminate damage to any opponents within reach. Players push through these defenses and when they are strong enough attack the enemy base and try to destroy its core.
Guardians of Middle Earth Heroes and Abilities
Monolith’s idea was right from the start to convince its core audience to make the transition to the popular multiplayer online battle arena genre. As a result, Guardians of Middle Earth heroes are first and foremost a treat to the eye and easy to recognize by anyone who is familiar with the franchise. Many of the characters that appear in the Lord of the Rings trilogy as well as their previous games are featured.
Most of the roles are intuitive, with wizards dealing magic damage, while armored heroes serve as tanks and melee damage dealers. Archers inflict damage from a distance, while other guardians throw bombs towards packs of enemy heroes. As in any respectable MOBA, players become progressively tougher, as they level up and unlock new skills. The existing abilities are also improved and they become more effective, as the game developers.
An average game length doesn’t exceed 20 minutes, so these heroes can only get that powerful during this period of time. Developers did their best to incorporate as many RPG elements as possible, but the sheer limitations of the genre made that impossible. Even so, players are invited to tinker a little bit with the gear and think about the items they equip. They usually have a narrow window of opportunity to do so while in base, before returning on the field of battle.
Guardians of Middle Earth Multiplayer and eSports Potential
Monolith exceeded expectations with its first attempt at conquering the multiplayer online battle arena niche. Guardians of Middle Earth brought about a couple of RPG elements, some real-time strategy and still capture the very essence of MOBA. The game encourages players to better themselves and hone their skills, without having a steep learning curve. It was precisely this aspect that made it appealing to beginners, who found it easy to learn the heroes and master their abilities.
The Guardians of Middle Earth multiplayer is fast-paced and so similar to established MOBAs, that players have an easy time learning the ropes. The only challenge comes from learning how to buy and equip new items quickly. There is a pretty large inventory of combat trinkets, relics and potions to learn, but this is a one-time process. The gameplay itself is significantly easier than what most of the popular multiplayer online battle arena games throw at players.
The three lane battlefield holds no surprises for the fans of the genre, but somehow the game didn’t gain enough traction to become an eSport. Perhaps the main reason for its lack of success at this level is the perceived simplicity of its gameplay. Monolith did a fine job at appealing to the casual audience, but they might have jeopardized its future among professional players. Given its compatibility with several platforms in addition to PCs, Guardians of Middle Earth never run out of enthusiastic players.
Popular and Critical Reception
Guardians of Middle Earth built on the popularity of the previous games developed by Monolith. At the time of its release, players were already more than happy to give it a chance and even seasoned MOBA players took a leap of faith with it. Most of them have returned to their games of choice since, but some continue to enjoy it on consoles. On PlayStation and Xbox devices, this is one of the best multiplayer online battle arena games available.
The price tag was also discussed by players and many thought that the amount they were expected to pay for this game was a bit high for what it had to offer. More serious criticism was in regard to the fact that servers are sometimes down and when available, they are lagging. Most of these problems were addressed pretty soon after the game was released, also because the community didn’t expand all that fast.
Key facts about Guardians of Middle Earth
- Guardians of Middle Earth is a successful MOBA adaptation for consoles by Monolith.
- The game has a smooth learning curve and it is significantly easier than most of its peers.
- Guardians of Middle Earth heroes are called Guardians and are inspired by the Tolkien universe.
- Matchmaking can sometimes take a long time and laggy servers can hurt the gaming experience.
- Guardians of Middle Earth matches are fought on only two maps and have a timed length.
The Bottom Line
Guardians of Middle Earth is simply a must play for the fans of Lord of the Rings and those who have enjoyed previous Monolith titles. Without being the best multiplayer online battle arena game out there, it is the only one that brings the Tolkien universe to live. It also has the merit of being playable on consoles devices, as opposed to the mainstream MOBAs for available exclusively on computers.
The game is simple enough as to be enjoyable on these gadgets, yet challenging and fun to play by casuals and veterans. Matches are timed and players are guaranteed not to spend more time than they can afford in-game. The relatively short duration of games keeps them fun, intense and as addictive and any other MOBAs out there. Guardians of Middle Earth stopped short of turning into an eSports hit, but is nevertheless fun to play in multiplayer and easy to recommend.