A Preview of The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria

edited November 2023 in Gaming

Prepare to return to the mythological past of Tolkien’s Middle-earth this October in The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria. Command a company of Dwarves and delve deep underground into the Mines of Moria to reclaim their Dwarven homeland. Developed by Free Range Games, Return to Moria is the only action-adventure, survival-crafting game set in the Fourth Age of Middle-earth. A rare gem, indeed! Read on to discover more about the story, characters, gameplay, and much more!

When does Return to Moria come out?

There are a few different Return to Moria release dates, starting with a digital release for Playstation 5 and PC on October 24th 2023, via the Epic Games Store. To get your hands on a physical copy for Playstation 5, you’ll have to wait until December 5th. Xbox Series X|S users who are eager to enter the mines still have a few months left to prepare themselves for the release of the Return to Moria game, slated for Xbox release in early 2024.

Who’s behind Return to Moria?

If the story sounds familiar, well, perhaps you have heard of The Lord of The Rings, or The Hobbit, the fantasy novels written by the English author J.R.R. Tolkien? More about the inspiration later, first let’s look at the developers. Return to Moria was developed by Sausalito, California based Free Range Games. With a portfolio spanning console, PC, VR and mobile devices, their missions “to make games people find meaningful, memorable, and fun.” Free Range Games was an external developer on Oddworld: Soulstorm(2021) and full developer of Spelldrifter (2019). For Return to Moria, the developers teamed up with San Rafael, California based publisher North Beach Games, as well as licensor Middle-earth Enterprises, the modern day steward and custodian of Tolkien’s fantasy world.

What’s the story?   

The inspiration behind the game is The Lord of The Rings, J.R.R Tolkien’s epic fantasy novel. Return to Moria brings the pages of Tolkien’s masterpiece to life and immerses you as a Dwarf leader in the Fourth Age of Middle-earth. If you’ve read the book, or seen The Fellowship of the Ring, you will remember the haunted mine that Frodo and his pals had to travel through. This mine is Moria, and our Dwarven friends are living about 70 years since the destruction of Sauron’s ring.

So, what exactly is this Middle-earth? The setting for Return to Moria is the central continent of the earth, Middle-earth. This is a land inhabited by men, dwarves, Elves and Hobbits, beset by familiar monsters: Orcs, Trolls and Dragons. The bearded Dwarves are the protagonists of Return to Moria, as they (you, the player) strive to reclaim their legendary kingdom, deep beneath the Misty Mountains.

Return to Moria gameplay and design 

The dwarves have been summoned to the Misty Mountains by Lord Gimli Lockbearer, and are tasked with exploring, surviving and restoring the glory of Moria, also known as Khazad-dûm or Dwarrowdelf. As you and your team of Dwarves progress through three mystic underground mountain environments, your mining activities will awaken unspeakable forces…


The combat in Return to Moria features Orcs, Trolls, spiders and as yet unknown creatures deep in the mountain. Find better equipment to defeat increasingly fearsome foes as you progress: use axes, swords, crossbows and of course hammers to sort out the Orcs! Combat features normal and heavy attack modes, as well as shield blocks. Trolls are a challenge for even the strongest Dwarf warriors, if you are struggling to beat a troll, lure them into the light and they will turn to stone.


Before beginning hazardous missions many fathoms underground, players can design their own custom Dwarf, and then proceed in single-player mode, or in groups of up to eight players in online cooperative multiplayer mode. The procedurally generated environments of Moria provide endless challenges and opportunities, ensuring that no two adventures into the depths of Moria are the same.


The aim of Return to Moria is to reclaim the lost spoils, a gargantuan quest that will require great fortitude and teamwork. This is where procurement and management of underground resources comes in. The Dwarves are proud miners, so it will come as no surprise that mining is one of your main tasks in Return to Moria. Set up mining stations to progress through the game, as well as gain useful resources. So, get on the tools, and mine a variety of metals and ores prized by the Dwarves: iron, gold, precious stones, and of course, Moria-silver, also known as Mithril. These precious resources can be crafted into legendary Dwarven weapons, armor and tools.

Bases and crafting

As you progress through Moria, an underground land steeped in Tokien’s fantasy lore, work with your team to build bases and crafting stations to turn ore into ingots, as well as upgrade your kit. The base is a place for the Dwarves to recharge after mining and battling the Orcs. Here, dwarves can hang up their armor, and relax with an ale, as well as use the forges to craft necessary items. As we know, the dwarves make their own tools, so forging, metal working and discovering recipes for ancient alloys are a key part of Return to Moria. Crafting also extends to food; keep your Dwarf well fed by picking up ingredients and crafting nourishing meals.

Dwarven welfare

What’s more, in order to survive, players must take care of their Dwarves by conserving resources, hunting and gathering, as well as getting enough sleep. Discover the history and folklore of the Dwarves and their various clans, ensuring that your Dwarves stay hale and hearty in the mines of Moria. But beware, too long in the darkness and Dwarves fall into despair, eventually perishing if they stay in the dark for too long. Songs are a huge part of Lord of the Rings: as your Dwarf toils in the mines, drinks an ale, or ventures to a place of historical importance, singing can help! Choose from ten different Dwarf voices, and sing while you're mining for improved performance -singing the right words can even open up locked areas.

The ancient mines hold many treasures and mysteries, dig deeper to discover ancient magic artifacts, including strength and wisdom giving amulets, and swords that glow in the proximity of Orcs. Tolkien fans and survival game enthusiasts alike will appreciate the intricacies of Return to Moria. The game features the Dwarvish language, too and loyally follows the canon of Tolkien’s Middle-earth.

The takeaway

We hope that you have enjoyed this journey into The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria. Don’t forget the digital release date of October 24th, 2023 for Playstation 5 and PC, as well as Xbox release in early 2024. In the meantime, take a look at Acer’s Game Pass for all of your favorite games, past, present, and future. Finally, to get the most out of great games like Return to Moria, you’ll need a gaming laptop that can truly go the distance. Acer’s Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop - AN517-42-R35M features 17.3” Full HD display, AMD Ryzen™ 7 6800H processor Octa-core 3.20 GHz, as well as a NVIDIA GeForce® RTX™ 3070 graphics card. Sounds good? On top of this, the backlit keyboard will help you type in dim environments, and SSD storage offers all round performance, making the Nitro 5 your ideal choice for all of your gaming needs.

Edmund is an English copywriter based in New Taipei City, Taiwan. He is a widely published writer and translator with two decades of experience in the field of bridging linguistic and cultural gaps between Chinese and English.


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