Lord of the Rings: Rise to War Review

Lord of the Rings: Rise to War is an online real-time strategy game developed by NetEase Games. The masterminds behind games such as EVE Echoes, Naraka Bladepoint, Identity V, Harry Potter: Magic Awakened, and Dead By Daylight Mobile. So quite obviously, a developer with tremendous experience in making mobile experiences. Let’s find out if this holds true for Rise to War in our in-depth review.

Even among these titles, Rise to War is quite unique in its gameplay which centers around capturing territories, building balanced armies, and engaging in faction-vs-faction warfare. The game features some “gacha”-type mechanics for acquiring the iconic characters from LotR.

But is it any good? Is the gameplay unique? Is it fun? What about the story, or graphical presentation? It features in our list of the Best 4X MMO Mobile Games, so it must be good, right? Well, find out in our Lord of the Rings: Rise to War Review!

Story And Setting of LotR: Rise to War

The game is set in the familiar universe of Lord of the Rings. Around the late Third Age of Middle-earth to be precise. Although the game features alterations in events and places for the sake of gameplay.

An example of that is the presence of the Variags Faction. While they did exist in Tolkien’s universe, they did not make an appearance in the books or movies as they were, presumably, already non-existent by that point. All we ever knew about them is that they supported Sauron in one of his past conflicts and that they might have been some sort of split-off tribe of the Easterlings.

LotR Rise to War Review - New Faction Variags

But in Rise to War they are a full-blown, active faction. So while 90% of the story and presentation will be familiar, there is some new stuff sprinkled in. However, that “new stuff” is pretty clever and respectful of the source material. But obviously, this is not a story-driven game, and you should not go in expecting that experience.

Most plot-wise stuff is something you already know from the books and the movies. With the premise being the most original thing in that regard. Essentially, you the player found a ring of power, and you want to use it to bring an end to the multi faction conflict tearing apart Middle-earth. Iconic characters from the universe will serve as your Commanders, your eyes, legs, and arms, while you conquer or ally with other factions.

The Presentation

City-building is one of the main focuses of the tile-based strategy game The Lords of the Rings: Rise to War. You select a side (good or evil), then select one of six factions from each side before being released into Middle-earth. This is done after selecting the material, gem type, and inscription of your very own bespoke ring.

The overall graphics of the game are pleasant to the eye in some places and mediocre in others. Some commanders and units are stylized to very closely resemble those seen in the movies. The ones that basically have no visual reference to draw from are solid and in general, stay true to the source material.

The real standouts in this regard are the cities of different factions. Said cities grow with the level of your main hall, and over time visually upgrade. Rhun, Angmar, and Lothlorien to name a few are simply marvelous, and I would often just sit on my city screen and take in the view, looking forward to each expansion of my empire.

The same goes for some of the key strategic points on the map. The black gate, Dol Guldur, Hobbiton, and other neutral fortresses to conquer often have this gorgeous 3D model you can drool over while your Commanders bash their heads against its walls.

LotR Rise to War War - Spectacular View of Dol Guldur

The same goes for the music, but that’s hardly the game’s doing since again, it’s ripped straight from the movies. But god damn, what a great soundtrack that still makes.

The Gameplay

The Lords of the Rings: Rise to War is a “geo-strategic seasonal wargame.” The seasonal element comes from the fact that every few months a new season begins, often bringing huge balance changes and new content. During that period, or even before that when you conclude any single “game” of Rise to War, your kingdom resets, but you get to keep Commanders that you unlocked and their equipment.

Rise to War’s gameplay can be roughly divided into two categories: conquest and city-building. Creating and upgrading structures, selecting Commanders, enlisting troops, claiming awards, equipment management, and other standard city-building activities are all part of the process. Additionally, there is a ring function that enables skill tree-style leveling with many unique perks to boot.

Conquest, on the other hand, entails sending your troops into battle. You have one army per Commander, and that army can be made up of up to three different types of units. Your Commander will attack any enemy or tile you point to with their equipped army, which will then transition into a turn-based simulation of a battle between all the units.

LotR Rise to War Review - Simulated Battle Screen

You need to continue improving your army in order to be strong enough to take the resource-rich mountain, woodland, and farm tiles, as well as tiles inhabited by monsters and other players. You must carefully consider your options while deciding which tiles to assault and what movements to make in the captivating and sophisticated strategy game The Lord of the Rings: Rise to War.

The PVP of Rise to War

Your chances of winning depend on how powerful your army is, but also what type of army it is. You can have an army of ranged elves, human cavalry, infantry, beasts, and other more unique things. This all coexists in sort of a “rock-paper-scissor” ecosystem. Spear infantry usually counters cavalry, shielded heavy units counter most melee attackers, but get super countered by anyone using poison or burn which ignore defenses.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the tactical nuances that distinguish this game from the majority of other 4X MMO Mobile Games. The real-time, large-scale battles, often coordinated via in-game chat or even discord by “guilds” are unlike anything you will see in another strategy game.

On this note, there’s a little bit of criticism to be found here. While the game is fairly generous for “F2P” players. Timers for leveling your buildings, or creating armies get fairly long but can be bypassed with gems and cards. “Gems” being the premium currency.

While this is okay because the game gives you plenty of speed-up cards, you cannot ignore the fact that you can earn quite the advantage by swiping your card and boosting your productivity. Thankfully, this is somewhat offset by the fact that careful army and commander building that takes advantage of your faction synergies, will win you more battles than just dumping cash in the store.

Therefore the game is in fact not an unfun experience if you chose to not spend money on it.

LotR Rise to War Review Summary

Lord of the Rings: Rise to War is an extremely unique mobile strategy game. It might be somewhat off-putting for more casual gamers, but if you’ve been craving anything on mobile that comes close to a true strategy experience, it’s definitely worth a try.

The social experience of strategizing and supporting your faction-mates in large-scale battles is just something you will not find in any other mobile game. If the notion of competing with other players and learning in-depth strategies and interactions between units excites you, then this is the game for you. Overall, we give LotR Rise to War a total review score of 4.5/5!

LotR Rise to War Guides from OCG

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