The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth – Reforged has a teaser trailer suggesting things are coming along nicely so far.
Battle for Middle-earth was a pretty solid strategy title from the Lord of the Rings universe which sadly lost online support back in 2010. (A sequel followed suit the following year.) Yet the game still has its fans, a few of which are trying to remake the game in Unreal Engine 4.
An overly-ambitious goal? Perhaps. But a new teaser trailer suggests it’s progressing well.
The original Battle for Middle-earth is a real-time strategy game where players controlled opposing factions in the War of the Ring. Each side commanded an army of standard units, along with heroic units like Gandalf, Aragorn, Gollum, and others.
This Reforged project aims to remake the game in the Unreal engine, adding a host of improvements in the process. Updated visual effects, increased frame rates, and 4K support are just a few proposed features. The conversion will focus on multiplayer gameplay, but hasn’t ruled out campaigns at a later date.
Of course, most fan remakes of this scope can expect cease-and-desist orders, but Battle for Middle-earth is an especially complex case. The game was developed by Electronic Arts, who lost control of the Lord of the Rings license to Warner Bros. That leaves quite a few Witch Kings who could shut down production, but Reforged hopes the Unreal Engine license terms might offer some protection.
“Yes, we worry a bit, when it comes to Warner B. and their possible reaction,” the team wrote (via Eurogamer). “However, take many examples of non-commercial projects of Total War, Skyrim or other engines. We still have an advantage: Unreal Engine 4 is free for non commercial projects, so anybody could play the game for free!
“We do not disrupt the business of Warner Brothers – BFME is a strategy, RTS and Warners don’t develop any game strategy projects. Even if they ask us to stop the development of the project, we will do our best to make a deal, perphaps [sic], they could eventually make this game themselves after realising how many people so want it.”
Whatever happens, it does seem like the Reforged team has done an impressive job developing Battle for Middle-earth assets within Unreal. If the cease-and-desist hammer doesn’t drop, this should be a remake worth following.