Remember The Battle for Middle-Earth games? Like the Balrog in the depths of the Mines of Moria, the real-time strategy series was left dormant after its online servers were snuffed out when EA’s The Lord of the Rings licence expired in 2010.
Now, there’s a new fan project that has rebuilt The Battle for Middle-Earth in Unreal Engine 4 – and there’s a fancy new teaser video.
Based on the video, it’s clear a lot of work has already been done to get The Battle for Middle-Earth up and running in Epic’s game engine. According to the project’s ModDB page, all the original game’s code has been rewritten, but the developers are working to preserve the original gameplay. The focus is multiplayer, but if all goes well, the developers may make a campaign.
The obvious concern, however, is that The Lord of the Rings intellectual property owner will, like the Eye of Sauron, cast its devastating gaze at the project and terminate it. Warner Bros., which has invested millions of dollars in its own The Lord of the Rings video game series (Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War at Monolith), will probably have something to say about The Battle for Middle-Earth Reforged – a prospect the developers are aware of.
“Yes, we worry a bit, when it comes to Warner B. and their possible reaction,” the team said, “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.”
Sounds like wishful thinking to me, but all power to them!