Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, November 01, 2023
Return to Moria thoughts

Anyone know a survival crafting game like Return to Moria or Valheim but with turn-based combat? That game would be perfect for me. The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria isn't perfect, but I played it for 40 hours now, thus fulfilling the 1 hour per 1$ spent benchmark of not regretting my purchase. With the real time combat being my biggest gripe with the game: It's not my preferred style of combat, it isn't a great implementation of real-time combat, and it can't be avoided, with advancement being gated behind boss mobs at certain points.

Now I am not saying that Return to Moria is otherwise perfect. It isn't a triple-A game, but at best double-A, and is missing a lot of polish and quality of life features. But the overall game loop works extremely well: You explore the Mines of Moria, gather resources, forge weapons and armor, and those allow you to overcome various monsters and obstacles, which then allows you to progress further. It isn't always easy, and the random procedural generation can sometimes make it hard to find a resource you need; at worst it feels as if some resource is *behind* the obstacle you'd need it for, although that is never strictly the case. Some boss monsters you need to learn how to beat, and maybe switch to another weapon type or rune enchantment to actually do so. But I haven't gotten really stuck anywhere yet. At worst I needed the world hopping trick I described in my previous post on this game. Especially gathering the limited black diamonds from two worlds instead of just one made progress a lot smoother, and allowed me to build more fast travel points, which saves me from a lot of running back and forth.

The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria is a bit of a hidden gem, because it is an exclusive on the Epic Games Store, and not available on Steam. It always makes me wonder whether this is some sort of plan from developers to avoid Steam ratings before the game has been further polished. A bit like "early access" under a different name. On the other hand I don't believe the promised improvements will fundamentally change the game experience. On Twitch Return to Moria is surprisingly popular, especially as a multiplayer game, which I haven't tried; as I write this there are 10 times as many viewers for Return to Moria than for Starfield. But then, Return to Moria is newer, and we have to see how well it holds up in the long run.

Don't forget to play 'Diggy Diggy Hole' in the background while mining.
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