Fans of The Lord of the Rings will get the chance to explore the Fourth Age of Middle-earth for the first time in a new Dwarf-based video game.

The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria is an upcoming survival-crafting video game from Free Range Games that will give players the chance to explore the Fourth Age of Middle-earth: an era that had remained a mystery for many LOTR fans up until this point.

A Dwarf strikes a hammer in Return to Moria trailer
The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria/Free Range Games/North Beach Games/PlayStation YouTube channel

Explore the Fourth Age of Middle-earth in the new LOTR game

The Lord of the Rings franchise will soon be getting a brand new video game from Free Range Games and North Beach Games called Return to Moria.

Following the disastrous response to the recent Gollum video game, there is some serious excitement surrounding this new title, which will give fans the opportunity to see the Fourth Age of Middle-earth come to life for the first time in the franchise’s history.

Return to Moria will be a survival-crafting game that will follow a group of Dwarves as they look to reestablish their once-thriving community in the infamous Mines of Moria, battling hidden enemies and creating a stronghold surrounding the kingdom of Khazad-dum.

“Summoned to the Misty Mountains by Lord Gimli Lockbearer, players take control of a company of Dwarves tasked to reclaim the lost spoils from the Dwarven homeland of Moria—known as Khazad-dûm or Dwarrowdelf—in the depths below their very feet. Their quest will require fortitude, delving deep into the Mines of Moria to recover its treasures.”

According to details on the title, the new Fourth Age of Middle-earth video game will also feature procedurally-generated mine systems and ore deposits, meaning that players will have an infinite number of ways to explore, build, and innovate their individual kingdoms.

“Set in a procedurally generated Dwarven realm of Moria, no two adventures will be alike, and every expedition is traversable either solo or online with companions. Players can mine to craft greater gear and resources, but beware mining makes noise, and noise created in the quiet deep threatens to awaken the dangers below: where there’s clatter, there’s combat.”

The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria was originally meant to launch in Spring 2023, but was delayed to October 24, 2023 – the game will be available exclusively for Microsoft Windows via the Epic Games Store and IGN recently confirmed the title will be available digitally for PS5 on launch. Whilst there is a plan to bring the game to other consoles and mobile devices in 2024, the current road map only concerns PC and PS5 platforms.

“As they venture ever deeper, the Dwarves will need to ensure their metal is ready to meet the dangers that lie within, crafting resilient armors and finely honed weapons capable of protecting against and defeating all manner of goblin, arachnoid, or more mysterious foes they may encounter.”

Did Tolkien ever write about the Fourth-age of Middle-earth?

Yes, whilst the Fourth Age of Middle-earth was rarely covered by J. R. R. Tolkien in his official works, but he did provide some snippets of information in various letters as part of an incomplete sequel story called The New Shadow.

In May 1964, Tolkien sent a letter to Collin Bailey in which he revealed that he “did begin a story placed about 100 years after the Downfall, but it proved both sinister and depressing.” The Fourth Age of Middle-earth was known as the Age of Men, and this was an issue for the wider narrative:

“Since we are dealing with Men, it is inevitable that we should be concerned with the most regrettable feature of their nature: their quick satiety with good. So that the people of Gondor in times of peace, justice and prosperity, would become discontented and restless — while the dynasts descended from Aragorn would become just kings and governors — like Denethor or worse.”

Tolkien claimed that “there was an outcrop of revolutionary plots, about a centre of secret Satanistic religion; while Gondorian boys were playing at being Orcs and going around doing damage.”

The famed author even noted that he “could have written a ‘thriller’ about the plot and its discovery and overthrow” but decided against it as the story couldn’t have delved deeper into the world under those limitations: Ultimately, Tolkien wrote that the sequel set in The Fourth Age of Midldle-earth was “Not worth doing.”

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