Guardians of Middle-Earth, a Lord of the Rings MOBA aimed at console gamers, was one of a few pre-E3 surprises sprung by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. We had a chance to check the game out at E3, and the folks at Monolith Productions are working hard at adapting the MOBA experience to a non-PC platform.
A PC Experience on Consoles
Being a PSN and XBLA game, Guardians has to be fitted to controller, and in order to do this, Monolith takes inspiration from shooters. Anyone who's ever laid hands on a shooter understands the basic controls already -- analog sticks for movement, click or trigger for aim, action buttons for.. actions. Now imagine the same layout for a MOBA, where players control their on-screen character with the thumbsticks and activate skills mapped to the four action buttons. Seems fairly simple, right? The key here is to use controls that console gamers are already familiar with.
To help players keep track of the action and their often sudden deaths, dying will be followed by a 10-second replay sequence that shows exactly how a player met their end. Tool tips shown during loading screens will offer helpful tips both obvious and not so.
Guardians, Player Choices
Expect over 20 playable Guardians at launch, though whether every Guardian comes unlocked is still being debated. We're thinking this is unlikely, as Monolith did mention the possibility of using trial periods similar to how League of Legends' Champ rotations work.
The Guardians are split into five classes, which fall under your fantasy archetypes like DPS, support, and the like. One example of a support unit we got to see was Galadriel, who resembles a blue version of Lina in-game. Consumables like potions also come into play, like with most MOBAs, and augments like LoL's Masteries allow players to tweak a variety of passive abilities.
Game modes are, of course, a big deal, and Guardians offers plenty to choose from. For Battlegrounds PVP, players can choose the standard three-lane or try their hand at single-lane matches, which are considerably more fast-paced. Just imagine five characters from any MOBA Zerg-rushing mid; yeah, hilarity is bound to ensue.
Aside from Battlegrounds, players also have Skirmish, five-man matchmaking against bots. Custom Match is the third option, which lets participants set up their own custom game, including an option to exclude A.I. opponents.
Expect Guardians of Middle-Earth this fall. No doubt we'll hear more as release draws near.