Fans Are Remaking LOTR: The Battle for Middle-earth Using Unreal Engine 4. Watch The Teaser Trailer Here
This is surely going to excite RTS fans (and hopefully not lawyers). The Battle for Middle-earth: Reforged is a fan project that aims to remake The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth in Unreal Engine 4.
The Battle for Middle-earth: Reforged won't be sharing any code form the original since it's essentially starting from scratch. The team aims to preserve the original's gameplay but with updated visuals and a new physics engine.
According to the devs, this will make things like units stacking on top of each other and other funky graphical glitches a thing of the past.
Unfortunately, the development team isn't focusing on remaking the single-player campaign. That would require a whole lot more resources and time. So the team is primarily focused on nailing the multiplayer.
When Will it Be Out?
How multiplayer is going to work on a technical level or when this will be released is far too early for even the devs to answer. Reforged is after all a non-commercial fan project so you can expect it to take its time.
On Copyright Issues
The devs are somewhat optimistic about dealing with copyright holders Warner Bros, if they get a cease and desist order in the future. They cited other successful recreations in Total War and Skyrim as well as reiterating the fact that Unreal 4 is free for non-commercial use.
They also stated that they'd be willing to pass on development duties to Warner Bros if this project gains lots of attention from fans, as a proof that it is commercially viable.
Personally, I don't know about convincing Warner Bros. The RTS genre has not had a good time lately. It's a genre that is waning. It going to be super tough to convince a mega-corporation like Warner Bros.
What Was Awesome About LOTR: The Battle for Middle-earth
The original The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth was developed by EA Los Angeles, which was essentially formed from Westwood Studios. You could say this studio was formed from the remains of Westwood Studios, that would be more accurate.
BFME was released back in 2004. It used the SAGE engine, which was developed by Westwood Studios and used by EA Los Angeles.
The game had a simplified base-building and resource mechanic. You could only build structures in specified building slots and there was only one resource produced automatically from one resource building.
It was mostly about the combat. BFME has heroes with abilities and squad of units that can be upgraded with new abilities and to improve their stats. It had a nice balance and very different factions (this is after all The Lord of the Rings).
Mainly I'd attribute it's success to Lord of the Rings fans who loved to relive their fantasies of building large armies and waging war in their favourite fantasy universe.
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The dev team has set up a donations page on the official website and are actively looking for designers and coders that can contribute to this project.
A fair word of warning, as this is a fan project, there is no guarantee that it will ever be finished and see the light of day. Please keep this mind before you donate. I do not recommend donating to any party without assessing the risks.
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