E3 2011: Lord of the Rings: War in the North second look: Why aren’t there more co-op RPGs?

There simply are not enough cooperative RPGs in this world. Full stop. You wanna headshot your buddy with a sniper rifle, you’ve got dozens of options. But if you want to team up together and take down the evil anything, your options can be counted on just a few fingers. Thankfully, The Lord of the Rings: War in the North is looking address that scarcity in a very big way. Chronicling the efforts of a different fellowship of adventurers during the War of the Ring, if there’s a more satisfying-looking co-op fantasy romp coming this year, we don’t know it.

The E3 demo featured our fellowship of three - a stocky dwarf axeman, an agile and sneaky human ranger, and an elven mage/healer - working together to carve a path through the dozens, possibly hundreds of orcs standing between us and the end of the level. We played as the ranger, who served a mixed role in the party. He was more than capable in sword combat, but was also useful as an invisible scout/saboteur or as a ranged bowman. There was also a fourth member of our party who really stole the show – a massive eagle whom we could call in every so often to pounce upon an unsuspecting foe. He was, no pun intended, the ultimate wingman.

But it’s not all random hacking and slashing. War in the North really works at making you all use your specific skills far more effectively than most cooperative games do. For instance, the elf can heal and cast a sort of bubble shield, which will obviously be incredibly helpful at times. And other times, the choice between attacking with your melee weapon or at range will be crucial. One specific section had explosive orcs sprinting at us while we fought normal orcs. It quickly became clear (after a failure of an attempt) that the ranger character would be best utilized as a bowman to take down the explosive orcs before they reached the healer and tank. It’s not just a matter of figuring out the solution, though – then you’ve got to execute your plan. The explosive orcs were tough to shoot and plenty of them managed to get through and explode next to our party members.

To be perfectly blunt, we had a blast playing through the demo with our teammates. The only thing that was concerning was that the game crashed three separate times during our brief 15 minute experience. This may be nothing, since preview code often crashes and these types of bugs can certainly be worked out before release, but it is still a bit worrisome. Let’s just hope they get this kind of thing 100% worked out before it hits store shelves. Because we can’t wait to get back to Middle Earth and hack up some more orcs.

Jun 15, 2011




  • Sleepingdragon - June 16, 2011 1:14 p.m.

    Elven mage? Magic doesnt exist in LoTR, Gandalf isnt really even a magician but more of a divine being!
  • OohWiiUILookJustLikeBuddyHolly - June 16, 2011 2:06 a.m.

    Is that bird going to save your ass every time something big happens?
  • Whit - June 15, 2011 8:44 p.m.

    I agree about non-subscription. Not a fan of seeing things like CoD and Halo turning toward subscription. A bunch of monthly payments to play the games I want would suck. With that said, I've not been able to finish any of the single player RPGs because they feel a little lonely after getting used to MMOs. Playstyles vary. Leveling to me is a solo grind. It is the end game content that requires co-op--think 10 and 25 player raids. Raids are instanced--so technically when raiding, your playing a game tailored for 10/25 folks. The MMO part is simply a fancy match-making service. On a last note--Neverwinter Nights were both a co-op non-subscription model. Neverwinter Nights is being relaunched as a MMO. But Guild Wars 2 is sticking to the non-subscription model. We'll see how they do....
  • NightCrawler_358 - June 15, 2011 8:35 p.m.

    I'm excited to play this online with my LOTR-loving friend. to me, this is like Demon's Souls in Middle-Earth, which I love, so as long as i doesn't turn out to be a steaming pile of disappointment, I'll be getting this!
  • bawrash - June 15, 2011 8:34 p.m.

    What I dont like about co-op games is typically you are either playing your own campaign or helping your mates. I'd prefer something real time where I can travel across my world where I can come up and join a mate mid-fight but not making it a MMO.
  • Rascanuvols - June 15, 2011 8:09 p.m.

    For co-op I understand me and a buddy (or two, or three) playing through the campaign of a traditional, offline game (we might be playing online, but the experience would be the same as a traditional offline game). Borderlands, for example. I don't think thats anything like a MMO. Also, I think there is actually a market for non subscription games XD
  • Baron164 - June 15, 2011 8:06 p.m.

    It sounds interesting, hopefully it wont be full of bugs when it launches.
  • asspills - June 15, 2011 8:01 p.m.

    MMORPG's aren't really Co-Op RPG's. They are by technicality. but they really aren't the same experience. You can work together with other players while leveling up.. but it's not the same experience as... say.. Playing Castle Crashers, and beating up legions of baddies with 3 friends, each one leveling up their favorite skills, each either helping eachother out, or just trying to screw over the other person. MMORPG's tend to be more grind-based, and not as Arcadey as this game seems to be, -which means this game stands as an example in a genre that really isn't very present now-a-days. Also, Every single game that isn't an MMO is a non-subscription game, and I would have to say that they definitely have a market. I get the feeling you play MMO's exclusively.
  • GrandTheftAuto - June 15, 2011 7:55 p.m.

    @ Whit When they say co-op i dont really think they mean mmo's.
  • Whit - June 15, 2011 7:38 p.m.

    Not enough co-op RPGs? Are you kidding me? World of Warcraft, Rift, et al... Or are you talking without a subscription fee? The non-subscription games don't have much a market now due to the readily available new content that comes from subscription based games. Call of Duty is even moving into the subscription world...

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