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The best Lord of the Rings games to help you have a Middle-earth adventure

Middle-Earth Shadow of War
(Image credit: WB Games)

The best Lord of the Rings games cover a lot of ground. In this ranking, you'll find some of the best action games and best strategy games of their era. Whether you're a fan because of J.R.R. Tolkien's incredible series of books or the scope of the Peter Jackson adaptation, there's an experience that'll be perfect for you in this list of the best Lord of the Rings games. 

From retreading the footsteps of the Fellowship to exploring an uncharted part of Middle-earth's history, the best Lord of the Rings games cover a lot of bases. And with Amazon's The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power reinvigorating interest in the franchise there's never been a better time to jump into one of these classic. So keep on reading to find our pick of the 10 best Lord of the Rings games. 

10. The Lord of the Rings: Conquest

The lord of the Rings Conquest screenshot

(Image credit: EA)

Developer: Pandemic Studios
Publisher: EA
Released: 2009

The Lord of the Rings: Conquest is a mixed bag. A class-based action game from the minds behind Star Wars: Battlefront, Conquest was rightly criticized for its lacklustre animations and underwhelming narrative. But it was easy to overlook its flaws when you brought another player along for the warg ride. Whether you were playing with a group online or with a friend in local co-op, it was always fun to take on the supporting role of a mage, dispelling arrows away from the main attacking force, or get into the thick of it as Aragorn or Legolas. While Conquest ultimately suffered from the same simplistic combat rhythms as Star Wars: Battlefront before it, there was a lot of fun to be had jumping into the middle of some of the film trilogy's biggest setpieces. 

9. The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age

The Lord of the Rings: the Third Age screenshot

(Image credit: EA)

Developer: EA Redwood Shores
Publisher: EA
Released: 2004

A turn-based Lord of the Rings RPG developed in the vein of Final Fantasy and Tales franchises? Sign me up. While The Third Age does run in parallel to the film trilogy, your party only shows up for certain key moments. Gandalf guides you with collectible film clips that feature original narration from the voice actor himself. Pursuing the Fellowship and fighting alongside them across the film's battles is a nostalgia trip worth taking for any Tolkien fan. The Third Age offers up a different perspective on The Lord of the Rings, and found success with an interesting approach to combat design and overworld exploration.  

8. The Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring

The Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring

(Image credit: Sierra Entertainment)

Developer: Liquid Entertainment
Publisher: Sierra Entertainment
Released: 2003

Middle-earth is the perfect setting for a strategy title. There's no better way to take advantage of Tolkien's vast lore than letting you pick between Good and Evil, complete with their own campaigns and unique game mechanics. While War of the Ring might seem like a glorified WarCraft 3 mod at times, its unique units and captivating set-pieces elevate it beyond your standard real-time strategy game. Be it chasing Gollum through the forgotten trees of Mirkwood as Legolas or facing the Balrog in all its fiery glory alongside the Fellowship, War of the Ring is well worth the price of admission.

7. LEGO The Lord of the Rings

LEGO The Lord of the Rings

(Image credit: WB Games)

Developer: Traveller's Tales
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Released: 2012

Playing through locations revamped to the tune of LEGO bricks is one thing. But featuring dialogue straight out of the movies elevates this simple LEGO title into a nostalgia-fueled romp through Middle-earth. Meet all the characters you've come to love and see them through the cartoonish lens that LEGO has to offer. With scenes and scenarios drawn from Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy – each of which is imbued with Traveller's Tales sharp comedic instincts and timings, a staple of the LEGO games – LEGO Lord of the Rings features an incredible amount of content to get lost in, and is a must-play for LotR fans of all-ages. 

6. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers game

(Image credit: EA)

Developer: Stormfront Studios
Publisher: EA
Released: 2002

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers brought us closer to Middle-earth than any game before it. With its blurring of lines between FMV footage pulled from the Peter Jackson films, fun hack-and-slash action, and recreation of some of LotR's most iconic battles, The Two Towers was a satisfying licensed game that ran a little on the short side. Still, there was nothing quite like it at the time, and roaming through Middle-earth while utilizing God of War-esque special attacks to destroy hordes of Orcs and Uruk Hai was a riot. There was room for improvement, but it was a solid first effort. 

5. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King game

(Image credit: EA)

Developer: EA Redwood Shores
Publisher: EA
Released: 2003

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King built on the foundations that Stormfront Studios put down with The Two Towers. With a longer campaign, updated graphics, and new fan-favorite playable characters like Gandalf, The Return of the King handily outdid the action-packed gameplay of its predecessor. Released before the actual film, The Return of the King also featured unreleased footage from its namesake which was a welcome bonus for franchise fans desperate for more. Add co-op gameplay into the mix and you can see why The Return of the King is a compelling trip down Tolkien lane that's still beloved to this day.

4. The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-earth 2

Battle for Middle-earth 2 game

(Image credit: EA)

Developer: EA Los Angeles
Publisher: EA
Released: 2006

Arguably one of the best RTS games of the early '00s, The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-earth 2 took the scale of and spectacle of The Lord of the Rings and put us in command of the action. Whether you were playing through the Good or Evil story campaigns or jumping online to recreate some of the franchises' biggest battles with your friends, The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-earth 2 (and its The Rise of the Witch-King expansion) was a compelling, polished strategy game with no shortage of depth and detail. Despite its legacy, The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-earth 2 had its online servers shut down in 2011, and is sadly no longer sold digitally. 

3. The Lord of the Rings Online

The Lord of the Rings Online

(Image credit: Standing Stone Games)

Developer: In-house
Publisher: Standing Stone Games
Released: 2007

With a wide variety of races and breathtaking locations, Middle-earth is a great place for an MMORPG. With dozens of games out there using dwarves and elves to prop their stories, it's only fair that Lord of the Rings got the same MMO treatment. Launched in 2007, Lord of the Rings Online has undergone several reworks and updates. Explore iconic locations like the Shire, Gondor, Gundabad, and Mordor across the MMORPG's many expansions. LoTRO even lets you switch to Sauron's side and take charge of powerful monsters to terrorize the Free Peoples. A thriving community paired with a breathing, living world makes for a plethora of possibilities. The Lord of the Rings Online is free-to-play, and the most recent expansion released in 2021 – and it remains one of the best MMORPGs out there today. 

2. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

(Image credit: WB Games)

Developer: Monolith Productions
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Released: 2014

Monolith's first stab at recreating Middle-earth was a breakout hit, and one of the best adventure games around. Featuring an original story set before the events of the films, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor gets a lot right. While its open world wasn't the most varied, Shadow of Mordor made up for any shortcomings in that respect with a progressive approach to interactive storytelling. For as great as the action-adventure combat and tightly woven narrative were, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is remembered because of its Nemesis system – allowing you to participate in, and shape, Orc power dynamics. Forming personal vendettas with procedurally-generated Uruk warriors was a true delight, and truly unique.

1. Middle-earth: Shadow of War

Middle-earth: Shadow of War

(Image credit: WB Games)

Developer: Monolith Productions
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Released: 2017

If Shadow of Mordor was an ambitious step forward, Middle-earth: Shadow of War was a great leap. Monolith shed the grim aesthetic of its predecessor, and delivered one of the best open world games of the generation in this sequel – expanding upon everything, including the intricate lore of its world and protagonist Talion. In Shadow of War, the Nemesis System evolves into a genre-defining webbing of inter-connected Orcs. Orcs even remember how you fought against them, adapting to your playstyle while leveling up alongside you. It's an impressive feat that comes to life during the game's massive castle sieges, culminating in intense boss fights that can be approached in any way you choose. Sure, the drama the Nemesis system creates isn't canon, but Shadow of War is an excellent flagbearer of the Lord of the Rings franchise on its own terms.

There are no new Lord of the Rings games currently announced, but you can check all the new games of 2022 to see if anything catches your attention.

Freelance writer