Guardians of Middle-earth

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Guardians of Middle-earth Game Poster Image
Online multiplayer fantasy game with a focus on fighting.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Guardians of Middle-earth wasn't created with educational intent, and we don't recommend it for learning.

Positive Messages

This game is focused on fantasy combat, but the violence is presented from a raised perspective and isn't as glamorized or intense as many other fantasy games. It encourages players to work together to form strategies to overcome their opponents.

Positive Role Models & Representations

There is no story and none of the characters do more than spout the occasional line in the heat of battle. Their sole occupation -- beating enemy forces into submission with magic and medieval weaponry -- can't really be emulated by kids.

Ease of Play

This game is very complex and will take most players several hours to fully understand, even more to master. Interactive tutorials walk players through the basics, and pop-up text explains the game's many intricate menus. However, once on the battlefield and playing against other humans, players will face a steep and unforgiving learning curve as they go up against more skilled and experienced opponents who control powerful characters with earned enhancements.

Violence

Players spend virtually all of their time engaged in combat against both fantastical creatures and humans. Swords, hammers, arrows, and a variety of magical attacks are employed to wick away opponents' health bars, but there is no blood or gore. Defeated characters simply fall and disappear from the battleground.

Sex
Language
Consumerism

It's part of the sprawling collection of products that make up The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit franchise.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Guardians of Middle-earth is an online-only multiplayer game available through various downloadable game services. Its focus is fantastical combat, with teams of up to five players battling each other for control of spots on small maps. There's no blood or gore, and the raised, third-person perspective keeps the action from becoming very visceral or intense, but the fighting is constant. Parents should also be aware that this game supports open online voice communication with strangers.

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What's it about?

GUARDIANS OF MIDDLE-EARTH is one of the first true multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games to find its way to living room consoles. Also known as action real-time strategy games, this genre is without narrative, focusing instead on player-versus-player combat, with teams composed of up to five players -- plus many more computer-controlled soldiers and minions -- rushing headlong into battle against each other. Players sack towers and take control of shrines as they work through branching paths toward their ultimate objective: The enemy base. Between each 20-minute game players have opportunity to purchase new upgrades and guardians, customize \"loadouts\" (gamer-speak for equipment -- in this case gems and relics), and assign commands that they can use during the fight. The game begins with a lengthy tutorial, after which players can enter battles with other players against computer-controlled enemies or another team of humans.

Is it any good?

Guardians of Middle-earth won't be for everyone. It's pretty complex, has a steep learning curve, and you'll likely be among the worst players on your team for quite a while until you've managed to earn better characters, more powerful gems, and additional commands. But while play is a bit lopsided at the start, you'll eventually reach a point where you're on more or less equal footing with most other players. Then it's all about strategy and teamwork, which is where this game shines. Deciding when and how to upgrade towers, which paths to attack, when to work in teams, and which characters make good pairs -- all of these tactical elements make for a deep and habit forming experience. Add in the developer's sharp and effective use of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy license -- dozens of characters from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings appear -- and you have a surprisingly satisfying and compelling strategy game.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about online safety. How does your family keep safe while taking part in online activities? What do you do when you encounter someone engaged in inappropriate behavior?

  • Families can also discuss violence in media. This game doesn't have any blood or gore or slow-motion attacks. Still, all the players do is fight. How do you think games focused on combat might affect people who play them?

Game details

Themes & Topics

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