Lord of the Rings: Gollum plays like little Taters

Photo: Daedalic Entertainment/Nacon

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum has naturally garnered a great deal of interest as its initial release date on other platforms approaches in May, with a Switch release planned for later this year. LotR and JRR Tolkien fans were eager to see how developer Daedalic Entertainment would craft a game based on such a beloved character, and lines to test the demo at PAX East ran hours long by the end of the week.

We had a chance to play a roughly 30-minute demo of the gameplay for PC, which is a classic “mixed bag” – we saw some very promising elements, as well as some obvious opportunities for improvement.

Once we finally got our hands on it after waiting we were initially turned off by a game breaking bug that happened the moment we started playing. little alarming. As the game went on, it was evident that resources were invested heavily in certain areas, including some great voice acting, but not much in others.

The game seemed to struggle with even the smallest of tasks, like sprinting, and had frequent lag and frame rate drops that broke a bit of the LotR magic we were hoping for. The game suffered from performance issues during the demo, frequently dropping frames and experiencing pop-ups with even the simplest tasks like running or jumping. While the narration was solid throughout the cutscenes, the character animations were often poorly timed and confusing, and felt dated for a game built with the Unreal Engine.

While we only experienced the gameplay from the first chapter – which focused heavily on tutorials and walkthroughs – it took place in a somewhat dismal environment, while feeling relatively unpolished and lacking in detail. From what we’ve previously seen in trailers and promos, the environment art in general looked pretty nice (check out the latest trailer above for a reminder). Unfortunately, the PAX East demo looked very different from the cinematic trailers we’ve seen in terms of performance and graphical quality:

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Other classes were available for demo, and while we didn’t have time to access them, from what we saw, the environments look more attractive and attractive as the game goes on. We hope this will be the case once the full version is released. On the other hand, if later chapters do really ramp up the action in the environmental department and match it up with the visual details seen in the trailers and promotional materials, we worry that the performance issues may only be exacerbated in more complex environments.

The story is certainly interesting, and while the cinematic animation had similar performance issues to the rest of the gameplay, we were intrigued by the writing and impressed by strong voice acting throughout that was very reminiscent of the movies. Andy Serkis’ performance from the film adaptations overshadows any new interpretation of the character, of course, but the version here works well enough for us.

All in all, Lord of the Rings: Gollum has it a lot Things that could definitely be improved, hopefully this will be the case before it’s launched. For LotR fans simply looking to experience some new storylines and beautiful environment art, Gollum might just scratch that itch.

But even giving it the benefit of the doubt and assuming its various issues will be fixed before it’s released, Gollum still seems like small potatoes compared to the vast and fun fantasy worlds other games have to offer in 2023. If this PC build is indeed struggling with its many frequently occurring issues On the Switch ports, we’re certainly curious to know exactly how they’ll play when and if they finally make it to Nintendo’s console. For a game so close to release on other platforms, this beta felt noticeably unpolished.

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What do you think of The Lord of the Rings: Gollum? Have you been to PAX East and tried the game for yourself? Let us know in the comments.

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