Set in the Third Age of Middle-earth, The Lord of the Rings: Rise to War’s plot sees the ring surfacing in the deserted castle of Dol Guldur. It bestows unrivaled power to dominate Middle-earth, and all the factions are subsequently drawn into a great war.
That’s the starting point for The Lords of the Rings: Rise to War, an ambitious strategy game from NetEase that adds a whole new chapter to The Lord of the Rings saga.
The Lords of the Rings: Rise to War is a tile-based strategy game with city-building at its core. After choosing the material, gem type, and inscription of your own custom ring, you’re assigned a side (good or evil, basically) and set loose in Middle-earth.
NetEase describes The Lords of the Rings: Rise to War as a “geo-strategic seasonal wargame”. The seasonal aspect of that description lies in the fact that your progress has a linear, chapter-based structure, with new chapters unlocking as you complete bundles of missions.
Those missions are designed to guide you through the intricacies of The Lords of the Rings: Rise to War’s gameplay, which falls into two rough categories: city-building and conquest.
City-building involves the usual process of creating and upgrading buildings, recruiting Commanders, conscripting troops, claiming rewards, equipping items, and so on. On top of which there’s a ring feature, which allows you to use the power you accumulate from conquest to level up your ring in skill-tree fashion.
Conquest, meanwhile, involves sending your armies out (you have one army per Commander, and you recruit Commanders with gifts at the tavern) to take tiles.
Empty tiles are the easiest to take, but give you the fewest resources, so you need to keep upgrading your army in order to be powerful enough to take resource-rich mountain, forest, and farm tiles, as well as tiles occupied by mobs and other players.