At PAX East 2023, we had the opportunity to meet with Daedalic Entertainment to preview their upcoming game The Lord of the Rings: Gollum.
After playing the demo, we had the opportunity to speak with Daedalic Entertainment’s Head of Communications. Here are the questions that we asked about their upcoming game.
After playing The Lord of the Rings: Gollum demo at PAX East 2023, we got the opportunity to speak with Bernd Head of Communications at Daedalic Entertainment.
Matt: So we were told that there were Tolkien Scholars that were working on the project can you tell us a little bit more about that?
DE: The one writer is doing his Ph.D. on Tolkien, so he’s so deep in the lore and knows all the works. So they came up with a story about how could we tie in the two main stories.
So we tested and with Gollum, there are so many things that you can with because he’s connected to so many things that happen in the story. So it sounded like a very good choice. Show him working behind the scenes and how stuff has been created.
Matt: With this being the predecessor to the Fellowship of the Ring how does it tie in?
DE: So it’s not the predecessor. It starts before the Fellowship of the Ring when Gollum leaves The Misty Mountains. It starts three years after he meets Bilbo and it ends when the fellowship is in Moria.
Matt: So it’s an actual bridge. So will different characters from The Hobbit or The Fellowship appear in the game?
DE: So you saw Gandalf and the Elf King. You will be meeting people from the Lord of the Rings. That’s the whole thing. Gollum has touchpoints with all of them (Crossed paths).
So, of course, you will be seeing people that you know but there will also be new characters in between that you can interact with in which Gollum has an impact. We don’t change the stories of the book or the lore. We just make connections where they can fit. Depending on the player’s choices as Gollum can determine what happens to them.
Matt: Since The Lord of the Rings: Gollum has been in development for a while what has changed since the original reveal?
DE: So most of the things that have changed and took longer was just us polishing the game. The game is how it is as it was planned. A few minor things we really wanted to make the game look good. The world really comes to life.
Matt: What kind of challenges were there when designing gameplay for Gollum?
DE: Story-wise, making a story that fits into the world, fits into the lore because that’s the central theme of Gollum as a narrative. Also for us as an example how would Gollum interact?
He is over 500 years old. He’s agile but not a strong character. You can’t really force fights and we wanted to balance all that Gollum is to make it feel real.
Matt: So what actually inspired the use of Gollum? You were saying that there with different characters in mind. Was it just because of him being a bridging character?
DE: Yes, there are several reasons for that. The main reason is that the bridging makes it interesting. Because certain interactions set things into motion before the real story starts.
You can connect stuff like what happened in Mordor to what happens in Mirkwood and all the other places. Basically, we wanted a character that is easy to connect to these things without changing the lore itself.
Matt: What games inspired The Lord of the Rings: Gollum?
DE: The Assassins Creed games and older games like Prince of Persia. Games with creative characters and God of War. A mixture of good storytelling games.
Matt: Aside from Stealth, will there be any other gameplay sequences? There are morality decisions but beyond that?
DE: Of course you have parkour and you have stealth. You need to hide. There are certain levels where you can choose to go the stealth way but other times you can go more of the direct way.
So like killing is just a minor part of the game because Gollum is a character that would rather not have a confrontation, it’s too dangerous for him. So a lot of it is exploration. You will go around many levels in the game and definitely find a lot of hidden stuff that ties into the story and the lore itself.
Matt: When you say clues do you mean like little hidden collectibles that fit into the narrative?
DE: Yes, so there are things that will remind you of other things in the Lord of the Ring series. It will make you want to find everything and some will help you progress in the game.
Matt: How does the world design in The Lord of the Rings: Gollum differ from the other established media like films, shows, games, or other illustrations?
DE: It’s all about building the world based on the lore. Mainly we tried to design the game based on how Gollum would perceive the world. So with enemies, everyone is basically his enemy. Everyone is against him. No one is for him.
The elves don’t like him. The orcs don’t like him. He doesn’t understand. This situation for him, we tried to make it how he perceived it. This was a big inspiration and we wanted to make a lot hints for people who loved the franchise and the lore.
Matt: Is there an established game length?
DE: I can’t really say so. When you design a game you have those that want to explore every inch for the lore while others who will want to go just through the game. I would say somewhere between 20 to 25 hours for those that light the game.
Of course, there are several endings based on Gollum’s choices. The world will change and the levels will change based on these choices. So you can replay and see different outcomes. There are many paths to the game’s ending.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum launches on May 25th, 2023 on Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC. The Nintendo Switch release date has yet to be announced.