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The Lord of the Rings: Heroes of Middle-earth has been adding lots of content in a continuous stream of updates ever since it launched earlier this year and each patch has made the game feel more like the universe Tolkien created. After a particular focus on the Elves with characters like Arwen and Elrond taking up the fight, another iconic group, nay, the iconic group of Tolkien’s novels is next. You may have heard of its name – the Fellowship.

A few members of this illustrious group, tasked with the mission to get Frodo to Mount Doom, are already playable, of course – among them Frodo himself as well as Aragorn’s ranger alter ego, Strider.

While Tolkien’s masterwork covers many themes and topics, friendship is one that continues to resonate the most with modern audiences. And why not? In an age in which the world is a mere click away – Tolkien himself, being a bit scared of technology, would probably be skeptical about our world’s widespread usage of and reliance on it – friendships form regardless of borders and ethnicities. Fellowships to complete quests are created daily and these can lead to bonds that last for a lifetime.

The Lord of the Rings: Heroes of Middle-earth not only pays tribute to that by sending groups of players into epic adventures and battles, but also by finally adding one of the – well, I can’t say “the best” because Frodo and Sam exist, can I? – defining relationships of the story into the title: Gimli and Legolas are coming. Be it in the books or Peter Jackson’s unforgettable adaptations, this interracial duo that starts out distrusting each other and slowly grows into the most steadfast of friendships has always been an inspiring one – a relationship that overcomes prejudice and forms a bridge of trust. Not to forget, of course, the fantastic banter between them.

Heroes of Middle-earth’s team-up attacks are a cool way of bringing these relationships into the game and expressing them through the lens of combat. When Gimli and Legolas are on the field and you trigger their combined attack, you’ll have brave Gimli charging forward, bringing all the attention on himself, while Legolas comes up behind him. Gimli braces himself in the last minute and lets Legolas use his back as a ramp to jump into the air from, giving him the high ground for a precise shot with his bow. This maneuver would be unthinkable when they meet and shows their friendship at its peak – absolute trust and teamwork.

The Lord of the Rings: Heroes of Middle-earth Gimli.

Gimli is a steadfast fighter with a good balance between offense and defense.

Design Director Jay Ambrosini tells GLHF that the team “wanted to make sure that we conveyed the uniqueness of their bond with Legolas as that lithe, nimble and deadly archer alongside the proud, stalwart and loyal dwarf, Gimli,” through this attack.

As great as that friendship of theirs is, though, it always had this competitive note, and that was something the team wanted to convey as well: “There’s a moment in The Two Towers – as they’re battling in Helm’s Deep – where the two of them are competing against each other in the felling of Orcs,” Ambrosini explains. “That feeling of competition and one-upmanship was a crucial inspiration for how we approached the duo.”

Legolas will be the strongest attacker in the game at the time of his release, while Gimli fulfills a hybrid role of tank and damage dealer, taking some heat off of Legolas. Together, they are able to unleash devastating attacks on their foes, making the most of their synergies. You’ll need their power to unlock another beloved character coming to the game, who’ll be available as a reward for beating the Mines of Moria raid coming later this year.

The Lord of the Rings: Heroes of Middle-earth Legolas.

Legolas is all about attacking, being the game's most powerful offensive character.

Since a wizard is never late, nor early, and arrives precisely when he means to, this is the perfect time to talk about Gandalf the Grey. In the story, of course, he had to leave the Fellowship due to what the Dwarves had awakened in the darkness of Khazad-dum: shadow and flame. In the game, this is where you’ll be able to recruit him. Gandalf is a powerful support character, lending his allies offensive and defensive buffs to make them stronger.

As a reminder, the team behind Heroes of Middle-earth is allowed to make both alternate versions of characters and put several canon versions of a figure into the game alongside each other, so definitely expect to get Gandalf the White somewhere down the line as well.

Putting this paragon into the game has been both a pleasure and a challenge for Capital Games, Ambrosini tells us: “The biggest challenge we have with a character like Gandalf is making sure we stay true to the narrative. To do this, we really need to pick a point in time, and then focus our efforts into recreating the most important aspects of his personality and abilities at that moment.”

The Lord of the Rings: Heroes of Middle-earth Gandalf the Grey.

Gandalf will be a very impactful support character, buffing the characters on his team.

With the Mines of Moria being the game’s first big raid event, this seemed like the perfect time to bring him in: “For Gandalf, we focused on the timeline of our upcoming raid, the Mines of Moria. Specifically, all of his actions leading up to his climactic encounter with the Balrog.”

From there, the Design Director tells us, “it’s all about gathering source material together, and then building our kit around those actions being taken. Game balance can always be adjusted as needed, and of course we want Gandalf to be powerful, but the most important thing is that when you play with Gandalf in our game, he feels like Gandalf from the novels.”

Naturally, players probably wouldn’t have anything against having Gandalf at full strength at their disposal.

All you need to do to unlock Gandalf the Grey in The Lord of the Rings: Heroes of Middle-earth is to reach level 30, get yourself a guild, and take down whatever lurks in the dark depths of Moria – and don’t forget to bark out a grumpy “that still only counts as one” when your buddy overtakes you on the guild leaderboard.