If you are unaware as to what Guardians of Middle-Earth is, it is a MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) game; where players take the role of heroes, villains and other memorable characters to fight against hordes of AI controlled lesser soldiers, whom are backed-up by their own guardian characters. The main objectives are for you and your teammates to take out enemy towers to gain ground, capture shrines for stat boosts, take out enemy soldiers and guardians until you make your way to the enemy base, destroying that to win the game whilst the enemy team attempts to do the same to you.
The purpose of this article is that it’s very possible for someone who has been a console player for some time may never have experienced a MOBA game and this could all prove very new and alien to them. Do not be scared; consider this series of articles as Gandalf, guiding you on what could be your first unexpected journey! We’ll start from the top, the gameplay and the HUD.
Gameplay and HUD
The in-game screen, showing off the playing character, other guardians and their base. You want to keep yours safe but destroy the enemy base!
You soar like an ever-watching presence in the sky, looking down upon your character as you maneuver them through the game world. In your travels you will discover shrines, fight and kill various things and gain experience along the way. In the HUD you will see the top left displays your character, health, current experience progress, level and other stats such as guardian kills, assists, deaths and towers destroyed. The top right is the mini map to help keep you cognizant of the battle around you as well as your team’s possession of the map in terms of towers and shrines. The bottom right displays your current characters abilities and basic attack, while the bottom left shows your currently equipped commands and potions. Your teammates are listed on the left of the screen and your enemy team on the right. If some of this makes no sense to you, don’t worry, all will be explained!
Your character has a certain amount of health which they will lose as they take damage, once this health reaches 0 the character dies and must respawn at the base after an amount of time has passed.
Caution: Be warned the longer the game lasts, the longer the respawn time will be so this means that dying later in the game can be a crippling blow to your team as you are unable to aid them for quite some time.
Tip: To prevent this, don’t be afraid to back out of a fight that you may be losing and try to find some of the health pickups littered around the map. Your character will regenerate health slowly outside of battle.
You could always use “recall” which after a short charge time returns you to base where your regeneration is boosted massively but means you must make your way back out into the fray from where you started. You could also hide in bushes in the level which will grant you stealth, you can use this trickery to bide your time and regain health or to strike at an unsuspecting enemy guardian should they get too close, it’s down to you.
Towers and Soldiers
Towers can take a lot of damage and deal plenty too, don't get cocky or you'll be faced with an agonizing wait-time as you respawn.
One of the key factors in Guardians of Middle-Earth along with most MOBAs you will find is towers. These are placed strategically on each level to act as defensive structures for each team, warding off enemy soldiers and guardians from attacking and destroying each of the bases. These will be your first port of call if you really seek to deal a critical wound to the enemy team. Taking down each tower draws you, your guardian teammates and your AI controlled soldiers closer to the enemy base. But be warned, they can deal impressive damage. It’s usually a better idea to let your AI soldiers wander in first to absorb the towers’ fire leaving you to wade in unscathed to initiate your own attack. This is all depending, of course, on if there are no enemy guardians looking to defend this tower. Be wary, more often than not an enemy guardian will be close in on one of their towers should it be under attack!
The soldiers may be vital for your time, but don't get too attached to them. They go down fast, so do not let their (countless) deaths be in vain!
Another important part of the game is soldiers. These are AI controlled pawns that run along their destined lane and attack the first enemy they see, whether it be guardian, other soldiers or a tower. They respawn very often and can aid you when you assault an enemy tower. They are, however, very weak and don’t deal much damage. Use their numbers to your advantage! These guys will serve as support more than any other role. Have them aid you in taking on waves of enemy soldiers but more importantly, in taking out enemy towers. Let them lead the charge and soak up the fire whilst you go in and cause most of the real damage. Should they all die and your health start to rapidly deplete, it’s wise to pull back and wait for more. This also gives you time to grab some health pickups that litter the map, capture a shrine, etc. Use time to your advantage and the soldiers even more so. Killing enemy soldiers can help your XP soar too, should you come across them often enough and in good numbers. In taking them out, you’re not only helping to clear the way for your soldiers but helping to keep your towers up for as long as possible since enemy guardians would be foolish to attack your towers head-on alone.
Shrines and Map Creatures
For just a few seconds of your time, you can have bonuses such as increased health regeneration. What's not to like?!
As you wander whichever level you find yourself (levels are differentiated by the number of lanes) you will discover all sorts of things, some good and some bad. One of the good things you will find is shrines. These are stationary objects in the levels which if you are able to capture by standing close-by for long enough, will grant you and the rest of your team a boost towards properties such as health regeneration, damage and resistance. These little bonuses can make a world of difference when in intense one-on-one combat with an enemy guardian, so it is always worth keeping these under your control rather than your enemy’s!
Creatures come in different shapes and sizes. Trolls, wargs, giant spiders, all the stuff you'd expect in Tolkien's masterfully crafted universe.
Of course, not everything on the map will be there to assist you; some will be out to get you or any other guardian that crosses them. These are creatures and they litter areas of the levels to act as natural stationary dangers. It is advised to go for these beasts early on, when you are fairly low level as you want to be consuming all the XP you can whilst you can’t do much real damage to enemy structures. Of course, you can choose to avoid them, focusing on your overall goal of enemy towers, soldiers and guardians, or you can spare some time to fight the creatures to gain a rather handy experience point reward should you win. However, should you take on a creature too great for you, you’d not only be wasting time but leaving yourself open to attack from enemy guardians whom could finish you off with one well-planted swipe of their weapon. There are also greater creatures which require a great deal of skill and teamwork to defeat but upon slaying them you grant your team a stat bonus for some time. This could be an option to consider when you and at least another teammate are at higher levels but remember that this means you will not be defending your own structures. The risk is down to you.
When your character reaches level 5 in the game they unlock their ultimate ability which is always displayed as the top-positioned ability.
So, as mentioned before in the HUD section, you gain experience as you play. But this is per-game. Meaning you may reach level 14 in your current game, but when you start the next game it will reset. This helps to keep the game fresh and to ensure more balance at the beginning of each game. Each time a guardian levels up, they gain a point they are able to spend on improving their abilities. These abilities differ from basic attacks, which really just act as damage-dealers and their importance depends on what character class you pick. Your abilities tend to be where the brunt of your damage-dealing comes from, along with various other fun tricks such as stunning enemies, giving them fear, causing them to run away, and various other wonderful surprises. With each character each ability is different and when you want to think about what order to level up your abilities, it strongly depends on your character. We’ll go over this in more detail when we move onto the characters themselves later in the series.
Siege Soldiers are vital towards the end of the game as these guys will deal great damage to structures from a good distance but make big targets. Defend them at all costs!
Your character isn’t the only thing you can upgrade either. Once you reach level 6 you are able to upgrade your team’s structures too to make them more effective. You can upgrade towers to shoot faster, to launch area-attacks or even heal you and your fellow guardians. You can also upgrade your barracks in your base to improve your soldiers and this can be a real game-changer. Upgrading your soldiers not only helps you assault your enemies, but contributes towards to survivability of your towers as they can defend them for longer. Once you select which upgrade you want for your structure, there’s a brief charge period but this is more than worth it when it comes to defending your base. Once you hit level 6 I’d recommended that once you are low on health get to safety use the recall function (which quickly teleports you back to your base) and use your time there to upgrade which helps to give you the time you need to heal after your fearsome battle.
Now for a little bit that’s outside the game itself and borrows aspects from many other games that help you to play the way you want or, the most effective way to have your character profess at what they’re good at. This is all brought together in loadouts, where you are able to adjust certain properties and save them for you to select before each game starts allowing you to try out different builds and equipment to help you find the most effective way to take out those pesky enemy guardians. You are able to prepare more loadouts as you climb up in ranks. This is not the same as your level in game, rank is continuous throughout the game and increases with XP earned from winning games and completing challenges (both of which also earn you currency to spend on potions, guardians and relics/gems). Loadouts are broken down into different sections: potions, commands and belt.
Keep your potions stocked up, if you become accustomed to using one regularly you don't want to rely on it only to realize you used your last one in the battle before.
Potions are consumables that may be purchased using in-game currency from winning battles, or from completing challenges in the battles themselves such as killing a certain number of guardians or capturing a specific number of shrines in one game. Your potions act as temporary boosts to attributes such as healing, ability power, critical hit chance and various other stats. They can be used in one game before they are automatically discarded but can be used in that game as often as you like, barring the cooldown timer.
Commands can make or break the tide of battle, but which of these outcomes depends strongly on when you choose to use them.
Commands are incredibly powerful bonuses that can turn the tide of most fights to be in your favor. You gain access to more the more you play the game and increase your rank. One of the earlier commands available is called Adrenaline and gives you an idea of how useful they can be. It offers the user +70% attack speed with +20% critical chance for 6 seconds. This could prove wonderful when trying to finish off a tower as it starts to whittle you down on its last bit of health. Though with a 180 second cooldown this means it should only be used when absolutely necessary. Towers and guardians would succumb to it hastily but if you become dependent on it and use it inefficiently, it could cost you dearly and send you hurtling to respawn over and over again. This is just one of the commands, they can improve your damage, they can heal you and your nearby allies, but all can be extremely beneficial when used correctly. Just be sure to consider those incredibly long cooldown times.
Not only is the gem/relic belt pretty to look at, but it helps to provide a real sense of strategy to your loadout.
Finally, there’s the belt. This is where you are able to purchase gems or relics that you apply to the belt. You can have up to 7 gems in your belt and as you play in the game, one will “activate” with every 2 levels you ascend in-game. The gems and relics provide you with constant slight bonuses to different stats depending on the colors of the gems you implement to the belt itself. Relics are a stack of gems that unlock additional bonuses on top of the standard offered by the gems themselves, provided the correct gems are slotted into the relic. However, allocate your relics on the belt cautiously as if you slot a relic into your belt, it will only become active once all gems are active within the game. For example; having 2 gems in the relic on the left side of the belt, the relic will only function once you have reached level 4 where it would activate both of the gems together as opposed to individually. Should an enemy guardian be slaying you over and over again, you are able to review their loadout before you respawn, this could help you determine how they are besting you and you can plan a strategy around this.
There's an impressive array of guardians to choose from. Some are available to purchase using in game currency.
Now for the last part, it may all be a lot to take in but if you want to dominate/save Middle-Earth then you have to be willing to learn all you can to win the fight! But this is a big bit, the guardians themselves. With the difference in the classes themselves it’s usually a good idea to have variety in your teams. Try to have a little of everything, else if you wind up with a high damage but low toughness team, you’ll find yourselves respawning over and over before you can even destroy a single tower. The classes themselves come in 5 flavors; Strikers, Defenders, Enchanters, Warriors and Tacticians.
Strikers are weak and have little in the way of damage resistance but compensate for this with impressive damage dealing and the ability to escape conflict hastily.
Defenders act as support classes where they are able to control enemies through fear or other effects and this coupled with impressive survivability means they are able to draw attention from enemies for some time, allowing allied guardians with less toughness to stay alive and deal more damage for longer.
Enchanters strive towards using their abilities to inflict great damage and effects on their enemies. Their basic attacks tend to be lacking along with having minimal health, but they have great resistance against ability damage.
Warriors depend on their basic attacks as they are designed to deal plenty of damage whilst staying alive with their moderate amount of health/resistance. Their abilities also tend to be damage focused, so Warriors should be at the front of any fight where they can get truly stuck in.
Tacticians focus on manipulating the areas around them and controlling them with abilities that cause areas to become hazardous, forcing enemies to avoid them or risk taking damage. Using abilities that cover an area in fire mean they can manipulate the lanes and funnel enemies where they please, though should avoid direct fighting where possible as they do not tend to be immensely tough.
So with all these class information in mind, use basic sense. Keep defenders near your strikers and enchanters and keep your warriors near your tacticians, etc. Mix things up so you have a good balance of defense and offence all over the level. Else cracks will appear in your defense and before you know it your towers will fall as dramatically as Barad-dûr itself!
Well, that’s just about it for the basics of the MOBA that is Guardians of Middle-Earth. Again, it may seem a lot to take in but those of you whom may never have played a game like this before will find this very, very useful. Continue to follow this ongoing series of articles to find out more about characters themselves including best-advised loadouts, strategies and other useful information.
See you in Middle-Earth!