The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria involves one of the most famous locations in Middle-earth, but when exactly does the game take place in The Lord of the Rings timeline? A game set in Moria seems like a natural fit for the events of The Lord of the Rings books, but the developers had more options available to them.
Moria was a dwarven kingdom with mines that had access to mithril, one of the most prized metals in Middle-earth. However, the kingdom fell into ruin when the dwarves awoke a Balrog, which chased them out, leaving Moria abandoned. In the following years, orcs and goblins took over Moria, and the evil in its depths wasn’t cleared until Gandalf killed the Balrog during the events of The Lord of the Rings.
When Does The Lord Of The Rings: Return To Moria Take Place In The Middle-Earth Timeline?
While a game set during the reign of the Balrog would be fun, the developers of Return to Moria went in another direction. Now that Return to Moria is available on PC, the timeline situation has been cleared up. Return to Moria is set during The Fourth Age, which means that it happens after the events of the book series and Peter Jackson’s original movie trilogy.
In the books, following the Balrog’s death and the One Ring’s destruction, Moria sat empty for centuries. The kingdom was eventually retaken by Durin VII, one of the descendants of Dain Ironfoot, who was the cousin of Thorin Oakenshield from The Hobbit. Durin VII restores Moria to its former glory, and his people remain there until dwarves die out in Middle-earth.
Return to Moria is changing the timeline for the game. In the game’s continuity, Gimli from The Lord of the Rings decides to retake Moria earlier in the timeline, likely during the first century of The Fourth Age. Return to Moria follows Gimli’s expedition, with the players creating their own dwarven heroes and descending into the darkest depths of the kingdom.
After The Fellowship escapes from its halls, Moria doesn’t play a huge role in the grand scheme of The Lord of the Rings franchise. As such, the developers had a lot of leeway in how they planned on approaching the timeline and tying Gimli into the game’s events fits, as it makes sense that he would want to reclaim one of the last lost kingdoms of the dwarves. Setting the game in The Fourth Age also means that the players don’t have to deal with an army of orcs or a fiery Balrog.