The Balrog of Moria is an iconic figure in Lords of the Rings lore. With the release of the game Return to Moria, one question that has been on the minds of the Tolkien community is whether the fiery demon makes an appearance in this latest venture into the depths of Khazad-dûm. Here we’ll dive into the lore and story of Return to Moria and how that determined the appearance of the Balrog.
Does the Balrog Appear in Return to Moria?
The Balrog known as Durin’s Bane is deeply rooted in the history of Moria, which you’ll know if you’ve seen or read The Fellowship of the Ring. But there was only one Balrog that ever existed there according to LOTR lore, and it was destroyed during the Third Age. This is obviously long before the events of Free Range Games’ new survival co-op game, which takes place in the Fourth Age. Thus, in the interest of a “lore-first” approach from the dev team, there is no Balrog in Return to Moria.
An interview by TheGamer with game director Jon-Paul Dumont revealed that they aimed to create a world that is authentic to Tolkien’s vision. This dedication to authenticity guided their decision to exclude the Balrog from the base game, as its presence would contradict the established lore. The absence of the Balrog is a testament to the developers’ respect for the source material and their desire to craft an experience that aligns with Tolkien’s detailed universe.
Return to Moria instead focuses on other aspects of Dwarven lore and the reclaiming of Moria. The developers have filled the game with other creatures and challenges that remain true to the spirit of Tolkien’s work.
Balrog Could Feature is a DLC Expansion
While the initial release of Return to Moria does not feature a Balrog, the developers have not ruled out the possibility of introducing flashbacks or other narrative devices that could allow for a lore-friendly encounter with Durin’s Bane. Such additions would have to be handled with care to maintain the “lore-forward” approach that the developers have championed.
Return to Moria presents a unique opportunity for players to experience the Fourth Age of Middle-earth in a way that honors Tolkien’s legacy. The decision to exclude the Balrog from the game’s launch content is a bold one that speaks to the developers’ commitment to creating an authentic Tolkien experience.
The absence of the Balrog may initially disappoint some players, but it opens the door for a deeper appreciation of the lesser-known aspects of Dwarven lore and the Fourth Age.