Tales of the Shire Preview – Cozy Cooking Awaits

    Tales of the Shire: A Lord of the Rings Game is a brand-new title coming from Weta Workshop with a focus on cozy vibes and cooking as you live out your days as a Hobbit. During Summer Game Fest, I had the opportunity to preview the game early and spend some time checking out the features of this release.

    When I think of The Lord of the Rings, I think of the incredible storytelling, grand action scenes, and expansive environments. Tales of the Shire flips that idea on top of its head by offering something completely different and fresh – and I love it for that. It’s not often that we see massive IPs jump into whole new genres like this, so I was extremely excited to see how Weta Workshop approached a cozy-style game set in this franchise.

    The biggest focus of Tales of the Shire involves cooking and connecting with the Hobbits in Bywater, an area of the Shire. As a Hobbit, you will go around connecting with others and learning what their favorite foods are. Most of the mechanics in the game revolve around this concept. You can head over to the fishing hole and participate in a fun fishing minigame to catch new fish to use in your cooking. Additionally, you can grow your own ingredients to use in dishes. Each dish can be customized to the extreme, whether you want something smooth, chunky, spicy, or salty. Different Bywater residents have different preferences, so you will need to adjust your dishes accordingly to raise satisfaction levels to the max.

    One of the areas I was most impressed by in my preview session was the wide variety of customization options available when furnishing your home. There are dozens of different pieces of furniture to choose from, so you can truly make your Hobbit feel at home. What makes Tales of the Shire stand out in this department is the attention to detail with tiny objects. Every single tiny item inside your home can be placed anywhere you’d like, titled at any angle, and sometimes even painted any color. This was first apparent to me when I found that I could place individual books one by one on a coffee table to create the perfect stack. I have a feeling that players will love this feature and spend countless hours customizing their homes.
    The team at Weta Workshop has also put a tremendous amount of effort into interconnecting the characters and stories fans of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit know and love. During one of the conversations I encountered with an NPC, the topic of Bilbo and Smaug came up, and I ended up naming a dish after the fierce dragon. Little details like these will make the game all the more enjoyable for returning LOTR fans, acting as small breadcrumbs to accompany a rather cozy adventure.
    Bywater will experience different seasons as the game goes on, so things around you will visibly change as you play. Unique animals will enter the Shire with each season, and certain produce only grows for specific seasons. This adds some strategy to the mix, as you must think about what ingredients you want to grow each season.
    Exploration is certainly available but was mostly limited in the preview I saw. While the Shire itself is a massive location, the team at Weta Workshop has opted to focus on this small section to provide a sense of community amongst your Hobbit peers. You can run around the area and forage some materials on the ground, but this is mostly limited to the brief outskirts of town. I’d like to see Weta enhance this in the future and bring more areas of exploration, even if it’s just areas to hunt down potentially rare ingredients. 
    I’m very interested to see what plans the developers have in store for Tales of the Shire following the release. While the game has plenty to do from the outside, I am curious to see if players are content with the gameplay loop of cooking meals for hobbits and finding new ingredients. It’s certainly cozy, but I do wonder about how the game will shake things up as you progress through each resident.
    Tales of the Shire is set to release later this year for consoles and PC via Steam.
    Noah Hunter
    Noah Hunter
    Noah is Final Weapon’s Editor-in-Chief. He co-founded the website in June 2019 and has been writing for it ever since. In total, he has over five years of writing experience across many publications, including IGN Entertainment. His favorite series include Xeno and Final Fantasy.

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