Tales of the Shire cozies up with a meal fit for a Hobbit

Private Division and Weta Workshop carve out a Tolkien-esque slice of life and Shacknews gives it a first look.

Private Division
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The stories of J.R.R. Tolkien illustrate an epic fantasy tale that stretches across a colorful world. It's usually filled with harrowing danger and brave adventurers. He also tells of a place called the Shire, where the peaceful Hobbits attain fulfillment through service to their neighbors. Private Division and Weta Workshop show what it means to be a Hobbit in the upcoming Tales of the Shire and Shacknews got to check it out at this year's Summer Game Fest.

Tales of the Shire (a.k.a. Tales of the Shire: A The Lord of The Rings Game) begins by having players create their own Hobbit via a detailed character creation system. After putting together a peace-loving denizen of the Shire, it's time to move into a new Bywater settlement. It doesn't take long to be welcomed by surrounding neighbors, all of whom encourage players to socialize with them at any time. Life in the Shire means a life of easygoing peace, albeit with plenty to do. After all, a peaceful life shouldn't be confused for a lazy one.

Cooking in Tales of the Shire

Source: Private Division

Quests can be found by chatting with the various Hobbits of Bywater. There's a detailed map of the area available and Weta Workshop has instituted a novel waypoint system. If there's a specific destination the player wants to reach, they can mark it on the map and a trail of birds will perch on nearby posts and branches to show the way. It's a clever way to direct players without the use of intrusive waypoint arrows and adds to the game's greater sense of immersion.

Hobbits love nothing more than preparing and sharing a good meal with their neighbors. Some of the early quests we checked out involved prepping some delectable dishes. This will usually involve collecting ingredients from around the Shire. Farming is a major part of the game, as you'll grow crops like potatoes and vegetables while also growing spices to give your meals some flavor. When the time to hit the kitchen comes, the player will have a full workstation with a cutting board, mixing bowl, and pot at the ready.

While an early quest had me prep a simple stew by chopping and dicing ingredients before placing them in a pot, later dishes were a little more involved. One of Bywater's Hobbits requested a soup that was spicy with some salty beef. The cooking minigame is challenges players to manage their button presses so that their dish comes out the way it's meant to be. Additional dishes will be added as time goes on, gradually offering a more complex culinary challenge. Similarly, as much as Hobbits love an intimate home-cooked meal, they'll sometimes want to have an outdoor feast, meaning sometimes players will need to cook for more than one guest at a time.

Of course, there's more to living in the Shire than farming and cooking. Other activities await, including exploring outside caves for supplies, decorating their homes with furniture and knick-knacks, and taking some time out of the day to go fishing. There's no shortage of quests, as there's almost always a letter waiting in your mailbox.

After surviving the hellfires of Mordor and sneaking past the Eye of Sauron in other games, sometimes it's nice to remember the more peaceful side of Tolkien lore. Tales of the Shire, which has been in the works for several years, looks to be just that, allowing players to settle into the colorful, calmer, and more whimsical corner of the Hobbit homeland. Get ready for a more neighborly experience when Tales of the Shire: A The Lord of The Rings Game comes to PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch later this year.


This preview is based on an early PC demo made for Summer Game Fest 2024. The final product is subject to change.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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