Guardians of Middle-earth announced

Warner Bros Interactive and Monolith are diving into the battle arena genre with a Lord of the Rings game coming to Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network this fall. Guardians of Middle-earth is a 5v5 MOBA title starring characters from the film and book series. It will also tie in to the film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which is also due out later this year.

You'll be able to pick from more than 20 characters in all, including Gandalf, Sauron, Gollum, and Thrain. But we all know that everyone will pick Gandalf, and everyone will shout "you shall not pass!" into their mic. New playable guardians will be released alongside The Hobbit, which should make a tidy bit of franchise synergy. Details on the game are pretty sparse beyond that, though WB has set up a Facebook page with a few pieces of art.

Without seeing the game in action, it's hard to say just what form this MOBA will take. League of Legends is one particularly popular example, but the genre can also encompass shooters like Monday Night Combat and even 2D side-scrollers like the recently released Awesomenauts. Whatever form it takes, it will have to be optimized for console controls.

"The MOBA genre is wildly popular with PC players and we are excited to bring it to consoles through the lore of Middle-earth," said WBIE production and development senior VP Samantha Ryan, in the announcement. "The heroes and villains of Middle-earth are crafted in a way that perfectly intersects with MOBA game features, allowing the development team to create guardians with deep skills and abilities for gamers to master."