The upcoming Lord of the Rings game, Gollum, raised a few eyebrows recently when it was discovered the game would sell a dialogue pack in Elvish as paid DLC.
Quizzed about why they felt the need to charge for a language pack, the game’s developers at Daedalic explained the situation in more detail. As reported by Eurogamer, the answer has to do with covering production costs.
The short answer: the studio paid their voice actors to become conversationally fluent in an entire, made-up language, all in a bid to appease Lord of the Rings obsessives. Cool though that gig most definitely is, the cost has to be covered somehow, and it’s getting passed on to the turbo-fans.
“The Elves in the base game will speak in their tongue (Sindarin) from time to time,” Daedalic told Eurogamer. “On top of that, the Sindarin VO expansion adds additional Sindarin lines to some of the characters in the background. While traversing through Mirkwood and other parts of Middle-earth, Gollum will be able to listen to various dialogues between Elves. These dialogues add to the atmosphere and worldbuilding. With the Sindarin VO, these dialogues will be held in Sindarin.”
Sindarin is, canonically, the most common Elvish language in Middle-earth. It’s a real-world language that Tolkien, a philologist in addition to being an author, created himself. In fact, he created two Elvish languages — Quenya, the original Elvish language spoken mainly by the High Elves in official matters of the cloth, and Sindarin, which was derived from it and eventually became the de facto language. When characters like Arwen and Legolas speak Elvish in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films, that’s Sindarin you’re hearing. Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power infamously confused the two languages, having Arondir and his Elf companions speak Quenya while in an Orc camp during the show’s third episode. Tolkien purists tore the show to shreds for the blunder — Arondir, a Silvan (or wood elf), would not have spoken Quenya in casual conversation.
Gollum will already contain a decent amount of Sindarin spoken by Elvish characters within the game. It’s not like refusing to buy the language pack will mean you won’t hear it spoken at all. It’s a pack for die-hard Ringers that want the world to sound that little bit more canonically complete. The DLC pack will be available in the game’s Precious Edition, which is its digital collector’s edition. There’s currently no pricing for those who’d prefer to buy it separately, but I’m sure that will come post launch.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum will launch May 26 on PlayStation and Xbox platforms, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PC.