Middle-earth: Shadow of War
Middle-earth: Shadow of War Review
Did you like playing Shadow of Mordor? Or have any interest in the Lord of the Rings series in general? Well Monolith Productions upcoming title: Middle-earth: Shadow of War might be the title you’ve just been looking for. In this review, we’ll take an in-depth look into the anticipated third-person RPG and what elements will make it rise above its predecessor. Note: I recommend playing or watching gameplay of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, to fully understand the lore that leads up to the sequel.
Behind the Lore: Shadow of Mordor
Now before we get into Monolith's newest Middle-earth title, let's go over a brief overview of the lore behind it. This will take us back to Shadow of Mordor, a Middle-earth based story revolving around two main protagonists Talion, a Black Gate Captian with range based proficiencies and Elfish Lord Celebrimbor, a wraith with the sole objective of avenging his family's death; by the Black Hand of Sauron. This vengeance towards the Black Hand led Celebrimbor into possessing the body of Talion; who also died by Sauron's Hand. As a result of this Talion gains powerful abilities, which allows Celebrimbor to seek out the Black Hand. Now without sharing too many spoilers, both character's end up fighting an orc driven army; enabling them to find and defeat the Black Hand. With the Hand out of the picture, Celebrimbor decides to stick with Talion and continue you their fight against Sauron and his powerful army.
Shadow of War: Trailer Review
The Nemesis System
Shadow of Mordor was one of my favorite RPG based video games and one of it's more memorable feature's is the Nemesis system. This militaristic type system allows the player to conquer and control an orc driven army; lead by the Black Hand of Sauron. Thus allowing the player, the ability to control the actions of each orc in the chain of command; with the use of the ring of power. With this being said, let's dive into the first part of its nemesis system; as shown and explained throughout the trailer. Now first off it appears to be a similar type of military structure as its predecessor, which comprises of Overlords, Warcheifs, Captains, and their followers. This was one of the best feature's of its previous title and should make a great addition to Shadow of War. Similar to Mordor each encounter with a Captain and above, will showcase their unique personalities and weapon armaments; giving a more lore-friendly feeling toward each enemy.
Now killing several orcs just for the hell of it would get very repetitive quickly; no matter how unique their personalities might be. So, the ring of power was introduced in Mordor, which allowed Talion the ability to control his enemies and use them against their will. Similar to Mordor, we can see in the trailer for Shadow of War; an enhanced version of the ring of power is introduced. Under Talion's control, each orc will have their own agenda; which will include: revenge, betrayal, rivalry and even friendship with Talion. Honestly, this was one of the aspect's I would've like to see in Shadow of Mordor. Therefore, I expect it will provide some much-needed depth to the follower's personalities and the overall gameplay.
Fortress Styled Combat
In Shadow of Mordor, the nemesis system was a critical part of the game's success. However, it made the combat style more stealth oriented, rather than a full on frontal assault; which we expect to see from a Middle-earth title. This brings us to the next part of the trailer, showing us the new Fortress based combat and a more front line assault. So, I can foresee this going one of two ways, either each fortress takeover is unique in each occurrence or it will lead to the same grindy type of gameplay; you expect not to see in a single player game. Now based off of the gameplay shown in the trailer, you will have the ability to interact with some of the environment. As a result, you may create an additional entrance for some of your orcs or destroy certain heavy weapons causing a disturbance for your troops. I'm personally a big fan of interacting with the environment, and as long as we have access to a variety of interactions, it will give us that siege styled combat; seen in the Lord of the Rings series.
One of the best clips in the trailer is the overlord battles; within the fortress. This shows us how dynamic the character and level creation is for each encounter. We get to battle overlords within their custom built battle halls and take on their personal followers. Although I may be coming off as leaning towards one side Shadow of War, these features only work well if they continuously engage the player's interest.
RPG based Gear System
So far, I haven't really mentioned any real flaws with Mordor. But, the biggest setback was the gear system or lack thereof. I don't know about you. But, one of the critical elements I expect to see in an RPG, is having a memorable and customizable gear system. Therefore, Shadow of War has the potential to create a meaningful gear system Let’s now briefly look at IGN's Exclusive first look, into the new gear system introduced in Shadow of War. After watching this video, the three key features I've noticed about this are weapon's rarity, augmentation, and design. Now, none of these features are new to modern games. However, these basic attributes make up a huge part of modern RPG's and ultimately keep the player actively engaged in the game.
I've talked a lot about Shadow of Mordor in this article and the element's that made or broke the title. But ultimately, it was still a great RPG and it will pave the way, for what hopefully will be another great addition to the Middle-earth series; Shadow of War. Now, with the previous statement I made, I believe that Shadow of War will live up to the hype. However, I'm still on the fence in regards to its replayability. This is because of Mordor and its style of gameplay, which promoted a one-time playthrough type of game. So, hopefully, the newer aspect's of the Middle-earth titles; will capture our attention and keep us coming back for more. So, in conclusion, I recommend you give the game a shot upon release and let me know whether Shadow of War really lives up to its Predecessor.
1. Shadow of Mordor In 5 Minutes! - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OWJQghYPIY
2. Shadow of War Logo - http://www.gamingtarget.com/article.php?artid=16706
3. Shadow of War Gameplay Trailer: First Gameplay (Shadow of Mordor 2) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgcFxCGP4fwies
4. Shadow of War: Weapons and Gear Detailed - IGN First - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhpFWYHGnV8