Middle Earth: Shadow of War Preview

Shadow of War Preview – Talion Returns to Hunt More Orc

The follow-up to 2014’s Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, Monolith Productions is back with Shadow of War, a game that looks to build on the systems of the original game and amp up the intensity of battling Sauron’s forces in Mordor. Protagonist Talion and his spiritual elf inhabitant Celebrimbor return with a deeper story this time around, an improved nemesis system and an RPG-like approach to loot and weaponry to make decapitating hordes of orcs that much more satisfying. Here’s a┬árundown of all the major additions and changes coming to the game this October in my Shadow of War preview:


Delving Further into The Lord of the Rings Lore

While the Middle Earth series doesn’t have the Lord of the Rings name attached to it, the developers haven’t been afraid to utilise all of the characters and fiction at their disposal with the last game featuring characters like Gollum. Monolith Productions doesn’t have to worry too much about fitting in with the canon of the universe and Shadow of Mordor essentially felt like well designed fan fiction. Shadow of War looks to take this to the next level delving even further into the mythology of J.R.R Tolkein’s work. Just take a look at some of the crazy stuff in this story trailer:


Featured in the game are fire drakes, an armoured Balrog, the Nazgul and even Shelob – though not quite as you’ve seen her before. Talion and Celebrimbor’s story this time around focuses on taking the fight to Sauron rather than the revenge tale told in Shadow of Mordor. The duo have managed to craft a ring of power of their own and plan to use it to wipe Sauron’s army from the map in one fell swoop. However, things are unlikely to be that simple given how the rings can twist the minds of men and make them hunger for power.


Enhanced Nemesis System and Fortresses

Of course one of the most well received features in Shadow of Mordor was the Nemesis system which created almost a meta-narrative for each player. Orcs would remember previous encounters with Talion and have their own personalities, strengths and weaknesses. The sequel is enhancing this system by allowing your orc followers to have the same amount of personality and attributes. One flaw in the Nemesis system was once you became strong enough enemies didn’t stay alive for long. Applying the same traits to your followers should lead to some tense moments as you try to keep your faithful orc companions alive in the heat of battle. You can now also assign orc companions to be your bodyguards or to keep control of a fortress.

Games, Shadow of War Preview

Speaking of which, fortresses are another new feature being introduced in Shadow of War. These are Sauron’s bases that must be captured in the world and each has its own distinct look and feel according to the tribe of orc that controls it. For example, a fortress controlled by a Warmonger overlord will look different to an overlord from the Terror tribe. This also applies to Talion’s forces once you manage to successfully seize a fortress. Players can choose which members to commit to taking over the fortress and equip them with things like battering rams or use spiders to cause havoc amongst the enemy. Should players manage to take all the control points within a fortress they can then face the overlord, a boss battle with its own parameters unique to the enemy. Once you’re in control though be wary because Sauron’s forces can counter-attack to try to take back what was lost.


Armour, Weapons, Loot and More

Shadow of Mordor had a fairly rudimentary approach to equipping Talion who had access to a bow, dagger and sword, each of which could be inscribed with runes acquired by killing orcs which add various bonuses. Shadow of War aims to broaden this system by allowing Talion to acquire different armour and weapons offering various traits and additional stats associated with challenges for that weapon. For example you might have to stealth kill an enemy while they are on fire to acquire an improved stat for that weapon. Gems dropped by defeated enemies serve a similar purpose to runes from the first game although with more variety this time around. Runes are now reserved for Talion’s ring of power which grants access to some of the most powerful abilities.

Other features this time around include an online component that allows players to attempt to capture one another’s fortresses, the ability to import your biggest nemesis from Shadow of Mordor and general improvements to things like traversal and the range of personalities the orcs possess.

That’s my Shadow of War preview but what do you think of the sequel so far?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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