E3 2017: Middle Earth: Shadow of War – Extremely Ambitious Sequel

E3 2017: Middle Earth: Shadow of War – Extremely Ambitious Sequel

At this past E3, WB Games and Monolith made a lot of effort to showcase as much as they could for the upcoming Shadow of War, the sequel to the surprise hit that was Shadow of Mordor. The original game was adored for it’s tight and brutal combat system, but the real praise came from its now revolutionary Nemesis System. At the time, we hadn’t seen anything like it in a AAA ¬action title. Upon first glance, it looks like sequel may be running on the same engine as there is not much of a graphical improvement, but this is okay as the Nemesis System is being expanded upon to become something even more special.

Unfortunately, Shadow of War was not playable at E3, but WB Games allowed press and the public sit in on live demos. I was able to get treated to a special showing in the E3 Coliseum where lead voice actor Troy Baker and producer Michael de Plater explained more in depth on what to expect with the sequel. From all the gameplay we have seen before and during E3, it looks the entire game is built upon utilizing the Nemesis System to build armies for sieges. The core mechanics and animations look to be similar, but it looks like the true “sequel-ness” of the game is in the improved Nemesis System. Here are three aspects I’m most excited for.


RPG Style Loot

The original had loot of sorts, but they were only upgrades that made the 3 weapons cater to a certain playstyle, but overall, it was a start. Monolith has now shown us a full RPG style loot system in which weapons and armor all have levels and rarities. In the demo we even saw that each piece of gear has a specific challenge on it, which unlocks a special ability for that weapon once completed. I’m the kind of players who can stay addicted for hours if there is always better loot to find. I see myself staying up late at night ready to get to bed, only to find a legendary bow, thus making me stay up even longer. The RPG elements are also expanded upon even more with a plethora of skills to unlock that cater to certain playstyles. (over 100 skills according the developer). So far we have seen many different options within the Predator skill tree, which is supposed to focus on the stealth elements.

Difficulty Has Been Amped Up

My biggest criticism of the original Shadow of Mordor was the difficulty, rather, the lack of. As I was avid player of the Batman Arkham series, the combat style was extremely familiar to me. To combat is addicting nonetheless and easily accessible, however, once repetition set in, it became too easy. Granted, it sort of got away with this as, while it was easy, I felt like a complete badass and always had a blast. What other game can someone say they can aim a bow at an enemy, only to teleport there to decapitate him. With Shadow of War, the difficulty looks to not be in the actual combat, but in the preparation for the battles.

Careful planning looks to be at the forefront of the sieges. There are so many different ways to approach these epic battles, which the wrong choice could mean the demise of either Talion or his allies. Choosing which orcs to approach each sort of situation is the key to success, but also promoting the right ones matter too. There looks to be so much in this battle system that I can’t even talk about all of it right now. If one of his most trusted warriors dies in battle, it looks like it’ll hold quite the emotional reaction. This is due to all actions having consequences in battle. There is no reset on a siege, which means when players die, time moves on still. All the orcs that died stay dead, and the orcs that survive on the opposing side may become stronger and cockier since they defeated the player. I for one an ecstatic at this decision, as I won’t just go in mindless, causing more tension in each battle.

True Organic Sandbox Storytelling

Shadow of War is, in fact, a true sandbox open world. Players create their own stories with the tools given by the developers. The most interesting aspect to take into account is how different each player’s game will be. This isn’t a game where a player can Google how to defeat a certain boss, as each Uruk and army will be created based on the choices players make. The area in which the siege takes place, the final boss arena, and even the actual boss itself may all be different, making each playthrough something unique for the player.

In the original Shadow of Mordor, it was all about players having their own enemies that were created out each encounter. In Shadow of War, it’s also about creating allies to help fight against the enemies. With an ally system, and the fact that these are Uruks, there will be chances of betrayal. My guess is this will come as a result as maybe not promoting a certain Uruk or even not assisting in battle, leaving them to die. There are so many possibilities and based on the foundation Monolith created with the first game, I have a lot of confidence that they are doing what’s promised. This could be a game that will continue to surprise the longer it’s played. There so many hidden features in the original that weren’t present on the surface, but were discovered by paying more attention.

Shadow of War is set to be released on October 10th for PC, Xbox One, and Playstation 4. For more details on the game, please visit their website.

He just graduated from Western Illinois University where all he did was write. On his free time he enjoys going out to Chicago and enjoying the company of his friends. Also, Go Cubs!!! His favorite game is Borderlands 2, favorite movie is The Social Network, and his favorite TV show is Dexter. Yes, he has very diverse taste.

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