Shadow of War story

A new ring of power. A Balrog wearing a helmet. Middle-earth: Shadow of War does its own thing within the Tolkien universe, and I can’t wait. The trailer exploring Middle-earth Shadow of War’s story just dropped, and it looks awesome. Let’s take a look.

Graphics are a bit everywhere. Some parts look stunning, others not so much. But it’s an open-world game with a lot of dynamic stuff going on in the background. I can give it a pass as long as the gameplay mechanics stack up. Not every open-world game is going to look like The Witcher 3.

And it looks like developer Monolith is taking the best parts of Shadow of Mordor and cranking it to 11. Shadow of Mordor’s memorable Nemesis system returns and the developers say it’s much bigger and more in-depth than before. You’ll be recruiting more than Orcs and Uruks. The devs tease your army will be made up of trolls, dragons and other beasts that litter Middle-earth.

The Nemesis system in Shadow of Mordor was focused primarily on your enemies. Cutscenes would play out as you tackled the underlings of Sauron. It was a fun and unique way to add a personal touch to every playthrough. In Shadow of War, the system is much more fleshed out and on the follower side.

Monolith gave us a glimpse of how this works when one of your followers saves your life during a siege.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War is also cranking up the action. While Shadow of Mordor was more about you being a one-man army, Shadow of War wants you to develop your army and use those in massive sieges against fortresses and cities.

Monolith’s approach is to take what they learned making the first Middle-earth game, and do what they wanted to do in Shadow of Mordor with Shadow of War. “This was our ambition to do the big, blockbuster version of the ideas we’d begun to explore in the first game. It’s kind of our Terminator 2 to Terminator,” Monolith’s Michael de Plater told The Verge earlier this year.

The big question with Shadow of War (like most sequels) is, can it deliver on improving the best parts of the first game? Will the Nemesis system be as engaging the second go-round as it was the first? That’s my biggest concern. I loved it in 2014. Will there be enough additions three years later to keep me hooked? Right now, the massive siege battles are my biggest takeaway from Shadow of War. The Nemesis system will be the big hook, though. Without it, Shadow of War doesn’t stand out.

Oh and Monolith, please give us a decent last boss battle. Not a BS quick-time event.


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