Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was a surprise hit back in 2014. Its blend of old and new gameplay elements, like its revolutionary Nemesis system, gave us a look at The Lord of the Rings‘ Middle-earth like never before. Although it was difficult to cram a brand new character like Talion into the lore, Monolith Productions found a way to do just that while immersing players like never before. Now, they are ready to return once more to Middle-earth and continue Talion’s quest for revenge, and here is why it is already a potential game of the year contender.
Talion knows he’ll never get his one-on-one faceoff with Sauron unless he does something about the army standing in his way. So, Talion is going to raise an army of his own. To do so, he’ll have to travel around Middle-earth and assail Orc controlled fortresses. Different fortresses will have different strengths and weaknesses, and even different Orcs trying to protect each one. Knowing what tribe your forces will face off against, and maybe sneaking in with Talion and picking a few captains off, or even turning them to your side, can be the difference between a successful siege or your army turning tail and running. Failing to capture a fortress, or even dying in combat, could lead to the creation of your first Nemesis.
Speaking of the Nemesis System, that has seen a huge overhaul from last game. You can still hunt down wyrms for information, like strengths and weaknesses, to plot how best to attack your potential targets. And falling to a named Orc target will often lead to them becoming stronger and moving up the hierarchy of whichever fortress they are associated with. But now, you can also learn the interesting of potential allies in an effort to woo them and have them join your cause. If you’re not careful, too, those allies may turn coat on you if they become displeased enough with how you run your army, leading to nemeses even emerging within your ranks. It’s not easy being the guy in charage.
Defeating fortresses and nemeses will also often result in new loot for Talion and he is now fully customizable. Whenever you get a new piece of loot and equip it, you’ll see not only it changes Talion’s stats, but also how he looks. Loot of a rarer variety can also get better by using it more and more in battle, unlocking special hidden abilities should you meet certain requirements that are spelled out for you on the inventory screen. Also, by channeling the power of Celebrimbor, Talion can etch different runes you collect onto each piece of armor or sword to further enhance it and add even more customization to it. Some runes may increase your health, while others might earn you more coin for each kill. How you tinker with your equipment is entirely up to you.
In an attempt to reconcile their original character with the depths of the Lord of the Rings saga, Monolith Productions has revealed that Shadow of War does indeed lead right up to The Fellowship of the Ring. What exactly happens to Talion after this adventure is still to be seen, but to know he’ll be brushing up timeline wise with Frodo and friends’ fateful journey gives us hope that Talion will find a fitting place in the lore considering the liberties the first game took.
Sauron and other enemies
No more underlings. Sauron himself is being set up as the big bad. Talion is drawing Sauron’s attention at a most inopportune time and thus the classic villain himself will get his hands dirty. Sauron won’t be alone, though, as his trusted Ringwraiths will be right by his side, and other classic villains from the lore, like Shelob, will also have a role to play in Talion’s adventure. Although Shelob appears at the moment to be trying to aid Talion, one can only wonder what’s in it for her to help the fallen Ranger.