Tag Archives: Middle Earth: Shadow of War

Middle-earth: Shadow of War Review

Mordor less? That certainly is the question. Can the award-winning hit from Monolith, 2014’s Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, go the route of Empire, The Two Towers, and Flash Season 2? Better what came before, that is.

I’d like to get to the topic of Loot Crates in Shadow of War as swiftly as I can.

Yes, they are in Shadow of War. Yes, they can be purchased by spending your hard earned £/$/€ and the like. Yes, they do allow you to bolster the Army you have stationed at the half-dozen fortresses around Middle-earth. Yes, they do allow you to gain temporary boosts of experience and spoils, which in turn will allow you to progress Talion a little quicker. Oh, and yes, you can get various armour and weapons from them. However, you can get all these from in-game activities, too. Partake in the numerous challenges, get Gold. Those same challenges award Mirian, too. You can also get Mirian from killing enemies, finishing missions, breaking down unwanted items, and from several other methods. Heck, you can even choose NOT to partake in any of the online/store events by not press A or X on them in the menu. Or, just don’t accept the online terms and conditions.

However you cut it, Shadow of War is not unwinnable. You don’t have to purchase any Crates via any currency. You don’t have to spend your precious (eh…eh…) monies on the marketplace.

Now that has been addressed, I’d like to waffle on about Talion, Celebrimbor, the refined Nemesis system, and a human-spider. Plus some other things.

Forging On

Shadow of War picks up right from where Shadow of Mordor left us back in 2014, we’re forging a new Ring of Power. This story beat is what allows the game to introduce new players to how things work in Mordor, and for players of Mordor to get reacquainted to the combat and any changes to the progression system; of which there are many. Most of these changes are for the better – gone are the vertical tiers that are locked behind an experience system that could have been ground over and over, essentially nullifying much of the challenge later on. Instead replaced by horizontal tiers that are only locked behind each preceding node.

All of the nodes have two or three perks that can be unlocked, giving a level of customisation that wasn’t there in Mordor. You are limited to only one of these per node, this allows you to tackle encounters in many different ways. What may seem like a little like copy and paste, most perks go along the lines of ‘adds posion to X attack’ / ‘adds fire to Y attack’, etc. However, these allowed me to approach my targets with the knowledge that I am going after their weakness and fear. This is after investing the time into getting to know that about them.

As in Mordor, you can discover the secrets of each Captain and Warchief by dominating Worms – lower caste Orcs – into submission. They will then spill the beans on the Captain or Warchief you have selected, letting you know that Shag the Wyrm (I kid you not) is immune to headshots and stealth but is deadly fearful of fire and ghuls. The way I’d approach Shag? I’d select the perks that made my arrows summon ghuls upon the explosion of campfires, then I’d add fire to my Elven-light might attack. In Mordor, I often didn’t bother with discovering the information about my targets, as once I had unlocked a few abilities or runes for my weapons, I felt I could just brute force myself through the content, which worked most of the time.

A Right Gem

Gone are runes in War, replaced by a gem system that allows you to augment your weapons, armour and ring. On the surface, there appears to be little to the system, as there are only three colours; green, red and white. However, each of these can be combined – three at a time – to upgrade it to the next level, of which there are five. From there, each gem gives different benefits based on the item it is installed in. Fancy gaining more experience per kill? There is a gem for that. Want your army to take less damage or deal more damage? There are gems for that too. The system is very well implemented, as it doesn’t allow you to stack certain gems to be unbalanced in a certain area – imagine your army dealing 50% more damage on each gem slot. You’d just recruit and recruit, and steamroll through most content. Which wouldn’t be any fun now would it?

Nemesis a Trick

I tell you what, these puns just write themselves.

I enjoyed the Nemesis system in Mordor, even though I didn’t use it to my advantage as much I should have. Mainly due to being able to steamroll a lot of the content, which was a byproduct of being able to grind the experience needed to overpower myself at an easy level. With this, I didn’t expect that much change in War and on the surface, there doesn’t appear to be much change.

As I mentioned earlier, you can lead the intel on Captains / Warchiefs, exploit that and move on. However, what the game has hidden under that simple layer is astounding. The biggest trio of holy shahk (I believe it is spelt like that?) moments… Sending an Uruk to kill a Captain for me. A simple request, an easy result. Or it should have been. What I failed to pay attention to, because I’d been so engrossed in the game and hadn’t taken the time to see if the game had any unwritten rules, was that the Uruk I’d sent to follow up my command was, in fact, the blood-brother of the Captain.

Needless to say, it didn’t go well for me. I was promptly betrayed by the Uruk, as he sided with his brother. An audible profanity was said, but it wasn’t over yet. As I slipped into the shadows, I was then ambushed by an Orc I had failed to kill earlier. He had been stalking me for some time, it seems. In that time he had become immune to fire and stealth, which was unfortunate for me…. I had set up myself to be proficient in those areas. I was about to be defeated, as the two Captains and this Orc were on my back. My bodyguards weren’t responding due to me summoning them on a ridge and I hadn’t unlocked any mounts yet.

Time for the third holy shahk. I had no recovery attempts left. A sword was about to slice my neck when an archer saved me, he took out the wannabe-assassin, which allowed me to recover. The blood-brothers were both afraid of seeing Captains die, so they retreated. I was alive and War had just bettered the whole of Mordor in a brief experience. My saviour asked to be named Overlord. I am not sure if it would have mattered either way, but I obliged him.

Bugging Me

Bugs. They are in all games, it is part and parcel of what we get delivered onto our hard drives nowadays. War has a few more than others, one of them a huge spider turned Human. Another is when you summon a bodyguard on a ridge/building roof/cliff, and they don’t do anything other than chillout – even when they are archers. I am unsure why this happens, but it took me a few deaths to realise it was happening. There were a few other bugs that made me chuckle more than rage. Such as dragons getting stuck inside structures.

One huge bug that I didn’t mind being included, however, was Shelob. Her role in War wasn’t what I was expecting, nor was it as lore breaking as I had read in previews. At least to me. If anything, her initial role is there to bridge the gap between Mordor players returning, and new players jumping into the franchise for the first time. I’ll say no more, for fear of spiders spoilers.

Loredor and Back Again

When I started this review, my aim was to give an overview of my experiences in Shadow of War. There is nothing like reading a review, getting just enough information to make an informed decision, then going out and buying the game (or not). Just like there isn’t anything worse than reading a review full of spoilers, mid-to-late plot points and the like. On that note, there are a few little lore parts than I’d like to trace around.

As someone who has seen the films and played the games, the story of Mordor and War fit in nicely. There are a few creative areas that overlap, but nothing that stops me enjoying the journey that I have taken with Talion and Celebrimbor. That being said, what I always enjoyed about the films, and to a slightly less extent in Mordor, and to an even lesser extent in War, is the art and graphics.

Peter Jackson’s Ring trilogy holds up well. Hell, saying holds up is an injustice. In a few years time, though, I don’t think I’ll be saying that War holds up well. Mordor, which I replayed before War, still looks solid. Whereas War has areas that just feel like they have been reduced in quality, so they could be ramped up for the Pro and X versions. Smudgy textures, pop in when you are looking at trees in an otherwise beautiful scene. When standing atop one of my fortresses, I look out to see dragons flickering in and out of view. It is a shame. Not to mention the absolute night and day difference in Talion between cutscenes and gameplay.

Those issues of mine – and they may only be mine – were more and more apparent after I had started to notice them. At one point, after noticing that Talion reverted to prerendered clothing during scenes, I rubbed my ring finger and murmured “my precious” – as I had grown really fond of my War experience. I’d wager it’ll be in my top five games of the year, without a shadow of a doubt.


Overall, I had an incredible time returning to Mordor and the surrounding areas. Monolith really did go and pull an Empire! An improvement in almost every single area, from gameplay, to the unrivalled Nemesis system, and the world they doubled in size. The latter half of the game is a bold move, one that I hope they can make payoff. And if they don’t, then I look forward to my yearly replays of War, and maybe Mordor. Maybe.

Thanks to Warner Bros for supporting TiX

EGX 2017 Developer Sessions to include Shadow Of War and XCOM

EGX 2017 is now only 3 weeks away and details of the developer sessions are now being announced. The developer sessions are one of my favourite parts of the show, and two highlights of 2016 were the sessions ran by IO Interactive on Hitman and Playground on Forza Horizon 3.

Three of the sessions for 2017 have now been announced.

Monolith Productions’ Bob Roberts (Design Director) will deliver a presentation on Middle-earth: Shadow of War, which is the follow up to 2014’s multi-award winning open world adventure, Shadow of Mordor. In his session, taking place at 12pm on Saturday, Bob Roberts will give attendees a detailed and interactive look at the expanded Nemesis System in the new game set for release this October.

Julian Gollop, the original creator of X-COM: UFO Defense, and Jake Solomon, creative director of the current XCOM series, will appear together in a session titled ‘The Past, Present & Future of XCOM’. The duo will be joined by Eurogamer’s Chris Bratt to discuss the history of the iconic strategy franchise and the future of the genre. XCOM devotees will not want to miss this. The session will take place at 5pm (BST) on Friday.

This is the second session to feature Julian Gollop. Earlier the same day at 2pm (BST), attendees will be have the opportunity to watch the legendary designer present his new strategy game, Phoenix Point.

Finally, at 3pm on Friday, developers from Failbetter Games, the team behind Fallen London and Sunless Sea, will present a session on their new title, Sunless Skies. Attendees will hear more about the game, which is in Steam Early Access, from Chris Gardiner (Narrative Director), Adam Myers (Analytics Director) and Lottie Bevan (Producer). They’ll reveal what players can expect to find currently and the plans for future content. They’ll also be taking questions from the audience so come prepared!

Those not at EGX will be able to catch all the sessions live on Twitch and it’ll be available to watch later on the EGX YouTube channel.

New Shadow of War gameplay trailer revealed


A little over a week ago, we brought you news of the sequel to Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. Titled Middle Earth: Shadow of War, it sees the return of Talion and his bonded Wraith, Celebrimbor, making a comeback as The Bright Lord. A new Ring of Power has been forged in the fires of Mount Doom, and Sauron’s forces must be bent to your will with it, or defeated.

Now, developer Monolith Productions and Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment have released a brand new gameplay trailer to whet your already salivating appetite for Shadow of War. In this 16 minute video we’ll see Talion lead a fortress assault on the mountain valley stronghold of Seregost to take it from one of Sauron’s Overlords, Ur-Hakon the dragonlord.

This trailer also showcases the power of the New Ring and its ability to recruit Followers during enemy encounters. This new mechanic allows gamers to establish new stories of loyalty, betrayal and revenge. This particular gameplay walkthrough features Thrak Storm-Bringer, who was one of Talion’s followers and now harbours a grudge against him. It is just one of the millions of possibilities that players will experience in Middle Earth: Shadow of War.

As mentioned last week, this sequel builds on the innovative Nemesis system, evolving it into the next generation of interactive storyboarding for games. It also introduces Nemesis Fortresses, where players must utilise different strategies to conquer dynamic strongholds and forge their personalised Orc army as well has expanding the RPG  elements of the game.

Pre-order Shadow of War and you can benefit from a bonus Epic Sword of Dominion and four legendary Orc Champions too.

Middle Earth: Shadow of War will be available on Xbox One and Project Scorpio from August the 25th.

Middle Earth to fall under the Shadow of War


It’s hard to believe that the Peter Jackson-directed epic Lord of the Rings trilogy films were released as far back as 2001. The franchise has seen a spike in interest in the intervening 16 or so years, spawning multiple games across all platforms. One of those games was the Warner Brothers Interactive published action-adventure, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. A sequel to Talion’s epic journey was greatly anticipated.

The warrior developers at Monolith Productions have been industriously hammering in the undercrofts of their Kirklington base, waiting for the signs of portent to reveal themselves. Today is that day, for Middle Earth: Shadows of War sees Talion return.

In Shadow of War, a new Ring of Power has been forged by Talion and his bonded Wraith, Celebrimbor. Together, they must infiltrate enemy lines and forge an army to turn all of Mordor against the Dark Lord Sauron.

Fight the Nazgul in a monumental battle for Middle Earth in this second open-world action-adventure to feature, and be brought to life by, the Nemesis System. The robust personalisation from the first title is now applied to the entire world where the environments and characters are shaped by player actions and decisions. This creates a personalised world unique to every gameplay experience.

The Nemesis System created unique personalised stories through procedurally generated enemies who remember every encounter and are differentiated by their personality, strengths and weaknesses. Shadow of War expands on this experience by introducing Followers, who bring about new stories of loyalty, betrayal and revenge. There will also be Nemesis Fortresses which allow players to strategise and conquer in dynamic strongholds and create more personalised worlds with their Orc army.

Shadow of War will also be an Xbox Play Anywhere title, meaning you can play, save, and pick up where you left off on Windows 10 PC and Xbox One.

It also looks like there will be three definite versions of Middle Earth: Shadow of War, with a Standard, Silver and Gold Edition all teased over on Xbox UK’s Facebook page.

The other, maybe more exciting, prospect revelaed by Monolith, is that Shadow of War will also be a Project Scorpio title.

Look out for a gameplay reveal trailer coming on March the 8th with the game being fully released (it appears, in UK) on the 25th of August, with the US release coming on the 22nd.