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.
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.
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.
Monolith Productions are the American studio behind the terrifying F.E.A.R and Condemned series and are the masterminds behind Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. The Lord of the Rings universe has huge potential for a truly incredible game because of the fantastic lore that Tolkien has created, dozens of titles have attempted to fill that void but failed over and over again, until now.
Shadow of Mordor takes place between The Hobbit and Lord of the Ring trilogies, you play as Tailon, a Gondor ranger set with the task of guarding the Black Gate. Within the first 60 seconds of the game, this poor chap has his entire family brutally sacrificed in front of him and then being killed himself. This then leads to an Elf Lord spirit being summoned, bringing Tailon back from death’s grasp and the pair go on an epic journey across Mordor, slaughtering everything in their way until they get their revenge on the Black Hand.
That’s about the story in a nutshell, not the most eventful and it’s not helped by the fact that Tailon is a fairly dull character. His facial expression barely seems to change between confusion and boredom, no matter what is happening in front of him. Thankfully, the quests that Tailon sets out on keeps the main story missions interesting, usually involving the player stalking an enemy, following a trail or defending a certain object/person in a variety of different locations across the map. You’ll stumble across characters that you love from the main books and movies such as Golem, who is possibly one of the creepiest characters I’ve ever witnessed in a video game.
The stand out feature in Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor is the truly incredibly Nemesis enemy system. It’s hands down one of the best features to be introduced into a video game for a long time and it creates endless opportunities. The Nemesis system is an active, constant roster of enemies that refreshes and changes as you play the game. Shadow of Mordor revolves around Orc’s battling their way up the chain of command, eliminating higher ups and defending their positions as the top dogs in Sauron’s army, they could start out as a grunt patrolling a guard tower but could make their way up the chain by killing Tailon, becoming a captain and eventually a War chief if they survive long enough.
The player will constantly stumble across these enemies who have a variety of different weaknesses and strengths which the player can choose to take advantage of by carefully watching the area and waiting for the perfect moment to strike. They could be immune to stealthy takedowns but terrified of Caragors, so the easiest choice would be to tame one of these wild beasts and eat the Orc alive. This is just one of hundreds of different combinations that the enemy could have. Every time you battle one of these beasts, you’ll have the chance to use your Elf-wraith powers to interrogate them, learning intel about other commanders weaknesses and strengths which is always helpful.
Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis system makes the game feel alive and completely unique every time you jump on to play, simply hitting Y to advance time after opening the menu could potentially completely change the battlefield as you know it. A lonely Orc could suddenly dominate the chain of command, brutally executing everyone above him or you could even manipulate the system and brand (control) a basic captain, help him become one of the most powerful creatures in the land by killing his superiors and then turning him against the rest from the inside, the possibilities are endless. I just can’t stop toying with the system and seeing what is capable next. You can’t help but feel slightly cruel at times but hey, they killed my family and deserve everything they have coming to them.
Developer Monolith Productions have created some extremely impressive visual games in the past and Shadow of Mordor certainly doesn’t disappoint in that area. The world is beautifully detailed from the tallest towers to the deepest, darkest Ghaul-filled caved, you’ll struggle to not be impressed. After a notable amount of time with this game, it’s still satisfying just watching the world go by, animals bouncing through fields while the Black Gate towers above in the background. It’s worth pointing out that there are a few frame rate hiccups here and there, especially when you’re battling dozens of enemies inside major strongholds, which is something you’ll want to avoid anyway.
The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies are well known for their stunning soundtracks and it’s continuing in video game form. The music is just brilliant from start to finish, it fits every moment exactly how you’d imagine it happening in the films and when the war chiefs enter the battle? Horrifying. The music alone manages to show the power of the enemies you’re about to battle or what you’re going to run into just around the corner.
Combat in Shadow of Mordor will be extremely familiar to players who’ve sunk time into the Batman Arkham series. It’s almost a like-for-like copy but that’s not exactly a bad thing, as it’s about as good as combat in video games is going to get. The player simple uses X, Y and A to attack, counter and dodge enemy blows but becomes increasingly more complicated the more skills that you unlock. Eventually, even the most powerful war chiefs will be a breeze, it’s just a matter of trying to remember the different button combinations and hitting the dodge or counter buttons once the button appears above the enemies heads.
The combat is pretty much spot on but the free running and general movement around Mordor can be painfully frustrating at times when it comes to exploring the world. Similar to the Assassin’s Creed games, you hold the right trigger to ‘activate’ the free running, then using A and B to jump and drop. It works quite well when jumping around rooftops but when it comes to navigating small areas, you’ll find yourself running into walls or just getting stuck in awkward rock placements in the middle of combat and leading to a certain death.
Don’t worry, there’s plenty to do in Mordor, the main story will keep you entertained for a good 10 hours at least and there are dozens of other events, missions and collectables. The player could participate in hunting for wildlife or collecting herbs, freeing slaves from the gruesome Orcs, attempt to battle waves of enemies with your bow and sword or even track down the 100 or so collectables scattered across the region. There’s plenty to keep you entertained for a good 20-30 hours, ignoring all the fun you can have with the Nemesis system.
All of these tasks above earn two types of experience; either ‘power’ from defeating powerful Orcs in the Nemesis system which eventually unlock higher tiers of abilities or experience from finishing missions and events which earn the player skill points when you level up, which can then be spent on some truly badass abilities which help Tailon go on some monumental killing sprees. The best part about this system is just how powerful Tailon becomes when you’re reaching the later stages of the game, everything has a use and worth unlocking.
As of right now, Shadow of Mordor is without a doubt the best Lord of the Rings title to date and easily my Game of the Year so far, it’ll take something truly special to take its place. It’s a damn enjoyable experience from beginning to end and tonnes of things to keep the player entertained for dozens of hours. Hell, even after collecting everything and finishing the main story, manipulating the Nemesis system is a game on its own. All that is missing is a slight bit of polish around the edges, I can’t wait to see what happens with this series in the future.
During E3 this year Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Monolith Productions released an all-new trailer; Shadow of Mordor Gameplay – Nemesis System Power Struggles. The trailer showcases the depth of the Nemesis System and shows how the stats, appearance and personality of each nemesis are different for every player. No one else will have an exact same Uruk, as the game generates unique, dynamically created enemies.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is currently available for pre-order at www.shadowofmordor.com and will be on sale worldwide on 7th October, 2014 for Xbox One, Xbox 360 and other systems.
Witness the return of Sauron’s army to Mordor, the attack on the Black Gate and the origins behind Talion’s quest for vengeance in this new ‘Banish from Death’ game trailer.
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Monolith Productions confirmed the Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor release date as the 7th October 2014, and revealed the game’s official box art and pre-order bonus pack:
Fans who pre-order Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor will get access at the game’s launch to The Dark Ranger exclusive bonus pack. Available at all participating retailers, the pack will provide exclusive content and challenges for players including:
Dark Ranger Character Skin – Begin your own quest for vengeance with a new Dark Ranger character skin that embodies Talion’s darker side
Test of Power” Challenge Mode – Face Sauron’s Captains and defeat them to earn powerful Runes and gain a head start in the game
Access to Exclusive Leaderboards for “Test of Power” Challenge Mode – Test your speed, skill and strategy and measure yourself against your friends on the leaderboards in this challenge mode
This third person action adventure game has blended elements from Assassin’s Creed and the combat of the Batman Arkham Series to deliver perhaps the best Lord of the Rings game yet. Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor will release on both Xbox One and Xbox 360 on October 7th