Monolith Reveals Grand Ambitions for Middle-earth: Shadow of War

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Monolith Reveals Grand Ambitions for Middle-earth: Shadow of War

See 16 minutes of gameplay footage from the long-awaited sequel to Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor.

Monolith has been keeping busy. Following the success of 2014’s hit Shadow of Mordor, the studio began concepting a direct sequel that would attempt to fully deliver on the scale, spectacle, and savagery only hinted at in Mordor.

The result? Middle-earth: Shadow of War, a sprawling action-RPG epic due out on PS4 this August. Last week, I was able to watch a lengthy demo complete with color commentary from Michael de Plater, the game’s creative lead. It made for fascinating viewing.

My main takeaway: Monolith is pushing their Nemesis technology hard for Shadow of War. A wise approach, given that Nemesis is one of the more promising technical innovations in recent memory.

In short, Nemesis simulates a living world, at least in broad strokes. It catalogs your actions and doles out consequences and tailored experiences appropriately. It’s a way to make each player’s story feel more personal and unique.

In 2014’s Shadow of Mordor, the system allowed for startling random encounters. Slay an orc leader and Nemesis might make him return later, uglier and nastier, spouting a colorful one-liner referencing his fate and proclaiming his vengeance.

But in Shadow of War, Nemesis seems to be headed in bolder, more intriguing directions. Yes, you’ll still encounter death and destruction, but also stories of betrayal, loyalty, even friendship, according to de Plater. Because Nemesis’s tendrils can now bind characters and environments, each player’s game can play out that much differently.

You capture an orc fortress. Do you reward the loyalty of a follower by naming him overseer, or gain a sensible strategic advantage by handing it to a veteran war chief? Either way, you’ll live — or die — with the consequences.

Meanwhile, the game is looking cinematic as hell. Don’t take my word for it; watch the video above. Orcs and humans alike boast expressive animations, camera angles skew wildly to capture your attention, and stylish character interludes inject drama.

There’s a lot to love here. Deeper customization and loot for the RPG-minded, more gruesome combat for the gorehounds. Meanwhile, the new fortress conquest scenarios shown in the gameplay debut hint at a bigger, yet more focused experience.

So far, so good. Will Shadow of War top Mordor? We’ll find out for sure this August.

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5 Author Replies

  • Awesome. After finishing Shadow of Mordor I immediately wanted a sequel. Can’t wait for this.

    • It’s impressive. I wouldn’t have thought they’d be able to integrate the Nemesis system so much deeper into the game, but I’m loving it.

  • Horizon, Mass Effect and than this! What a great time to be alive.

    • And RE7, and Nier, and Nioh… unreal year

    • Seriously, the amount of games this year has been crazy but even crazier that most have been critical hits and game of the year contenders and we’re only just getting into March!?

  • this looks great!!

  • Rapturesassassin

    I was sold at the 6 minute mark. This will make my semi-monthly pre-order physical list.

  • Is this that unusual occasion where bigger actually IS better in a sequel?

  • Man this looks AMAZING. I loved the first game and this just seems better in every way. Can’t wait for August!

  • hmm… I need to complete the first game before this comes out

  • Oh my god. And here I thought Shadow of Mordor couldn’t get any better….

  • I loved Shadow of Mordor’s gameplay, I just wish it was more respectful of Tolkien’s world.

    Hopefully Shadow of War is less of a butchering of Tolkien’s works… but either way, I’m glad to see they’re expanding the nemesis system.

  • Wow, this may be a rare Day 1 purchase for me. I really enjoyed the last game and based on this gameplay video it looks like they’re doing a really good job expanding on both the Nemesis system and new abilities for Talion. The Nemesis system in Shadow of Mordor was fun for awhile but far enough into the game, it got fairly repetitive. This looks like it gives a lot of room for expansion with the level of control you can take over your army and the potential variables such as betrayal from within your own ranks, which wasn’t present previously. Can’t wait to see the finished product!

    • It’s definitely operating on a slightly more liberal interpretation of the lore — but if I get a game like this, I can’t say it bothers me too much :)

    • I believe you may have replied to the wrong comment Sid haha… but I dunno, it makes me wish they’d chosen to build a new world in stead of taking liberties with one I love so much.

      I really think if Shadow of Mordor had been built on new lore as opposed to trying to poach Tolkien’s… it would’ve been so much better.

  • I really liked the first one, and shadow war looks better in every way so far. Outside of the beast master expansion I felt like everything was too dark, glad that they added a few more bright colors. :P

  • Looks amazing! However I am just worried about the story remaining believable within the LotR world. Very excited to get this game!

  • I loved the first game and even played all the DLC. One of best games that I have played. My only suggestion is to make a storyline better than the first one.

  • Man, Shadow of Mordor has remained up there as one of my favorite games this gen besides Destiny and The Witcher 3. Hype overload for the follow up!!! Scorpio support might sway me to getting a copy on there depending what it’ll do for my lowly 1080p TV but I’d assume we’ll see Pro support too?

  • as I was watching this for the 100th time today. I thought about how cool it would be to have pvp where you take on other players strongholds.

  • This looks amazing. I will be getting this day 1.

  • Should’ve just called the game Mordor 2,I’m used to call it Mordor ha.Anyway…very nice gameplay,looks pretty good and with some very good animations too hu,the overlord part was even impressive.

    Well I still need to play the 1st one but this one already looks like a must-buy.

    • Oh yeah forgot to say…what’s with this thing of everyone doing gold,silver,bronze and etc editions?…this is really lame.These damn devs nowadays…bastards won’t quit thinking about new ways to squeeze money from fans will they?…WTF?

  • love the way the nemesis system has been expanded. Will we still be able to explore open world can we walk from one fort to the other?

  • Im still waiting for Spiderman, anybody knows when is coming out?

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