The more I see of Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, the more excited I get. Initially I felt somewhat indifferent when I saw the launch trailer. Yes we have a hack and slash action adventure game, which to be honest is my forte, but when you witness the climbing and stealth elements of gameplay, you can’t help but draw comparisons to the Assassin’s Creed series. This isn’t necessarily a slur upon the game, however its originality could have been drawn into question.
Since then we have had a set of feature trailers that have showcased the story, with its the main themes. We’ve also seen a trailer that demonstrates the equipping of runes and how they bolster your weapons, suggesting the Shadow of Mordor is just as much a RPG as it is an action adventure.
However, more recently we have been given a glimpse into the intriguing nemesis system. This is Shadow of Mordor’s unique selling point and has been touted as a system that changes with the players decision and interactions with other enemies. The original nemesis system trailer, demonstrated a tier system. By killing, possessing or striking the fear of Sean Bean into an enemy, you were able to work your way up the ranks by, for example, sending a threat to a war chief via one of his lowly troops who you just so happened to spare in a previous encounter. Players could also choose to control the mind of an Orc via the Wraith powers our chief character, Talion, by a bizarre twist of fate ends up possessing. Once you are in the mind of an Orc you can utilise him to either kill a fellow chieftain orc or have him spy on his brethren. All of this sounded like good fun but perhaps a bit one-dimensional.
The new trailer dispels any previous misconceptions, as we are given new insights to the benefits of exploring the nemesis system. Depending on Talion’s (or your) decision, if you choose to dominate a orc enemy, not only do you have him under your control but you also have influence over units.
Director of Design Michael De Plater, told Polygon the rewards of assimilating an enemy into your ranks, rather than killing them out right.
Whoever you dominate, they will bring their underlings with them. So if you’ve got a captain, and he’s got his gang, he’ll bring them with him. If you’ve got a war chief and he brings his bodyguards, he’ll bring them with him. We wanted a constant escalation of scale”
We want to let players create their own stories,” De Plater further explained “When you’re hunting and fighting and killing these guys, you’re developing rivalries. You think you’ve killed someone, he comes back scarred, he’s hunting you. We really like the idea of players creating their own villains within Mordor.
If this is done correctly, Shadow of Mordor has the potential to be an incredibly diverse game. Vast exploration with an RPG levelling up system as you unlock new powers, coupled with distinct player choices that are adaptive to the environment itself, suggest that Shadow of Mordor may have more about it than what was initially perceived.
De Plater reaffirms this belief and goes on to say
We want to have an enormous amount of density and variety and surprise within the world…..You might be traversing the same location from A to B, but it’s going to have a lot of potential to surprise you because of what springs up or what you find.”
One thing we apparently will find, is Sauron. Or at least his origins. Shadow of Mordor is set between the events of the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. At this point Sauron is nothing more than a big burning floating eye attached to a tower. Although we know for sure that Talion doesn’t kill Sauron (you’ll know this if you’ve read the book or watched the movie), the trailer suggests that he will take the fight to Mordor. De Plater explains briefly Sauron’s role within the game;
We can’t kill him, but exploring why it is that he’s a flaming eye that’s bound to that tower is an interesting question to explore.”
Shadow of Mordor may have initially had some doubters but these new insights will certainly lay to rest any concerns of remaining true to the world Tolkien originally created. Shadow of Mordor is due 7th of October on PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3 and Xbox 360.