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Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Looking for pre-release details about Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor? Hoping for some speculation about what the game might entail? Want just about all the information there is about the game? Then read on.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is a to-be-released role-playing action video game set in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings universe. This game is going to be published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and is currently in development by Monolith Productions. In the chronological timeline of the Lord of the Rings universe, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor will take place in between The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. Currently the game is expected to be released in 2014, with no information available as to what quarter it will be released in.

The game will be available for PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One – a wide range of consoles, while not neglecting the PC gamers.

Monolith Productions has created notable titles such as: Matrix Online, F.E.AR, F.E.A.R. 2: and Project Origin. Whereas Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has published notable titles such as: Batman: Arkham, Mortal Kombat, Lego Series, F.E.A.R, and Lord of the Rings Online.

  • Note: All information and screenshots in this article is based on pre-alpha footage and press articles. Technically, the storyline in the Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is not cannon to Tolkien’s works, but the Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment claims it will ‘align’ within Tolkien’s fictional universe.

What the game is about

In Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, you play as the grim character Talion. He is a ranger resurrected from the dead with mysterious and dark powers from a wraith spirit. This wraith spirit has possessed Talion, or at least takes up house inside Talion’s body and mind, with Talion driving the carriage so to speak. Talion is bent on vengeance, for his own death and his family’s; ergo he becomes a cloak and dagger assassin. Already the game is sounding similar to already released games. And it’s true. Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor does share traits with the Assassin’s Creed series, Dishonored, and Batman: Arkham series. It is uncharacteristic for there to be an assassin based game set in the Lord of the Rings universe, and to have dark powers based on a wraith.

But it’s not like traditional RPGs are the only thing that can happen in the Lord of the Rings, and neither can only Assassins in Assassin’s Creed climb up walls and crouch walk across suspended lengths of rope between buildings.

Sometimes something that is similar can be just as good, or grow to become something even better. Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor appears to be an amalgamation of ideas, both its own and others, to create its own source of adventure and challenge. If you are reluctant, at least read on so that you can find out what else distinguishes this game from the herd.

Nemesis System

Aside from the beautiful graphics, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor will offer open world gameplay. In Talion’s quest for vengeance, he will be able to roam the world, assassinating and controlling targets that are managed by the game’s featured Nemesis System.

This Nemesis System controls and augments the kind of enemies Talion is pitted against, and how they influence the world. The content from the Nemesis System is intended to be highly dynamic and unique per instance of the game, relying heavily on the player’s actions, as it weaves a history from this.

Enemies Talion encounter and pursue will both remember what happened between them, and change based on what happened as well. In some of the gameplay footage, you see that one of the great bosses in the game is scarred by flames, as Talion left him to die in a great fire. While Talion fights this orc, part of his face scabbed over, the orc goads and threatens Talion that he will leave his corpse to burn.

This is claimed to be dialog unique to this instance of the game, due to the choices the player made and how the events folded out. Supposedly this is one example of how the dynamic nature of the Nemesis System can be.

This orc boss harbors resentment and enmity towards Talion for the suffering Talion caused him, that which does seem to be a bitter reminder by the scars left on his visage. If you think about it, what Talion dealt him in a single night is seen by any orc that looks upon this orc boss. It becomes this orc boss’s identity. That would both spread Talion’s infamy and twist this orc further with wrath.

This all would seemingly create a richer experience, giving Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor one of its establishing strengths as a game. It would promote the belief that you, as Talion, are more truly there; and that you, as Talion, can change the fate of Mordor through your actions.

Wraith Powers

Contributing to the Nemesis System is the array of options the player has to choose from as Talion. Aside from large events, like leaving Talion’s enemy to burn as was shown as an example, you can see in the image above that Talion can do more than just assassinate his enemy. These additional options are derived from Talion’s wraith powers.

Revealed so far for Talion’s supernatural wraith powers is the ability to identify his quarry in the wraith’s realm; an ethereal realm where Talion can move about undisturbed, although you do not actually see this in the footage. Bosses are identifiable by a red skull, minions by blue painted hands, and followers of bosses by white painted hands.

  • Shadow Strike

There is then the Shadow Strike, where Talion’s blade becomes wreathed in wispy blue flames – as does his entire body really – and he teleports to his focused enemy, slashing into them and defeating them in one strike. Presumably with the shadow strike, this can only be done to henchmen-like enemies (those that are not mini bosses or bosses).

  • Shadow Step

The third ability pertaining to wraith powers is the Shadow Step. Talion makes use of a bow – as a ranger really should have – and becomes wrapped in those wispy blue flames again. Aiming at his enemy’s foot, the shadow step seems to root Talion’s enemy in place.

Specifically from this ability, we can discern that Talion’s supernatural wraith abilities may be context sensitive to a heightened degree compared to the rest of the canvas of choices for combat. Without his bow out and with an enemy a decent distance away from Talion, he must be able to Shadow Strike at them – that is to teleport at his enemy and strike them down with a blue flame roaring blade. Shadow Step likely has a longer range than Shadow Strike does.

  • Choosing your prey’s fate

The fourth ability comes into play when Talion has dominated his enemy through fear, a key trait about wraiths according to the game. Gripping his enemy with a blue translucent hand – as that seems to be what happens when Talion enters ‘wraith mode’ – Talion can choose to do one of four things with his prey.

He can choose to bolster his own legend, spreading fear of Talion through Mordor’s forces. This would involve letting his enemy go, but at this point the orc or enemy Talion is gripping under his wraith-powered hand has become his minion – a controllable pawn in the game. Hence this would not be showing mercy.

The second option is that he could command his once enemy, now minion to spy, feeding Talion information about Mordor’s forces, while again remaining alive.

The third option is to command the minion to assassinate another target of Talion’s choosing. This may get his minion killed as a result or in the process. The game actually has its own sub menu to display the chances of success Talion’s minion would have in assassination, or rather the probability of failure.

A minion can fail to assassinate the target boss, but actually injure the boss enough to improve Talion’s chances at victory if he decides to tail his minion to where the assassination target is.

The fourth option is sacrifice, which is not explained nor shown in any footage thus far. We can draw from the context that Talion could sacrifice his enemy to his wraith spirit, possibly fueling it in some way, or else just flatly killing his enemy. This could potentially strengthen Talion, as Talion’s supernatural powers are derived from this wraith spirit.

The wraith power of domination can be enacted to more than just mini bosses, allowing for more strategic attacks to take place under your control. Provided he sneaks up on the enemy unit, he can enthrall it and take control. It is possible that Talion can dominate an enemy mid-combat, once that enemy is weakened enough, but this has not been revealed.

Combat

There is more to Talion than his wraith powers though. There is flashy combat revolving around a broken sword Talion wields, and also his ability to interact with the environment. Displayed in some footage, Talion tosses the orcs he is fighting into the tall burning campfire. You don’t see them get out of the fire either.

Hailing back to the Batman: Arkham series, there is a combo system in place that tallies up as more enemies are defeated. Much unlike the Batman: Arkham series however, Talion is in no way against murder. He would be hard pressed not to kill his enemies anyway with a broad sword. Rather than martial arts, swordplay is the focus.

Depending on how you defeat an enemy, such as from a combo or using one of them as a human shield, rewards Talion varying experience points. The type of enemy also seems to augment the experience points as well.

From these earned experience points, Talion’s powers grow as he levels up. You can shape Talion’s strengths through a ranger branch and a wraith branch. As to where else experience points could be earned from, it has not been revealed yet. Side quests have been mentioned, and so experience points might be earned from those as well as from combat.

Environment

It is not as simple as sneaking after an important target on a road. Talion must venture into fortresses, camps, and towns to reach his quarry. The ways in which you can approach and reach your quarry are varied, a direct opposite to linear gameplay. This opens up more choices as to how you wish to play and tackle the tasks before Talion.

So, you could take a few routes. You could brute force your way in, fighting and defeating enemies in your path, while alerting the camp or base of your presence. Or you could sneak around enemy lines, sidling around walls and scaling up towers. You could also use a distraction. The footage references bait to lure trolls, avoiding a direct encounter with them and also allowing Talion to sneak past without detection.

  • Camouflage

There are two more variables in play as well: the weather and time of day. Stormy rains will provide cover for Talion, as the rains diminish visibility for enemy troops. Similarly the night helps to conceal Talion as well. There might be more weather types that alter visibility, like fog, but we have not seen this yet.

Conclusion

While Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor does share elements with other triple A titles, the game’s unique twist to them with its dynamic gameplay combine to make an enticing title that should be an immersive, challenging experience, featured in the epic environment of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor blends assassin style elements with rough and brutal close combat, with supernatural powers to top it off.

It might not be the type of Lord of the Rings game you were expecting. Wielding dark magicks is not commonplace for the protagonists of the Lord of the Rings, nor is the driving quest filled with such a nefarious goal. The Wraith Spirit possessing Talion strongly suggests that he aims to subvert Sauron’s rule, by controlling and assassinating Sauron’s subjects.

This renders Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor a very different leap into the Tolkien universe, but this slice of different certainly looks to be pulled off well. This is one window into the Lord of the Rings that I personally would like to explore. Besides, if you have enjoyed any of the games Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor takes after, then chances are high you will enjoy this game too! Too bad it’s not out yet, huh?


  • Note: This article is current as of February 20th, 2014.

Article by: Vehement Chrome

games | sandbox_adventure | role_playing_game


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