In 2014, Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment published Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, what I think was a magnificent game. It had been a long time since fans of JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings had had a chance to experience a game set in Middle-earth. Now with Middle-earth: Shadow of War being announced, I decided to make a list of things I loved and things I felt could have been better in Shadow of Mordor.
1. Orc Ranking System (a positive): This was one of the most intriguing enemy systems I have encountered in any game. There was no enemy that didn’t matter in Shadow of Mordor. If any orc in the game killed you they would instantly be promoted through the ranks and gain a leadership role. The orc that killed you would also remember you if you encountered it again and would say something along the lines of “Come back for more?” or “I thought I took care of you the last time!” This made the game feel unique from most other, similar games. I hope for this same kind of feature in Shadow of War.
2. Repetition (a negative): Shadow of Mordor felt way too predictable by the time you had reached the halfway point in the game. The first half of the game had you find and kill all five war-chiefs. The second half, lo and behold, consists of you finding another five war-chiefs, but this time you have to take control of their minds. Now, I loved spending all day slaughtering masses of orcs, but there was no compelling point to it all because the story was so repetitive. In Shadow of War, I hope for a more expansive plot line.
3. Lack of Distinguishable Areas (a negative): Everywhere you go in Shadow of Mordor feels very similar to the last place you went. It is quite difficult to distinguish one place from the next without the use of the map. Shadow of War needs more distinguishable environments, as in Skyrim. When you walk from the snowy mountains of Winterhold to the lush farmlands of Whiterun, you can see the change in the environment. Shadow of War needs to incorporate this sense of variety.
4. “Free Run” and Combat Mechanics (positives with one slight negative): While running around Shadow of Mordor I was never bored. The free-run mechanics allow you access to almost any ledge in the game. I never had to spend a lot of time finding a way around a cliff as there was almost always a way to climb up it. It felt like playing Assassins Creed at times, but with a much quicker and stronger character.
The combat was one of the most enjoyable things about Shadow of Mordor. I could run around for hours just fighting orcs without completing any of the main questline and still enjoy myself because the combat was that good. The only annoying part about the combat was that you had to use quicktime events to kill stronger orcs or warchiefs . While quicktime events are enjoyable for awhile, they get very repetitive and ease the challenge of killing the larger enemies.
I hope that Shadow of War keeps the free-run mechanics exactly as they were, but I would like there to a few less quicktime events with regards to the combat system.
5. Sauron (a negative): Not getting to engage in an epic battle with one of the most well-known villains in all of book, movie and video game lore annoyed me more than anything. I spent the whole game killing all of the war-chiefs in a desperate attempt to square off with the one enemy I had wanted to battle with in a video game ever since I was five years old and picked up my first controller: Sauron. But, I had to find out that there is no battle with him. There is downloadable content that has a fight with him, but you are a different character. This does not carry the same weight fighting him in the main game as your regular character would have.
Please, Warner Bros., I beg you: let me square off with Sauron in Shadow of War.
Shadow of War has a lot to live up to, but if Warner Bros. puts the same type of work into it as they put into Shadow of Mordor, I have no doubt it will live up to the expectations. With just a few tweaks, Warner Bros. could potentially turn Shadow of War into one of the finest games of our generation.