One cannot simply walk into Mordor… unless you own a PS4, Xbox One or PC.
Because if you do, and you get your hands on Monolith’s suped up Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor sequel in August, you can trot wherever you desire. The massive open world title promises to build on its original size in nearly every aspect. It’s the growth of the famed Nemesis system, however, that truly got my blood pumping while considering its E3 demo gameplay.
Shadow of War sees you traverse the wide world of Gondor to curate your own Orc army and ultimately take that spikey old metal-face out for good. Talion (an undead Orc collector) has managed to get his hands on the new Ring of Power, allowing him to dominate the wild Orcs of Mordor and control them as an army against their previous master. It’s a gameplay feature that survives from the original title, but it’s the fleshing out of this Nemesis System that holds significant potential for emergent storytelling. The Nemesis System is not just a procedural generator spawning Orc enemies for target practice. Instead, it creates unique foes each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and ensures your actions stay with them after your encounter. When it comes to gameplay then, the Nemesis System is the most powerful emergent storytelling device in the game.
It was great in the original. Orcs would laugh at you as you fled a battle and return to the next kerfuffle ready to shout you down for your lack of courage. Or, if you managed to take out their buddy they’ll be rooting for your own blood in exchange for their fallen comrade’s. In short, regardless of what is made the Orcs say, it made you really hate them.
This is where Shadow of War looks set to flourish. All this has been polished up and set back out for display, but next to it is an additional system that will take this focus on emergent storytelling even further. The Nemesis System will now continue tracking your relationship with the Orc individuals you come across into your alliance with them post-domination. Should you choose to accept a new member into the fold, you’ll be surprised by the level of memory your new partner has and it may just trip you up in the fortress section of the game. In short, the original Shadow of Mordor worked hard to create several different types of enemies for you to organically hate. Shadow of War works harder to show you their redeeming lights once they’re on your side.
In every location throughout your journey, you’ll stumble across a fortress held by the followers of Sauron. Take over these fortresses and you will be given the opportunity to appoint one of your own followers as leader of the area. Choose wisely, however, because in its expansion, Shadow of War has also welcomed a long term strategy mechanic. Sauron will attempt to retrieve his strongholds with only your instated leader to defend your settlements so make sure you pick a good’un.
Middle Earth: Shadow of War is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC and is expected to release on the 25th August 2017. Its Nemesis system has been fleshed out to increase the sense of organic player involvement within the overarching narrative of the game system while also tweaked to provide more opportunities for both emotional manipulation and domination. Your will is as good as any in Shadow of War but it might just have consequences.