After spending so much time on Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, I was excited to hear that a sequel was in development. As we got closer and closer to the release of Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, there were multiple stories about the loot box system that was integrated within the game. Long story short Shadow of War’s loot box system would allow you to purchase orcs for your army and skip the main selling point of the game, the upgraded nemesis system.
This option and the problems I had about the loot box system in Star Wars: Battlefront 2 lead me to stay away from Middle-Earth: Shadow of War. It wasn’t until the announcement of the removal of this system and the free play weekend that I even considered playing it. During that free play weekend, I played Shadow of War for about 15 hours. During that time, I got to see how much has changed between Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War.
Leading off directly from where Shadow of Mordor left us, we get more of the dynamic between Talion and Celebrimbor. This connection helped make the last game’s story that much more compelling. Talion has gone from just wanting revenge to destroying Sauron, and Celebrimbor remembers everything from his life.
There is one addition to the story that surprised me, and that was the character Shelob. My only knowledge of Shelob is from The Lord of the Rings where she is a giant spider out to eat Frodo and Sam and I was surprised to see her in this game.
Here, though, we see that she is more than just a giant spider. She is human, or human-like, and has an affinity for spiders and shiny things. At the beginning of the game, she takes an item from Talion and Celebrimbor. It’s this theft that puts Talion and Celebrimbor at odds with each other. And when those two are at odds with each other, that is when they are at their best as characters.
The game play is where I noticed the most changes. The biggest being the updated nemesis system. This update not only gave the orcs new dialog and character models, but also new fighting styles and tactics.
With this also comes the expansion of the battles that you play out. More prominent and broader in scope and scale, including taking the fights to the air with drakes, Shadow of War took what worked in Shadow of Mordor and made it bigger and better.
With larger maps and more of them, Monolith Productions needed to weave a more in-depth progression system to keep the game feeling fresh, and they did by replacing the old system entirely with a deeper gear based system.
In Sadow of Mordor, the only way you could upgrade your skills is to add individual runes to your weapons, and within Shadow of War you are not only able to equip the runes, but here you can change around your weapons and armor. This change allows for you to modify your abilities to suit your play style and provides for bonus modifiers when you complete full sets of armor and weapons.
With the fun that I had with Shadow of Mordor, I was not surprised that I had as much fun as I did with Shadow of War. With the loot box issues out of the way, I was able to sit down and enjoy my time with the game.
Bigger and better in almost every way, Shadow of War is a game that both expanded on what I loved from Shadow of Mordor and gave me a story worthy of Middle-Earth. This is a game I would recommend for anyone that enjoyed Shadow of Mordor or is a fan of the world of Middle-Earth.