Tolkien in the 21st century! Michael Harris explores the expanded universe of Middle-Earth in the upcoming Shadow of War.
As crazy as it is to believe, the cherished stories of J.R.R Tolkien started 80 years ago with the publication of The Hobbit in 1937. Characters like Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey would live on to further tales in the Lord of the Rings franchise, along with many more as the world of Middle-earth was expanded and fleshed out. And still after all these years his world continues to excite and inspire fans all around the world as new content is released. Enter Shadow of War.
The Darkness Out Of Mordor
Shadow of War is the sequel to 2014’s Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. It continues the story of the protagonist Talion and his possession by the spirit of the Elf Lord Celebrimbor. It follows them as they face down the forces of Sauron the Great.
In the previous game players took the role of Talion, a ranger from the kingdom of Gondor in the time between the events of The Hobbit and the Fellowship of the Ring. Tasked with guarding the Black Gate, the wall separating Mordor from Gondor, his garrison is attacked by Sauron’s forces and he and his wife and child are killed. Celebrimbor, who is a wraith having died long ago, merges with Talion to save him and together they set out for mutual revenge.
Throughout the course of the story, pieces of Celebrimbor’s past are regained and the rich history of Tolkien’s mythology is brought to the forefront. It’s revealed that Celebrimbor himself is responsible for aiding Sauron, deceived actually, into forging the great Rings of Power. He eventually stole the One Ring declaring himself the Bright Lord of Mordor and attempted to usurp Sauron. His plot failed and provoked the rage of Sauron, who killed him after killing his family before his eyes.
At the games conclusion, Talion is able to temporarily delay Sauron’s return, and sets out to Mount Doom deep in Mordor to forge his own Ring.
The Shadow Of War Descends On Middle-earth
In Middle-earth: Shadow of War, the plot picks up from where the previous game left off. Talion, who is still connected with Celebrimbor, create their own Ring of Power. A Ring to help defeat Sauron and his Orc armies and turn the tide against him. They believe, or at least Talion does, that their just intentions will be enough to prevent either party from being seduced by the Rings power. But are good intentions enough? These Rings have been shown to be too tempting, and the road to becoming yet another Dark Lord is razor thin.
These games are a little loose with the canon of the series, but Shadow of War aims to tie directly back in to The Lord of the Rings. And like the previous entry, familiar faces will be turning up to further cement its place in the mythology.
As seen in the trailer, Talion will go face to face with the terrifying minions under Sauron’s control. The Nazgul feature prominently and will be a force to be reckoned with.
And beyond the familiar Orcs and Uruks, it appears that players will be fighting Shelob herself and a massive Balrog. All before the inevitable showdown with Sauron himself.
A standout feature of the game will be the expansion on the Nemesis System.
Debuting in 2014, the Nemesis System helped Shadow of Mordor differentiate itself from other games in the genre. How the player killed, maimed or interacted with his enemies would influence the rest of the game. Giving your enemies a sense of individuality.
For example, if you are killed in the game by a lower level Orc, he gets a promotion of sorts. So later in the game, you may encounter him again, and he will remember you. Cutting off a limb of one of the bigger villains will also influence his interaction with Talion later. You can also use your Ring to control your enemies, willing them to serve and fight for you instead of Sauron.
The updated Nemesis System will expand to include those now under your control as well. Rewarding or punishing your allies will affect how they look up to you. Or view you with contempt. It adds a whole new layer, and forces the player to choose wisely about how they use their powers.
Not being a benevolent leader could lead Talion to facing fights on both sides.
Add It To Your Collection
Middle-earth: Shadow of War is out on October 10th, 2017 for PC, PS4 and Xbox One. It”s a must have for collectors of all things Lord of the Rings, but even if your not a fan of the franchise, it’s still a game worth checking out!
Mike Harris hails from the suburbs of Chicago and has been a fan for most of his life. Working as an industrial radiographer and raising a family with his wife take up most of his time, but there’s always room for Star Wars books and podcasts! Just looking to give back to Star Wars and the fan community, it’s been a source of fun and learning for him for so long.