While at PAX, I was given the opportunity to sit down and get a 30 minute play-through of Middle-Earth: Shadows of Mordor. The opening cinematic had Talion receive a mission to build up Orc forces to recruit a war chief for his cause. Monolith Productions, explained to me the intricate nemesis system and how it will change the world around Talion as you play.
I was shown a view of all the captains, grunts, and war chiefs, and was given the option to choose which target to hunt down and kill. Monolith explained that there are no wrong choices to make in Shadows of Mordor. The player is free to choose how to tackle each situation as they like. I chose a nasty Orc named Mormog, and entered the world of Mordor.
With no fall damage to worry about, I jump from a high tower and begin my quest to hunt down Mormog. Along the way I am attacked by a beast which I conquered and used as a mount during a brutal battle. With wraith abilities, the player is able to transport to the mount when near, this beast can also serve as a distraction against other enemies.
When I arrive to find Mormog, I see a fierce duel and decide to intervene rather then wait it out. The fluid combat system is familiar to those that played the Arkham series of games, and I quickly disposed of my enemies with executions and quick strikes. However I am soon overwhelmed and killed, leaving Mormog with pride and victory. Because of my death, the power balance changes in the world, and Mormog is now crowned a captain. As captain he can gain more followers by bragging about his kill during the duel, increasing his war chief’s army.
After the demo I had a chance to interview Mike De Plater, Director of Design at Monolith Productions. Mr. Plater talked about how the Nemesis system came to be, “The core of the mechanic was influenced by the lore of the books, harking back to ancient battles, and the infighting of the Orc’s, such as in The Return of the King, when they are fighting over Frodo’s Ring of Power.
I also asked about the creative freedom that Monolith has access to because the game is set in-between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, “By being set before The Lord of the Rings, the game can be set as prequel to the events in the vast year span, and serve references to The Hobbit, such as the defeat of the Necromancer.”
Middle-Earth: Shadows of Mordor, is setting up to be one of the best single player RPG experiences in 2014. I was very impressed by the Nemesis system and how deep it can go and influence Talion’s world. The combat is smooth and the landscape is beautiful as you explore the world that Tolkien imagined.
The game is set to release on September 30th, 2014, on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, and PC.