Some of the timeline and world details of Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, the sequel to 2014’s Shadow of Mordor, have been revealed by Michael de Plater, Vice President of Creative at Monolith Productions.
For those who follow Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit timelines, Plater, speaking in an interview with IGN, explained that moving the fall of Minas Ithil in the aforementioned timeline is a decision Monolith Productions made with heavy consideration. “We try to be very true to the events as they’re known,” said Plater. He went on to discuss how the fall of Minas Ithil, along with why Denethor becomes the steward of Gondor, surrounds the happenings of Shadow of War and inform the plot. For all intents and purposes, Monolith Productions’s developers move iconic events in Tolkien’s timeline to fit their story while also maintaining authenticity within the universe.
Later, Plater discusses the Nazgul (Ring Wraiths) and the part they play in Shadow of War. In a nutshell, the Nazgul act as bosses in Shadow of War, each with their own weapons that “relate to who they were historically.” Whether players fight one Nazgul at a time or face a group of them, the Nazgul function as individuals with their own gameplay mechanics.
The interview covers several more aspects of Shadow of War, such as the process of creating cultures for the orcs and the reasons behind Monolith Productions creating a new race of smart trolls, known as the Olog-Hai. Moreover, Plater also mentioned that Shadow of War’s difficulty is meant to be more challenging than its predecessor, with RPG mechanics being much more present than in Shadow of Mordor. Enemies grow in power alongside the player’s character, Talion. In conjunction with enemies growing in strength, Monolith Productions is adding a difficulty system (easy, normal, and hard). Easy will be for those who just wish to follow the story, normal will provide a “dynamic difficulty” that always stays challenging, and hard mode “should generally be really meaningfully hard.”