Last month, Monolith Productions released a new trailer for the upcoming Middle-Earth: Shadow of War that teased audiences with a first look at the Great Spider, Shelob.

Much to the surprise of many Lord of the Rings fans, Shelob is presented as an ethereal woman rather than the giant and grotesque beast. From the footage, however, the character appears to be able to shift between the ghost and spider forms.

According to Monolith, the physical alteration to Shelob is actually supported by several quotes from Tolkien that say her mother, Ungoliant, was an evil spirit that chose to take the form of a spider. These quotes infer that Ungoliant’s daughter could have inherited the same transformation ability.

The staff at Eurogamer spoke with the creative vice president at Monolith Productions, Michael de Plater, to discuss the studio’s decision to change Shelob into a shape-shifting lady.

According to de Plater, Shelob and Gollum can be interpreted as the heroes of the story. This new approach delves into the theory that Shelob sensed Frodo was too weak to destroy the Ring of Power and sent Gollum on a mission to finish the job.

The juxtaposition of having a giant spider as a potential ally or even anti-hero was a major influence behind the team’s morally ambiguous retelling of events. Including more nuanced characters solves the common complaint of the clean-cut conflict between good and evil within the Lord of the Rings franchise.

De Plater explains that players should view Shelob as a “dark mirror” to the elven Galadriel and that the two powerful women embody the duality between characters at the game’s core. The developers argue that although Galadriel represents light, she is also a deceitful manipulator and that her dark counterpart, Shelob, is honest almost to a fault.

Eagle-eyed players of the first installment, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, will have spotted several clues to the eventual inclusion of the character in the series from artifacts scattered across Mordor.

Whether Shelob will remain an ally throughout the game is a mystery, as she and Celebrimbor share a mutual dislike of one another.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War will be released on October 10, 2017 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Richard Flint
Part of the UK team, Richard enjoys a bit of everything. From covering news, to meeting up with devs at events, Rich has done it all and loves every minute of it. No task is too big or too small and each new opportunity is a chance to grow as writer.

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