We’re a full 10 months out from the release of the Xbox One and PS4, and the generation’s first promising RPG is just days away.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is an RPG of massive proportions, and it arrives at the perfect time to get 2014’s heavily packed Fall line-up rolling. This is a game that hasn’t gotten quite as much attention as the big boys such as The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt and Dragon Age: Inquisition, but has earned the respect of just about anyone—including our staff—who has given it a good look. We wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up being the most underestimated game launch of 2014.
So what is
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor all about? We’ve broken it down in the gallery below so you know what to expect.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor will release on September 30th for PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, and PS3.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor - Everything You Need to Know
A mature game set in Tolkien's The Lord of The Rings universe
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is set between the timelines of The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings. Its universe isn't just one with incredible popularity, it's the one that has inspired countless fantasy works. With so much rich history, as well as familiar areas and concepts to explore—Gollum is in the game, for example—, there's a ton of potential.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, you play as Talion. He and his family has recently been murdered by an army of Sauron. Soon after, he is resurrected, quickly realizing he has new Wraith powers. He immediately heads to Gondor to avenge his family.
The story and its content is mature, with lots of violence. It is a game centered around revenge, after all.
When developer Monolith Productions sat down to conceptualize Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, it decided early on to give the player a ton of freedom in how they explore the game world. This is a game with a huge open-world environment.
Unlike many other games, this doesn't just mean that you'll constantly be traveling through new areas, but there are choices to be made in how you tackle quests. If you prefer to be sneaky, you are completely capable of treating the game as a stealth action title. The melee combat is quite potent, so you can lay down your weapons and sneak through towers and villages while kicking enemies that guard your passage face first into the gravel.
There are several weapons, melee and ranged oriented, as well. You can use these to brutally punish enemies who oppose you, making as much noise as possible along your way.
The game levels are also designed in such a way where there are usually many footmen between you and your objective, along with a leader of some sort. You get to decide how these situations are handled.
Inspired by Batman Arkham
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is a game published by Warner Bros. Interactive, and somewhere along the way developer Monolith Productions decided that some of the style of the Batman Arkham series fits well into the game. The most immediately noticeable product of this decision is how melee is handled. It's very free-flowing, and will have controls familiar to anyone who has played a Batman Arkham game. The third-person view and dark atmosphere may also be reminiscent of the Batman Arkham series. Given the series' remarkable success, it's a good thing.
All of this said, this is a fantasy RPG, so while it may show hints of inspiration from the
Batman Arkham games, they are very different in their objectives, and each have their own gameplay elements.
The power of Wraith
Toward the beginning of your adventure, protagonist Talion will awaken from death with a new power called Wraith. Wraith allows Talion to dictate the battlefield in the blink of an eye. He can slow down time, move great distances quickly, and much more.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor has a full progression system with skills to unlock per your choosing. Among these choices you will make are what Wraith abilities to acquire. Depending on your play style, you may opt to complement your skill set with abilities that make you even more potent in certain ways, like being able to see enemies more easily if you are a more stealthy type of player.
A narrative delivered by superstar voice actors
Here are a few names for you: Troy Baker (
The Last of Us), Laura Bailey ( Resident Evil), Nolan North ( Uncharted), Liam O'Brien ( WildStar). Each of these voice actors/actress will voice major roles in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. Made better, the script has been written by Christian Cantamessa, the lead-writer and lead-designer of Red Dead Redemption. You should expect nothing short of epicness.
You can see a
behind the scenes interview with Troy Baker and Nolan North here.
The Nemesis system
Perhaps the most unique feature of
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is its Nemesis system. Essentially, it evolves the world and its inhabitants depending on events experienced in the game. Each enemy has his own qualities, such as name, memory, and rank. They all have lives simulated whether or not they are near you, and they react to what happens when you're around. If you leave an enemy alive, he will learn from the mistakes of his comrades and what types of attacks you performed to make sure your next encounter isn't an easy one. You may even notice dialog from enemies that is directly relevant to events that have occurred.
What this system does is make
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor very dynamic. The world may be shaped a certain way, but the enemies are completely unpredictable. Tread with caution.