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The Lord of the Rings Story Continues: A Look at ‘Shadow of War’

Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings franchise have something new to look forward to. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and developer Monolith Productions are bringing Middle-Earth: Shadow of War to Xbox One, Project Scorpio, Windows 10 PC, PlayStation 4 and PS4 Pro on October 10. The sequel to the critical and commercial hit, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, continues the story of Talion and Celebrimbor, who must go behind enemy lines to forge an army and turn all of Mordor against the Dark Lord, Sauron.

Michael de Plater, vice president of creative at Monolith Productions, said that a key word used to describe the new game is “epic.”

“Everything got bigger and more detailed — the world, the characters, the fortress battles and the wildlife,” de Plater explained. “What is unique to Middle-Earth: Shadow of War is that any one of those hundreds of characters can be a unique individual with their own strengths, weaknesses, personality and the potential to grow from being a lowly grunt to a powerful boss. Not only is that dynamic content applied to the characters, it now applies to the entire world. Every Fortress and outpost can be dynamically altered depending on which Orc Tribe is in command of the region.”

Monolith has expanded the Nemesis System, which is packed with choices about who players build stories with, how they approach their conquest of Mordor, and how they manipulate Orc society. Gamers can choose which characters to pursue and how to approach them, whether directly in combat, through stealth, or subterfuge. Players can choose whether to kill, dominate, or otherwise manipulate them.

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

“In Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, we introduced the concept that your enemies could remember you and could grow to become personal villains you could love to hate,” de Plater said. “Now we have enormously expanded the emotional range of the stories that can be created. In particular, expanding your relationships with your Followers provides a host of new and powerful stories about loyalty, betrayal and even friendship. We have also enormously expanded the content in the Nemesis System, in terms of visuals, voiceover, gameplay with different animations and abilities, and much more. The goal is that every player will have unique, personal memories and stories to share.”

The original story is set between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, which spans more than half a century of history. The development team was able to dive more deeply into the stories of Sauron, the Nazgul, the Rings of Power and some other iconic Middle-Earth characters.

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

“After people play Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, we really want them to be able to see the events of The Lord of the Rings in some new and interesting ways,” de Plater said.

Of course, players will also have plenty of action to keep them coming back to the game. De Plater said the team has raised the bar for battles in the game. The scale of the Fortress assaults and battles now spans hundreds of Orcs in combat. The upgrades and defenses of the Fortresses add a dimension of strategy to the missions.

“Players can directly assault Fortresses in these epic battles, taking them apart more stealthily through assassination or infiltration,” de Plater said. “It’s all about having many choices to create your own stories.”

By John Gaudiosi

Photos courtesy of Warner Bros. 

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June 13, 2017
By John Gaudiosi

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