When Warner Bros and Monolith Productions unleashed Middle-earth: Shadow Of Mordor onto the world back in 2014, gamers everywhere fell in love with the tight combat, expansive world, and innovative Nemesis System.
It’s fair to say then, that Shadow of War is perhaps one of the most anticipated sequels in modern gaming. Luckily, Monolith has been hard at work making it bigger, better, and smarter than its predecessor in every way.
With so much to do, see, and kill, one might find themselves overwhelmed – fret not, here are seven incredible things you’ll be able to do in Shadow of War.
Reunite With Old Nemeses (And Make Some New Enemies Along The Way)
Perhaps the single most impressive aspect of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was the Nemesis System, an ingenious gameplay feature that made the world feel more alive (and give players a more personal experience) by providing them with unique individual foes to come across.
These enemies had their own strengths and weaknesses. They’d gloat over victories and grow stronger in the face of defeats. It felt incredible, feuding with your very own batch of twisted villains, and the Nemesis System of course makes a return in Shadow of War.
As you’d expect from a sequel, the Nemesis System has been vastly improved to include all kinds of unique combinations and strange enemies to discover, but you can also carry over old foes from your Mordor save, so that you can continue swatting them around like flies.
After all, Sauron has many flies.
Take On The Nazgul and Learn More About Their History
The Nazgul (Ringwraiths to their friends) are among some of the most fearsome creatures in all of fantasy – they certainly pop up for some of the more pants-wettingly terrifying scenes in the Lord of the Rings films, and you’ll be glad to know that Shadow of War offers you the chance to step up and ‘av a crack at them.
All nine of these corrupted former Kings of Men are waiting as bosses in Shadow of War. As you progress through the game’s story and explore the world, you’ll uncover all kinds of fascinating backstory on just how the Nazgul came to serve Sauron.
Going Toe to Toe With Our First Balrog
I mean, obviously. Middle-earth is full of nightmarish beasts intent on using your head as a serving bowl at fancy dinner parties, and the Balrog is no different.
Balrogs are by far among the coolest looking of Sauron’s demonic army – a literal towering inferno, if you will. We all saw that one slap Gandalf around in Fellowship of the Ring, and I’m sure we all thought the same thing: I would love to fight one of those.
Now, there have been plenty of great Lord of the Rings games, but I don’t think any before Shadow of War were capable of capturing the scale of an epic Balrog battle. With the visual power of the current gen and this game’s sublime combat system? Ooh, I get all tingly just thinking about scrapping with one of the big fiery brutes.
Build Up A Fearsome Orc Army And Take Over… EVERYTHING
There’s something immensely satisfying about video games that allow you slowly conquer everything and become the supreme leader of everything ever – I hope I’m not the only one that thinks that way, anyway.
In Shadow of War, Talion gets by with a little help from his friends. Of course, since all of Talion’s friends are dead, he’ll have to settle for an army of mind controlled Uruk-Hai instead. Take what you can get, I say.
If you can curb your blood-lust for more than ten minutes, you can take over your foes instead of killing them, and set them to work. Savvy players can work to help a lowly maggot rise through the ranks, before installing them as right-hand man to one of the more well protected war-chiefs out there.
After all, it’s a lot easier to take down a powerful enemy if you have a man on the inside ready to help, and before long you’ll have an entire army at your disposal. Just remember to use your army wisely – power corrupts
Lead An Attack Against A Fortress And Claim It For Ourselves
So, you’ve built yourself up a formidable army of mind controlled killers. What are you going to do with them? There are no parks around, and the cinema won’t be invented for a few centuries, so why not treat your new friends to a good old fashioned siege?
Fortresses in Shadow of War are a no laughing matter. Disgustingly well fortified, crawling with Sauron’s forces, and packing a number of high-ranking war-chiefs, and an extremely powerful Overlord – Sauron’s elite, who rule over entire regions from their thrones. Needless to say, you’d be a bit of a fool to try and tackle these on your own.
Fortunately, you can lead your merry band of monsters into glorious battle against these fortresses. There’s a fantastic layer of strategy baked into this aspect of the game, as you’ll have to consider your army’s strengths and weaknesses against that of the beasts waiting inside the fortress.
Once you’ve planned accordingly, you’ll be ready to to jump in and take part in some truly epic battles. Seriously, we’re talking Helm’s Deep level stuff here -the amount of enemies crammed on screen at any time is genuinely impressive, so get to work and don’t leave until you’ve earned the head of the Overlord.
Drake to the Skies
Shadow of Mordor let us ride around on Caragor, and while that was all good and fine, I much prefer my steeds to breathe fire and fly – a request that always nets me a funny look whenever I walk into Pets At Home.
Drakes are basically dragons (the Wiki refers to them as “lesser dragons” but I’m not sure how PC that is). These PERFECTLY ABLED DRAGONS can be mounted and used to fly around the word.
You can scoop up Uruk-Hai and drop them from a great distance, or simply use your winged friend to set fire to vast swathes of unsuspecting enemies. Bonus points if you sing A Whole New World while doing so. I’d go into more detail, but honestly, this one is so awesome that it sells itself.
When Tolkien created Lord of the Rings, he crafted one of, if not the richest, most fully realised fantasy world of all time. The team behind Shadow of War clearly have nothing but love for this world, as it’s stuffed to the rafters with secrets to discover, lore to find, challenges to complete and (of course) Uruks to slay.
Where Shadow of Mordor had two large regions to explore, War boasts a whopping five (massive) distinctive regions. That’s a whole lot of fortresses, Warchiefs, and Captains to take over.
Certainly, it’s gonna take you some time to uncover everything the world has to offer, but doing so is bound to be a reward in itself. Plus, you know, there’s a secret ending to unlock, so do it for that if not for yourself.
The bottom line is this: If you’re into Lord of the Rings or you simply fancy seeing what it’d be like to slowly corrupt the hearts and minds of a horde of evil demons for your own gains (and really, who among us hasn’t?), Shadow of War is the game for you.
You can pick it up for yourself now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Windows Play Anywhere and Steam. You’ll also be able to grab it on Xbox One X when the console launches on 7th November, and on PlayStation 4 Pro – happy Orc hunting.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.