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First Look at Middle-Earth: Shadow of War

"One does not simply fight Sauron"

Just a few days ago, we were treated to our first look at Middle Earth: Shadow of War, the sequel to Shadow of Mordor. Now, we get our very first look at some of the gameplay elements behind Monolith’s latest. The trailer goes in depth about various features we have come to expect in the Middle Earth games. It’s bigger, better, and builds off what the first one establishes.

First and for most, we have looks at some of the new Nemesis System. Shadow of Mordor introduced the Nemesis System, a network of NPCs that react to how players alter the world. Killing and controlling leaders shifted the leadership of the Orc military. Now the system returns with some enhancements. Like the previous game, each enemy has their own strengths and weaknesses as well as perks. But this time, the NPCs seem to play bigger roles as both allies and foes.

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Allies can now intervene in combat, aiding Talion in more ways than one. In two instances of the demo, we see Talion’s allies saving him from tight situations. But these allies may not stay loyal forever. The Nemesis system adds betrayals to the equation. During the demo, the first war chief everyone is introduced to was a previous member of Talion’s army. Not only has the Orc joined Sauron’s army, but has gained new abilities that only Sauron could give them. Depending on Talion’s actions throughout the game, loyalty and friendships will be forged as well as betrayals and revenge.

Talion’s abilities have also been enhanced for the sequel. Shown in the demo, Talion is able to teleport to allies and pull foes for quick kills. Smashing an open fire to set enemies ablaze, slowing down time for kills, and multi-stealth kills are some other skills Talion showcased. For fans of Shadow of Mordor’s brutal kills, those also make a return, each kill more deadly than the last.

Shadow of War is set to feature a gear system where Talion can obtain new sets of armor to wear. Armor will now feature their own unique properties and perks make no two armors the same.

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The demo highlighted Talion leading his army into a stronghold and trying to claim it as his own. These large battles are a major feature of the game taking place over the land of Mordor. Large battles take place within these strongholds where the two armies clash. Side objectives will become apparent to the player that will allow Talion to push his army forward. For example, Talion is shown in the demo to use an explosive to destroy a wall allowing his allies to pour in.

Thanks to the Nemesis System, each Overlord that controls these strongholds will have their own special throne room unique to them. Therefore, each arena is customized based on the Overlord, requiring players to adapt to each fight.

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Victory in these stronghold fights means experience, loot, and a new base of operation. In addition, the army screen allows the player to select Overlords to spread their influence over the specific region.

With such a refined Nemesis System, it seems Shadow of War is looking to be the next big hit later this year. With the promise of a unique experience for each player and intense large scale fights, Shadow of War shows promise.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War launches on August 25th for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

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