By: Michael Polizzi
Shadow of Mordor was released on September 30, 2014 and took the gaming world by storm. The game combined the combat system from the Batman Arkham games with the stealth system from the Assassin’s Creed games and added the Nemesis System, which is what made the game truly shine as unique. The Nemesis System allows for all of the orcs and orc captains in the game to be affected by the player’s decisions. Unfortunately, there were some downfalls with the game. The game ends rather abruptly and the boss battles at the end of the game are underwhelming.
As more information on Shadow of Mordor’s sequel, Shadow of War, became available, however, there became more and more unrest in the fanbase.
Monolith Productions (the game’s developer) informed fans that the upcoming game would include a market with microtransactions. Many prospective customers were offended by this, thinking that the microtransactions would make the game ‘pay to win’. Monolith assured people that the market would not affect the format of the game; it was simply to help players customize their armies. Despite this fact, many people refused to purchase the game. After reviewing the game, I can say that the market is just another option in the menu that doesn’t affect the way I play the game or my enjoyment of the game.
The second main problem that people had with the game was the Forthog Orc Slayer DLC (Downloadable Content). After the unfortunate death of Michael Forgey, an executive producer at Monolith, the company decided to make a DLC to respect the memory of their friend and coworker. The company was not going to be making any money from the sales of the DLC; the money was going to go to Mr. Forgey’s family. However, confusion about the DLC sprung up almost instantly, as it was unclear if the revenue from sales outside the United States would be going to the family and some states appeared exempt from the charity aspect of the sale. Eventually, the DLC was released for free; anyone who had purchased the DLC received a refund, and money was directly donated to the Forgey family.
Despite these controversies, Shadow of War was released on September 28, 2017. Shadow of War improves upon everything in the first game and set the game in a more epic scale. Of course the graphics have improved since the first game, but there are many more improvements. Shadow of Mordor has two different regions to explore; Shadow of War has five regions. Now, instead of being able to have a small number of orcs under the player’s control, the player can command an entire army and have them help siege a fortress guarded by the enemy overlord, his bodyguards, and their army. Both the combat and stealth systems have been polished to provide a more smooth overall feeling to the game. The Nemesis System also received vast improvements. Shadow of Mordor has 77 different traits for the orc captains, which is a lot already.
However, Shadow of War has seven tribes that the orcs can belong to (with two more already being made for the DLC), ten different classes (more possibly being added), and 187 different traits that are all affected by the orc’s tribe, class, and the player’s decisions. On top of all of these different ways that an orc can be customized are a nearly infinite number of combinations of possible names and titles. Another thing that Shadow of War improves upon is the character customization. Shadow of Mordor has 39 ability upgrades that the player can unlock and slots for 15 weapon runes that would affect how abilities work and how much damage weapons will deal to enemies.
Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War are already some of my favorite games and I would recommend them to anyone interested in this genre. Shadow of Mordor was a great introduction to the series, and Shadow of War improved upon an already amazing game. Shadow of War allows for a greater variety of customization and ways to accomplish the player’s goals than Shadow of Mordor.