Ever since it’s reveal two months ago in Game Informer, I’ve been ready to see Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor in action. You play Talion, a ranger of Gondor and a guardian of the Black Gates. Unfortunately for you, one night Sauron and his commanders returned to Mordor slaughtering everyone and leaving you for dead. That’s where your story begins. WB and Monolith have finally released 8 minutes of alpha gameplay from this open world action game and it looks fantastic.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and it should be pretty clear after watching the video that Shadow of Mordor may have a few familiar game mechanics. First off, the platforming elements in this open world look a lot like Assassin’s Creed in the way you can sneak up on enemies, stealthily run across rooftops, and even air assassinate enemies from above.
Combat also seems to take it’s cues from the Batman Arkham games and even more recently Ryse: Son of Rome. Players can attack, counter, and even perform a flashy kill move when the enemy’s health is depleted enough. Combat is held up by a running combo chain meter encouraging a certain flow to keep the meter rising. Nothing too surprising here, but what they do feature looks well animated and fun.
Even though Shadow borrows from some great franchises, it looks to have enough unique tools of it’s own to stand up on it’s own two feet. The Nemesis system is at the forefront of what Shadow of Mordor brings to the table, actually creating unique enemies on every playthrough. Not only that, these enemies will remember things you’ve done whether it be against them in combat or through other events. This in turn will cause them to react to you differently. On paper, this really could be a game changer.
The other aspect to Shadow that really stands out is Talion’s Wraith abilities. At a basic level, it acts as a sort of Eagle Vision, again, from the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Thankfully, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. These wraith abilities also allow him to perform moves like shadow strike, where he can blink to enemies taking them out in a flashy slow motion kill move. The most exciting aspect of this feature however is the ability to “dominate” your enemies. In the video below, after besting an enemy in combat, Talion can then use his wraith powers to control that character either to spy on your enemies, giving you valuable intel, spread terror among your enemies, or to send him on a mission to assassinate a leader. What’s interesting here is that based on who you have him attack, there’s a percentage of success. You could also just as easily follow him and finish the job if he fails. The fourth option here is “Sacrifice” but the video does not detail exactly what it is. Obviously, you can speculate, but I’m curious to see if it involves something more than just killing off that character.
I really have to admit, it’s great to see a game set within the Middle-Earth universe while also featuring such darker and mature themes. The main character of Talion is definitely not someone who Frodo or Legolas would hang out with on the weekends. I like what I’m seeing in this video so I hope the team at Monolith can meet the challenge and deliver across the board.
Here’s the full video for your enjoyment: