Middle-earth: Shadow of War Review - IGN (2023)

Middle-earth: Shadow of War

Much more than more Mordor.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War Review - IGN (1)

VonDan Stapleton


October 9, 2017 2:47 PM


October 5, 2017 1:00 PM

Asshadow of mordorBefore that, Middle-earth: Shadow of War is much more than just another open-world action game featuring Batman's fight. Its amazing Nemesis system sees nearly every named enemy duke it out in a memorable fight, and the new Keep Sieges give you legs beyond the campaign with asynchronous multiplayer.

This story plays with Lord of the Rings lore just as quickly and freely as last time around. It intensifies after the combined spirits of the ancient elf lord Celebrimbor and Aragorn's stunt double Talion forge a new ring of power...and quickly lose it. Their fights, which feature the strangely sexy human form of the giant spider Shelob, the Witch-king, and even Sauron himself (again) feel stretched out and filled with a lot of clunky, derivative dialogue, but there are some strong moments.

(Video) Middle-earth: Shadow of War Review

Flashbacks to the corruption of the Ringwraiths lend a tragic side to the ghostly Nazgul, battles with the ferocious Balrog are quite the spectacle, and witnessing the founding of Minas Morgul (several hundred years after J.R.R. Tolkien suggested it) are stellar stuff. , if you can, you can put up with the non-canon version of events. A growing conflict between the stoic and pragmatic Celebrimbor and the empathetic and Gondor loyalist Talion gives both characters some depth, though with all the setup I was hoping for a choice between their philosophies that never came. And there are some original characters, notably the returning Ratbag, who offer decent comic relief in the absence of dwarves or hobbits.

Each of the five zones looks distinctly different.

The story leads to interesting places, at least visually. Each of Shadow of War's five zones looks distinctly different, and the fast-paced journey between the icy mountains of Sergost to the verdant swamps of Nurnen and volcanic Gorgoroth gives it a good sense of variety. Each area is packed with ruins and other structures to climb and tunnels to explore, as well as an urban stronghold area unlike any other on the Shadow of Mordor map. On the other hand, this diversity is only skin deep: all locations are functionally identical (there are no heat or cold effects or unique conditions), and each is inhabited by the same types of enemies and wildlife. And its beauty is sometimes marred by some nasty pop-in that makes the terrain textures look almost literally like something out of Minecraft; it is particularly pronounced on ruined stone walls. (From time to time, I've also seen completely expressionless enemies that appear after a few moments.)

Each region is a respectable size, which means you'll have to run around quite a bit while looking for quest markers, but Talion's moves make moving fast and fun. You quickly start or unlock most of Shadow of Mordor's endgame dash powers, requiring you to work to increase your speed by tapping the dash button while jumping over objects and jumping between grab bars on walls. You'll also get a new must-have double jump ability that allows you to jump longer distances and change directions in the air. I hardly ever jump without it, even if I don't need it, because it feels so good. The problem is that, like most open-world games where you can climb just about anything, there's an annoying tendency to get stuck on the wrong thing or briefly get stuck on a ledge when you're about to roll.

There is a remarkable variety of voices, faces, and types of armor.

All of these areas teem with Uruks, and encounters with them, particularly their leaders, form the true story of Shadow of War. It's great to keep running into colorful characters with names like Khrosh the Pickler, Grom the Corruptor, and Borgu the Bard, who will serenade you with their lute before attacking. There's a notable range of voices (I've lost count, but if it's less than 100 I'd be surprised) and faces and bodies are modified with a plethora of helmet and armor types and disgusting disfigurements. I keep seeing new voices, faces, and armor items even after 50 hours.

Some Uruks get mad at literally anything.

Underneath, they each have their own random mix of a wide variety of class-based abilities, strengths to counter, and fears and weaknesses to exploit. It's a much deeper system than what we saw in Shadow of Mordor, with everything from equipping yourself with fiery or poisoned weapons and flash bombs, to more complex and terrifying abilities like instant death, ignoring the last chance mechanic will allow you to save yourself. when you run out of health. Some are immune to execution moves or arrows, and some can defy death and come back to you with a second wind just when you think you've won. Some get angry (causing them to attack more ferociously and it's impossible to calm them down until they've calmed down a bit) at certain moves, like jumping or using a freeze power, and some get mad at literally anything. Some have weaknesses that allow you to kill them instantly with fire or stealth attacks, while others are only slightly vulnerable to certain types of damage. (If Shadow of Mordor's pesky immunity to melee weapons exists in Shadow of War, I haven't found it.) While it's usually easy to interrogate a flawed Uruk and learn a captain's weaknesses, sometimes I'd rather go blind and figure out his traits. through trial and error in combat. Other things are not so easy to predict: sometimes enemy Uruks will ambush you out of nowhere or attack you when you least expect it. They're full of surprise and personality, so much so that lopping off their heads and limbs with spectacularly animated slow-motion finishing moves is almost a shame.

(Video) Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Review

Uruk captains also carry meat pinatas filled with game-changing loot, ranging from a sword that has a chance to set things on fire to armor that actively heals you while on fire. The higher the level of the Uruk you kill, the higher the potential of the fallen team. That makes killing an Uruk Captain instead of brainwashing him and recruiting him into your army an interesting compromise.

Each piece of rare, epic or legendary loot comes with a challenge to unlock its most powerful properties: for example, kill X enemies while sitting on a tiger-like Caragor and your sword will suddenly do more damage while your health is low , or Throw Knock enemies off ledges to activate the power of your cloak, allowing your allies to deal more damage in battle. Thanks to these sub-goals, there's always something new to do while you're fighting, and there's always another reward waiting for you. Some of these challenges revolve around absurdly forgiving stealth (you can run right up to an Uruk and backstab it before anyone notices), but most are active and interesting. There's also a Diablo-like gem crafting and allocation system, allowing you to customize your build on any piece of gear to suit your playstyle, with enhanced damage, health, or high-value drop chances.

Dozens of orcs can flood the screen at once.

Just like in Shadow of Mordor, individual basic Uruks are so harmless they're essentially health pills. Literally the fastest way to restore your health is to drain it from an unsuspecting victim (or one of the rats that run around certain areas). But when dozens of them flood the screen at once, they're a force to be reckoned with, and they'll attack you if you try to take their friends' lives. When a captain gets caught up in such a skirmish, it's like in a movie scene where two opposing heroes meet on the battlefield and fight their way through their armies. So it's easy to get overwhelmed, even when Talion has leveled up with him with ridiculously powerful abilities like teleporting any basic enemy in sight and using Shadow Strike to instantly kill them. The skill tree is impressively flexible, with each of its dozens of unlockable abilities having two or three possible upgrades (one of which can be active at a time), letting you, for example, summon a Caragor, a vengeful Graug. . or even a duck per mount. You level up so often that there is always something new to experiment with.

Knowing when to retreat and finding a way to heal up is key - thanks to Talion's mobility and the relatively slow speed of most Uruks, it's almost always easy to escape when needed. But, especially when you're in tight quarters, Shadow of War is much better at keeping up the pressure than Shadow of Mordor, and the high-level Uruks keep coming, so their fights towards the end are never that easy. Considering it's really impressive and kind of fun to die from the way enemy Uruks level up, that's a pretty good thing. Any nameless Uruk who gets lucky becomes a captain as a reward, and also makes a great target for some satisfying revenge.

Dragons are among the most impressive dragon battles since Skyrim.

It is true that you could count the types of enemies that did not appear in Shadow of Mordor on one hand, and I would have liked to see more variety in different locations. But the few that do exist pack quite a punch: resembling the cave trolls from the Lord of the Rings movies, the massive Ologs impress with their ferocious slashes and the way they rip you out of the air and stab you like football stabs when you try. to flip them. And when a dragon flies overhead, its fiery breath changes things significantly: you'll have to move fast to avoid the intended blast zone. When they land, they're some of the most formidable fighting dragons since Skyrim, and when you gain the ability to ride them, they become some of the most powerful weapons in Shadow of War (unless someone has fire immunity).

Aside from Siege Trolls and Pathfinders, the only other notable new enemies are the Nazgul themselves, who appear as ghosts during boss fights and each require specific moves to make them vulnerable. These fights can get difficult, especially when you're in the middle of a bigger fight where it's hard to focus on countering everything at once.

Fighting Stronghold Overlord is no joke.

(Video) Middle-earth: Shadow of War - Blade of Galadriel DLC Review

The biggest new features in Shadow of War are its fortresses, which you can conquer with a large invasion force of brainwashed Uruks that you customize and upgrade before each attack. The battles are impressive in that there are likely to be 100-200 Uruk running around tearing each other to pieces, but the process of breaking down walls and holding capture points is usually pretty simple: you've led an army that support from your fiercest point. captains and armed with everything from mounted cavalry to siege artillery support. So unless you're drastically outmatched by the other side, the first phase of a siege won't be much of a problem. (I haven't really failed at any of these yet.) But the fight at the end with the local overlord and his minions is no joke: not only are Uruks generally powerful, but the throne rooms are usually equipped with flame or poison. sprinklers, and they keep throwing new minions at you to drown you.

Uruks that you loot are essentially loot.

Once you've taken a stronghold, you can designate your own forces to defend against invasions, both as part of the story and in asynchronous multiplayer, where other players can basically unload a copy of your Uruks to fight (meaning they not die if they successfully conquer your fortress). This means that the Uruks you loot are also essentially loot, and Epic and Legendary Commanders have the most potential to cause trouble for invaders. You can't expect an Uruk force to stop a competent player, but you can certainly slow them down, and speed is what you count on when leading a conquest. Leveling up promising Uruks by sending them on assassination missions against enemy Uruks or in AI vs. AI boxing matches gives them an almost Pokémon-like feel, except with the added thrill of having your favorite Uruk die if they lose. But there isn't enough control over your armies, whether invading or defending, to make them feel truly strategic. You can't place your troops on the map, and you can't place traps or anything that will lure the enemy to their doom - defense upgrades like poison splashes or caged dragons that double as flamethrowers are preset. You pretty much pick up your toy soldiers and let them fight on their own, which is very entertaining to watch as it happens around you, but not much of a challenge.

It is in these battles and preparing for them that you will probably spend most of your time with Shadow of War. Campaign missions are in the 15-20 hour range, but again I easily spent that time fighting Uruks to build my armies and running both campaign and online sieges. Plus, there are plenty of challenging quests presented as throwbacks to Celebrimbor's heyday and plenty of collectibles to keep you busy.

Shadow of Mordor takes over the other online feature: if you get killed, other players have a chance to kill the Uruk that killed you, and vice versa. Taking part in one of these vendetta missions is a good way to ensure you get a time-tested challenge - if an Uruk has killed someone, they're usually not pushovers. This is a great way to get some of Shadow of War's somewhat superfluous loot boxes if you want to.

With that in mind, a quick word on controversial microtransactions: you can and should completely ignore them. Buying loot boxes is just one way to get loot that doesn't kill Uruks, which is the best thing about Shadow of War. It's particularly weird that they exist because Shadow of War is so engaging that its enemies are basically loot boxes to begin with. So when you buy them, you're basically paying to avoid scratching off the metaphorical lottery ticket, which is the head of an Uruk, to reveal the loot you're about to acquire. Plus, I had more than enough of the in-game silver currency to buy the upgrades I needed (it's used to upgrade gear or unlock commander slots for sieges and defenses), so there was no need or desire to spend a dime. .


Just as Batman: Arkham City was built on top of Arkham Asylum, Middle-earth: Shadow of War is bigger and more ambitious in scope than Shadow of Mordor, with great results. The way he expands the Nemesis system with much greater variety and fortress sieges, he makes even better use of star-spawned characters, and his battles with Uruk's memorable captains remain challenging throughout the campaign and into a intelligent asynchronous multiplayer mode.

In this article

Middle-earth: Shadow of War Review - IGN (2)

Middle-earth: Shadow of War

The production of the monolith

(Video) Mittelerde: Schatten des Krieges im Test - Das können selbst Lootboxen nicht ruinieren (Gameplay)


ESRB: Mature


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Review of Middle-earth: Shadow of War


Middle-earth: Shadow of War expands on the already strong action and variety of Shadow of Mordor in many great ways.

Dan Stapleton

(Video) Middle-earth: Shadow of War - The Desolation of Mordor DLC Review


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