Our first look at Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor wasn't much of a look, was it? The action game was announced with relatively little fanfare and virtually no media that wasn't exclusive to certain outlets. Not exactly how you want to announce a game in our modern era, right? Today, however, we received a shipment of concept art and screenshots in the emails. It's got orcs! It's got a dude with a sword! Hm, this doesn't help much at all.
Perhaps the worst part of these assets is that the screenshots are highly stylized and have clearly been edited in post, at least to some degree. As such, it's difficult to discern whether they're actually representative of the game. Forgive the disturbing association, but I'm feeling a lot of Dragon Age 2 when I look at these screenshots. That's not a terrible thing, after all Hawke looked rather outstanding in the keyart released before launch. However, it is a bit foreboding when considering what the game actually turned out to be.
As for what sort of game Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor actually is, here's a shortlist of main "features" according to the development team:
- Talion - Players take the form of Talion, a ranger who loses his family and everything he holds dear, only to be returned from death by a mysterious Spirit of vengeance.
- Mordor - Set between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor begins on the night of Sauron’s return to Mordor, throwing the region into turmoil.
- Nemesis System - Discover a powerful and dynamic next-gen gameplay mechanic that allows players’ actions to shape enemy relationships and characteristics, creating personal and unique stories and gameplay arcs that remain persistent even after death.
- Wraith abilities - Players command Wraith Powers to orchestrate and execute their vengeance to outwit enemies, infiltrate the ranks, and dominate within an adaptive world.
- Melee combat - A multitude of enemies will require different tactics, encouraging the player to advance their skills, abilities and weapons to become legendary through a system of rune rewards crafted according to the player's strategy.
I'm excited to see exactly how Shadow of Mordor plays out real-time, though I'm worried about how they'll be able to show off their Nemesis System in a simple trailer. It really seems like an exciting feature, but is it really only exciting in the context of a whole game vs. just a short battle?
Either way, it's much too early to make any substantial calls on Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor. Basically, all we can say is that they've got a great intellectual property to work with and some solid feature ideas. Let's hope they do their best with what they've got. Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor will be coming to PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.