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Let me start by saying that this game can get repetitive. So if you don’t like grinding and loot boxes being thrown in your face by some dirty Uruk who gets excited every time he gets fed any form of currency, then do not consider purchasing this game and click away from this review.
I am not an addictive kind of guy but when a game promotes huge benefits to players who open loot chests it can really tempt you in the back of your mind to throw down real money.
Now I will be getting into this system later on in the review but I thought I’d point out this flaw straight away because if you have an addictive personality it can be a little tempting and dangerous.
The War For Mordor Begins – Story Line
If you are a big lord of rings fan you’d already know that Monolith Studios (The Developers) had changed the lore from the original story and it caused a bit of anger within the community. I personally am not overly fussed about this change as they stated in an interview with IGN that they wanted to create there own identity, making the best game possible for players. However please note that everyone will have there own opinion whilst playing.
Awesome so what do we get?
Without spoiling it for anyone and getting into specifics, the story follows that of the previous title ‘Middle Earth Shadow of Mordor’. Your character Talion The Ranger from the Black Gate, who along with his companion Celebrimbor craft a new ring of power, which they plan to use in order to take down Sauron. You’ll have to forge your armies whilst meeting a wide variety of characters in order to achieve this large feat.
The story is broken up into three acts with the fourth act being the ‘grinding act’ known as ‘Shadow Wars’. It took me around fifty hours to complete the main campaign. 15 of those hours were me having to slug my way through act fours ‘Shadow Wars’ in order to get the actual ending…
I didn’t mind the ending but just know it is a bit of a let down for the amount of time you have to sink in to get there, without paying for crates!
Overall though the initial three acts were very much enjoyed and kept me invested for there entirety.
Above Video: Story Trailer
Too Many Orcs? – Content
What is on offer here is HUGE. This game is massive and it will take you a while to digest the amount of things to do and see whilst in the game:
- Crafting and Upgrades – There are many things to upgrade and craft within Shadow Of War. These include Gems which are sorted in different colors for there different uses. For example green gems boost Talions health whilst red gems increase weapon damage. You can upgrade these gems and place them on Talions armor or weapons to give them a higher stat bonus.
- Fortresses are also upgradable using in game currency known as ‘Mithril’, as well as your Uruk Warchiefs which defend them. You can give them special weapon upgrades such fire or poison weapons. Your armies Warchiefs and captains will also have a rank so you can train them up through assignments. These assignments include raiding enemy uruk captains in the world or taking on trials against harsh wild Caragors.
- Progression – is maxed at level 65 and you earn skill points to unlock new abilities on a huge skill tree which features some really innovative abilities and makes you feel delightfully powerful such as head popping, freezing enemies and x-ray vision.
- Character Customization – You will get different rarities of items when you complete main missions, side activities and kill higher level captains. They will drop one of four levels of equipment normal, rare, epic or legendary. You can then use this ‘loot’ to customize Talions armour, swords, bow, hood and dagger. Noting that these equipment types have levels and ratings so you’ll have to constantly change equipment on the go.
Above Video: Explains the Character and gear upgrades in more depth
- Online mode – Online doesn’t add much except for some challenges to complete. You don’t get to verse or interact with your friend and it pretty much waters down to a clash of clans type system where you try to see if you can take down there fortress to win some in game money and XP. Online Vendetta’s I found quite fun though, where you avenge the deaths of other players by killing a rival captain in there game.
- Side Activities and Collectibles – Too much to process on this occasion but each location will have plenty of things to do and see which will be a completionists nightmare for some of you OCD people out there.
- Locations and Sieges – There are so many varied locations that you’ll find me sitting back and just taking in the backdrop, because it is goddamn beautiful and quite honestly breath taking. The attention to detail in the environments is just spectacular with large open desolate landscapes riddled with fire and death to forests crawling with killer tree’s and wild life. Middle Earth just has an awesome sense of world building that needs to be commended for.
- Sieges are also very entertaining where you will have to organise your army inside a strategic menu before attacking a fort choosing what captains and units will be best for the assault and then capturing points and killing enemy Warchiefs in order to advance and take on the overlord.
Above Video: 7 Side Activities to do in Shadow of War
Such A Detailed Uruk 🙂 – Graphics and Sound
Gameplay is solid at a rate of 30fps for consoles and 60 frames and above for PC. I haven’t run into any stutters or super long loading screens on my PS4.
Resolution sits at 1080P for PS4 and Xbox One whilst the newer versions of both consoles such as the PS4 Pro and Xbox One S hit 4K resolution.
Nonetheless whether you’re from the ‘PC master race’ or predominantly a console player like myself… it is undeniable that the game is beautiful, with great lighting, animation effects and textures on all platforms. Providing plenty of eye candy for all gamers to enjoy.
Sound is also top-notch with echoing environments which provide a spatial like awareness of where enemies and objects are located, amazing unique voice acting and exhilarating music and chanting which helps improve the tension in close battles or against strong foes.
Above Video: IGN Graphics comparison between PS4 Pro, Xbox One S and PC
The Flow – Mechanics
I have left this section for last because I believe it is the most important and it has two of the biggest area’s that need to be discussed.
Now combat can be clunky at times especially when there are a lot of enemies on the screen, you’ll have difficulty targeting the enemy you want and it can sometimes make you very frustrated, especially when trying to fight a captain in a mosh pit. That being said you won’t have too much trouble getting used to the controls as the tutorial in place is very useful and outlines a lot of the fighting mechanics for new players.
In addition to the combat is the incredible nemesis system, which sets this game apart from every other open world title out there. It’s a system which gives your enemies and allies personality, through impressive ability traits, tribes and intelligent AI.
It made me feel for some of my captains, and when one of them betrayed me because they grew more powerful, I was sad to have to kill them…(nobody disobey’s there master!). In another scenario I had a Warchief who was a bard and he sang songs, read out poems and played the guitar before he went into battle, he wore a feather cap.
You don’t have this kind of experience in any other game, where enemies come back from the dead to take revenge on you or come to save you before you get hit with that final blow. Enemy captains are intelligent and will read your attacks on higher difficulties, forcing you to change up your tactics constantly to match there class and abilities.
Above Video: Epic Battle between Youtuber Angry Joe and Nemesis ‘Olgoth, Olgoth, Olgoth!’
I have to take some of that credit away however, because of the loot crate system. I don’t believe it belongs in these types of single player games. To me it just feels forced in to make some extra money for Warner Bros.
There are three types of chests Silver, Gold or Platinum. Silver chests only cost in game money ‘mithril’ but you only get one rare and one epic item for Talion. Gold and platinum chests cost real money in the form of ‘gold’ and contain all your legendary orcs and gear.
Gold chests are earnable in game through online vandetta’s and other side activities but it just doesn’t feel right. I believe they do this to tempt you in buying them to speed up the process towards the end of the game during act fours ‘Shadow Wars’, which is a shame because it leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you finish the game.
That being said I didn’t feel at all like I needed to pay any extra money during the first three acts, which includes the bulk of the story line. There’s plenty of ways to earn everything quickly in game and you’ll have legendary gear in no time.
Above Video: Loot Crates and Microtransactions
Will You Fight Sauron?
It is likely that I did not cover every single point to this game. There is so much to talk about and do, that if I did you’d might as well be reading a wiki page.
That being said, you now have my wisdom to go out and decide whether you want to buy this game or not.
If you were asking me and who I’d recommend it for, I would say: people who enjoyed the last game, people who play destiny, hardcore lord of rings fans minus the change in lore or people who like assassin creed type games with batman combat.
Therefore, my cheap rating as it stands for Middle Earth Shadow of War is a 7.5/10. It’s an awesome game with a great story and mechanics but the grind towards the end and loot box system just felt like a PR strategy to make a couple easy bucks and brings the score down a few.
Let me know in the comment section below of what you think of loot boxes in AAA games?
Hope you guys enjoyed the review! Links to purchase the game will be down below.
Take care guy’s and have an awesome day!
Links for Game Purchases: (PC download can be purchased off steam)