Middle-Earth: Shadow of War Is Bringing These Epic Improvements

After being leaked via a Target listing, Warner Bros. Interactive has confirmed the existence of a Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor sequel. This came as little surprise to many given the award-winning success of the original, and it has deserving become the primary discussion topic in gaming to start this week.

Called Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, this upcoming title has instantly become one of the most anticipated of the year. It promises bold improvements as well as new ideas. Let’s go over what we know about the title to get a clearer picture of what to expect.

Graphics: Revenge Come To Life

Arriving in 2014, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was effectively a cross-generational game. It launched on seven platforms, including both the PS3 and PS4. Although its large roster of heroes and villains were heavily detailed, the world that they resided in wasn’t quite at the same level. This variance in graphical fidelity was considered one of the game’s greatest shortcomings.

By the time Middle-Earth: Shadow of War releases, it will have been three years in the making. During that time Monolith Productions has learned how to take advantage of current generation hardware to a much greater extent, and has been able to focus entirely on improving upon the potential-rich foundation, having the advantage of already possessing a game engine that it’s familiar with.

Since the time of Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, we’ve seen the release of PS4 Pro, and soon Project Scorpio will debut. Graphics have evolved substantially in the short amount of time, and thankfully both of these mid-generation hardware refreshes will be supported with Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, to a point where Monolith Productions made the effort to say that its upcoming game will support both. We are expecting noticeable graphics improvements, which will do a lot for the immersion of the series.

Nemesis: Now With Followers

The Nemesis system is the Middle-Earth series’ greatest contribution to gaming. In the original title, players encountered a number of named enemies who acknowledged the player’s actions, going as far as to remember their actions over great periods of time. If you killed one of their buddies, they would express that they weren’t happy about it. If they managed to take you down, they would remark about how they’ve already defeated you in subsequent encounters. This revenge-oriented system was unlike anything the industry had ever seen before.

Nemesis is expanding with a new Followers system in Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, introducing a full reputation system with armies you amass. You will now not only need to consider how you are viewed by your enemies, but also your allies. With this you will be able to construct Nemesis Fortresses, which are player owned structures where your army trains and prepares for battle. Consider yourself a veteraned commander, rather than a warrior.

The emphasis here is on large-scale war, taking what Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor did and extending it to include far more enemies, in addition to friends. You’ll want to be careful with your actions, as while the world’s thousands of NPC’s might not technically be real, they’ll be paying attention.

Story: A Grand Tolkien Fantasy

Monolith productions has already stated that it is expanding upon the world and story of the original game. A lot of this is born naturally from the improvements to the Nemesis system, which will make interactions with both friend and foe feel realistic. But there’s more.

Improvements to game systems will be bolstered by a greater emphasis on storytelling. Set in Tolkien’s legendarium, many remarked after Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor that the series has incredible potential to demonstrate the dark side of this beloved IP. That will be tapped into this time around in a timeline similarly set between the events of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, but with new means of narrative delivery in addition to a larger script.

In this new story the main character will wield a new ring of power. This will bring with it new abilities, as well as new threats such as Sauron and his Nazgul. Monolith Productions says that it will feature a “monumental battle for Middle-Earth”. You might want to come prepared.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War is scheduled to release on August 22nd for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.