The gameplay clips from Monolith’s forthcoming Shadow of Mordor fascinated me. The game looks to build on an Assassin’s Creed-style open world by developing relationships between the player’s protagonist and a Mordor full of distinct orcs and Uruks, using a game mechanism called the Nemesis System. Intriguing.
But why is this game set in Middle-earth? Why pit the lone hero, Talion (with yet another motivation of familial revenge driving yet another dude on a grimdark quest), against a nation and a ruler we are almost certain cannot be defeated within this play experience? We can find some dramatic tension there, knowing that Talion’s mission is doomed, I guess.
This all felt like a disharmonious combination of mechanics and theme, to me. Until I heard that the resurrecting spirit that gives Talion his shot at revenge draws from the lore of Middle-earth in a way I didn’t expect. That wraith is Celebrimbor, the Elf and smith who helped a disguised Sauron craft the Rings of Power in the forges of Eregion at the foot of the Misty Mountains back in the Second Age. Now we have a big, dramatic backdrop for this game that explores some of the years between The Hobbit and Fellowship of the Ring in a new light. Backing that up with distinctive gameplay in a region of Middle-earth we seldom get to see as more than a volcano — that’s an art-design challenge I want to see Monolith tackle.
Between this, my fondness for LOTRO, and the new e-books I’ve picked up for The One Ring roleplaying game, (including Rivendell and its look at Eriador), I think some more gaming in Middle-earth might be in my future.