A Shadow of War wishlist
As a huge fan of the first game, I’ve been keeping a close eye on Shadow of War since it was announced, and whilst left a little disappointed with the recently announced delay, it’s still my most anticipated game of 2017.
I loved Shadow of Mordor, but I’ll be the first to say there was certainly room for improvement.
Here are some things I’d like to see in Shadow of War:
I actually found the size of the first game’s two areas to be just fine – they didn’t feel filled with meaningless space, and the whole world felt hand-crafted rather than copy-pasted for the sake of being bigger. One thing that did get rather tiresome though was the colour palette – there were lots of muddy, grim tones throughout, with the small amount of greenery in the second area not quite doing enough to make up for it.
Thankfully, it’s already been confirmed that we’ll be traversing across many other areas of Mordor, but I’d love to see the game expand to other areas of Middle-Earth, why not take us to Gondor, Mirkwood or the Shire? Or even back in time to the lost island of Numenor?
The orcs were no doubt the star of the show in Shadow of Mordor, and they had great variety amongst their race. But it would be great to see something like this variety in the other races, and have more types of creature, period. Middle-Earth has a plethora os species the game could call upon – why not throw some hobbits in, or giant spiders, or even mumakil? I’m confident we’ll get a wider variety in SoW, and balrogs have already been confirmed.
Enhanced Nemesis System and Orc-Levelling
No doubt the star of the show in the first game, the Nemesis system made the game a truly unique experience. It did however become a little same-y towards the end of the game, especially when Talion becomes overpowered. They’ve laid the foundation for something potentially really special in SoW – I’d like to see orcs develop rivalries with other orcs, and perhaps most importantly see the level cap on orc removed or at the very least expanded considerably, which would serve to avoid the trivial ease of the last act of the first game.
A Meaningful Army
We know we’re getting an army to command this time round, and I’m really excited about this. The penultimate scene in the first game gave us a taste of this, with your 6 Warchiefs pitted against your Nemesis’ own band of brothers, but it really wasn’t all that grand in scale. We’ve already seen that you’ll be laying siege to fortresses in SoW, and this looks amazing, but what I really hope for is more tactical control over your army – with more scope to the commands than ‘attack’ and ‘flee’.
If the One Ring is present and obtainable in this game (and part of me hopes it isn’t) then there is potential for some great gameplay mechanics. Apart from the obvious invisibility, the powers the Ring grants the bearer is rather ambiguous in Tolkien’s work, so it means the developers have licence to get creative. Enhanced speed, strength and general physical traits are obvious, but it would be interesting if things like influence and persuasion played a part too.
We know from the trailer that there will be a Ring involved, and it’ll be more interesting if it isn’t the One Ring, but a different, newly crafted ring deviating from the lore. Who knows!
References and Lore
Speaking of the lore, the first game faced some criticism for deviating from the established canon. I felt this was somewhat unfair, as I chose to take the story as a creative take on the lore, and don’t think it did too much damage to the established storylines.
As a big fan of Tolkien lore, I absolutely loved the artefacts and memories in the first game, as they all referenced some part of either the Hobbit, LotR or the Silmarillion. In this regard the first game did a great job of weaving the game into the history of Middle Earth.
Shadow of War looks like it’s deviating even further from established Tolkien works, but I hope they keep the references in place.
More Secrets that are Actually Secret
My main criticism of the first game was the Ubisoft-esque nature of the map. As much as I loved the trinkets and memories referencing the lore, the fact they were all clearly marked on the map took something away from discovering them. There was no sense of wonder when entering a new area or cave, because the map told you exactly what was in it and where it was. What’s more, there was no point exploring a part of the map with no icon marked, as you knew nothing was there.
Markers are great for key events like locations of Nemeses and challenges, but secrets should be left hidden to encourage exploration.
Another issue with the first game was the lack of variety in the missions. Mostly they involved killing a Warchief or Captain, or freeing some slaves. Whilst these were fun and didn’t suffer from the tedium of some other types of quest (please no escort missions in the new game), it would be good to see some more variety in the missions, and with the new castle sieging gameplay I’m sure there will be.
I thought Monolith did a really good job with the architecture in Shadow of Mordor – climbing up crumbling churches and fortresses felt great. But there were no really big structures, no massive cathedrals or castles. This time round, I’d love to see some larger things to climb and explore -Barad-dûr would be incredible.
Keep the Controls!
Everything I’ve said so far has been a change, but the big thing I’d like them to keep is the control scheme. Controlling Talion was glorious – the combat, the climbing, the infinite sprinting – everything was just easy, intuitive and had a flow to it. From what we’ve seen so far it looks like they are retaining it, so that’s good news.
So far I’m really encouraged by the direction Monolith are going with Shadow of War, but I hope they retain what made the first game so unique and enjoyable.