Developer Monolith Productions debuted their new title, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, at this year’s E3 convention in Los Angeles, California. The game follows Talion, a ranger with the ability to transform into a wraith form, as he journeys through the land of Middle Earth.
Shadow of Mordor is set in the universe of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, taking place between the events of The Hobbit and the main trilogy. The action role-playing game uses an open-world design, allowing Talion to explore the world as the player sees fit, taking a variety of quests and tackling various encounters with enemies along the way. Many of the game’s enemies are generated dynamically, ensuring that not only can you take multiple paths through the game but that every playthrough will differ in a number of ways.
Monolith’s E3 demo focused on what the developer calls “Nemesis Mode,” in which the player must work to kill or subjugate a dynamically generated and constantly evolving antagonist over an extended period of the game. As the player progresses, Talion’s nemesis gains skills and abilities to match and advances whatever his own agenda might be. If the player dies, the nemesis can level up and take advantage of the player’s absence by interfering with whatever work the player might just have accomplished. Upon respawning, players are not able to jump right back into the action but must work their way back to confronting their nemesis by completing quests to undo whatever damage he might have done during Talion’s absence from the world of the living.
Shadow of Mordor’s combat is action-oriented, taking queues from other fast-paced combat RPGs such as Arkham Aslyum. Talion’s abilities focus primarily on countering the attacks of his enemies; an indicator above the heads of attackers when they’re in the process of preparing an offensive strike indicates an opportunity for Talion to unleash one of his counterattacks. Talion can also use his wraith magic to perform various special attacks such as teleporting behind an enemy land a surprise attack and “branding” a target, allowing him to take control of it for a short period. Animals can also be branded and used as mounts or to help in battle with stronger foes.
Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is planned to launch in October 2014. It will be released for Playstation 3 and 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One, and Windows PCs, however some gameplay features will be reduced or eliminated in older-generation console version of the game.