It’s just like dark souls.

That’s a joke, it’s actually nothing like dark souls as it has polished gameplay, excellent visuals and a compelling story. In fact, I would say this is actually Arkham city with a new skin, dragons and cockney accented orcs.

If you have played the previous title then you know what it’s all about but just to recap (not unlike the games intro)

Set in a time before the war of the ring. You play as a ranger, the last man from the battalion stationed on the black gate. Thanks to a dark ritual you were banished from death and basically turned into a wraith, this ritual mirrored the way Celibrimbor an elf lord was killed and thus summoned him from death and bound him to you.

Why? Celibrimbor is the elf who taught Sauron to make the one ring, he also made all the other rings of power. So yeah, the guys a big deal. (That is canonical lore too)
Skipping ahead to the start of shadow of war (you don’t need to play the first game but I would highly recommend it) the ranger and celibrimbor are stood inside mount doom forging another ring, one to rival the one ring, just as you are finished the spirit of celibrimbor is pulled away from Talion (the ranger) and you’ve got hunt him down.

This acts as the tutorial, it isn’t long and doesn’t involve too much hand holding. When you finally reunite with the elf lord you’ll meet a familiar character, the new take on the character is a great twist even if it isn’t cannon but you’d be forgiven for thinking it was.
​ Speaking of which the setting and scope of the story is almost flawless, everything that is introduced stays within the boundaries of the lore, nothing seems to out there.

Everything is at least based on something previously established within the books.
To those of you that just want to kill orcs and fly dragons that won’t matter but to a massive LOTR fan it’s a big deal and I actually really appreciate how much work must have gone into keeping the game on that line.

Combine assassin’s creed 2 and arkham city and you’ve got shadow of mordor. The game mechanics lean more towards the batman games but that’s unsurprising as they’re both warner brothers game.

The stealth is very easy and requires very little strategy, most of the time you don’t even need to use it but it can be fun to see how many orcs you can take down before they spot you, using stealth on orc captains is a 50/50 split some are immune some aren’t.
I generally didn’t use much of the stealth ability’s, found they helped for taking down 1/2 orcs down quickly before jumping into a fight with a captain. (Brutalising grunts was the most effective as they rest would run). Of course, there are a few missions that require stealth as there always is but I didn’t find them frustrating just a bit slower paced.

Ranged combat is very straight forward just point and shoot. They have added new abilities you can combine into devastating combos such as the shadow strike and dive bomb attacks, I primarily used range attacks on beasts and picking off fleeing orcs.

The combat hasn’t changed much from the original game either and that’s a good thing! If isn’t broke don’t fix it. The only major change is how you acquire enough points to perform take downs, rather than based on a combo hit number it there is now a mana meter that fills up when certain conditions are met and once full allows you to perform take downs.

​Once the dust of the first act has settled it’ll be time to explore and chase some collectibles or complete a few side missions during this time you should stop every so often to just take it in. Jump on top of some ruins and just relax, watch as the orcs trudge past you making snide remarks to each other or talk about your recent feats.

Mordor isn’t as brown and murky as the films would have you believe, yes the areas closer to MT Doom are lava river riddled death plains but the realm of nurin is covered in lush Forrest, plentiful fields and actual wild life. The city that would become Minus Morgal can also be explored too!

Even though I’m playing on Xbox it looks great, the same can’t be said for the character models the first time I saw Talion I wasn’t sure if it was him or not, the way his face has been textured doesn’t look right. The same can be said for most if not all the human NPCs, the orcs are the total opposite you can see a lot of time and effort went into making the captains look unique.
​ So in the last game the nemesis system was pretty basic, burn an orc and die by his hands or let him get away and they’ll reappear with a burnt face and a fear of fire the same went for attacking them with Beasts etc

The new system is much more Complex, I have yet to figure it all out but from what I’ve played I can confirm the following things

-Rivals and blood brothers; both of these things not only effect talion but can affect your orcish followers too, if an orc you own kills another Orc with a blood brother, that brother will attack your orc just like he would talion.

– As a fight with an orc lengthens the stronger that orc will become, if you keep spamming a particular tactic They will learn how to counter it and cause you to rethink your strategy, especially hard when that particular orc is immune to everything.

– Orc death, unless you cut off their heads they can and most likely will come back. Not all of the, but I found that a particular orc I had burned to death just kept coming back, cut him in half the second time, thrown him off a cliff the third, let my carigor eat him the fourth time, cut him in half the fifth time they guy just wouldn’t stop. (There is a very good reason for this but spoilers).
One of the new features of shadow of war are forts, they act as the tippy top for orc captains. They can Be upgraded with various defences such as stronger walls or archers with flaming arrows, these upgrades determine how many enemies you will have to fight and how long the fight will last etc than etc. Once you’ve taken a fort it can be retaken by the computer OR other players can try taking it in online challenges for extra loot.

Loot. It’s not as important as you think, I found the bonuses you get from completing the challenges attached to epic and legendary items weren’t ever worth going out of my way to do as I’d level up sooner and get strong stuff from higher level drops. Maxing out level 45 legends gear would probably be useful if you intended on being number 1 on the online rankings but it’s not needed finish the game. Just go for looks.

Online; it’s a nice added feature and lengthens the games replay ability as you grind for all the fort upgrades and increase orc power levels to max. It’s also a good test of how good you are as player forts tend to be much harder (and much more fun) to take.

Bad points;
Micro transactions – These are ALWAYS bad news in a single player game, yeah yeah I hear your “you don’t have to buy them they just make the game faster / are only for looks argument” and I’m here to tell you it’s invalid. Any game mechanics that have a buy 5000 this to fast track option are deliberately lengthy and grindy to psychologically get you into paying out more money.

Orc captains are the mechanic here, as their lives are short at best, getting a powerful team together to take down one fort could take days and all that hard work could be undone with a single mistake or RNG roll of if statements.

On the flip side if like me you only used the in-game money on the one orc loot box available and nothing else it took away a lot of gameplay as opting for 5mins of random loot boxes to get a full team vs several days of grinding made more sense. Again, yes, I didn’t have to do that but I get max 8 hours of game a week, I’m not using that to grind an orc captains level only to watch him betray me.

Crashing game; game crash to dash several times, could start it up again straight away but very annoying when raiding a fort.
Getting stuck; talion tends to clip through walls and the orc captains get stuck in mid-air on broken fort walls and take continues fall damage until they die.
​ Horrible human models

Elf run; you can use it to skip entire sections of the game, it makes things way to easy.
Slow first act; forts are lock off until the first act is over, makes sense from the story’s point of view but is a little annoying having the games key selling point not there as soon as I can play.

Shadow of war gets a 9/10 just don’t cave into the microtransactions!