Initial Thoughts Regarding Shadow of War Gameplay Trailer

I decided to write this post due to the release of the Shadow of War gameplay trailer. The trailer gave a small taste of what to expect in the sequel to the adventure game, Shadow of Mordor, but it left far more questions than it gave answers, which is a good thing. I’ll start by breaking down what the trailer gave viewers and then delve into what wasn’t said, and what was left to speculation.

If you haven’t checked out the trailer, make sure to give it a watch before reading of what I have to say. It’s a good 16-minutes long, but worth every second.

Talion has a huge playground

This wasn’t the biggest thing the developers gave away, but the trailer offered a decent idea of the kind of map players will venture into. Unlike the first game, Shadow of War appears to have segmented areas for Talion to explore. Viewers can see locations such as Osgiliath, Cirith Ungol, Gorgoroth, Nurnen, and Seregost as battlegrounds Tailion can conquer with his armies. At the end of the trailer, there’s a brief overview of the map where multiple locations get highlighted, although, not named.

The gameplay trailer was much more action based, highlighting the intense combat rather than showing off any exploration.

Siege battles are now a thing

The entire trailer focuses on Talion, more commonly known as the Bright Lord to his followers in this game, overtaking one of the strongholds Sauron’s Uruks occupy. It begins with a list of the Warchiefs that occupy the fort and their main leader, the Overlord, Talion must defeat in order to take the location for his own. The fort’s appearance, design, defenses, and Warchiefs all warp the stronghold to look different in some way, along with how Talion approaches taking it over. Depending on the followers Talion takes with him, a player would have a different strategy, which makes many of the battles versatile.

The game provides the player objectives to what Talion must do in order to secure the stronghold, the first being storming the gate.

When Talion took the gate, a small icon saying ‘point secured’ popped up, notifying him to advance to the next objective. Each objective had a different Warchief occupying it, forcing Talion to have different encounters with them, much like the small ones he would have in the first game, although these played into the story far more, such as Talion had turned the second objective’s Warchief to his side, who then assisted him in overtaking those defenses. By having a spy in the Overlord’s ranks, it made the second objective far easier to accomplish. Once all of the objectives were completed, Talion faced the Overlord to then capture the stronghold.

They’ve updated the Nemesis System

The developers at Monolith went further into the system, which I’m excited to explore. Not only do the unique characteristics of the Warchiefs give details to how they look and fight, but it also goes into what kind of defenses they’d use in the fort.

The first Warchief Talion faces was a Necromancer, a new class to the franchise. The abilities of the Necromancer didn’t show too much in this trailer, although the particular character had a past as they had previously fought alongside Talion, and betrayed him to serve Sauron. This comes into play briefly as he announces it upon Talion’s arrival at the gates.

Not only does the Nemesis System play into Sauron’s followers, but Talion’s as well, though this was not explored and only briefly mentioned. This is something to look forward to learning more about.

When the Warchiefs arrived on screen, along the side there were descriptions explaining what the characters were vulnerable and immune to. While this was also in the first game, there were smaller icons describing the strengths and weaknesses of the character, which were also not explored. It’s unknown what they represent, though I have my speculation.

Here are the questions I had once the trailer had finished.

Curse system?

One of the notable things the Necromancer had was an Accursed Weapon with a black aura resembling a large gauntlet, wrapped around his right fist. This looked eerily familiar to Sauron’s fist. The Necromancer mentioned that Talion had left him for dead, leaving me to speculate the he was going to die but perhaps Sauron had brought him to serve him. When he was brought back did a little bit of Sauron’s power go into him, amplifying his abilities? During his and Talion’s fight, I’m left to believe this, as the Necromancer’s eyes were blood-red.

While the two were fighting Talion had momentarily changed, his eyes taking on the same effect of the Necromancer’s. The Necromancer’s weapon could also cause ‘curse’ damage, another new concept to the game. If the Necromancer does have the power of Sauron in him, does the new Ring of Power Talion created with Celebrimbor have a cursed attached to it?

As additional story details come out I’m sure these mysteries will unravel.

How much is the game an open world?

The gameplay trailer didn’t bring this information out too much. The only way viewers knew the game was categorized as an open world game, was thanks to the narrator who briefly mentions it in the beginning.

Though players can freely explore a stronghold during combat, how much of their movement will remain at strongholds and how much will happen on an open map? Will they have an open map?

How much of the Nemesis System goes on with Talion’s army?

Another thing I’d like to know further details on explores the Nemesis System in Talion’s army. This was mentioned when the turned Uruk assisted Talion and they were able to kill the Necromancer during the second objective sequence. The narrator comments rivalries, friendships and could occur.

Uruks with a friendship? A bold concept to explore due to Talion’s obvious resentment to them during the first game.

This is a step in a new direction. In the first game, the turned Uruks were a tool to Talion. They were a way for him to gain a upper hand on the countless waves of enemies he had to face, bringing about unique assassinations and turning trusted bodyguards to usurpers. Now, the army forces have a face. Other than methods of how they can easily die, they now have an additional personality the developers only moderately had in the first one.

How far does the equipment system go?

When Talion and his turned Uruk killed the Necromancer, he dropped an item Talion could pick up. I had thought these were runes, much like they were used in the first game, to upgrade the sword, dagger, and bow Talion used in combat. These traits now extend to armor, which was briefly shown. The added armor piece extended the health bar, and hopefully, other things we couldn’t catch on screen.

I’m curious if they’re going deeper into a system like this, such as adding customizable boots, shoulder pieces, bracers, etc.?

How many levels is too many levels?

During the first part of the game it was shown what level the stronghold was, and what level Talion was. This was in the hundreds.

This is a first for a franchise, the use of strength of Talion only being shown was through a combat tree in both Wraith powers and Combat powers.

Hopefully, the numbers in the game only provide players with a small idea of what to expect should they choose to storm a stronghold. I’d prefer this game not turn into a number-crunching one, with players checking off what they bring to table and what their opponents have.

My favorite part about the first game was how Talion, acting alone, could take down high level Uruks. All it required was a bit of skill, knowledge about the Uruk, and knowing how to out maneuver the mass of minions.

These were the questions that would keep me up at night.

All in all, I’m really excited about this game. Obviously, I have additional questions about what to expect from the final version of the game and what the story is about, but I can wait. I’m forced to wait until August 22nd when the game gets released.

I know I’ll preorder my copy in the next few months, anxiously awaiting the reviews of gaming journalists to learn their take on the game, and how it fares to the first one.

Thank you for reading!


Zack Palm

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