Screenshot of Middle Earth Shadow of War Game Cover

What is Middle Earth Shadow of War?

Middle Earth Shadow of War is the new installment in the franchise developed by Monolith Productions. It was published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and it continues the narrative of the game released in 2014, Middle Earth Shadow of Mordor. Since October 2017 the game can be played on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles as well as Microsoft Windows PCs. It also has a companion game compatible with Android and iOS devices, which is free to play.

Key facts about Middle Earth Shadow of War

  • Middle Earth Shadow of War adds new environments, monsters and exciting boss fights.
  • Players fight against individuals but also participate in large-scale battles against armies of Orcs.
  • Middle Earth Shadow of War has exciting storylines for many Orc companions.
  • Some players have criticized the game for its convoluted menus and game mechanics.
  • Middle Earth Shadow of War has plenty of side quests and character stories and a long campaign

Gameplay of Middle Earth Shadow of War

Middle Earth Shadow of War gameplay is specific for action role-playing video games with an open world environment. It is played for the third person perspective just like the previous game in the series and focus is on the adventures of Talion. His dual nature means that players can use both the standard combat abilities specific to the ranger of Gondor as well as the unique skills of Celebrimbor’s spirit.

By having the two characters share the same body, developers added a new layer of complexity to the gameplay of Middle Earth Shadow of War. Players are supposed to use the abilities in conjunction to deal with versatile enemies. The goal is to defeat Sauron and his armies and players sign up for side quests. Completing secondary missions rewards players with gear and experience points that boost Talion's skills.

Players also benefit from the support of their followers, using the game's "Nemesis System". The role-playing nature of the new game makes it easier for players to establish a connection with the other characters as well as their followers. As a result it delivers a personalized experience that also enhances the replayability of the new installment. The game also has a day-night cycle that effectively influences the gameplay of Middle Earth Shadow of War. Enemy behavior is also influenced by these changes.

The Nemesis System is arguably the most important addition to the new game and is centered on the Followers. It presents players with the opportunity of transferring these characters from the previous game in the latest title. They can also improve their followers by purchasing stuff from the in-game store. This is the first time the games in the franchise support micro-transactions.

Screenshot of Middle Earth Shadow of War Siege

Plot of Middle Earth Shadow of War

Middle Earth Shadow of War plot continues the story of Middle Earth Shadow of Mordor. Once again Talion is the leading character, with the Ranger sharing the body with spirit of the elf lord Celebrimbor. Together they tried to stop Sauron and his armies of Orcs and Nazgul. There are of course many similarities to the narrative of J.R.R. Tolkien but there are also many things that are presented in an entirely different way. Characters from the original books appear but many have different traits.

The events precede the ones of the Lord of the Rings but take place after the story of The Hobbit. Talion forges a new ring of power that he expects to help him in the fight against Sauron. He can recruit the services of various followers belonging to all the important races of Middle-Earth. Players fight alongside new allies such as Ologs and Uruks and are encouraged to use advanced tactics and strategies. To maximize the impact of followers, players are expected to use micro-transactions to purchase useful stuff.

The Middle Earth Shadow of War single player does more than prepare players for the multiplayer mode. It tells an interesting story with Shelob being portrayed in an entirely different way than players expected her to be. Once the main campaign is complete, players have the option of completing side quests or jump into the Social Conquest mode. It comes in two flavors, friendly and ranked.

The plot of Middle Earth Shadow of War has a different twist if players choose the mobile companion app. This has the appearance of a real-time strategy RPG game played from a top-down perspective. It features new characters, some imported from the previous game called Middle Earth Shadow of Mordor.

Screenshot of Middle Earth Shadow of War Surrounded

Development of Middle Earth Shadow of War

Middle Earth Shadow of War was released on Microsoft Windows systems, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles. The development team had nearly 3 years to properly prepare for the official release and they rose to the occasion. It uses the Play Anywhere feature which Microsoft expects to help it conquer the console niche. Development of Middle Earth Shadow of War was largely on track with the official release date which was only push for two months.

Released worldwide on October 10, 2017, it required no patches and provided the highest quality experience developers were counting on. The mobile companion version was released more than two weeks before for those who have pre-purchase the game. This one is free to play and anyone can enjoy it.

Where can I download Middle Earth Shadow of War?

Middle Earth Shadow of War can be downloaded from the Monolith Productions website. This is also where other games in the franchise can be found, so players have the option of purchasing a bundle. Middle Earth Shadow of Mordor is the obvious choice for those who want to spend more time in the J.R.R. Tolkien inspired universe. F.E.A.R and F.E.A.R 2 Project Origin were also developed by them and can be downloaded from their website. Monolith Productions has also produced less prominent Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit themed games. However, they don’t have exclusivity over this genre, so the fans should also consider games produced by other video game developers.

Screenshot of Middle Earth Shadow of War Into the Flames

What are others saying about Middle Earth Shadow of War?

Middle Earth Shadow of War reviews and the corresponding scores differ greatly based on who wrote them. Most players focused on the quality of the graphics, the excitement brought by the gameplay and the compelling narrative. These were largely the happiest players, as they noted an increase in the quality of all of the above. Shelob was by far the most controversial character, with some people praising the way she was portrayed, while others were terribly disappointed.

A few players complained about micro-transactions and argued that they had no place in a retail game. They felt that the videogame developers got greedy and wanted to maximize their profits at the expense of players. There were also players who accepted this change of paradigm and rather blamed the publishers for exercising pressure. Overall players and critics felt that Middle Earth Shadow of War was a step forward for the franchise and an improvement from previous games.

My Rating of Middle Earth Shadow of War

Middle Earth Shadow of War was one of the most anticipated games for the fans of the J.R.R. Tolkien universe, me included. I had a lot of fun playing Middle Earth Shadow of Mordor and I looked forward to play the new iteration. Personally I think that developers did a great job keeping the bar high in terms of gameplay and narrative. I don’t consider that they did anything wrong by portraying Shelob the way they did, despite this being a steep departure from Tolkien envisioned her.

Most of the changes were for the better and I like the way the Nemesis system was expanded. This is not an easy game to play and finish, especially if you are a completionist like me. I’ve spent a lot of time finishing side quests and as a result it took me many long days to get to the bottom of it all. Having said this, I don’t regret a minute spent in front of the PC and I would strongly advise fellow players not to skip the side missions. A review score of 9/10 reflects my appreciation for Middle Earth Shadow of War.