Middle Earth: Shadow Of War Initial Thoughts - How Does It Stack Up?
The beginning of several binge sessions.
Middle Earth: Shadow Of War was released into the wild on 10th October 2017, and having preordered it (I never ever preorder, but this was an exception, as was my Nintendo Switch), I was pumped from the get-go. Naturally I was disappointed when it was pushed back from August to October, but I accepted it and was happy to wait a little longer so Monolith and Warner Brothers could finish polishing their Shadow Of Mordor sequel.
Speaking of Shadow Of Mordor, it's important to know that it's one of my favourite games so far, making the list with The Legend Of Zelda Twilight Princess and Just Cause 2, so naturally I was hyped to get it up and running on my rig.
Specs wise, I have Windows 8.1, an i7 (I forget which one, but it's discontinued), a Nvidia GeForce 1060 6GB card, 8GB RAM, and some other guff I have no clue about (I'm not one for techy stuff!), and I'm able to run the game on the 'Very High' setting. Before recording, I tested it to ensure I'd get a decent framerate and I did indeed; it was usually between 60 - 80fps. Of course I got a bit less than that recording and I did encounter some stutters which were off - putting, but I'm putting that down to my settings being too high for recording! Also, the colours in my recorded footage aren't true to the game; free software and all that jazz, so bear that in mind if you're a bit put off by the blockiness, have no fear! I'm also limited to recording at 30fps so that's why it seems a bit slow to those PC users who are used to frames in the 60 region and above.
Now, onto the gameplay! Above I've embedded the video I personally recorded and edited, where I show off a (mostly) uncut section of gameplay displaying some of the things you can do in Middle Earth: Shadow Of War. Gameplay wise, it feels very much like Shadow Of Mordor, which is a starter for 10, and it has collectibles (my favourite!). I love the combat system, I really hope you can stun orcs by vaulting over them... that was my tactic in the previous game, especially when I was swarmed! A downside however is that you don't get a lot of focus, so hopefully you're able to rectify that with a skill or two. Much like Shadow Of Mordor, there's a skill tree, only this time you can unlock sub skills for the main skills, however only 1 can be active per main skill at a time.
One of the skills I show off in the above video is the Spectral Glaive, which is a wraith 'spear' that knocks back your enemies. As far as I know it's not lethal (unless you can unlock sub-skills to change that) and it does take a couple of seconds to charge, so be wary of that if you're being swarmed; as I said in the video, it reminds me of a lightsaber!
Be sure to hunt treasure orcs, as they will drop helpful items in the form of gems (potency / vitality / wealth) and Mirian (in-game currency). By equipping a gem for a weapon, you'll get the benefit of that gem, i.e. 10% extra damage / 2% more health. A handy mechanic is the ability to forge better gems with the ones you have collected. Simply forge 3 of the same gem to create a new version with better perks. Give me a moment, I'm going on a farming spree... As well as collecting gems and Mirian, you will acquire gear as well. Captains will drop varying levels of gear along the way; of course if they're an epic or legendary Captain, they'll drop better loot. Be sure to swap out your gear often to ensure you have the best stuff equipped for a fighting chance against the never ending sea of orcs!
Being stealthy has its perks, as you can sneak up behind a worm and dominate them with no struggle or wait time, which is handy if there are a lot of their orc friends around who will poke and prod you, which is a tad rude. The way you collect intel remains the same; dominate a worm and select the captain / warchief that you'd like to focus on and find their immunities and weaknesses.
As for health, there are no flowers (as far as I could see anyway) for health, and I found out the hard way. I desperately needed health and I was about to die. As I was fleeing, a text box came up and informed me that to gain health you need to drain orcs... thanks for the heads up game, though I could have done with that earlier and not when I have a sliver of health left!
Graphics wise, it looks like Shadow Of Mordor but with more finesse. One thing I'm not so keen on is Talion's face; he looks very different and I much prefer the old Talion. Celebrimbor hasn't changed however in the looks department which is good. The map is a welcome change, as it's now 3D, making it a lot easier to see exactly where you are! It also marks your targets and the area that they can be found in automatically, regardless of if you've gathered intel on them (though they'll change to orange from white when you do so).
If you scroll down whilst on the map (on PC anyway), you'll get to see the world map and it's absolutely massive! At the beginning of the game only 2 regions are unlocked, and I'm assuming you can unlock a whole load more as it looks like the rest of the expansive landscape is covered by clouds. I love that video game feature as you can really see how far you've come on your adventure.
As you already know, Shadow Of War brings back the nemesis system with a few UI changes, but this time we have our own "army" on our side. I use the term army lightly... a few humans versus a never ending supply of beefy orcs isn't particularly fair!
In regards to the loot crates, I'm not particularly bothered by them, and I was never going to cancel my preorder because of their implementation. If I ever buy one, it'll be with the in-game currency. I'm not a fan of paid games having loot boxes, but it's the developer's choice to implement them and they merely speed up your progress; the developers did say that everything in the loot boxes can be earned in game. As someone who likes to get as many hours out of a game as possible, they're of no interest to me; I'd much prefer to grind because then I would feel like I've earnt it and not taken the easy route (also those sweet game hours!).
Those are my initial thoughts of Middle Earth: Shadow Of War; so far I'm loving it, much like I loved Shadow Of Mordor! Have I missed any features? What are your initial thoughts? Chime in below!
Tags: PS4, Xbox-One, PC, General
Written by Megan Parker Posted Has 20 Comments