Shadow of War: Gameplay Impressions

The gameplay trailer has finally dropped for Shadow of War, so this is just a quick post on a couple things I took away from what looks like one of the most impressive games I’ve ever seen.

Here’s the gameplay for anyone who hasn’t seen it:

Ok so first things first, let’s look at all the cool stuff: First off, the map is massive stretching from Gondor all the way to Seregost. That’s promising just because it allows for a ton of biodiversity which the first game lacked. I also think it’s cool how each region is actually open for capture as well, as opposed to Shadow’s “run around and just do whatever” structure.

It’s also worth noting just how massive your army can grow when attempting to capture one of these fortresses. At the beginning of the actual demo, about 1:26, Talion/Celebrimbor can be seen leading what looks like a sizable platoon to say the least, which, ideally, means the game will allow for some truly epic large-scale battles.

The biggest thing I took away however, was the idea that this entire demo was unscripted, and that future players who attempt to conquer this fort ill have an entirely different story to tell. The Nemesis system has clearly improved by a mile; the fact that Uruks can attempt to take revenge on you if you betray them or can be fiercely loyal companions, even friends if you’re willing to develop that relationship, was probably the biggest surprise for me. The entire battle felt like a truly cinematic spectacle, between the surprise interventions of Talion/Celebrimbor’s Captains when they were in danger or finally confronting the Uruk overlord, there’s a lot to digest here, but if Monolith is serious about just how unpredictable the battle can be, I’m eager to see just how far the new and improved Nemesis system will go to surprise players.

The only part of the demo that gave me concern was the combat. I like how Talion and Celebrimbor can temporarily separate to stealth kill two enemies, and the ranged combat has clearly improved now that the player can fire arrows in the air. However, I’m not crazy about what I saw when it came to the close quarters combat. For the most part, Talion only performs the same three executions throughout the demo, which brings up the obvious concern that the combat likely hasn’t made any changes since its predecessor, which borrowed heavily from the Arkham games. If the rest of the game work well, this isn’t a major concern, but it would be disappointing to find out that despite all the effort thrown into a larger world with complex enemies, the combat is the only thing that won’t change.

All in all, it’s a fantastic demonstration, and I can’t wait to see Monolith show off more of what looks to be one of the best games this year.


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