The follow up to 2014’s surprise hit Shadow of Mordor has been out for for a little while now and just like it’s predecessor it has been a bit over (puts sunglasses on) shadowed by negative press caused by bad decisions on the part of publisher WB Games. While first time around might have seemed confusing, paying streamers for positive press when the game was really really good, they rightfully deserve the flak this time around. They have been one of the more recent companies to experience push back for incorporating micro transactions into their single player game. The question now is does Shadow of War live up to being a great sequel or has it been dragged down into the fires of Mount Doom?
Much of what made Shadows of Mordor a fun surprise game is back. The combat is back and as brutal as ever and the nemesis system still is the big draw. Each orc leader is different from the next with varied personalities and stats. At times it can be frustrating especially when getting ambushed by unknown commanders while already in the middle of fighting others. And every once in awhile you will come across an orc with just an infuriating combo of strengths. But that is unfortunately where the similarities end. Combat is routinely paused for tutorials and the introduction speech of a new orc leader. Movement can be glitchy when wanting to jump off a building or simply wanting to walk between two rocks
The story seems more like poor fan fiction than a carefully crafted foray into a beloved world. I can’t really fault creators for trying to expand upon a world but, it does seem to fall flat and step on some canon. Shelob is now a sexy women instead of a giant spider who helps/doesn’t help and many missions have you going back to her for her “visions.” Many of the story missions seemed short with the main meat of the game being the hundreds of orcs to slay between mission locations. There are tons of collectibles to get, whose locations you can find from atop unlocked towers making it less of a cool reward and more of a way to pad the content of the game. There are online vendettas that earn you loot boxes and rewards, but it is all around tracking down Orc captains and killing them.
The game overall feels like a grind, you get big boosts of XP from doing missions but at some point missions dry up and just running into a horde of orcs isn’t going to really get you much in the ways of experience. Your goal is to amass an army, one which you can’t train higher than your current level. You can send your orcs to training pits but they can die, yes even the ones that you bought. Just realize all of this is to get to the true game ending which happens after four repetitive missions. It seems developer Monolith has a hard time on figuring out how to end it’s games. This isn’t a terrible game. I enjoyed most of my time in the game but I do feel like some of the overall game play has been hindered to make room for a way to generate more money. Yes you don’t have to purchase anything in fact you can earn enough in game currency to buy loot boxes or earn loot boxes from Vendetta quests. The fact remains that the inclusion of that system in the game felt forced and the end game tries to justify it. If you were a person that really enjoyed the first game you’ll like this one as well as I did. The whole experience just felt like a bit of a let down.