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Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

Awesome Things We Did In Shadow Of Mordor

Warner Bros. has a stellar line-up of games at this year’s big show, and one of the most impressive in the bunch is its new chapter in the saga of Middle-earth. Shadow of Mordor has seemed an interesting project since we first revealed the game on our cover several months ago, but this E3 was the first time I've had the opportunity to sit down and play an extended section of the game. An earlier preview offers an extensive look at the content of that hands-on session, so today we’re taking a different tack – stacking up a wealth of individual moments I encountered during my lengthy play session to see how they add up to a great time. Much of Shadow of Mordor’s appeal comes from its emergent approach to mission design, combat, and exploration, and the following help illustrate how many small situations and features come together to make an impressive gameplay experience. 


Galloped on a Carragor: Mordor’s answer to mounts is the lion-like carragor – a massive cat beast that can be ridden across the countryside and into battle. While I charged headlong into a surprised group of orcs, the carragor slashed and bit at foes while I hacked away any enemies that got too close using Talion’s sword.

Ran Across Mordor: In between major encounters, I was happy to get to trek across the countryside of Nurnen, the newest announced  area of Mordor. Monolith has gone to great pains to craft an interesting environment to run through, with lots of slopes, cliffs, and hiding places. It’s also exciting to get to visit this most sinister of Tolkien locales.

Met Dozens Of Named Foes: Sauron’s army is made up of individuals, and I saw how distinct the Uruks can be as I confronted one after the next. Their names often offer hints about their nature, and I appreciate how well the game reflects personalities in the look of an individual, or the things they say. Killing a named enemy feels like more of a triumph than if they were anonymous soldiers.

Aided In a Beast Hunt: One of the Uruks I dominated needed to prove himself in order to advance through the ranks, and it went on a beast hunt to show its skill. I stood on a nearby cliifside and sniped at the pack of carragors my ally was hunting, assuring he survived to move up in the hierarchy.

Transformed Into A Wraith: Talion’s dual nature has been a big part of his appeal is since the game was announced.  So it was satisfying to finally get to see the transformative qualities of the character. At numerous points throughout my demo, I saw Talion’s face and body shift into a ghostlike form. The wraith looks very elflike, leading to some interesting assumptions about who or what the wraith is within Middle-earth lore. 

Shadow Strikes: One of the coolest moves in the game is the shadow strike, which allows Talion to teleport to a high or distant location for an instant attack, which often instantly kills the target. An upgraded form of the attack allowed me to chain these shadow strikes together to kill two or three targets in one flurry of motion. 

Slow Motion Archery: Draw back your bow, and the wraith’s influence makes time slow around you. This means Talion can pull off some impressive ranged attacks even while in the midst of a furious melee. 

Drained Enemy Souls: Talion’s arrows, called elf shot, are not normal physical shafts. Instead, to gain new ammo, I approach a foe and drain out his essence. The process usually kills the wriggling creature, but provides additional ammo for Talion’s ranged assault.

[Next page: Troll riding!]

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  • I was interested in this game ever since it was announced, but the combined hour of gameplay I've seen at E3 just emphasizes the awesome combat an environment. I'm feeling like it's a day one buy. I just hope the world is stuffed with side missions.
  • Besides the insanely brutal combat, The nemesis system is what's really attracting me to this game.
  • Couple things: Graugs are different than trolls. They're two separate things, and Graugs eat trolls. They're more vicious than trolls are. When you shoot an Uruk's leg, you don't pin it to the ground. You just cripple him so he won't use his leg while there's an ethereal arrow in it.
  • This game sounds better all the time!

  • This was a good read, the more I hear of this game, the more excited I get. It looks insanely promising and its shaping up to be the perfect Lord of the Rings game. It just seems like they are doing and approaching everything involved with this game perfectly. I hope I'm not wrong!
  • The gameplay sounds (and has looked) great, my only concern is the narrative and what they might be doing with Tolkiens beloved lore. I'll reserve judgement till I've obviously played the game but for any great LOTR game (of which there have been nearly none) the narrative should shine just as much as the gameplay.
  • This game sounds like a hoot and a half, I just wish that it wasn't being branded as LOTR. Tolkien had very specific policies on the nature of evil, the role of magic, and the fact that wraiths were completely given over to the Enemy. This takes a massive dump on his lore, but it looks like it could just have easily been the start of an exciting new IP.
  • I feel like lighting someone on fire is a universal weakness, but maybe that's just me.
  • shadow strike sounds awesome! When you die how much time passes and does it vary?

  • This will reinvigorate interest in the Lord of the Rings franchise. This game is shaping up to be amazing! This is how you take an established property and do something new and interesting with it.

    Day one buy.

  • Between this, Wolf among us, and The Witcher; I'm thoroughly enjoying this trend of critically-acclaimed video games based on literary properties...Now if only someone would do Brent Week's The Black Prism series...

  • Game keeps sounding better and better. The nemesis system is what drew me into this game. I hope there is a lot of side missions in this.

  • Man this game is so epic, I've finally made the decision to pop this in before Inquisition.
  • Day one buy. Nuf said

  • Okay, I'm liking what's described here. A LOT. I might have to sink money into another pre-order this year. My wallet is crying from all my abuse.
  • In Dragon's Dogma, I killed Death by accident.
  • I think I want to buy this game now.

    Yes, I think I really do.

  • I'm definitely getting this day 1 now.

  • Alright, this game is becoming even more ridiculously bad-@$$. Pre-order is imminent.

  • This game was on my 'wait and see' lists but reading all of the cool things that you can do is really making me want to get it asap. Can't wait to see some gameplay videos!
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